Correlates of Effective Schools

"We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need to do this. Whether we do it or not must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we have not done it so far" - Ron Edmunds

The Correlates of Effective Schools: 1st and 2nd Generation

by Lezotte, Levine, Edmunds, and Brookover

A number of schools have been relying on effective schools research as the framework for their school improvement program. After three or four years, many claim that they have successfully met the criteria described in the research on the correlates of effective schools. These educators ask if there is anything that comes after, or goes beyond, these standards.

The concept of second generation correlates attempts to incorporate the recent research and school improvement findings and offers an even more challenging developmental stage to which schools committed to the Learning for All mission ought to aspire.

There are two underlying assumptions to keep in mind: First, school improvement is an endless journey. Second, the second-generation correlates cannot be implemented successfully unless the first-generation correlate standards are present in the school. In one sense, the second generation correlates represent a developmental step beyond the first and, when successfully accomplished, will move the school even closer to the mission of Learning for All.

1. Safe and Orderly Environment

The First Generation: In the effective school there is an orderly, purposeful, businesslike atmosphere which is free from the threat of physical harm. The school climate is not oppressive and is conducive to teaching and learning.

The Second Generation: In the first generation, the safe and orderly environment correlate was defined in terms of the absence of undesirable student behavior (e.g., students fighting). In the second generation, the concept of a school environment conducive to Learning for All must move beyond the elimination of undesirable behavior. The second generation will place increased emphasis on the presence of certain desirable behaviors (e.g., cooperative team learning). These second-generation schools will be places where students actually help one another.

Moving beyond simply the elimination of undesirable behavior will represent a significant challenge for many schools. For example, it is unlikely that a school’s faculty could successfully teach its students to work together unless the adults in the school model collaborative behaviors in their own professional working relationships. Since schools as workplaces are characterized by their isolation, creating more collaborative/cooperative environments for both the adults and students will require substantial commitment and change in most schools.

First, teachers must learn the “technologies” of teamwork. Second, the school will have to create the “opportunity structures” for collaboration. Finally, the staff will have to nurture the belief that collaboration, which often requires more time initially, will assist the schools to be more effective and satisfying in the long run.

But schools will not be able to get students to work together cooperatively unless they have been taught to respect human diversity and appreciate democratic values. These student learnings will require a major and sustained commitment to multicultural education.

Safe and Orderly Environment

  • effective school-wide and classroom discipline systems

  • rooms free of clutter, well lit, clean

  • rituals and routines in place and consistently followed

  • classroom management which emphasizes personal responsibility for the learning environment

  • procedures for visitors entering the building, students know what to do if a visitor is not wearing a visitor sticker, for example

  • procedures are in place for dismissal, with students safely exiting the building and knowing designated areas for bus lines, parent pick up lines, etc

2. Climate of High Expectations for Success

The First Generation: In the effective school there is a climate of expectation in which the staff believe and demonstrate that all students can attain mastery of the essential school skills, and the staff also believe that they have the capability to help all students achieve that mastery.

The Second Generation: In the second generation, the emphasis placed on high expectations for success will be broadened significantly. In the first generation, expectations were described in terms of attitudes and beliefs that suggested how the teacher should behave in the teaching-learning situation. Those descriptions sought to tell teachers how they should initially deliver the lesson. High expectations meant, for example, that the teacher should evenly distribute questions asked among all students and should provide each student with an equal opportunity to participate in the learning process. Unfortunately, this “equalization of opportunity,” though beneficial, proved to be insufficient to assure mastery for many learners. Teachers found themselves in the difficult position of having had high expectations and having acted upon them—yet some students still did not learn.

In the second generation, the teachers will anticipate this and they will develop a broader array of responses. For example, teachers will implement additional strategies, such as re-teaching and regrouping, to assure that all students do achieve mastery. Implementing this expanded concept of high expectations will require the school as an organization to reflect high expectations. Most of the useful strategies will require the cooperation of the school as a whole; teachers cannot implement most of these strategies working alone in isolated classrooms.

High expectations for success will be judged, not only by the initial staff beliefs and behaviors, but also by the organization’s response when some students do not learn. For example, if the teacher plans a lesson, delivers that lesson, assesses learning and finds that some students did not learn, and still goes on to the next lesson, then that teacher didn’t expect the students to learn in the first place. If the school condones through silence that teacher’s behavior, it apparently does not expect the students to learn, or the teacher to teach these students.

Several changes are called for in order to implement this expanded concept of high expectations successfully. First, teachers will have to come to recognize that high expectations for student success must be “launched” from a platform of teachers having high expectations for self. Then the school organization will have to be restructured to assure that teachers have access to more “tools” to help them achieve successful Learning for All. Third, schools, as cultural organizations, must recognize that schools must be transformed from institutions designed for “instruction” to institutions designed to assure “learning.”

Climate for High Expectations for Student Success

  • Rubrics which students help design and which students use to guide their work

  • exemplar products which model high expectations

  • focus on growth mindset and grit as they relate to individual success for all students

  • focus on classroom routines

  • evaluating of student work, identifying best practices and collaborating on scoring criteria / grading practices. Is the quality of work which meets or exceeds expectations in one class the same in another?

