The McKinsey Report: How the World’s Best-Performing School Systems Come Out On Top, September 2007
Between May 2006 and March 2007, McKinsey & Company studied the world’s top-performing school systems and most successful educational reforms. They researched what made these systems and initiatives work so spectacularly well, while many others failed.
Their findings showed that the most successful systems and programs were all based in the belief that “the only way to improve outcomes is to improve instruction.” They also all shared three key strategies for improving instruction—strategies which closely parallel Children’s Literacy Initiative’s work as an organization:
1. Individual teachers need to become aware of specific weaknesses in their own practice.
When a CLI Professional Developer begins coaching a teacher, he or she observes the teacher’s practice and documents strengths and weaknesses in approximately 160 specific areas (such as frequent read-alouds and the students’ production of original work instead of copied worksheets). The results are shared with the teacher and highlight what skills CLI coaching sessions should focus on improving.
2. Individual teachers need to gain understanding of specific best practices. In general, this can only be achieved through the demonstration of such practices in an authentic setting.
CLI meets this need in the following ways:
- Seminars that introduce teachers to the best practices in literacy instruction. Each seminar covers a specific lesson topic, such as Writers Workshop or Message Time Plus, and increases a teacher’s knowledge of high-impact instruction.
- One-on-one coaching to follow up on the seminar material and ensure that the teacher is successfully implementing new strategies. Coaching sessions occur in the authentic setting of the teacher’s own classroom during a typical school day. The CLI Professional Developer models lessons and provides support and feedback on the teacher’s progress.
3. Individual teachers need to be motivated to make the necessary improvements….Such changes come about when teachers have high expectations, a shared sense of purpose, and above all, a collective belief in their common ability to make a difference to the education of the children they serve.
CLI grows cultures of literacy within schools, mainly in the following ways:
- CLI develops and sustains Model Classrooms. We have trained over 50 teachers to be exemplary literacy instructors (Model Classroom Teachers) and helped them transform their classroom literacy environments. These teachers demonstrate that the reading/writing achievement of students in impoverished schools can be improved. Non-model teachers visit Model Classrooms during actual lessons to study effective instructional strategies in action. They see how their own classrooms can be transformed, and they leave with raised expectations for their students.
- CLI facilitates grade-level-meetings. At grade-level meetings, teachers engage in joint lesson planning, share strategies that worked in their own classrooms, analyze assessment data and student work, and discuss the latest research. Grade-level meetings provide an opportunity for a Model or Lead Teacher to develop as a leader and guide colleagues toward positive change. The meetings become a self-sustaining framework for teachers to support each other in continual improvement.