Getting It Done

Getting It Done Leading Academic Success in Unexpected Schools

Karin Chenoweth and Christina Theokas, foreword by Ronald F. Ferguson
Pub. Date: October 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-433-9
paper, 208 Pages
Pub. Date: October 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-101-7
Price: $30.00

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Getting It Done describes in clear and helpful detail what leaders of successful high-poverty and high-minority schools have done to promote and sustain student achievement.


With an astonishing combination of detailed evidence and nuanced insight, Getting It Done provides a blueprint for leaders of our most challenging schools. There are no quick fixes or feel-good stories here. Chenoweth and Theokas give us simultaneous doses of encouragement and challenge, letting us know that academic excellence is possible in a high-poverty school while being candid about the difficulties involved. Principals should read this book to gain a sense of hope, and then study it with every staff member to apply these essential lessons. — Douglas B. Reeves, founder, The Leadership and Learning Center

Getting It Done makes me more certain than ever that an important way forward for American education is to study what our best school leaders do and to use what we learn to improve professional development for current and future school principals. Chenoweth and Theokas show that there are indeed lessons to be harvested and passed along. Improving school leadership is an achievable goal that will advance both equity and excellence in the nation’s educational outcomes. Let’s get it done! — From the Foreword by Ronald F. Ferguson, faculty director, Achievement Gap Initiative, Harvard University

Drawing on close to forty case studies, Chenoweth and Theokas highlight essential lessons about leadership in high-needs schools. This is not a story about superheroes; it is a compelling portrayal of experienced, well-prepared, solution-focused leaders who work with their staffs to pool knowledge and expertise on behalf of their students. — Michelle D. Young, professor, University of Virginia, and executive director, University Council for Educational Administration

This book tackles a most crucial question: What is different about the leadership in successful schools for children of poverty? It goes a long way toward unpacking the black box of leadership that matters. — Charles M. Payne, Frank P. Hixon Professor, University of Chicago

Getting It Done: Leading Academic Success in Unexpected Schools will prove invaluable reading for principles, superintendents, and anyone else charged with a leadership responsibility or role in a K-12 school setting. — Midwest Book Review

Getting It Done, the third book in Chenoweth’s trilogy (along with It’s Being Done and How It’s Being Done), is an excellent resource for any school struggling to find the right formula for achieving academic success without regard to student demographics or the zip codes in which they live. It provides principals with specific practical strategies that are adaptable to a variety of settings. — Larry Leverett, School Administrator

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About the Authors

Karin Chenoweth is writer-in-residence at The Education Trust. She is the author of It’s Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (2007), which was named by Education Next as one of the top education books of the decade, and How It’s Being Done: Urgent Lessons from Unexpected Schools (2009), both published by Harvard Education Press. A longtime education writer, she has written for a wide variety of publications including the Washington Post, Education Week, American Educator, and Black Issues in Higher Education (now Diverse).

Christina Theokas is director of research at The Education Trust. She has a PhD in child development from Tufts University, where her research focused on understanding what characteristics of families, schools, and communities promote positive development in youth. Prior to joining the Ed Trust, she worked in the research and evaluation office in Alexandria City Public Schools in Alexandria, Virginia. She evaluated programs and trained principals and teachers how to understand and use available data to make instructional decisions and to guide school reform efforts. In addition, she spent ten years working in schools in various capacities including as a special education teacher, school psychologist, and supervisor of the middle school program at a special education school in Massachusetts. She focused on developing curricula and programs to meet the social, emotional, and learning needs of diverse students.