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Resource Title Characteristics of School Districts that Are Exceptionally Effective in Closing the Achievement Gap

This article identifies characteristics of school districts that have been exceptionally successful in closing gaps in achievement among diverse groups of students, including students in challenging circumstances. Evidence for the paper was provided by 31 studies published over a decade, which reported original evidence about the association between one or more district characteristics and some valued set of outcomes, or described one or more practices within a district previously found to be high performing. Ten district characteristics are described and several implications for future policy, research, and practice are outlined. The ten district characteristics include:

  1. District-wide focus on student achievement
  2. Approaches to curriculum and instruction
  3. Use of evidence for planning, organizational learning and accountability
  4. District-wide sense of efficacy
  5. Building and maintaining good communications and relations, learning communities, district culture
  6. Investing in instructional leadership
  7. Targeted and phased orientation to school improvement (targeting interventions on low performing schools/students)
  8. District-wide, job-embedded PD for leaders and teachers
  9. Strategic engagement with the government’s agenda for change and associated resources
  10. Infrastructure alignment

Resource Area(s)
Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
Fiscal Operations
Parent and Community Involvement
Data Systems and Achievement Monitoring
Professional Development
Culture and Professional Relationships
Type of Resource
Research Findings
Best Practices
Format PDF document
Related Service(s)
Facilitating Planning
Building Leadership
Supporting Curriculum, Instruction and Intervention