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School improvement.

In what is described as the most comprehensive analysis of global school system reform ever assembled, a new report from McKinsey & Company identifies the reform elements that are replicable for school systems everywhere as well as what it really takes to achieve significant, sustained, and widespread gains in student outcomes. Twenty systems from around the world were analyzed, all with improving but differing levels of performance, examining how each has achieved significant, sustained, and widespread gains in student outcomes, as measured by international and national assessments. "How the world's most improved school systems keep getting better" is a follow up to a 2007 McKinsey report concerning how the world's best performing school systems came out on top. (January 2011)

For the third consecutive year, Maryland ranked number one in the annual Education Week evaluation of schools' performance, policymaking, and financing, Quality Counts 2011. Also in the top five were New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Florida, with letter grades ranging from Maryland's B+ to Virginia and Florida's B-. The country as a whole received a C. The latest report provides insight as to the influence of the recent economic downturn on changes in education policies--relatively few, according to the report--noting that policy adjustments in 10 states that relaxed regulations on the length of the school day, week, or year "generally represented quick fixes at the margins," rather than fundamental structural changes, and they were "often paired with budget cuts and other fiscal responses." (January 2011)

A study of more than 2,000 low-performing charter and traditional district schools across 10 states revealed that both categories of public schools are stubbornly resistant to significant change. Researchers for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute tracked the schools' performance from the 2003-04 through 2008-09 school years to determine how many were turned around, shut down, or remained low-performing. Nearly three quarters of the original low-performing charters remained in operation--and remained low-performing--five years later, as did 80 percent of district schools. (December 2010)

The State Policy Database of the Education Commission of the States now has data available for 2010. Summaries of policies are collected from state websites, state newsletters, StateNet, LexisNexis, and Westlaw. Descriptions often reflect the content of bills as introduced and may not reflect changes made during the legislative process.(December 2010)

A report from The Center for Teaching Quality offers a set of recommendations for school policy and practice and offers a guide to developing systems of support for meaningful and sustainable school reform. "Transforming School Conditions: Building Bridges to the Education System That Students and Teachers Deserve" was developed by the Teacher Working Conditions (TWC) Team, a group of 14 accomplished teachers from urban districts around the country. They merge their own experience in high-needs schools with the best current education research to discuss conditions that are needed for teachers to teach all students effectively. Their recommendations cover such areas as preparing effective teachers, enhancing collaboration between teachers, and building bridges between schools and communities. (December 2010)

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Title Annotation:What's New
Publication:The Education Innovator
Date:Feb 18, 2011
Previous Article:Standards and assessments.
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