Improving Struggling Schools

Improving Struggling Schools A Developmental Approach to Intervention

D. Brent Stephens, foreword by Michael Fullan
paper, 240 Pages
Pub. Date: March 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1-934742-57-0
Price: $29.00

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Improving Struggling Schools draws on a blend of case studies and the emerging body of research on failing schools to identify patterns in the challenges they face.


With this book, Brent Stephens gives new meaning to the term ‘reflective practitioner.’ An accomplished educational leader himself, he gives us a highly nuanced, well-researched, and disciplined view of the hard work of school improvement. Improving Struggling Schools is a much-needed corrective to conventional, simplistic ‘turnaround’ views of school improvement. — Richard F. Elmore, Gregory Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership, Harvard Graduate School of Education

State education agencies charged with ‘turning around’ struggling schools need to confront the reality of school improvement planning richly detailed in these case studies. We have rarely examined, as Stephens has here, the ‘powerful allure and...drag’ of the compliance-focused response that most state intervention practices provoke. This has to change. Stephens points to a promising new direction for our work. — Karla Brooks Baehr, Deputy Commissioner for Accountability, Assistance, and Partnership, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Stephens brings a profound, almost novelistic empathy to the experience of schools struggling with dilemmas of instructional improvement. He unites this empathy, the product of years in the classroom, with a truly lucid understanding of how larger policy and implementation frames interact with the micropolitics and unique cultures of people in schools. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the next phase of educational reform. — Andrés A. Alonso, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools

Stephens defines the next level of work in school improvement and accountability in hopeful and tangible terms. For all believers in excellent education for all, this book elucidates the path from vision to reality. — Brian G. Osborne, superintendent, School District of South Orange and Maplewood, New Jersey

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About the Author

D. Brent Stephens is currently the principal of Anthony Ochoa Middle School in Hayward, California. He has also served as a K–8 principal in Somerville, Massachusetts; as a central office administrator in Lowell, Massachusetts; and as a Spanish bilingual teacher in Boston and Oakland, California. He holds a doctorate from the Urban Superintendents Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and has earned certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

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