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These Center's Issue Briefs are meant to help readers think beyond simple compliance with federal law or basic implementation of programs: What unacknowledged challenges must educators and leaders confront to help schools operate more effectively and to sustain improvement over the long run? In what ways does the conventional wisdom about teaching, learning, and school improvement run counter to current research and get in the way of making good decisions? What are the emerging next-generation issues that educators will face next year and five years from now?

The Center's Issue Briefs

    • Effective Uses of Funding Support for Schools in Need of Improvement (September 2009)
    • This brief investigates effective uses of funding support for schools in need of improvement.

    • Successful School Turnarounds: Seven Steps for District Leaders (September 2009)
    • This brief, by Julie Kowal, Emily Ayscue Hassel, and Bryan C. Hassel, draws from the cross-sector research base on successful turnarounds to offer seven steps for district leaders to support turnaround principals and maximize their chances of success.

    • Engaging Native American Learners With Rigor And Cultural Relevance (August 2009)
    • This brief, by Abner Oakes and Traci Maday, identifies strategies that foster Native American student engagement and improved academic achievement.

    • Vertical Alignment: Ensuring Opportunity to Learn in a Standards-Based System (August 2009)
    • This brief explores some of the issues that districts may face when implementing vertical alignment of the written curriculum across grade levels.

    • Reaching Out To Family and the Community (April 2009)
    • This issue brief investigates how some high-performing schools are engaging families and citizens to support student achievement.

    • Reinventing District Central Offices to Expand Student Learning (September 2008)
    • In this issue brief, authors Meredith Honig and Michael Copland examine the role of central office administrators in the reinvention process and what research and experience matters for expanding student learning.

    • Gifted and Talented Students at Risk for Underachievement (August 2008)
    • Educators and policymakers can address gifted underachievement through changes in classroom and systemwide practices. This Issue Brief summarizes the issues underlying promising practices for supporting the gifted and talented. It also offers a series of questions to ask when planning schoolwide improvement efforts that address the needs of gifted and talented students—especially those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and low SES families—who are at risk for underachievement.

    • Building Collective Efficacy: How Leaders Inspire Teachers to Achieve (October 2007)
    • In this issue brief, authors Dana Brinson and Lucy Steiner take a look at how leaders can engage staff to build “collective efficacy," a perception of teachers in a school that the efforts of the faculty as a whole will have a positive effect on student learning.

    • Instructional Coaching (September 2007)
    • In this issue brief, authors Julie Kowal and Lucy Steiner take a look at instructional coaching and elements to look for when selecting, preparing, and evaluating coaches for effectiveness. This is part one of a two part series.

    • Principal as Instructional Leader: Designing a Coaching Program That Fits (September 2007)
    • In this issue brief, authors Lucy Steiner and Julie Kowal take a look at the role of the principal as instructional leader, including activities such as assessing needs and goals, selecting a coaching strategy, and implementing and supporting the coaching program. This is part two of a two part series.

    • Believing and Achieving (January 2007)
    • In this issue brief, Craig Jerald takes a look at the role of teacher efficacy – how teachers’ beliefs in their own abilities affect student achievement.

    • School Culture: "The Hidden Curriculum" (December 2006)
    • In this issue brief, Craig Jerald discusses the impact of organizational culture on student achievement in this issue brief.

    • Using Data: The Math’s Not the Hard Part (September 2006)
    • In this issue brief, author Craig Jerald highlights research collected in the July 2005 special issue of the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk to argue for collecting and using data to increase student achievement.

    • The Hidden Costs of Curriculum Narrowing (August 2006)
    • In this issue brief, author Craig Jerald discusses the costs involved when schools seek to improve student performance by increasing the time they spend on reading and mathematics while reducing time on other subjects.

    • 'Teach to the Test'? Just Say No (July 2006)
      In this issue brief, author Craig Jerald discusses the challenge that teachers face when trying to produce good instructional practice and good test scores.  Problems with "teaching to the test" are presented.

      Dropping Out Is Hard To Do (June 2006)
    • In this issue brief, author Craig Jerald explores what recent research says about high school dropouts and explains the powerful role schools can play in keeping students on track to graduate.

    • Love and Math (March 2006)
    • In this issue brief, author Craig Jerald examines the impact of teacher’s own mathematical knowledge on student learning.