  • regular evaluation of data and identification of next instructional steps to move students forward

  • focus on commended ratings and programs which move high achieving students further

  • feedback to students which coaches them toward success

  • students can articulate the learning goal and what success looks like for that particular task / understanding

3. Instructional Leadership

The First Generation: In the effective school the principal acts as an instructional leader and effectively and persistently communicates that mission to the staff, parents, and students. The principal understands and applies the characteristics of instructional effectiveness in the management of the instructional program.

The Second Generation: In the first generation, the standards for instructional leadership focused primarily on the principal and the administrative staff of the school. In the second generation, instructional leadership will remain important; however, the concept will be broadened and leadership will be viewed as a dispersed concept that includes all adults, especially the teachers. This is in keeping with the teacher empowerment concept; it recognizes that a principal cannot be the only leader in a complex organization like a school. With the democratization of organizations, especially schools, the leadership function becomes one of creating a “community of shared values.” The mission will remain critical because it will serve to give the community of shared values a shared sense of “magnetic north,” an identification of what this school community cares most about. The role of the principal will be changed to that of “a leader of leaders,” rather than a leader of followers. Specifically, the principal will have to develop his/her skills as coach, partner and cheerleader. The broader concept of leadership recognizes that leadership is always delegated from the follower-ship in any organization. It also recognizes what teachers have known for a long time and what good schools have capitalized on since the beginning of time: namely, expertise is generally distributed among many, not concentrated in a single person.

Strong Instructional Leadership

  • shared decision making

  • goal setting

  • positive supposition

  • focus on analyzing data and identifying trends across the campus

  • collaborative environment with a focus on vertical alignment and common academic language

  • clear and effective communication with all stakeholders

  • scheduling decisions made to make maximum use of instructional time (block schedules, etc)

  • teacher leadership / shared leadership

  • curriculum which is aligned, rigorous, and reflects the standards for each subject/grade level

4. Clear and Focused Mission/Vision

The First Generation: In the effective school there is a clearly articulated school vision/mission through which the staff shares an understanding of and commitment to the instructional goals, priorities, assessment procedures and accountability. Staff accept responsibility for students’ learning of the school’s essential curricular goals.

The Second Generation: In the first generation the effective school mission emphasized teaching for Learning for All. The two issues that surfaced were: Did this really mean all students or just those with whom the schools had a history of reasonable success? The focus was usually on mastery of mostly low-level skills.

In the second generation, the focus will shift toward a more appropriate balance between higher-level learning and those more basic skills that are truly prerequisite to their mastery. Designing and delivering a curriculum that responds to the demands of accountability and is responsive to the need for higher levels of learning, will require substantial staff development. Teachers will have to be better trained to develop curricula and lessons with the “end in mind.” They will have to know and be comfortable with the concept of “backward mapping,” and they will need to know “task analysis.” These “tools of the trade” are essential for an efficient and effective “results-oriented” school that successfully serves all students.

Finally, a subtle but significant change in the concept of school mission deserves notice. Throughout the first generation, effective schools proponents advocated the mission of teaching for Learning for All. In the second generation the advocated mission will be Learning for All. The rationale for this change is that the “teaching for” portion of the

Throughout the first generation, effective schools proponents advocated the vision/mission of teaching for Learning for All. In the second generation the advocated mission will be Learning for All. The rationale for this change is that the “teaching for” portion of the old statement created ambiguity (although this was unintended) and kept too much of the focus on “teaching” rather than “learning.” Finally, the new formulation of Learning for All opens the door to the continued learning of the educators as well as the students.

Clear and Focused Mission, is at the top of Lezotte's list of correlates of effective schools. This is designed to show that the remaining six correlates support the first one.

5. Opportunity to Learn and Student Time on Task

The First Generation: In the effective school teachers allocate a significant amount of classroom time to instruction in the essential skills. For a high percentage of this time students are engaged in whole class or large group, teacher-directed, planned learning activities.

The Second Generation: In the second generation, time will continue to be a difficult problem for the teacher. In all likelihood, the problems that arise from too much to teach and not enough time to teach it will intensify. In the past, when the teachers were oriented toward “covering curricular content” and more content was added, they knew their response should be to “speed-up.” Now teachers are being asked to stress the vision/mission that assures that the students master the content that is covered. How are they to respond? In the next generation, teachers will have to become more skilled at interdisciplinary curriculum and they will need to learn how to comfortably practice “organized abandonment.” They will have to be able to ask the question, “What goes and what stays?” One of the reasons that many of the mandated approaches to school reform have failed is that, in every case, the local school was asked to do more! One of the characteristics of the most effective schools is their willingness to declare that some things are more important than others; they are willing to abandon some less important content so as to be able to have enough time dedicated to those areas that are valued the most.

The necessary time must be provided in a quality program that is not perceived as punitive by those in it, or as excessive, by those who will have to fund it. These conditions will be a real challenge indeed!

