School Reform Models: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory Catalog

After reading through The Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory’s Catalog of School Reform Models, I selected the “Success for All” model to use as the basis for this assignment. It is my opinion that the reason why this model is very popular is due to three reasons: it requires cooperative learning, includes family, and focuses on reading in all the content areas.

Next year I will be embarking upon a new career in education. I will be leaving the classroom of five years to become a guidance counselor. I will not be leaving the school where I taught Reading, I will only be moving my desk to an office instead of a classroom. As a former Reading teacher I clearly recognized that in inner-city school that are dominated by minorities, it is essential that these students leave junior high school with at least a seventh grade reading level.

The “Success for All” reform model is based upon one primary goal: to ensure that all children learn to read. The reform model was established in 1993 and currently serves over 1,800 schools.

In any educational setting, it is important to embrace cooperation. Cooperation is when teachers work together to help the school succeed. Each student is an important part of the school’s success. When teachers work together a lot of good things can be accomplished. In many schools, there is the distinct difference and alienation between veteran teachers and new teachers. Veteran teachers act as if they know everything and can’t be “taught new tricks”. New teachers attempt new approaches to teaching they have learned somewhere in one of their education classes. New teachers bring with them a new vitalized energy, which helps bring balance to the teaching dynamics within the school. Teachers “need” to work together. If I was a principal and encountered a faculty member who did not want to share ideas or methodologies and could not work well with others than I would suggest to that teacher that he/she leave or think about another career.

Learning can be fun when it is presented in a cooperative manner. I feel that this school reform is working and popular because it exists only as a cooperative learning tool that the school, teachers, and most important, the students benefit.
Another benefit to the school reform model is the use of family support. Family support is essential not only in education, but also in life. Studies have shown that students who do well in school have supportive parents. It should be no surprise that students need the support of their family to succeed. At the school where I work, many parents do not take an active role in their child’s education. It is very sad. Many of these students have many skills and abilities. However, without the proper support and motivation, many of these students drop out of school when they reach the age of 16. For these students, education is just a warm meal and a place to go during the morning hours. For these same neglectful parents, education is similar to a free day care. The “Success for All” school reform enlists the aid of parents and family. As a guidance counselor next year, I plan to reach out to these same parents and ask for their help to help “their” children. I know that if I didn’t have the support of my family, I might not be pursuing my doctorate degree.

Another feature of the reform model is the need for students to read in all of the content areas. For example, the content areas usually consist of the four major subjects taught in public schools: Math, Science, Social Studies, and English. The act of reading occurs in every subject. It is the only subject that is used in all of the others. For example, Science is an important subject, yet Science is not always seen in a reading selection. Reading is the most important subject because it is used the most in education. A child that cannot read is like trying to drive cross-country in a car without fuel. The school reform model calls for 90 minute reading periods. It also requires 75 minutes daily in math class. Reading should happen all the time because it is the truest curriculum that will prepare the children for the future. An adult that cannot read does not place himself/herself in any position to obtain and sustain a job. Many years ago a person was able to “get away” without having to read, however, today is very different. Through the use of email and the internet, tomorrow’s worker will “have” to read to survive.

After reading through the 26 different models to select as the basis for this case assignment, I attempted to choose a model I thought would work at my school. The “Success for All”, established in 1993 and authored by Robert Slavin, Nancy Madden, and a team of developers from John Hopkins University, has the best components for a positive reform of education. The model embraces three key elements to education: cooperative learning by everyone, family involvement, and reading in all subjects. This model reminds me of how school must have been in the little red schoolhouses of the past. I can imagine my ancestors sitting in a one-classroom school house reading something written by Mark Twain and running home on dirt roads to home where mother and father would greet them and ask them about their day at school. The closing of this picture is a mother and daughter reading in bed to the light of a candle. The schools of tomorrow will need to go back to move forward. Any effective school has the same components outlined in the reform model: cooperation, family support, and reading.

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