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STUDIES OF SCHOOL AND CLASSROOM EFFECTIVENESS:
SUMMARY OF THE STATE OF KNOWLEDGE

The literature on school and classroom effectiveness provides the following key findings:

The studies reviewed here provide some evidence to support the ''effective schools" attributes identified nearly 20 years ago, with at least two important qualifications:

The studies challenge the conceptualization of some of those attributes, for example, the idea that implementing characteristics of effective schools and classrooms makes schools and classrooms more effective.

The studies suggest that factors not identified in the effective schools literature may be important as well if we are to create schools where English-language learners, indeed all students, will be successful and productive. Examples of such factors are a focus on more than just basics, ongoing staff development, and home-school connections.

The following attributes are identified as being associated with effective schools and classrooms: a supportive school-wide climate, school leadership, a customized learning environment, articulation and coordination within and between schools, some use of native language and culture in the instruction of language-minority students, a balanced curriculum that incorporates both basic and higher-order skills, explicit skills instruction, opportunities for student-directed activities, use of instructional strategies that enhance understanding, opportunities for practice, systematic student assessment, staff development, and home and parent involvement.

Although suggestive of key attributes that are important for creating effective schools and classrooms, most studies reviewed here cannot give firm answers about any particular attribute and its relationship to student outcomes. For example, the nominated schools designs do not report data on student outcomes and are thus inconclusive. Prospective case studies lack comparison groups, so that changes in student outcomes may be due to extraneous factors. And while quasi-experimental studies that focus on an entire program provide the strongest basis for claims about program or school effects, they make direct claims only about the program or school effect overall. Claims about the effects of specific components must, in general, rest on other studies that examine those components explicitly.



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