Sand, Bricks, and Seeds: School Change Strategies and Readiness for Reform

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Abstract

In this chapter Robert Slavin argues against a prevailing orthodoxy by maintaining that differences between schools in terms of “effectiveness” are less important than what and how a school teaches. Slavin contends that there are fewer highly effective, in his terms “seed” schools than others suppose, and by the same token a similary fewer number of “sand” or highly ineffective schools. Most schools he claims are “brick” schools, in so far as they are amenable to reform by the introduction of prepared curriculum and instructional packages. In a similar vein Slavin argues that of the three main types of innovation — organisation development, single curricular innovations or comprehensive reform models — it is only the latter that holds any promise for positively affecting student achievement in a majority of schools. Slavin concludes by proposing a series of policy implications that involve the funding and implementation of well-specified (“brick”) models of school improvement.