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CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

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Case Study

Redding Elementary School

Redding Elementary School is an aging, crowded, culturally diverse K-6 school largely made up of lowincome, African American students. During the years that the School District of Philadelphia implemented a sweeping, system-wide reform effort called Children Achieving, Redding served as a showcase for model teaching practices and was especially well known for its strong primary grades program. A three-year longitudinal study of the Redding Elementary School began in the 1996-1997 school year. This case study examines the efforts made by Redding staff to improve the instructional program, address the reform and to increase their students’ performance on the District’s standardized measure, the Stanford Achievement Test, Ninth Edition (SAT-9). The case draws from data collected from three years of qualitative research at Redding, responses to the 1997 and 1999 teacher surveys developed by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, responses to a survey developed and administered by the Redding School leadership team, and analysis of school achievement data.

When Children Achieving began, Redding’s knowledgeable and dedicated principal, Ms. Tome, had already triggered new thinking about how the school might increase the academic performance of its youngsters. Teachers had begun identifying students at risk of failing and developing individualized programs to support them. Teachers had adopted Library Power, a library-based program that encouraged collaboration with the librarian in the development of standards-based thematic curricular units, independent library access for students, and parental education to support their children’s literacy skills. Redding teachers embraced several components of Children Achieving, including small learning communities and Early Balanced Literacy. These initiatives dovetailed nicely with Redding’s existing programs and with staff’s goals for schoolwide improvement.

Redding teachers had also begun taking more responsibility for planning school improvement and making decisions related to budget, staffing, and curriculum. During the reform, the principal used the Local School Council to bring parents into a decision-making role at the school. To enhance their instructional capacity, staff took full advantage of resources and training opportunities offered by the school and cluster office. This professional development resulted in changes in teachers’ classroom practice. Redding teachers increasingly used Philadelphia’s content standards and curriculum frameworks as a basis for their lessons and curriculum units.

In the 1998-1999 school year, teachers collaborated to write a funding proposal for Redding’s own homegrown wholeschool reform model. The model embodied the school’s vision of success by expanding and deepening Early Balanced Literacy and Library Power.

Publication Date

January 2011