Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Smith, M. S., & O'Day, J. (1991). Putting the pieces together: Systemic school reform (CPRE Policy Brief, RB-06-4/91). New Brunswick, NJ: Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

This issue summarizes "Systemic School Reform," an analytic essay by Marshall S. Smith and Jennifer O'Day discussing research into the effectiveness of current education policies and policy system development in numerous states. The authors propose a design for a systemic state structure that supports school-site improvement efforts and is based on clear, challenging standards for student learning. Policy components would be tied to these standards and reinforce one another in providing instructional guidance to schools and teachers. This brief begins with several observations concerning policy, examines current barriers to school improvement, and sketches an ameliorative strategy. School-by-school restructuring efforts are unlikely to produce substantial change because our educational system lacks coherence and emphasis on basic skills pervades both policy and practice. Change is hampered by fragmented authority structures, conflicting goals and policies, and deficiencies in college teaching, professional development, and curriculum. A strategy for systemic reform would combine both top-down and bottom-up approaches and feature a unifying vision and goals, a coherent instructional guidance system, and a restructured governance system. A sidebar examines teacher professionalism and educational equity issues.

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