Strategic Inquiry

Strategic Inquiry Starting Small for Big Results in Education

Nell Scharff Panero and Joan E. Talbert
Pub. Date: September 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-586-2
paper, 200 Pages
Pub. Date: September 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-584-8
Price: $30.00

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Strategic Inquiry is an innovative model for promoting teacher collaboration around identifying specific “learning gaps” that keep struggling students from succeeding.


Strategic Inquiry is a wonderful book that combines specific change processes with school and system improvement and ends up giving a clear picture of how change can be customized and accomplished. Rarely do we see such instructional precision in high school reform. — From the foreword by Michael Fullan, OISE/University of Toronto

Practitioners and scholars alike have been waiting a long time for this excellent book. Not only do the authors provide teachers with practical tools to help struggling students, they show how building the capacity to close learning gaps transforms school culture from the bottom up. This book should be read by anyone interested in the deep work of supporting student success at scale. — Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University

Strategic Inquiry documents New York City schools’ success in raising student achievement by focusing on shifting teacher practice, distributing school leadership, and aligning systems. As with students, all teachers can learn, and teachers working in teams are empowered to lead change in their schools. The lessons learned through the real-world examples that fill this insightful book are valuable for districts across the country. — Shael Polakow-Suransky, chief academic officer and senior deputy chancellor, New York City Department of Education

The book could be used as an introduction to school change, as it offers specific ideas about obstacles to student success, the difficulty of making positive change in schools, and insights for overcoming these problems. — J. House, CHOICE

Strategic Inquiry is an innovative model for promoting teacher collaboration around identifying specific “learning gaps” that keep struggling students from succeeding. — Ed Digest

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About the Authors

Nell Scharff Panero is the director of the Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) in the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, City University of New York. In 2004 she joined Baruch to teach in the Aspiring Leaders Program. Since 2005 she has codeveloped, taught in, trained trainers in, and refined (with Liz Gewirtzman) the Scaffolded Apprenticeship Model (SAM) of school improvement through leadership development. As a consultant, she has established inquiry as an engine of improvement in multiple large high schools and helped schools, districts, and universities to adapt and apply the model in both certification and noncertification versions. Her research interests include inquiry-based continuous improvement and facilitator development. Currently she runs the latest SAM iteration at Baruch (SAM Citywide) and, under the auspices of CEL, promotes broad knowledge and understanding of effective writing instruction—in particular, of strategies that were proven to close pervasive skill gaps surfaced through strategic inquiry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Kenyon College, a master’s in English from Hunter College, and a doctorate in English education from New York University. Prior to teaching at Baruch, she taught English at Hunter College High School for thirteen years. Her previous publications include the Children First Intensive Inquiry Team Handbook (New York City Department of Education, 2008) and “Starting Small for Big School Improvement,” Principal Leadership (April 2010, with D. A. DeAngelis and J. E. Talbert).

Joan E. Talbert is Senior Research Scholar Emerita in Stanford University’s School of Education. She joined the faculty in 1977 and cofounded (with Milbrey McLaughlin) the Center for Research on the Context of Teaching (CRC) in 1987 through a U.S. Department of Education Center grant. She was a member-at-large of the American Education Research Association Council and the National Research Council’s Committee on Education Finance. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Vassar College and a master’s degree and doctorate in sociology from the University of Washington. With CRC colleagues, she investigates conditions that shape teaching and learning, especially school-based professional communities. Through more than a dozen multiyear studies in school districts across the country, she has documented the results of various approaches to fostering teacher learning communities that continuously improve student achievement. Currently she is studying successful district reform strategies in the Central Valley of California. Her previous books include Building School-Based Teacher Learning Communities in Schools: Professional Strategies to Improve Student Achievement, coauthored with M. W. McLaughlin (Teachers College Press, 2006), and Professional Communities and the Work of High School Teaching, coauthored with M. W. McLaughlin (University of Chicago Press, 2001). Her recent book chapters and articles include “Collaborative Inquiry to Expand Student Achievement in New York City Schools,” in Education Reform in New York City: Ambitious Change in the Nation’s Most Complex School System, ed. J. O’Day, C. Bitter, and J. Gomez (Harvard Education Press, 2011); “Professional Learning Communities at the Crossroads: How Systems Hinder or Engender Change,” International Handbook of Educational Change, vol. 2 (Springer Press, 2010); “Conceptions of Evidence Use in School Districts: Mapping the Terrain,” coauthored with C. E. Coburn, American Journal of Education (August 2006).

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