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The Answer Is in the Room

The Answer Is in the Room
How Effective Schools Scale Up Student Success

A Joint Publication With The HOPE Foundation

August 2011 | 144 pages | Corwin
Learn the secrets of successful schools

Citing wisdom from top educational experts and building on what is already working, award-winning author Alan M. Blankstein offers tools for finding excellence in schools, scaling these practices across learning communities, and transforming low-performing schools into high-performing schools. His five-step process includes:

- Identifying and assessing excellence

- Creating an action plan

- Assigning resources such as time, materials, etc.

- Transferring excellence in the form of knowledge and skills throughout the school and district

- Sustaining the excellence

Also included are effective strategies for sustaining student gains, closing gaps within and between schools, building leader capacity, and increasing community commitment.

About the Author
Figures and Tools to Help Answer the Questions in the Room
1. Why We Can't Wait to Scale Student Success!
The Power of Positive Deviance Saves Millions of Children in Vietnam

Applying Positive Deviance to Education

Good News for Scaling Student Success

About This Book and Chapter

Some Common Core Principles of Networking and PD

Challenges to Scaling Success in US Education

The Moral and Economic Imperative for Change is Now

What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Next?

The Big Question


2. A Process to CREATE Sustained Student Success
A Movement is Born in U.S. Education – and Exported to Other Nations

The Catalyst to Change

The CREATE Process

The Advantages of the CREATE Process

The Big Question


3. The Courage to Commit to the Work
Defining Courage

Commitment: A Pillar of Courage

Building a Collective Commitment to Scale Up Student Success

7 Tools for Constructing a Large-Scale Community Commitment

Cultivating the Community: Qualities of the Courageous Leader

The Big Question


4. Resources are in the Room
The Most Valuable Resource: Focused Commitment Over Time

The Second Major Resource: Patience and Urgency

Third Major Resource: Steering Committee

How to Get TIME to Collaborate

Getting Down to the Details

The Big Question


5. Taking Stock of Excellence in the Room
Is there Excellence or Positive Deviance to be Found?

Defining Excellence is Done Twice by the Lead Teams

Developing a Community to Question the Answer: Language, Purpose and Norms

Improving Instructional Practice: Change the Methods and You Will Change the Outcomes

Change the Methods and You Will Change the Outcomes

The Big Question


6. An Action Plan for Engaging the Entire Learning Community
Developing a Common Language for the Action Plan

Key Challenges to Address in the Action Plan

Reentry Plans to Engage the Larger School Community, Build Trust and Transparency

Developing SMART Goals That the School Community Wants to Achieve

Successful Implementation of SMART Goals

Identifying and Assessing Excellence

Next Steps

The Big Question


7. Transference of Knowledge and Skills Throughout the Learning Community
Transferring Knowledge and Skills within the School

Transferring Knowledge and Skills Through-out the District

What Are Tuning Protocols?

The Big Question


8. Embedding the New Learning in the Culture for Sustainability

Three Pillars of Embedding the Process in the School Culture

The Big Question


Tools to Help Answer the Questions in the Room
Tool A: Writing an Instructional SMART Goal Worksheet
Tool B: Strategies for Making Time
Tool C: Agreement of PURPOSE Worksheet
Tool D: Creating Group Norms: Facilitator Guide Example
Tool E: An Example Participant Handout for Creating Group Norms
Tool F: Steps of "Instructional Learning Walks"
Tool G: Indicators of Quality Instructional Learning Walks Observation Sheet

"A common-sense approach to addressing the obstacles and barriers that often stymie school success. By drawing on examples from schools that have a track record of beating the odds, Blankstein and his collaborators have created a resource that will be invaluable for educators who are searching for answers to the challenges they face. Insightful, enlightening and accessible."

Pedro Noguera, Professor of Education
New York University, New York, NY

“Blankstein’s new book brilliantly summarizes a wealth of information about what works in closing the achievement gap. A must-read for practitioners.”

Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow and Author
Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

"Another passionate and stirring book from Alan Blankstein! Weaving together evidence, inspiring stories and resources, he leads the reader to an exciting place where it’s just the norm for everyone to learn with and from others within and across their schools. And it all starts with questions. So what are you waiting for?"

Louise Stoll, Professor
London Centre for Leadership in Learning, UK

"In The Answer is in the Room, Alan Blankstein applies the lessons he has learned from working with schools around his 'Failure is Not an Option' program. As usual, Alan offers practical and timely lessons for schools and districts. But in this new book, he goes further to talk about what it really takes to get the answers and he posits that we already know because the answer is in the room, and it must come from all of us. This is a timely and helpful book.”

Paul Houston, Author
Center for Empowered Leadership, Allentown, NJ

"This book has it right—the secret is that there is no secret. With Alan, we need to shout it out. We do know how to scale up student success; we do have excellent instruction to surge into classrooms; and we do have communities of practice that bring stakeholders together who reject failure. This new system is aborning, and we need to celebrate its beginnings and tend to its growth. Readers: unite with purpose!"


Robert C. Hughes, President and CEO
National Institute for School Leadership, Washington, DC

"Every principle in this book is grounded in experience and illustrated with case examples from which any educator can learn. I believe the most essential elements for scaling up involve respecting and nurturing local examples of success, and having the courage to commit to positive change. The Answer Is In The Room has captured it brilliantly - now it's time for education policy to allow educators to bring the answer into the schoolhouse."


Maurice J. Elias, Psychology Professor
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

"With a new explosion of bad ideas for education reform, we need Alan Blankstein’s positive defiance! The Answer is in the Room is rich with tools for improving schools from the inside out. Blankstein reminds educators that we have more answers than we think—we can be the change we wish to see."

John Wilson, Executive Director
National Education Association, Washington, DC

"This book is phenomenal! It embodies everything I believe concerning excellence in education. Alan has documented the road to excellence. I will definitely use this book when working with districts on school improvement or moving from good to great!"

Deborah L. Wortham, Superintendent
Steelton-Highspire School District, PA

"Alan Blankstein spells out a workable approach to school improvement rooted in experience and common sense. His book is a breath of fresh air and a welcome relief from the ideological banter that passes for school reform in the current climate."

Edward Fiske, Author, Alstead, NH

The Answer in the Room really does provide the answer to school improvement. What makes it great is that it is an economical and effective answer – we know what to do and can collaboratively apply the knowledge and skills that educators in the each district already have to achieve great gains in student learning."

Ken O'Connor, Author
Assess For Success Consulting, Scarborough, ON, Canada

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ISBN: 9781412998765

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