Marsh, J., Kerr, K., Ikemoto, G., Darilek, H., Suttorp, M., Zimmer, R., & Barney, H. The role of districts in fostering instructional improvement: Lessons from three urban districts partnered with the Institute for Learning

Author: Marsh, J., Kerr, K., Ikemoto, G., Darilek, H., Suttorp, M., Zimmer, R., & Barney, H.



In fall 2002, the RAND Corporation initiated a study to analyze three urban districts' efforts to face challenges of students' low achievement and to improve the instructional quality and performance of their schools. The study also sought to assess the contribution to these efforts made by an intermediary organization, the Institute for Learning (IFL). RAND closely examined district reform efforts in four areas: promoting the instructional leadership of principals; supporting the professional learning of teachers, in particular through school-based coaching models; specifying curriculum; and promoting data-based decision-making for planning and instructional improvement. RAND also examined the impact of the IFL on these instructional improvements.

In terms of the reform based on implementation of coaches (there were literacy coaches as well as other instructional coaches particularly for math), survey results indicated teachers had positive overall perceptions of their coaches. Case study interviews, however, revealed a more nuanced set of findings indicating that some interactions with coaches were more beneficial than others. In both districts, teachers interviewed were more likely to find value in interactions with coaches when the content of the coaching sessions related to individual schools and/or teacher needs and when coaching was given in the form of individual advice about instruction.

In total, tables suggest that the three districts had some success in improving the performance of their students over the time they partnered with the IFL. However, to examine the impact of district reform efforts in general or of the partnership with the IFL on student achievement, detailed student-level data of individual performance over time was required. The data available for this study did not support such an analysis.

Date Added: 09/29/2006


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