School Reform

Heather Zavadsky

in Education

ISBN: 9780199756810
Published online December 2011 | | DOI:
School Reform

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  • Education
  • Organization and Management of Education
  • Philosophy and Theory of Education
  • Schools Studies
  • Teaching Skills and Techniques


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School reform refers to the process of making changes in educational policy or practice, often in response to concern over student academic achievement. The term school reform is often interchanged with education reform or school improvement, but the most commonly used term is school reform. Most school reform falls into one of two categories: (a) teaching and learning or, in other words, what happens within classrooms, or (b) administrative reform, whereby either structures, governance, or decision-making strategies are addressed, either within or outside of the school. A third emergent approach combines both categories and typically refers to reform across entire districts and their schools, commonly known as comprehensive school reform, systemic reform, or district-wide reform. School reform has been a topic of urgent concern for decades and remains at the forefront of policy and practice, often prompted by particular historical events or major policies, including the launching of Sputnik, the civil rights movement, pivotal reports such as A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Education Reform, as citied in Response to A Nation at Risk, 1980s, and policy movements such as the Comprehensive School Reform Program, Goals 2000: Educate America Act, and No Child Left Behind Act. The topic of school reform is quite broad, and thus this bibliography focuses primarily on major reform movements at the school and district levels rather than on specific instructional reform movements. While there have been countless studies of the various approaches to school reform, many of those studies have conflicting findings and often are politically charged. For example, while there are many studies arguing that class size significantly impacts student achievement, there are almost as many studies illustrating that it has little impact on student achievement. These conflicts are often a result of disagreements over the methodology used in the studies, in implementation of the reforms themselves, or both. Class size provides a salient example of the stakes involved in many reform efforts. Because human resources comprise at least 65 percent of any district budget, and some of those resources are often scarce, an issue like class size is extremely important to both practitioners and policymakers. This bibliography is organized by decade and events and then details different reform approaches, current movements, and noteworthy case studies. A list of prominent education reform organizations is also provided. To the extent possible, multiple views on the utility and success of each reform are included as well as a list of researchers and authors that are important to each area.

Article.  6156 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Organization and Management of Education ; Philosophy and Theory of Education ; Schools Studies ; Teaching Skills and Techniques

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