Build System Capacity

National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, The National Academies Press

“Engaging Schools” reviews research on engagement, motivation, and learning and examines changes that can be made to instruction, assessment, school climate and composition, out of school opportunities, vocational education, and community connections to increase student motivation to learn in urban high schools. The authors conclude that engagement results when challenging but attainable...

Lane, B., Center on Innovation & Improvement

This report, from the Center on Innovation and Improvement, describes a “framework for district capacity building and improvement.”  Using case studies of two districts, including IRRE's partner district in Kansas City, Kansas,  the report asks how districts can “engage in rapid and sustainable improvement efforts.”  Drawing upon additional research, the authors identify a core set of “rapid...

Supovitz, J. A. & Weinbaum, E.H. (Eds.)., Teachers College Press

This book is the product of a series of case studies conducted by a group of leading researchers from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education.  The guiding theme examined in the book is the interaction of high schools with school reform models designed and supported by outside technical assistance providers.  First Things First was among those "external reform models" included in this...

Fruchter, N., Teachers College, Columbia University

First Things First (FTF) is one of three initiatives demonstrating that district-wide school reform is both possible and needed, according to a new book by Norman Fruchter, a nationally recognized expert in educational policy and Director of the Community Involvement Program at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.  Fruchter uses FTF in Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, in addition to...

Connell, J. P., Institute for Research and Reform in Education

“Getting Off the Dime” presents IRRE’s evolving thinking about creating the initial conditions and building the capacity to get meaningful reform off the ground.  This paper explores how districts and schools decide whether to choose First Things First (FTF) strategies as their approach to reform; and how FTF’s planning and early steps have continued to sharpen over time.   “Getting Off the...

Gambone, M.A., Klem, A.M., Moore, W.P., & Summers, J.A., Gambone & Associates

This first evaluation of First Things First (FTF) documents the earliest stages of the reform's development and partnership with the Kansas City Kansas school district. The report provides a descriptive account of the collaborative efforts of the schools, the district, IRRE, and the primary funder the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Strategies for comprehensive change examined include...

Connell, J.P., & Klem, A.M., Journal of Educational and Psychological Consulting

“You Can Get There from Here” presents a theory of change approach to planning educational reform initiatives with a focus on district level efforts.

Using examples from ongoing work with urban school districts, the authors begin from the idea that a theory of change approach “helps make plans for urban education more sensible—more grounded in current research, in...

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