WHAT IS EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS RESEARCH?
AGO a federal paper was written to discuss the effectiveness
of American education. The paper was funded by the U.S. Office of Education
and written by James Coleman, a prominent education researcher. Effective
Schools Research emerged in response to this controversial paper.
Concluding that public schools didn't make a significant
difference, Coleman's report credited the student's family background as
the main reason for student success in school. His findings proposed that
children from poor families and homes, lacking the prime conditions or
values to support education, could not learn, regardless of what the school
Ronald Edmonds, then Director of the Center for
Urban Studies at Harvard University, responded vigorously. Edmonds, and
others, refused to accept Coleman's report as conclusive, although they
acknowledged that family background does indeed make a difference. They
set out to find schools where kids from low income families were highly
successful, and thereby prove that schools can and do make a difference.
Edmonds, and other researchers, looked at achievement
data from schools in several major cities -- schools where student populations
were comprised of those from poverty backgrounds. Nationwide, they found
schools where poor children were learning. Though these findings contradicted
Coleman's conclusion, they (Edmonds, Brookover, Lezotte plus other school
effectiveness researchers) were left without an answer as to why certain
schools made a difference and others did not.
To answer this puzzling question, successful schools
were compared with similar schools, in like neighborhoods, where children
were not learning, or learning at a low level. Characteristics describing
both types of schools were observed and documented. The basic conclusion
of this comparative research was (is):
- Public schools can and do make a difference,
even those comprised of students from poverty backgrounds.
- Children from poverty backgrounds can learn at
high levels as a result of public schools.
- There are unique characteristics and processes
common to schools where all children are learning, regardless of family
background. Because these characteristics, found in schools where all students
learn, are correlated with student success -- they are called "correlates".
This body of correlated information began what is now refered to as Effective
- Replication research conducted in recent years
reaffirms these findings and the fact that these correlates describe schools
where children are learning and do not describe schools where children
are learning at a much lower level.. This replication research has been
conducted in all types of schools: suburban, rural, urban; high schools,
middle schools, elementary schools; high socio-economic communities, middle
class communities, and low socio-economic communities.