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Volume 16, Number 2
March/April 2000

Successful School Reform Efforts Share Common Features

Schools big and small show that standards-based reform doesn't have to mean standardization. But it does require building "a culture of excellence."


Almost every public school teacher and administrator has had to grapple with the issue of standards and improving student performance. How should standards be defined? At what level should they be set? Who should set them? While such questions will continue to be debated, the topic of whether higher standards are needed comes up much less frequently since 49 states have adopted some type of standards.

Instead, the issue of how to implement new standards has taken center stage, and a consensus seems to be emerging among school researchers about what kinds of reforms work best. Several successful models of standards-based reform in both large school systems and individual schools demonstrate the common elements of what one education researcher calls a "culture of excellence."

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For Further Information

For Further Information

R.F. Elmore and D. Burney. "Continuous Improvement in Community District #2, New York City." Paper for the High Performance Learning Communities Project at the Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA: December 1998.

R.F. Elmore and D. Burney. "Investing in Teacher Learning: Staff Development and Instructional Improvement in Community School District #2, New York City." National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, Teachers College, Box 117, Columbia University, NewYork, NY 10027; August, 1997.

R.F. Elmore and D. Burney. "School Variation and Systemic Instructional Improvement in Community School District #2, New York City. High Performance Learning Communites Project." Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, October 1997.

J.P. Heubert and R.M. Hauser, eds. High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation. Committee on Appropriate Test Use. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999. 6336.html

A.C. Lewis, "Figuring It Out: Standards-based Reforms in Urban Middle Grades." Available from The Program for Student Achievement, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 250 Park Ave., New York, NY 10177-0026; 212-551-9100.

Performance Assessment Links in Science (PALS). An on-line, standards-based resource bank of science performance-assessment tasks indexed to the National Science Education Standards (NSES).

M. Schmoker and R.J.Marzano. "Realizing the Promise of Standards-Based Education." Educational Leadership 56, no. 6 (Mar 1999): 17-21.