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National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools


What are the components of effective high schools? What types of programs, practices, and processes support these components? How can districts scale up these components to less effective high schools?

These are the questions around which the National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools (NCSU) is working. NCSU-a collaborative partnership between research universities, education support providers, and two larger urban districts-is a five year project funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. As a national research and development center on scaling up effective schools, NCSU focuses on identifying the combination of essential components and the programs, practices, processes and policies that make some high schools in large urban districts particularly effective with low income students, minority students, and English language learners. Then the Center will work with both teachers and school and district leaders to develop processes to share these practices with less effective schools. 

More specifically, the Center will 1) use differential effects value added models to identify schools that are effective at improving student achievement in English/language arts, mathematics, and science; reducing the likelihood that students dropout before graduation; and both increase student enrollment in advanced courses and college going rates among students from traditionally low performing subgroups; 2) use a combination of interviews, surveys, and observations to uncover what the effective schools in two large urban districts are doing that contribute to their success and distinguish them from less effective schools in the same district; 3) involve district leaders and participants from both the effective and less effective schools to collaborate on the design and implementation of a process to support the sharing of effective practices between effective and less effective schools in their districts; 4) implement this process in six less effective schools in the partner districts and evaluate this implementation to share effective practices; 5) assess the impact of the intervention designs using interrupted time series analysis with comparison schools; and 6) assess the two partner districts' ability to scale-up the designed interventions to additional low performing high schools as the researchers and developers begin to withdraw their support from the districts.

Involving partners from the participating districts on the design team will take advantage of district expertise, help to insure that practices identified for "transfer" are aligned with district's current goals and initiatives already under way, and help to bring legitimacy to the transfer process. By the conclusion of the Center's work, we will have developed, implemented, and tested new processes that other districts will be able to use to scale up effective practices within the context of their own goals and unique circumstances.  Absent attention to these processes, effective practices will continue to be identified but with little hope that they can be brought to scale with depth and sustainability.