Bringing School Reform to Scale

Bringing School Reform to Scale Five Award-Winning Urban Districts

Heather Zavadsky, foreword by Thomas Payzant
paper, 360 Pages
Pub. Date: December 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-934742-40-2
Price: $33.00

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Bringing School Reform to Scale looks in detail at five school districts that have been honored in recent years by The Broad Foundation, whose annual award is granted “each year to the urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students.”


This book offers an unusually detailed look inside some of our best run school districts. Heather Zavadsky offers honest assessments, highlighting not only the inspiring successes, but also the many daunting challenges that remain. Very enlightening! — Ronald F. Ferguson, faculty cochair and director of the Achievement Gap Initiative, Harvard University

Bringing School Reform to Scale highlights the practices in five districts that won the prestigious Broad Prize—and shows how important fundamentals of good practices (including rigorous standards, aligned curriculum, and smart investments in human capital) can lead to great schools and successful districts. — Mark Schneider, vice president, American Institutes for Research; former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics

The media are good at spotlighting random school successes, education reforms that subsequently seem to evaporate. Why is it so difficult to sustain and spread productive change from school system to school system? The answers to these questions are crucial, and Bringing School Reform to Scale is a powerful contribution to an accumulation of knowledge regarding these issues. — James W. Guthrie, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy, Vanderbilt University

The analysis of the five high-performing districts points to practices, beliefs, systems, and structures that have led to dramatic turnarounds. The compilation of this work provides a road map toward scalable reform. — William R. Hite, superintendent, Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland

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About the Author

Heather Zavadsky is director of research and implementation for Educate Texas, a unique public-private alliance dedicated to significantly improving the postsecondary readiness of low income students in Texas. She has more than twenty years of experience in education research and practice, with a particular emphasis on urban education, district data and accountability systems, teacher quality, systemic district and school reform, and special education.

Before coming to Educate Texas, Dr. Zavadsky was the Director of Policy at The University of Texas System Institute for Public School Initiatives. From 2002 to 2006, she managed The Broad Prize for Urban Education for the National Center for Education Accountability, where she led the national data collection and analysis, designed and led a rigorous site visit review process for the finalists, presented the final data to the jury, and showcased the finalist and winning districts through a national symposium, articles, and presentations. She also conducted research for the Charles A. Dana Center and led the charter renewal process for The University of Texas at Austin’s University Charter School. Additionally, she taught for six years as a special education teacher and worked extensively with students with autism.

Dr. Zavadsky is the author of Building School Reform to Scale: Five Exemplary Urban Districts (Harvard Education Press, 2009), as well as numerous papers and articles in scholarly journals. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in special education, a master’s degree in education administration, and a PhD in educational administration with a specialization in educational policy and planning.

Introduction (PDF)

Investing Quick Millions for Long-Term Results by Heather Zavadsky

Closing schools' achievement gaps by Heather Zavadsky

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