Making Schools Work with Hederick Smith school by school reform

Success For All Comer School
Development Program
KIPP High Schools That Work

school by school reform
The past twenty-five years have witnessed the proliferation of “retail” reform models, strategies for educational improvement that can be purchased and implemented school-by-school, from the bottom up. A number of models have shown success in scores or hundreds of schools – not just for one year, but continuously. Success for All, the Comer School Development Program, KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) and High Schools That Work are four models that represent very different approaches to individual school reform at the elementary, middle and high school level. These strategies have tackled tough socio-economic terrain and, according to the judgment of independent evaluators, have raised the performance of all students, closed the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students, lowered drop-out rates and lifted graduation rates. They may not be panaceas, but by demonstrating durable success they now point the way for others.


Success for All, a highly prescriptive instructional model that builds reading skills through rapid-fire drills and frequent testing has been rated one of the most effective elementary reforms, especially for troubled inner city schools. Developed in 1987, Success for All is currently in 1,300 schools in 47 states. It requires 80% faculty buy-in, rigorous follow-up and a full-time facilitator for each school. "We're focused on teaching – and we're relentless," declares program co-founder Robert Slavin. Success for All has rescued many schools with low test scores.
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Kindergarteners work on reading and writing skills

Kindergarteners work on reading and writing skills at Jordan Community School, one of several Chicago schools that participates in the Comer Process.

The Comer Process, formally referred to as the School Development Program, was created in 1968 by Yale University Professor of Child Psychiatry, Dr. James Comer. Unlike models that provide a packaged curriculum, the Comer Process emphasizes a holistic strategy, linking a child’s academic growth with their social and moral development. To revitalize education, Comer seeks to re-engage parents and teachers by encouraging them to reach decisions about school strategies through consensus, rather than letting principals dominate the decision-making process. Currently, 300 schools actively participate in the Comer network.
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KIPP Student

A KIPP 3D Academy student in Houston participates in chants along with his classmates.

In 1994, two young former "Teach for America" recruits, Michael Feinberg and David Levin, developed KIPP – the Knowledge Is Power Program – a charter program targeting middle schools. Their strategy: hold all students to high academic standards. No exceptions, no excuses, no shortcuts. KIPP requires a longer school day, Saturday and early summer classes, committed parents and extended teacher availability. Feinberg estimates that KIPP students spend 67% more time in school than the normal school year. Reaching over 6,000 students, there are now 38 KIPP schools in 17 states and the KIPP charter program is adding 10 new high schools to carry forward its middle-school graduates.
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Education reformer, Gene Bottoms, doesn't mince words, "High schools still suffer from being locked in a system geared for 30 years ago. It's inadequate for the 21st century." A former vocational education teacher, Bottoms saw tracking that segregated college-bound from work-bound students, leaving one group with a weak curriculum and the other lacking a well-rounded education. High Schools That Work, Bottoms model for reform, aims to raise student achievement, reduce dropout rates and boost graduation rates by setting rigorous standards and work-based learning for all. It is now used by more than 1,000 schools in 31 states. Says Bottoms, "We build hope and change low expectations."
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See Also: Selecting a Reform Model

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