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Improving Achievement in Low-Performing Schools: Key Results for School Leaders

Improving Achievement in Low-Performing Schools: Key Results for School Leaders

by Randolph E. Ward, Mary Ann Burke

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Focus on improving achievement, aligning teaching and learning with student performance, creating secure facilities, and forging links with the community with this excellent resource.



Focus on improving achievement, aligning teaching and learning with student performance, creating secure facilities, and forging links with the community with this excellent resource.


Editorial Reviews

Roland S. Barth
"I find here nothing less than a blueprint for transforming a failing urban school district with abysmal levels of student and adult performance into one of fiscal and academic respectability. No small feat! This compact little volume offers countless aids for systemic reform, from six giant steps to many small forms. There is much to be gleaned from the Compton Story, which will be applicable to others who would turn their districts around."
Education News
"[This] is a valuable book for anyone seriously interested in having more effective schools. This is not a one-shot panacea, but a detailed recipe of what can be done to improve student academic improvement."

Product Details

SAGE Publications
Publication date:
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Barnes & Noble
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Dr. Randolph E. Ward’s teaching career spans more than two decades. Fluent in Spanish and English, he has been a teacher in schools in North and South America, including two one-year stints in Colombia and Venezuela. Before becoming the fifth state appointed administrator for the Compton Unified School District in 1996, Dr. Ward was an elementary school principal and an area superintendent for the Long Beach Unified School District.

After a ten year state takeover, Dr. Ward is credited with restoring fiscal and academic responsibility to the Compton Unified School District, a school district that was $20 million in debt and had the lowest test scores in California. Under his leadership the district’s infrastructure was rebuilt from the ground up in order to build the capacity for student achievement district wide, and ultimately increase test scores four consecutive years. Focusing on student achievement, accountability and safety, he instituted corrective reading, accelerated learning classrooms for retained students, an extended school year, an all day primary learning program as well as many other academic improvement programs. In 2002, 84% of Compton’s schools improved their Academic Performance Index scores and the percentage of black males graduating from Compton’s high schools with the required University of California and California State College required courses exceeds the state’s average.

Dr. Ward trimmed administrative overhead, forged new alliances with the community and district unions, authorized tens of millions of dollars in emergency school repairs, completed a multimillion-dollar facilities modernization and technology infrastructure project, and developed and implemented a Master Facilities Plan. In 2001, CUSD made history by becoming the first state takeover to repay its bankruptcy loan.

To fight grade inflation, Dr. Ward introduced a standardized grading program that relied on course content, writing rubrics, and standards-based assessments. Under his tutelage, staff and student attendance increased, high school graduation rates rose, college enrollments skyrocketed, advanced placement courses vastly expanded, community involvement improved, and the California Achievement Test (CAT5) and Stanford 9 Test scores improved continuously. School crime rates also plunged dramatically, because of initiatives such as school community policing, school site parent safety committees, the We-Tip hotline, mandatory school uniforms in K-8, zero-tolerance for weapons, and the use of enhanced alarm technology throughout the schools in the district.

Dr. Ward’s nationally recognized environmentally-based school facilities grading program met with so much success that its criteria was expanded to include elements related to academic and instructional site-based programs. His inclusive approach and collaborative leadership style has taken administrators and staff, schools and parents, and the Black and Latino communities to new levels of cooperation and achievement. Dr. Ward has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Tufts University, a Masters in School Leadership from Harvard and another in Educational Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He also has an Ed.D. in Policy, Planning, and Administration from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Mary Ann Burke is the co-founder of the Generational Parenting Blog at genparenting.com. Dr. Burke presents effective parenting and school engagement strategies at numerous state and national parent engagement events. She creates Common Core State Standards kits and S.T.E.A.M. activities for parents to use at home and in their child’s classroom to support children’s literacy and academic readiness skills. Dr. Burke is an author or editor of four Corwin Press Books on parent and community engagement in schools. Mary Ann is an active grandmother of five grandchildren that include seven month old twin granddaughters, a four year old preschool grandson, a six-year-old kindergarten granddaughter, and a nine year old third grade grandson. She supports her grandchildren’s literacy and academic development activity play at home and at their schools. Mary Ann is a credentialed parent educator for over thirty years in California’s schools and a former adjunct professor. Dr. Burke previously led the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Parent Engagement Initiative that is a state model for best practices in parent engagement for culturally diverse families.

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