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They Have Overcome: High-Poverty, High-Performing Schools in California.

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This study examined reasons for the success of eight high-performing California elementary schools with high numbers of impoverished students. Interviews with principal focused on teaching methods, curriculum, content standards, test scores, teacher professional development, safety, discipline, local decision making, parent involvement, emergency teacher certification, obstacles to student performance, and reasons for success. Principals were strong leaders with clear visions of what worked and what did not work. Rather than sticking with ineffective theories and methods, they emphasized what worked in the real world. Many schools ignored the move toward whole-language reading instruction and remained with phonics-based instruction. Principals emphasized the importance of the type of curriculum chosen to teach a particular subject. A well-implemented, research-proven curriculum was key in determining student performance. The schools used the Open Court reading curriculum, supported teacher-directed instruction, and had well-planned strategies to ensure that students acquired standards-based knowledge. Principals encouraged frequent testing to discover students' and teachers' strengths and weaknesses. Professional development emphasized subject matter and implementation of state standards. Most schools were more interested in teacher qualities than teaching credentials. None reported major discipline problems, relating this fact to higher achievement. Principals emphasized parent involvement in their schools. They cited teacher quality as a key reason for high achievement (Contains 25 notes.). (SM)

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Author:Izumi, Lance T.
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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