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Beyond Islands of Excellence: What Districts Can do to Improve Instruction and Achievement in All Schools


This new report by the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of leading education organizations working together to improve student learning, shows how five high poverty school districts have raised student achievement. The report outlines lessons from the five districts and identifies practical steps that school districts can take to move beyond a few excellent schools to success across entire systems. The five districts studied are: Aldine Independent School District in Houston, Texas; Chula Vista Elementary School District in Chula Vista, California; Kent County Public Schools in Maryland; Minneapolis Public Schools; and Providence Public Schools. The districts were selected based on their ability to exhibit at least three years of improvement in student achievement in mathematics and/or reading across multiple grades and across all races and ethnicities. The study findings are particularly useful as states and school districts work to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind legislation, which intensifies the requirement for school districts to raise the achievement of all students.

The link below provides access to the full report (PDF) as well as to a Leadership Brief, case studies of each of the five study districts, and ordering information for hard copies of the report.