Harvard researcher Ronald Edmonds once described his approach: “First you identify schools that produce the outcomes you’re interested in. Then you watch them and try to figure out what makes them different from ineffective schools.” Karin Chenoweth followed his advice for 15 years (see, for example, her book Schools that Succeed: How Educators Marshal the Power of Systems for Improvement) but finally realized that you can fix schools all you want; if the districts are dysfunctional they won’t stay fixed. She looks for districts that get good outcomes for students of color and students from low-income families and then tries to figure out what they are doing that makes them different from other, ineffective districts. In this session Karin will share her latest work from her acclaimed podcast, ExtraOrdinary Districts. The districts she will tell you about aren’t well known but they have applied the scientific method to help them avoid the fads and fashions so prevalent in education to help them ensure that their schools are calm, respectful places where students learn to—among other things–read. These districts aren’t fighting the reading or any other wars; they are winning them. And they have a lot to teach others.
Karin Chenoweth is the creator of ExtraOrdinary Districts podcast, which examines in depth how three districts have helped children of color and children from low-income homes improve their academic performance. Her latest book, Schools that Succeed: How Educators Marshal the Power of Systems for Improvement (2017), features Artesia High School in the ABC Unified District in Los Angeles County. She is also the author of It’s Being Done (2007) and HOW It’s Being Done (2009), and co-author of Getting It Done (2011), all published by Harvard Education Press. She is writer-in-residence for The Education Trust, a national education advocacy organization.
What do the educators in successful schools and districts do to be so successful? It shouldn’t be all that surprising, but it turns out they pay a lot of attention to established research. Chenoweth will share the hard-won wisdom of educators in successful and improving high-poverty schools and districts from Mobile, Alabama, to Los Angeles County, California, to Chicago, Illinois. (Yes, that Chicago, Illinois. Stop being so surprised.)
Learning from Success
What can we discover if we go to successful and improving schools and districts that primarily serve children of color and children who live in poverty? As writer-in-residence at The Education Trust, Karin Chenoweth has been visiting such schools and districts since 2004. She will take you on a whirlwind tour, complete with photos and videos, of what she has found. (Spoiler alert: her story involves a lot of smart and dedicated educators who are pretty darn savvy about research and how to apply it.)