School & District Management

Blue-Ribbon Panel To Set Standards For Reform Models

By Lynn Olson — February 09, 2000 4 min read

Nonprofit and for-profit organizations today are peddling dozens of “whole school” designs intended to improve student achievement. Now, a blue-ribbon panel has taken on the task of helping schools separate the wheat from the chaff.

The panel, created by New American Schools, a nonprofit group in Arlington, Va., plans to set “standards of quality” for providing schoolwide assistance. The aim is to help consumers decide which designs and providers would be right for their schools and which are most likely to yield results.

Joe B. Wyatt

The 16-member panel, which includes the heads of national organizations representing teachers, principals, school boards, superintendents, governors, and major employers, expects to complete its work and release a set of standards in June.

More than 10 percent of public schools nationwide, educating more than 5 million students, now have contracts with providers of such design-based assistance. The offerings range from nonprofit models such as Success for All, developed at Johns Hopkins University, to the for-profit Edison Schools Inc.

“We believe that comprehensive school reform needs some better definitions of what quality is to help schools make selections,” said Donald M. Feuerstein, the president of New American Schools, which itself supports the creation and dissemination of model programs.

“We don’t want to make comparative ratings of designs,” he added. Rather, the panel will try to identify criteria that, if met, indicate a design has reasonable objectives, the capacity to deliver, and proven results.

Over the past decade, New American Schools has awarded $150 million to support the development of seven whole-school designs. This year, Congress has appropriated $170 million to subsidize the adoption of such designs by schools.

In addition, Title I, the main federal program for disadvantaged students, has placed more emphasis in recent years on the use of whole-school strategies. And some districts and states have also proposed the adoption of such designs for their schools.

“People are so committed to reform and are reaching out,” said Joe B. Wyatt, the chairman of the new panel and the chancellor of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. “So there’s a real danger of spending a lot of time and money and not getting the job done, and we really can’t afford to do that.”

New Design Added

Milton Goldberg, the executive vice president of the National Alliance of Business and a representative to the panel, said the idea of drafting a set of criteria to help schools choose among whole-school designs makes sense. “The trick, of course, is to do this well,” he added.

New American Schools has commissioned the American Productivity & Quality Center, a nonprofit group based in Houston, to work with the panel to gather information and help shape the standards. The center works with schools and businesses on strategies for improving work processes and performance.

Late last month, NAS hosted a conference of more than 30 providers of design- based assistance to get their views on the form and substance such quality standards should take. The blue-ribbon panel, which met for the first time last week, plans to hold public-awareness and comment sessions this spring.

New American Schools has already drafted a set of standards to facilitate its own work that will serve as a starting point for the panel’s discussions.

In a related announcement late last month, NAS said it had added a new design to its portfolio. Turning Points, a program focused on middle schools, is one of eight now advocated by New American Schools, and the first addition beyond the original design teams the group has supported since 1991.

Turning Points was created by the Boston-based Center for Collaborative Education, a nonprofit group.

The other members of the standards panel are:

Anne L. Bryant, executive director, National School Boards Association; Gaston Caperton, president, College Board; Bob Chase, president, National Education Association; Sandra Feldman, president, American Federation of Teachers; Vincent L. Ferrandino, executive director, National Association of Elementary School Principals; Chester E. Finn Jr., president, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation; James W. Guthrie, director, Peabody Center for Education Policy, Vanderbilt University;

Kati Haycock, executive director, Education Trust; Roberts T. Jones, president and chief executive officer, National Alliance of Business; Diana Lam, superintendent, Providence, R.I., schools; Floretta Dukes McKenzie, president, McKenzie Group; Raymond G. Scheppach, executive director, National Governors’ Association; Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director, National Association of Secondary School Principals; Jane Walters, former Tennessee commissioner of education; William Wulf, president, National Academy of Engineering.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 09, 2000 edition of Education Week as Blue-Ribbon Panel To Set Standards For Reform Models

Events

School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online
School & District Management Webinar What's Ahead for Hybrid Learning: Putting Best Practices in Motion
It’s safe to say hybrid learning—a mix of in-person and remote instruction that evolved quickly during the pandemic—is probably here to stay in K-12 education to some extent. That is the case even though increasing
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Building Equitable Systems: Moving Math From Gatekeeper to Opportunity Gateway
The importance of disrupting traditional American math practices and adopting high-quality math curriculum continues to be essential for changing the trajectory of historically under-resourced schools. Building systems around high-quality math curriculum also is necessary to
Content provided by Partnership for L.A. Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management From Our Research Center How the Pandemic Is Shaping K-12 Education (in Charts)
Surveys by the EdWeek Research Center show how schools have changed during the pandemic and what adjustments are likely to stick.
Eric DiVito gives breathing instructions as he teaches a remote music class at the Osborn School on Oct. 6, 2020, in Rye, N.Y.
Eric DiVito gives breathing instructions as he teaches a remote music class at the Osborn School in Rye, N.Y., last fall.
Mary Altaffer/AP
School & District Management Opinion Ed. Leaders: Discuss Race, Call Out White Supremacy
Downplaying the realities of racism leads to misunderstanding school problems and developing inadequate solutions.
John B. Diamond & Jennifer Cheatham
5 min read
Hand writing the word racism on blackboard. Stop hate. Against prejudice and violence. Lecture about discrimination in school.
Tero Vesalainen/iStock/Getty
School & District Management 'You Can’t Follow CDC Guidelines': What Schools Really Look Like During COVID-19
All year, some teachers have said that enforcing precautions to slow the spread of the virus in classrooms can be nearly impossible.
13 min read
Guntown Middle School eighth graders walk the halls to their next class as others wait in their assigned spots against the wall before moving into their next class during the first day back to school for the Lee County District in Guntown, Miss on Aug. 6, 2020.
Eight graders walk the halls on the first day back to school in Guntown, Miss., on Aug. 6, 2020. Teachers in several states told Education Week that since the beginning of the school year, enforcing precautions such as social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus has been nearly impossible.<br/>
Adam Robison/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP
School & District Management Opinion School Reopening Requires More Than Just Following the Science
Educators can only “follow the science” so far. Professional expertise matters too, writes Susan Moore Johnson.
Susan Moore Johnson
5 min read
Illustration of school and bus
Getty