Starting Small for Big School Improvement (Principal Leadership, April 2010)

In the Scaffolded Apprenticeship Model (SAM), a school improvement strategy in place in New York City; Boston, MA; and Oakland, CA, teacher teams improve their schools by studying and closing high-leverage learning gaps for small groups of struggling students as a strategy for systemic change.

SAM’s goal is for each school to continually expand its sphere of success—that is, the number of students for whom current practices are working. SAM’s strategy is for teams to study the school in microcosm—specifically, for them to identify and close specific skill gaps for struggling students, understand how schoolwide learning conditions allowed those gaps to persist, and make strategic improvements to schoolwide learning conditions that will benefit all students.

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