Category: Articles

Inquiry into student learning gaps leads to better teaching and shifts school culture (Mind/Shift, July 2019)

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When Nell Scharff Panero walked into the high school math classroom, she couldn’t believe how bad it was. The teacher was at the board teaching his math, barely looking at the kids, while they ignored him and threw things across the room. She thought to herself: This guy shouldn’t be a teacher. So she was …

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Getting the maximum from the minimum: An adaptive system for scaling school reform (Leadership and Policy in Schools, July 2019)

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Improving high schools entails challenges that are “far easier to catalogue than to surmount” (Mazzeo, Fleischman, Heppen & Jahangir, 2016, p. 2).  High schools have been the most difficult to reform because the challenges teachers face are arguably the hardest:  skill gaps present since elementary school have widened; the demand to graduate all students college …

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Writing is thinking, and that makes Strategic Inquiry a solution for students (The Hechinger Report, May 2019)

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It’s widely accepted that there is a crisis in reading in this country, but there is also a writing crisis that requires our attention. Regardless of where one stands on the education reform spectrum, we all must do everything possible to find the best, most comprehensive solutions to address this crisis. According to the National Assessment …

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Teaching model takes strategic approach to identifying the skills students missed (Education Dive, April 2019)

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Andy Lee thought he was helping some of his struggling students learn how to write an argumentative essay by breaking the task into smaller pieces, such as focusing first on the skill of paraphrasing. After all, Strategic Inquiry — the method the English department chair and lesson design coach at Savanna High School in Anaheim, California, is …

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A strategy that’s working in New York school turnaround (Gotham Gazette, January 2019)

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For decades, decisions about education policy in New York have been filtered through state and local conflicts. Indeed, politics often dominates, divides, and obscures the conversation, causing many to lose sight of the most fundamental question for anyone who cares about education reform: how do students learn? In looking for an answer, we found a …

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Columbia University study shows program helped troubled schools (Daily News, December 2018)

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A program to aid troubled city high school students helped more kids get on track to graduate, Columbia University researchers found.  A study to be published by Columbia’s Teachers College Tuesday shows that students in schools that adopted the Strategic Inquiry program – which helped educators to target struggling kids and get them help – …

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Strategic Inquiry: An education reform that worked (Daily Kos, December 2018)

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In 2014 newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that instead of closing “troubled schools” and simply reshuffling the deck, New York City would invest in a “Renewal” program to turn the schools around and benefit their students. Ninety-four schools were enlisted based on low four-year graduation rates and poor test scores for middle and elementary schools. Renewal …

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Why teaching English through content is critical for ELLs (Mind/Shift, May 2018)

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Teaching grade-level content to students who have just arrived in the United States and whose English skills are limited is a difficult task. High school-level content specialists especially have little training on how to integrate language acquisition into their content. Often teachers deal with that by either dumbing down the curriculum to make it linguistically simpler …

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Is it time to go back to basics with writing instruction? (Mind/Shift, February 2017)

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Nell Scharff Panero taught high school English for 13 years before going back to school to get her Ph.D. in educational leadership. She is now the director of the Center for Educational Leadership at Baruch College, part of City University of New York (CUNY). As a teacher she was often frustrated that she didn’t have …

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Progressive mastery through deliberate practice: A promising approach for improving writing (Improving Schools, November 2016)

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This study is an analysis of the curriculum used to teach writing at one US high school in which outcomes for students were extremely strong. The study surfaces what was different in the approach used from what is typically understood and promoted as best practice in the teaching of writing. It does so in order …

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