Features of A Successful School
The way in which U.S. schools are ran today are not adequate for the growing needs of students in the 21st century. According the Darling-Hammond (2010), if these trends continue, by 2012, America will have 7 million jobs in science and technology fields, “green” industries, and other fields that cannot be filled by U.S. workers (p. 3). Other nations have figured out how to educate their youth, and those students will take the jobs of their U.S. counterparts if the U.S. does not change the ways in which we educate our youth. Darling-Hammond (2010), found that higher-achieving nations are more focused on quality teachers, and development of curriculum and assessment that encourages continuous reflection of teachers and students (p. 8). There is a need for change in the current education system, which was designed to educate students in the 20th century. According the Darling-Hammond (2010), “At least 70% of U.S. jobs now require specialized knowledge and skills, as compared to only 5% at the dawn of the last century, when our current system of schooling was established (p. 2). Now that a need for change has been identified, it is up to the districts, schools and teachers to implement the changes. Through much research Darling-Hammond (2010), has identified five essential features of education that need to be changed to help prepare students for success in elementary though college. These five features include: small school size or learning communities within the school, personalization and strong relationships among teachers and students, challenging and relevant instruction, performance based instruction, and collaboration of teachers (p. 244). Features Defined
The aspect of small school size and learning communities are important to schools success, because it allows students to feel important in the school system. Studies have been done by Darling-Hammond (2010), and have identified that there is less violence in smaller school compared to larger schools, because everyone knows each other and there is more accountability for a student’s action (p. 245). When the school and or class sizes are smaller the teachers get to know each of their students and have the ability to identify with each student, where as larger schools the students just become a number with little to no individual attention. Darling-Hammonds research states:
These experiences underscore evidence accumulated over several decades that suggest that, overall, smaller high schools are associated with greater safety more positive student attitudes about school, higher levels of student participation and attendance, much lower dropout rates (p. 245). The reduction of school size alone will not solve the education problem our nation is facing, but merely an aspect that will help with the problem.
The second aspect to a successful school according to Darling-Hammond (2010) is the need for “structures that allow for personalization and strong relationship” (p. 244). The way that teachers and students gain these strong relationships is through an advisory class, teachers are given a small number of students and in many cases these students stay with the same teacher over a number of years. Because of these factors of small class sizes and extended time with the teacher, teachers are able to gain strong relationships with their students. “By knowing students well, teachers are more able to tailor instruction to students' strengths, needs, experiences, and interests” (Hammond & Friedlaender, 2008, p. 17). According the research done by Darling-Hammond:
… we found that strong relationships between and among students and faculty were central to participants’ views of what enabled them to succeed. Students often compared their school to a family and linked their achievement to their caring relationships with teachers (p. 248).
Another equally important aspect to a successful school touched on...
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