In a bid to eradicate the perception that disadvantaged children cannot learn as well as their more advantaged peers, a Washington research group has launched an initiative designed to help struggling schools and districts learn pathways to success from high-performing ones.
The move by the Education Trust combines a searchable computer database of student-achievement information with on-the-ground research and face-to-face meetings in an attempt to create a nationwide seminar of sorts. The aim is to boost the achievement of schools that serve high proportions of poor and minority children.
“We want to create an educational culture that recognizes and learns from success,” said Craig D. Jerald, a principal partner with the Education Trust who is leading the initiative. “The key to closing the achievement gap is to learn from the places that are making the most progress doing it.”
The cornerstone of the High Performing Schools and Districts initiative, announced Nov. 6, is a database that contains school-level test scores, broken down by race and poverty level, for 29 states, Mr. Jerald said.
As more states disaggregate such data, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, those numbers will be added to the Web site, said Mr. Jerald, a former project director for Education Week‘s annual Quality Counts report. Using the site, educators and others can identify high- performing, high-poverty schools for study and conversation, he said.
‘Many Schools Succeeding’
As part of the initiative, the Education Trust won a two-year grant from the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build a database on high-performing high schools, and to send research teams to as many as 30 high- and low-performing secondary schools around the country, Mr. Jerald said.
Eric J. Cooper, the president of the Washington-based National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, said the initiative would provide “a very important service not only to school-based people, and district people, but to policymakers” because it could facilitate the identification and use of models that have proved successful.