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Urban Schools, Essential Supports for Reform

The Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) at the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute has identified a set of organizational structures and practices that, if put into place in serious ways, significantly raises the likelihood that elementary students will make increasingly larger gains in reading and mathematics over time. The key characteristics, which are called the “essential supports,” are school leadership, parent and community ties, professional capacity of the faculty, student-centered learning climate, and instructional guidance. Schools that measured strong in all five supports were at least 10 times more likely than schools with just one or two strengths to achieve substantial gains in reading and math. Moreover, a sustained weakness in just one of these areas undermined virtually all attempts at improving student ...

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