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ERIC Number: ED498342
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Sep
Pages: 72
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 119
The Essential Supports for School Improvement. Research Report
Sebring, Penny Bender; Allensworth, Elaine; Bryk, Anthony S.; Easton, John Q.; Luppescu, Stuart
Consortium on Chicago School Research
This report sets forth a framework of essential supports and contextual resources for school improvement, examines empirical evidence on its key elements and how they link to improvements in student learning, and investigates how a school's essential supports interact with community context to affect student learning. The purpose of this research is to establish a comprehensive, empirically grounded practice framework that principals, teachers, parents, and school-system leaders can draw on as they work to improve children's learning. The focus of this report is Chicago public elementary schools during the period of 1990 through 1996, a period during which the system as a whole made progress, with substantial variation across school communities in achievement trends. These conditions were favorable for exploring why some elementary schools were able to make substantial progress and others stagnated. Five supports were identified as essential for school improvement. The first, leadership, acts as a catalyst, stimulating the development of the four other core organizational supports: parent-community ties, professional capacity of the faculty and staff, a student-centered learning climate, and ambitious instruction. Parent-community ties and professional capacity of the faculty and staff reflect the individual and collective capacities of the adult actors in the school community and, in turn, result in the conditions that directly affect student learning: learning climate and ambitious instruction. The development of the five essential supports depends in significant ways on features of local context. Previous studies have linked relational trust across a school community, school size and the stability of the student body to school improvement. This report adds new findings about the linkage between the social context of school communities and their capacities to improve, finding that schools with strong essential supports, even when located in communities with relatively low levels of social capital and high densities of abused or neglected children were able to improve and show higher-than-average learning gains. The report concludes that the greatest improvements occur when there is organizational strength in all the essential supports. Each support appears to facilitate the functioning of the other supports. The opposite is also true: a weakness in any organizational element can undermine strengths in other areas. The importance of strength in multiple essential supports suggests that narrow interventions will have limited success in improving student learning and that the resources necessary to achieve substantial improvement in socially isolated, crime-ridden communities where there is little social capital are daunting. The school system must press forward to strengthen the essential supports in these schools, building and supporting partnerships at community, city, county, state, and federal levels, to address the serious challenges that go beyond the schoolyard. The following are appended: (1) Survey Measures, Composite Variables, and Items; (2) Socioeconomic Status (SES) Factor; (3) Interview Questions from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods; and (4) School Community Indicators for Different Sub-Groups of Schools. (Contains 12 figures.)
Consortium on Chicago School Research. 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-702-3364; Fax: 773-702-2010; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Joyce Foundation, Chicago, IL.; Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, IL.
Authoring Institution: Consortium on Chicago School Research, IL.
Identifiers - Location: Illinois
IES Cited: ED558161; ED554442