How to get Schools to Use Practices that Work

Writing for the Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog, Michael Petrilli recently explored ways to encourage educators to implement evidence-based practices. He asks:  How might we dramatically increase the chances that our schools scale up the most effective practices, resulting in significantly better outcomes for students? Petrilli offers the following ideas:

There are six plausible approaches that might be embraced by local communities, state education agencies, and/or philanthropists, under two categories:

A Culture of Improvement

  • Develop school improvement networks dedicated to searching for evidence-based solutions to problems of practice.
  • Expand high-quality charter schools with a proven record of respect for evidence and a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Scale up instructional coaching to help teachers implement evidence-based practices in their classrooms.

Tools and Technologies

  • Develop and market tools, such as curricular products, that are teacher-friendly and have a strong evidence base.
  • Develop and scale up new school models that bring several evidence-based tools or practices into a coherent whole, along with new, innovative approaches.
  • Clear the policy barriers that make it hard for schools to purchase the best tools and technologies, especially outdated procurement procedures.

Most of these ideas can work well in tandem. Several high-quality charter school networks, for example, embrace the “improvement science” approach popularized by Tony Bryk and his colleagues at the Carnegie Foundation. And of course, new school models are often easiest to implement in the charter sector, given their opportunity to start fresh. Likewise, we’re learning that instructional coaching can be a powerful improvement lever—but especially if connected to a well-designed, standards-aligned, and teacher-friendly curriculum.

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