Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2008 Issue »

    Beyond NCLB and AYP

    One Superintendent’s Experience of School District Reform

    Ron Sofo, Freedom Area School District, Pennsylvania
    In this Voices Inside Schools essay, Ron Sofo, a school district superintendent in western Pennsylvania, argues that schools need bottom-up solutions more than top-down mandates if they are to prepare all students to meet twenty-first-century workforce demands. Framing the discussion in terms of his district’s reform model — the “New 4 Rs” of rigor, relevance, relationships, and reflection — Sofo describes how one middle school developed a multifaceted, classroom-level intervention to support struggling learners. He then explains how that effort was scaled up to other grades and how insights from the initiative reverberated throughout the district. In telling his story, Sofo depicts the instructional reforms his staff undertook, the challenges they encountered, and the early indications of their success. His essay offers a window into the complex process of instructional reform at the classroom, school, and district levels.

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    Ron Sofo is superintendent of schools in the Freedom Area School District (FASD) in Pennsylvania, where he previously served as assistant superintendent. In 2004, under Sofo’s leadership, FASD earned Standard & Poor’s “Beating the Odds” designation, which is awarded for higher levels of student academic achievement than would be predicted by student demographics, financial resources, and other measures of district wealth. Before working in FASD, Sofo led a dropout-prevention initiative in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and served as a management trainer for the Alexander Proudfoot Company, an international business consulting firm. He has also worked as a school counselor and an assistant principal. Sofo is the coauthor of No Bad Schools: On the High Road to Educational Reform (with W. Renko, 2005).
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    Summer 2008 Issue


    Hijacking Education Policy Decisions
    Ballot Initiatives and the Case of Affirmative Action
    Michele S. Moses and Lauren P. Saenz, University of Colorado at Boulder
    Different Worlds and Divergent Paths
    Academic Careers Defined by Race and Gender
    Juanita Johnson-Bailey and Ronald M. Cervero, The University of Georgia
    Language and the Performance of English-Language Learners in Math Word Problems
    Maria Martiniello, Educational Testing Service
    The New Outspoken Atheism and Education
    Nel Noddings, Stanford University, Emerita
    Beyond NCLB and AYP
    One Superintendent’s Experience of School District Reform
    Ron Sofo, Freedom Area School District, Pennsylvania

    Book Notes

    Teacher Mentoring and Induction
    edited by Hal Portner

    Brick Walls
    by Thomas E. Truitt

    After the Bell
    edited by Maggie Anderson and David Hassler