In January 2009 The National Center for Education Achievement (NCEA) published its research on higher performing school systems. The NCEA Core Practice Framework: An Organizing Guide to Sustained School Improvement is designed to help educators and policymakers develop and support a coherent, comprehensive, and sustained approach toward these efforts. The Framework challenges school systems to address five primary challenges (themes) in order to support these efforts.
1. Student Learning: Expectations and Goals
2. Staff Selection, Leadership, and Capacity Building
3. Instructional Tools: Programs and Strategies
4. Monitoring: Compilation, Analysis, and Use of Data
5. Recognition, Intervention, and Adjustment
When each of these five themes are applied to classroom practices, school practices, and district practices, educational improvements result.
The research in this report moves educators and policymakers away from trying to identify a single factor that separates them from higher performing schools. A question such as, “What programs are these high performing school systems using?” is isolated to one aspect of the bigger picture and is a weak one to ask. Why? Prescriptive programs are not microcosms of successful school systems. Instead, lower performing school systems need to examine with a comprehensive and coherent lens.
Think of it as isolating and examining an eyelash follicle verses examining the two rows of eyelashes as interconnected. They are a system. Once school systems recognize that a coherent improvement plan is not in place, sustainable efforts can be put in place to improve student and teacher learning.