A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

School Reform and Student Diversity - September 1995

Table 3
Case Study Research Area #2A:
Design and Implementation of the Reform at the Elementary Grades

School Restructuring

School Climate Staff share a vision, value bilingualism, and maintain a high level of commitment to students. While all staff maintain a high level of commitment to students, there is no common "game plan" for their approach to language development. Staff share a vision of systemic reform designed to meet the varying needs of their LEP student population; they are entrepreneurial and willing to take risks. Staff share a vision of bilingualism for all students; there is a high level of commitment to students and to their approach to language acquisition.
LeadershipPrincipal is a strong instructional leader, as well as being skilled at consensus-building among staff for school-wide decisions. Principal is strongest in public relationsi.e., networking in the community, securing grants, parent involvement. The former principal was a strong instructional leader and negotiator; she initiated the vision and built consensus around it.

The current principal is brand new; it is too soon to assess his style or impact.

Principal is a strong instructional leader and represents the staff and spirit of the school.
Use of Time The use of block scheduling allows for more complex lessons and problem-solving activities; teachers are able to offer science labs, get students engaged in social studies research projects, and provide time for sustained reading and writing.

· After-school tutoring

· Summer school

Students at a grade level go to p.e. and other school-wide electives at the same time allowing teachers at that grade level an opportunity to coordinate curriculum and instruction.

· After-school tutoring

There is an extended language arts block every morning; students are then grouped and regrouped through out the day to cover social studies, mathematics, and science.

The school operates on a year-round schedule and offers after-school tutoring. Weekly minimum days provide time for professional development and joint planning.

The school day is extended M-Th to allow for minimum days every Friday; teachers use the time on Friday afternoons for staff development, to hold staff meetings, and to plan curriculum, share instructional strategies, etc.

· After-school tutoring

Student Grouping Students are placed according to language ability into one of two strands in the school: Bilingual and Regular. Students in the Bilingual strand range from NEP to FEP; students in the regular strand are FEP and EO. LEP students are clustered in classes with bilingual teachers; in team teaching situations, classes of Spanish-dominant students are paired with classes of English-dominant students and the students are mixed throughout the day depending on the activity. Students are grouped by home language or English language level for language arts and social studies; they are grouped heterogeneously for the remainder of the day, except for math when they are grouped by math level. English- and Spanish-dominant students are mixed to create an equal balance in each class except for ESL and SSL instruction. As a result, the composition of each class reflects the school population.
Use of Management Technology Not used extensively. Not used extensively.Computers are used to manage the school assessment system. Student work is scanned into "electronic portfolios." Not used extensively.
Integrated Services The school has a full-time nurse, a full-time social worker, and a full-time home liaison. Some health and social services are provided at the school site and referrals are provided as necessary. The school has two full-time social workers: one focuses on building community partnerships and the other focuses on student and family issues. They also have a full-time nurse and a full-time counselor. They offer mental health services on-site, as well as on a referral basis. The three community aides serve as home liaisons and provide some health and social service referrals. Counselors work directly with students. As a magnet school, they do not serve as a center for health and social services in the community; they have access to a social worker from a community clinic, as well as an on-site nurse and counselor one day a week; most services are referral-based.
Articulated Preschool Pre-K is not offered at the school. There is a half-day, state-supported pre-K program. They use Chapter I funds to create a full-day program. It is not large enough to accommodate all of the students, but LEP students are given priority. The school offers an integrated pre-K program as part of their early childhood wing. The program is state-supported. The school offers three half-day pre-K classes: an AM class for three-year olds, and AM and PM classes for four-year olds. The program is state-supported.

Parental Involvement The school offers ESL classes for parents; they offer parenting seminars; and, parents volunteer at the school. There is a Parent Center on site; they offer a Parent University program that focuses primarily on ESL, but also includes parenting seminars. There are facilities on site for toddlers to make it easier for parents to become involved with school activities. Parent involvement is a challenge for them. The community aides work as home liaisons; the school offers parenting seminars a few times a year, organized by the resource teachers and the community aides; community aides translate and interpret communication between the school and the home to make the school accessible to non-English-speaking parents. Aides mentioned that there are some cultural barriers to increasing parent involvement. There is a large parent volunteer program coordinated by two part-time parent volunteer coordinators. Parents are also involved in school governance through the school-site council and a parent committee that influences school-wide decision-making. The school also offers parenting seminars.
Governance Structure The school has a significant degree of autonomy and school-based committees have the authority to make virtually all decisions affecting the school. The school-based council is composed of school administrators, faculty, and parents. They employ the Accelerated Schools inquiry method as a way of setting goals and priorities; staff are elected to a steering committee and informed by faculty cadres that focus on various schoolwide issues. Control of the school budget is at the site level. The school has a committee-based decision-making structure in which all staff members serve on two committees: one relates to curriculum and instructional and the other relates to schoolwide issues. The school has a significant degree of autonomy; instructional and budget decisions are made by the Local School Council composed of parents, community members, teachers, and the principal. Standing faculty and parent committees provide input to the council.
Organization of Teaching Classes are self-contained, but there is a great deal of communication among faculty. Teachersbilingual and regular hold one to three grade level meetings pre week; they share effective strategies, align curriculum, and plan common themes. Teachers in the bilingual strand also work together to ensure articulation of their strategies and curriculum. There is a range of teaching configurations: some teachers team and virtually combine their classes; some keep the same students for a number of years; some classes are self-contained and one-year only. There are math and technology resource teachers that supplement the regular teaching staff. Teachers work within "instructional wings." Within their wing, they collaborate with other teachers on curriculum and scheduling; they share students for different content areas throughout each day. There are three teachers at each grade level; in pre-K through grade 4, teachers coordinate in a variety of ways ranging from joining classes to coordinating field trips. Grades 5 through 8 are "departmentalized;" the form that this takes varies by grade level. Teachers cover subject areas and teach in languages that match their strengths.
Staff Development Staff development is focused on areas of their program that have been identified as needing improvement. One year, they focused on reading and writing skills; the subsequent year they focused on math. They are also working on integrating technology into instruction, alternative means of assessment, and site-level governance. They have ten staff development days paid for by the district (five are required by the state). They also have weekly faculty gatherings that focus on staff development. Most of the topics for staff development are initiated by the teachers. Individual teachers often get training off-site and then train other teachers at the school. Continual professional growth is encouraged through the teacher evaluation process which is based on teacher-developed portfolios that typically include staff development Staff development is a high priority; staff seek out grants and partnerships to support their professional growth. They use their state restructuring demonstration grant to provide staff development (e.g., committee process, student access, team teaching, cooperative learning, language acquisition, and bilingual teaching). Their partnership with ACOT supports staff development in computer-based instruction. Their partnership with the National Alliance supports, among other things, participation in national conferences. The district supports training in alternative assessment methods through their Leadership and Accountability Demonstration. Staff development topics are typically teacher-initiated. Topics in the last couple of years have included alternative assessment, cooperative learning, peer coaching, and math and science instruction. Next year, they plan to focus on integrating technology into instruction. They use their modified Friday schedule for staff development activities.


[Table 2 Case Study Research Area #1B: The Context for Reform Factors Affecting Implementation at the Elementary Grades] [Table of Contents] [Table 4 Case Study Research Area #2B: Design and Implementation of the Reform at the Elementary Grades Curriculum and Instruction]