Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Word of Welcome

Welcome to Strategic Learning Initiatives' New Blog.

For many years the debate about school reform has focused on organization type, as if —charter, contract, performance, parochial, large, small, or traditional public--is what makes the difference in quality.  The simple fact is that regardless of type, some schools succeed while others do not.  It leads quickly to the conclusion that it is not the type of organization that makes the difference.

What does?

Starting 20 years ago, when school reform efforts in the city of Chicago began in earnest, research has been underway to try to untangle the question of what works in K-12 education from what is just another silver bullet solution.  This remarkable body of work provides a fresh perspective on school reform that lies at the heart of the work done by Strategic Learning Initiatives.

The research reveals that in every school, regardless of type of organization, certain qualities must be present in order for the school to succeed.

In other words, regardless of organization type, schools have one thing in common.  If the essential supports are in place, the school will succeed.  If they are not, the school will underperform.    Any school can be evaluated for how well it incorporates the essential supports.  Any school can be made stronger.  Failing schools can be turned around.  We know, because the leaders in schools we support have done it.
Strategic Learning Initiatives works with schools to evaluate whether or not the qualities for success are in place.  We work with our schools to build up those qualities that are not adequate [missing or less than they can be].

It is not easy, but when the school leadership team is committed to improve, change for the better can come rapidly.  Our program takes three to four  years, with significant change for the better, measured by student assessments, starting in the first months of year one.

We guarantee that the schools will improve their results on the State’s standardized tests, if they commit to implementing the process that had been successful in other schools.

Research is our guide to the qualities that must be present in a school in order for it to succeed.  Research is also our guide to greatly improving the quality of instruction—the heart of education.
Strategic Learning Initiatives brings from the business sector a deep understanding of continuous quality improvement and applies it to the classroom.  We believe that every child can learn.  We work with teachers and principals on strategies and tools for improving instruction, assessing to see if the student has learned, and then teaching again until the student reaches mastery.  We are data driven, but in our schools the data is gathered continuously and action based on that data is taken immediately.

Chicago has provided the field of K12 education with the finest body of long term research about what works and what doesn’t.   Strategic Learning Initiatives is the leader in bringing the lessons of research to the classroom.  Our results speak for themselves.

Whether your school is public, charter, private, or parochial, the essential supports for education must be in place to continuously improve both adult and student learning.  We can support your school and district leadership to ensure that they are, and your school will be better for it.

John Simmons
Strategic Learning Initiatives.

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