Opportunity to Learn and Student Time on Task

  • Scheduling allows for blocks of time for core subjects (90 minutes for Language Arts, for example)

  • specials and lunch schedules are designed so as to not interrupt the core blocks as much as is possible

  • minimal loss of instructional time – video announcements, assemblies scheduled with least disruption, etc

  • tutorials are held before school, after school, and during the day to allow opportunity to participate

  • necessary materials are provided for learning, including science materials, manipulatives for math, variety of books, etc

  • differentiation to allow for multiple learning styles

  • class procedures are established to encourage time on task (routines for reading workshop that maximize time spent reading, for example)

  • absences and tardies are addressed

  • student needs are met, including making sure students are not hungry, addressing needs at home such as with utilities, academic support at home, transportation needs, at home materials (sending home books with those who may not have books at home)

6. Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress

The First Generation: In the effective school student academic progress is measured frequently through a variety of assessment procedures. The results of these assessments are used to improve individual student performance and also to improve the instructional program.

The Second Generation: In the first generation, the correlate was interpreted to mean that the teachers should frequently monitor their students’ learning and, where necessary, the teacher should adjust his/her behavior. Several major changes can be anticipated in the second generation. First, the use of technology will permit teachers to do a better job of monitoring their students’ progress. Second, this same technology will allow students to monitor their own learning and, where necessary, adjust their own behavior. The use of computerized practice tests, the ability to get immediate results on homework, and the ability to see correct solutions developed on the screen are a few of the available “tools for assuring student learning.”

A second major change that will become more apparent in the second generation is already under way. In the area of assessment the emphasis will continue to shift away from standardized norm-referenced paper-pencil tests and toward curricular-based, criterion-referenced measures of student mastery. In the second generation, the monitoring of student learning will emphasize “more authentic assessments” of curriculum mastery. This generally means that there will be less emphasis on the paper pencil, multiple-choice tests, and more emphasis on assessments of products of student work, including performances and portfolios.

Teachers will pay much more attention to the alignment that must exist between the intended, taught, and tested curriculum. Two new questions are being stimulated by the reform movement and will dominate much of the professional educators’ discourse in the second generation: “What’s worth knowing?” and “How will we know when they know it?” In all likelihood, the answer to the first question will become clear relatively quickly, because we can reach agreement that we want our students to be self-disciplined, socially responsible, and just. The problem comes with the second question, “How will we know when they know it?” Educators and citizens are going to have to come to terms with that question. The bad news is that it demands our best thinking and will require patience if we are going to reach consensus. The good news is that once we begin to reach consensus, the schools will be able to deliver significant progress toward these agreed-upon outcomes.

Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress

  • PLC meetings are regular, frequent, and effective. Teachers build common assessments and evaluate student progress.

  • leadership actively monitoring grades and common assessments given weekly

  • clear guidelines for intervention processes are in place and teachers understand the process for scheduling meetings to discuss individual students who are beginning to struggle

  • the process of RTI is streamlined; we do not spend unnecesary time “trying out” intervention effectiveness before we can meet as a team again (if those interventions are not showing effectiveness in a reasonable amount of time)

  • grade levels being assigned a “case manager” who they can go to with student progress needs

  • faculty-wide evaluation of data and collaboration vertically on skills, needs, and strengths

  • curriculum /assessment alignment

  • classroom progress monitoring occurs daily, including such things as fluency checks, conferencing, small group guided lessons, guided reading, and anecdotal records

  • formative and summative assignments are aligned and evaluated for instructional direction

7. Home-School Relations

The First Generation: In the effective school parents understand and support the school’s basic mission and are given the opportunity to play an important role in helping the school to achieve this mission.

The Second Generation: During the first generation, the role of parents in the education of their children was always somewhat unclear. Schools often gave “lip service” to having parents more actively involved in the schooling of their children. Unfortunately, when pressed, many educators were willing to admit that they really did not know how to deal effectively with increased levels of parent involvement in the schools.

In the second generation, the relationship between parents and the school must be an authentic partnership between the school and home. In the past when teachers said they wanted more parent involvement, more often than not they were looking for unqualified support from parents. Many teachers believed that parents, if they truly valued education, knew how to get their children to behave in the ways that the school desired. It is now clear to both teachers and parents that the parent involvement issue is not that simple. Parents are often as perplexed as the teachers about the best way to inspire students to learn what the school teaches. The best hope for effectively confronting the problem—and not each other—is to build enough trust and enough communication to realize that both teachers and parents have the same goal—an effective school and home for all children!

Positive Home-School Relations

  • frequent communication with parents

  • literacy nights, math nights, reading posse, carnivals

  • leveraging of social media to provide a peek into our days

  • celebrations and events to celebrate students and families, including weekly assemblies

  • opportunities for parent participation on committees, as judges for contests, and as classroom helpers

  • updated websites which contain useful and relevant information

  • curriculum nights which help families learn about the curriculum and learning goals

  • district-wide showcases of student learning

  • positive phone calls, emails, or notes home

Lezotte, Lawrence W. Correlates of Effective Schools: The First and Second Generation. Effective Schools Products, Ltd., Okemos, MI, 1999

"Effective schools hold the vision that all students can succeed and take actions which align with and support that vision through high expectations, strong collaborative practices, and effectively monitoring the progress of all learners while cultivating strong family and community relations." - Lawrence Lezotte