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Volume 21, Number 5
September/October 2005

What (So-Called) Low-Performing Schools Can Teach (So-Called) High-Performing Schools


My work as a researcher and consultant takes me into classrooms in all sorts of schools. My primary interest is improving the quality of teaching in high-poverty, racially diverse schools. Lately, however, I have also been called upon to visit schools in more affluent communities—some of them extraordinarily affluent.

While visiting schools in a variety of districts, I began to notice something that puzzled me. Some of these schools, particularly those with large numbers of poor and minority children, are working against daunting—some would say unreasonable—expectations for improvement in test scores. In more affluent schools, these pressures are much less evident. Yet the kinds of instructional problems that surface in both types of schools are strikingly similar.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.