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PROGRAMS and SERVICES 
 
Critical Friends Groups - Looking at Student Work

"When teachers get together and apply their combined knowledge and experience to the challenges of teaching and learning, amazing things can happen!" (Allen & Blythe 2003)  Kate Nolan, Director of Re-Thinking Accountability for Annenberg Institute for School Reform captures a typical moment of a typical teacher working with a typical group of students: "Suppose we could look into a teacher's brain and understand its swirling chemical language. We would witness a sophisticated procedure unfolding in the blink of an eye:
 
Does Marie understand the connection between what she's saying and the lesson we just worked on?
  • What does Jamal's brilliant grasp of these ideas mean given what I know his project will look like?
  • How will we ever cover the whole textbook?
  • Why is Kelly so blue today?
  • Mikhail is working on an essay (it looks like it is going well).   What will I challenge him with next?
  • Is the public address system with its constant interruptions sidetracking anyone?
  • Keira is ready for the next steps, but how can I help her?”
Sound familiar?  Read more ...   


High Schools Redesign with "Breaking Ranks II"

At the heart of high school reform is the rigor and relevancy of the work within the classroom.   The Coalition of Essential Schools addresses this need for rigor and relevancy through the Theory of Change Model.   The Consortium for Policy Research in Education reports four elements are needed for successful school reform: clear ambitious goals matched with the high standards of student achievement, change in instructional practice, intense professional development and accountability that focuses on measurable increases in student learning.   CES works with high schools in each of these four areas.
 
At the heart of high school reform is the rigor and relevancy of the work within the classroom.   The Coalition of Essential Schools addresses this need for rigor and relevancy through the Theory of Change Model.   The Consortium for Policy Research in Education reports four elements are needed for successful school reform: clear ambitious goals matched with the high standards of student achievement, change in instructional practice, intense professional development and accountability that focuses on measurable increases in student learning.   CES works with high schools in each of these four areas.
 
Read more ...


Professional Learning Community

Teacher collaboration impacts student achievement and, in particular, collaboratively looking at student work improves student achievement.  That was part of the "what works" message recently delivered by Brian McNulty to Superintendents and Secondary School Principals at their respective state conferences.  He specifically mentioned the use of structured protocols to guide the collaborative analysis of student work that would change teachers' instruction. Several protocols are universally available, but many are only available through Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) centers and the National School Reform Faculty (NSRF), a CES partner.  Critical friends groups, what we now call Collaborating for Students' Success, are research-based strategies that improve student achievement.
School Improvement

The Michigan Coalition of Essential Schools (MCES), a regional center for the Coalition of Essential Schools, aligns school change with the state School Improvement Framework by strengthening or creating a schoolwide professional learning community that collaborates, inquires, and reflects about teaching and learning.

 

The September, 2002 issue of Phi Delta Kappan includes a special section on school reform describing research from the Consortium for Policy Research on Education. The MCES School Improvement Model is founded on the elements for successful school reform described in the Kappan articles:   

  • There are clear and ambitious goals matched with such indicators of results as coherent education standards and sound measures of student achievement.
  • There is a change in the nature and organization of instructional practice (with instructional practice defined as the interactions of students-teachers-content-environment).
  • There is extensive investment in continuing professional development, strong curricula, and leadership in the school and system.
  • There are incentives and accountability providing a focus that increases energy devoted to instruction and increases personal satisfaction from increased student learning.
Secondary Literacy 

Several MCES staff members and consultants were trained in West Ed's Strategic Literacy Initiative, Reading Apprenticeship.    Knowing that the major emphasis from No Child Left Behind was on high school, the Coalition had already invested a great deal of time and resources in developing its high school component.   Coupled with our already excellent middle school reading program, Real Reading in the Middle (RRIM), that made the move to high school literacy the next logical step.  

The major thrust of Reading Apprenticeship (RA) is to create communities of inquiry among teachers and students across all content areas.   Each discipline has its own specific reading processes.   When teachers become aware of their own mental processes used to make sense of text and can converse out loud, they can help their students do the same.   Teachers then see themselves as valuable resources in the teaching of reading and overtime students begin to see themselves as independent problem solvers with text.   This process has improved student attitude and comprehension for all readers, but has shown particular gains for those reading below grade level.

Read more ...


School, Parent, and Community Involvement

MCES follows the model from the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University on School, Family, Community Partnerships directed by Dr. Joyce Epstein.   This model aligns with the Strand IV of the Michigan School Improvement Framework.   An MCES staff person has been trained in the Epstein approach and is providing professional development and support to schools to set up Parent Action Teams.   These teams will facilitate the development of the Six Types of Involvement for parents and community members:

Parenting: Parenting skills are promoted and supported.
  • Communication: Communication between home and school is regular, two-way, and meaningful
  • Volunteering: Parents are welcome in the school, and their support and assistance are sought.
  • Learning at Home: Parents play an integral role in assisting student learning.
  • School Decision Making and Advocacy: Parents are full partners in the decisions that affect children and families.
  • Collaborating with Community: Community resources are used to strengthen schools, families, and student learning.




 
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