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ERIC Number: ED559694
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 40
Abstractor: ERIC
Greenhouse Schools in Boston: School Leadership Practices across a High-Performing Charter Sector
McGovern, Kate
TNTP has been investigating the importance of school environment and leadership practices using a survey tool called "Instructional Culture Insight," which measures teachers' perceptions of their school environments. In "Greenhouse Schools: How Schools Can Build Cultures Where Teachers and Students Thrive (2012)," TNTP found that school culture matters for the retention of high-performing teachers and for student achievement overall, and a handful of elements that seem to be consistent across schools with particularly positive environments were identified. Those places are referred to as "greenhouse schools." Greenhouse practices in Boston include: (1) Consistent learning environments that enable a focus on student growth; (2) Teacher development through observation, feedback, and peer modeling; (3) Early hiring with a high bar; and (4) Right responses to Good and poor performance. Research has found that on average, students perform 16 percentage points higher in numeracy and 14 percentage points higher in literacy in greenhouse schools, compared to schools in the same district or charter sector that perform toward the bottom. Based on those findings, TNTP researchers wondered if part of the explanation for Boston charter schools' robust student growth could be stronger climates for excellent teaching. This paper revisits the original premise of "Greenhouse Schools" by looking closely at what's happening in Boston's charter sector. To do this, TNTP used the Instructional Culture Insight tool to measure school culture in around two-thirds of Boston's charter schools. The hope was that exploring school cultures--and the school leadership practices that contribute to those cultures--in a set of high-performing schools could provide strategies that school leaders in both charter and district schools elsewhere could use. The paper compares Boston charter schools with more than 200 charter schools across the country to identify what they do differently to achieve such different results. One result is clear: Boston's success with students isn't just good luck. Smart, strategic choices on the part of school leaders are contributing to the development of school environments where teachers can do their best work, and students are benefitting as a result. Case studies are contained in the Appendix. [For this report, Leslie Gabbianelli and Melissa Wu led research and analysis, with support from Kymberlie Schifrin. Several members of the TNTP leadership team--Amanda Kocon, Karolyn Belcher, Daniel Weisberg, Ariela Rozman, Timothy Daly, and David Keeling--shared their insights. Kate McGovern led writing and Keith Miller led design. The report, graphics and figures were designed by Kristin Girvin Redman and Michael Sambar at Cricket Design Works in Madison, Wisconsin. For more information about the research methodology behind this paper, a technical appendix is available at To view "Greenhouse Schools: How Schools Can Build Cultures Where Teachers and Students Thrive" see ED533216.]
TNTP. 186 Joralemon Street Suite 300, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Tel: 718-233-2800; Fax: 718-643-9202; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: NewSchools Venture Fund
Authoring Institution: TNTP
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts