PART I: Key issues and concerns in school improvement and school change
Week 1 - September 3: Why change? Why not?

Overview of the course and key issues in school change: Have schools changed? Have they improved? How do we know?
Designs for New Schools
Week 2 - September 10: What's involved in change?

The nature of change and the complexity of the "change process."

Students should read both chapters by ONE of the following authors:

Christensen, C., Horn, M., & Johnson, C. (2008). "Why schools struggle to teach differently" & "Making the Shift: Schools Meet Society's Needs." In Disrupting Class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw Hill.


Fullan, M. (2007). "The meaning of educational change" & "Insights into the change process" in The new meaning of educational change. Teachers College Press.


Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). "The crisis of educational change" & "The paradox of innovation and improvement" in The global fourth way: the quest for educational excellence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.


Senge, P. (1990). "The laws of the fifth discipline" & "The art of seeing the forest and the trees." In The fifth discipline. New York: Doubleday.

For additional background, explore other chapters/works by your author.

Due: 3-4 page ideal school descriptions
Resources on Change
Week 3 - September 17: What has changed? What hasn't?

A brief history of key events and issues in school reform: "Incremental" vs. "radical"
change; how reforms change schools and schools change reforms; predictable failures;
and the grammar of schooling.


Tyack, D. & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward utopia: A Century of public school reform. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Chapters 1-4.


Hatch, T. (2009). "It takes capacity to build capacity" & "Changing conditions, changing times." Chapters 1 & 2 from Managing to change: How schools can survive (and sometimes thrive) in turbulent times. New York: Teachers College Press.

Kober, N. & Usher, A. (2012). A public education primer. Washington D. C.: Center on Education Policy
History Resources


A Nation at Risk, Goals 2000, NCLB

Larry Cuban's blog Title 1 at Ed.Gov
Week 4 - September 24: What should change?
An examination of the theories and assumptions behind school reform efforts.


Hatch, T. (1998). “The differences in theory that matter in the practice of school
improvement,” American Journal of Education 35 : 3-31.
Cohen, D. K., & Moffit, S. (2009). “Title 1” & “Epilogue” (pp. 179-231) in The ordeal of equality: Did federal regulation fix the schools? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Coffman, J. (1999). Learning from logic models: An example of a family/school
partnership program. Cambridge MA: Harvard Family Research Project.

Cuban, L. (2010) "So much hype, so little mindfulness."

Due in class: 1 page description of an improvementeffort to serve as the basis for the critique

Week 5 - October 1: How can schools change?

An exploration of the theories behind a variety of approaches that seek to redesign schools and/or learning (such as Core Knowledge, Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound, KIPP, the Big Picture Company).

Websites and selected program documents and evaluation reports from Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound, KIPP, and possibly other school designs or charter management organizations.
School Improvement Programs

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Week 6 - October 8: Why don’t schools change? The perils and the promise of school reform.
A consideration of the key problems with current reform efforts.


Cohen, David (1990). “A Revolution in one classroom: The Case of Mrs. Oublier.”
Educational Evaluation Policy Analysis, 12.

Elmore, R. (2003). “Change and improvement in education.” In David Gordon
(Ed.). A Nation reformed? Cambridge: Harvard Education Press.

Payne, C. (2008). “I don't want your nasty pot of gold From social demoralization
to organizational irrationality” In So much reform, so little change. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press.


Evans, R. (1996). “Reach and realism, experience and hope.” In The Human side
of school change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, p. 289-299.
Centers for Research and Evaluation


PART II: How can we design new schools?
Week 7 - October 15: What can new schools look like?

Exhibition of previous school designs.

Required: Selected school proposals and designs (TBD).

New York City new schools proposal process

Due: 4-5 page reform critiques

Due in class: Lists of group members for school design project

Week 8 - October 22: Theories of learning

What theories of learning underlie the design of a school? What are the goals? How will they be achieved?

Students will be responsible for meeting on their own in "book clubs." Clubs/discussion groups can decide to meet together during class, at another time, and/or virtually.


Resnick, L. & Hall, M. (1998). "Learning organizations for sustainable organizational reform." Daedulus, 127, 89-118.

And one of several books:

Garcia, O. & Kleifgen, J. A. (2010). Education emergent bilinguals: Policies, programs, and practices for English Language Learners. NY: Teachers College Press.

Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.

Hehir, T. & Katzman, L. (2012). Effective inclusive schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Jackson, Y. (2011). Pedagogy of confidence. New York: Teachers College Press.

Thomas, D. & Seely-Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Tough, P. (2013). How children succeed. Mariner Books.
Resources for designing schools
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Resources for theories of learning
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Week 9 - October 29: Purposes, key elements and approaches to school design

Why have a school? What purpose does it serve? Who does it serve? How will it be designed?


Darling-Hammond, L. (1997). "Structuring learner-centered schools" and "Staffing schools for teaching and learning." In The right to learn. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 148-210.

Hatch, T. (2009). "Key practices for managing change." Introduction to Part II in Managing to Change: How schools can survive (and sometimes thrive) in turbulent times. New York: Teachers College Press. (Note: This introduction can be found at the end of Chapter 2 "Changing conditions, changing times").

Hatch, T. (2009). "Developing common purposes and shared understanding." Chapter 3 in Managing to change: How schools can survive (and sometimes thrive) in turbulent times. New York: Teachers College Press.

Meier, D. (1999). "Habits of mind: Democratic values and the creation of effective learning communities" in Common schools, uncommon futures: A working consensus for school renewal. New York: Teachers College Press.

Recommended for discussion in design teams: Draft description of proposed school's purpose, location, and students/community.

Week 10 - November 5: Culture and Community, Professional Development; Or Assessment and Accountability

For the remaining classes, students will primarily work in their design groups on their school design and in working groups exploring issues of culture and community, professional development, or assessment and accountability. Students can choose which working group to join, but design group members are encouraged to spread out among the different working groups so that each design group can develop expertise in different areas. Initial reading lists for each working group are at the end of the syllabus.

Due in class (for discussion with your design team): Initial draft/outline of the school’s curriculum.

Due Monday November 10th at 6PM: Drafts of the executive summary and supporting documents for key elements of the design (such as curriculum and instruction materials or hiring criteria and professional development plans, etc.)
Resources for Budgeting
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Resources on Community Organizing and Community Involvement

Week 11 - November 12: Discussion of Initial Design Proposals

Required: Executive summaries and supporting documents of group designs.

Due in class: Peer feedback for designs

In glass, students will be divided into groups, with students having a chance to ask questions and give feedback to their colleagues on each design's initial theory of action.

Week 12 - November 19: Culture and Community, Professional Development; Or Assessment and Accountability (Cont.)

Note: We may have guest speakers for some or all of the class.

Recommended for discussion in design teams: Outlines of staff hiring and selection criteria and/or professional development plans)

Week 13 - November 27: No class.
Resources on Teaching and Professional Development

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Week 14 - December 3: Culture and Community, Professional Development; Or Assessment and Accountability (Cont.)

Recommended for discussion in design teams: Drafts of assessment and accountability plans. How will you determine whether or not students are making adequate progress? How will you demonstrate the value of your approach and build support for your school in the wider community?
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Week 15 - December 10: Design Exhibitions

Multimedia design exhibitions and discussions

Due in class: School designs

Week 16 - December 17: No class

Due by 9 PM: Portfolios (with the reflection and all other elements completed and posted)