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Sep 19 2017 - 11:42am
Research about how to build a great school


Havard Business Review just published a research article about How the Best School Leaders Create Enduring Change, following are the 9 building blocks about the methods and processes required to build a great school.


(These quotes are pulled directly from the article)


"1. Challenge the system: stay for at least 5 years."

"The most successful leaders stayed for the whole of this journey, and often longer, with test scores increasing by an impressive 45-50 percentage points in the first eight years after they took over."


"2. Teach everyone: expel less than 3% of students."

"The most successful leaders suspended 10-15% students in the first three years after they arrived, but expelled less than 3%"


"3. Teach for longer: from ages 5 to 18."

"Of all the changes made by the leaders in our study, teaching kids for longer were the one with the most consistent impact. It took five years to see results, but test scores then suddenly jumped by nine percentage points and continued to improve by five percentage points each year after that."


"4. Challenge the staff: change 30-50%. "

"The most successful leaders changed 30-50% of staff in the first 3 years by clarifying teaching and marking targets, displaying real-time performance (such as attendance, behavior and test scores) on video screens in corridors and staff rooms, and managing out poor performers"


"5. Engage students: keep 95% in class"

"The most successful leaders achieved this in the first 3 years—by bringing in external speakers to inspire students, asking students to evaluate teachers, so they felt part of the process, and getting older students mentor the younger ones, so they had someone to look up to."


"6. Challenge the board: manage 30-60% of them." 

"A strong, healthy board was critical to the success of all the schools in our study, with the best leaders challenged by 30-60% of governors on key decisions in their first three years. Poor decisions were made if the challenge was less than 30%, and the leader lost control of the school if the challenge was greater than 60%."


"7. Engage parents: have 50% at parents’ evenings"

"Attendance at parents’ night was as low as 10% when many leaders first arrived — but the most successful ones increased it to more than 50% by the end of the third year. "


"8. Engage staff: 70% with no absence. "

"The most successful schools had more than 70% staff with no absence by the end of the third year. They did this by reducing the number of supply teachers, asking teachers to evaluate each other (through informal observations), team teaching, visiting other schools (to see how they worked) and simplifying processes to reduce administration and paperwork."


"9. Teach better: 100% capable staff."

"The most successful schools in our study all had 100% capable staff by the end of the third year. They achieved this by recruiting capable teachers, increasing informal teaching observations (through mentoring programs within and across subjects), and sharing best practices within and across schools. As another Architect said, “Too many poor teachers are simply moved from one school to another. "


"6 out of 9"

"There’s a tipping point in each transformation when six of the building blocks are in place"

"The last three blocks help to sustain the transformation"


Posted in: EducationResearch Digest|By: Ryan Wu|686 Reads