Support can be found in the research for all four of the Promoting Excellence for All focus areas: Effective Instruction, Student–Teacher Relationships, Family & Community Engagement, and School & Instructional Leadership.
Individual teachers can and do have profound influence on student learning.
(Darling-Hammond, 2000; McCaffrey, Lockwood, Koretz, & Hamilton, 2003; Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2000; Rockoff, 2004; Rowan, Correnti & Miller, 2002; Wright, Horn, & Sanders, 1997)
Effective educators create learner-centered classrooms with ongoing low-stakes checks of student knowledge and skills, and they continually adjust instruction to meet individual needs through a class- or school-based differentiation process.
(Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Burns, 2010; Tomlinson, 2001, 2003)
There is a rich research base for the effectiveness of specific instructional strategies such as those identified in:
Classroom Instruction That Works (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001), the Educational Research Service’s Handbook of Research on Improving Student Achievement (Cawelti, 2004).
The classroom of a caring teacher can function as a space where it is safe for students to take risks, feel comfortable when those risks do not always work out, and feel nurtured by the adult who leads the classroom community.
(Perkins, 2010; Zemelman, Daniels, & Hyde, 2005)
Students use positive relationships with their teachers as a secure base from which to take on academic challenges and advance their social–emotional development.
(Hamre & Pianta, 2001)
At-risk students of color and students in low-income schools show particular benefit from positive relationships with teachers.
(Decker, Dona, & Christenson, 2006; Green, Rhodes, Hirsch, Suarez-Orozco, & Camic, 2008; Murray & Malmgren, 2005)
Positive teacher–student relationships support students’ adjustment to school, development of social skills, and resiliency in academic performance.
(Battistich, Schaps, & Wilson, 2004; Birch & Ladd, 1997; Hamre & Pianta, 2001; Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1994)
Students who feel connected to the school and an adult within the school are more likely to attend school regularly, stay in school, and graduate.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2009)
Family & Community Engagement
Student learning and overall school improvement occurs when districts and schools engage in consistent, comprehensive, and sustained outreach programs to families and communities.
(Blank, Berg, & Melaville, 2006; Bryk et al., 2010; Marschall, 2006)
This engagement has a positive impact across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
(Henderson & Mapp, 2002; Jeynes, 2005)
Student achievement, credit completion, better attendance, higher graduation rates, and decreased incidences of discipline have all been correlated to family involvement.
(Catsambis & Beveridge, 2001; Child Trends, 2013; Hill et al., 2004; Simon, 2004)
Schools that create culturally sensitive welcoming environments have higher levels of family engagement.
(Bryk et al., 2010; Henderson & Mapp 2002)
Engagement with the wider community also can have strong positive outcomes for students. Students who regularly attend after-school programs that follow evidence-based practices can have improved academic achievement, reduced risk-taking behaviors, improved social skills, and positive health and wellness gains.
(Durlak & Weissberg, 2013; Gardner, Roth, & Brooks-Gunn, 2009; Little, Wimer, & Weiss, 2008)
Early research on community schools (one-stop for academic, health, social services, and community development) shows multiple potential positive outcomes including student achievement, attendance, and graduation.
(Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2009; Coalition for Community Schools, 2009; Public Education Network, 2012)
School & Instructional Leadership
School leaders impact overall student achievement and growth.
(Hallinger & Heck, 1998; Leithwood, Louis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom, 2004; Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003)
One consistent finding in the research is the importance of well-structured opportunities for collaboration that allow school leaders to work in closer partnership with their teachers and students to establish sustained, continuous improvement systems rooted in ongoing data analysis.
Highly effective leadership also provides clarity of purpose and strategic planning, leads collective inquiry into best practice and current reality, is action orientated, focuses on results, and builds strong leaders who empower others.
(DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Karnahek, 2006)
Change is often met with resistance, and good leaders know how to manage the adversity, conflict, and anxiety that often accompanies change.
(Dweck, 2006; Kammrath & Dweck, 2006; Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2002)
Many strong leaders know how to have “courageous conversations” about race and culture as they lead to close the achievement gaps.
(Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2014; Schumann, Zaki, & Dweck, in press; Singleton & Linton, 2005)