Effective Schools, Common Practices

In April and May of 2007, a researcher commissioned by ECF visited six elementary and middle schools in Tennessee whose principals were recognized through the foundation's Value-Added Achievement Awards. By visiting these schools - some of the most effective in the state - he hoped to identify the practices they had in common that might contribute to solid student learning gains.

He identified 12 distinct practices, all of which are related to the systematic collection and analysis of data; his findings can be found by downloading the complete report, available here as a PDF file.

His findings include:

  1. The top-performing schools use progress tests that assess the same skills that are tested on the state’s Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) examinations.
  2. The top-performing schools require students to meet higher-than-minimum mastery criteria on student progress tests.
  3. The top-performing schools employ practice-intensive learning activities that target the types of skills required by the examination.
  4. In the top-performing schools, the principal receives frequent reports of individual student progress with respect to attainment of Tennessee’s curriculum standards.
  5. In the top-performing schools, teachers receive frequent reports on the progress of each of their students.
  6. In the top-performing schools, teaching practices are adjusted when a student makes insufficient progress towards a curricular objective. Students simply are not permitted to quietly fail.
  7. In top-performing schools, student progress data is used to assess each teacher’s classroom effectiveness. Teaching performance is tracked continuously by the principal or by colleagues who are assigned to monitor teacher and student progress.
  8. In top-performing schools, the principal and other teachers routinely work with struggling colleagues to improve their teaching skills.
  9. In top-performing schools, principals obtain supplemental budgetary support for the training and materials required to improve teacher performance.
  10. Top-performing schools regularly inform parents about their child’s performance and seek to work with parents whenever children are progressing insufficiently.
  11. Top-performing schools survey parents at least annually to assess satisfaction with the school’s services.
  12. Top-performing schools have school-wide programs that reward positive social and academic student behavior. Principals monitor the success of these programs, collecting data on the number and type of student referrals for problem behavior.

To download the complete report, click here (PDF format).


Copyright 2011, Education Consumers Foundation, sponsor of the Most Effective Schools Campaign. All rights reserved.