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Breakthrough [Paperback]

Michael Fullan , Patricia Wonch Hill , Carmel Crévola
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 5, 2006 1412926424 978-1412926423 1

Redesign classroom instruction to transform learning for both students and teachers! 

 presents a revolutionary new approach to educational reform, breaking away from the conventional paradigm to help educators create powerful, focused instruction that raises and sustains performance levels in the classroom. Based on three core components—personalization, precision, and professional learning—these breakthrough concepts turn reform into precise, data-driven classroom instruction personalized to every student. Unique elements of the Breakthrough framework include:

  • Improvement by design
  • Assessment for learning
  • Critical learning instructional paths
  • Mapping instructional paths
  • Smart use of data to drive instruction
  • Locking in ongoing improvement

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Editorial Reviews


"A clear and insightful look at why teaching must be conceived as constant learning about learning. The analysis of past failed reforms and the general conditions needed for success is well-stated and illuminating."

"A clear and insightful look at why teaching must be conceived as constant learning about learning. The analysis of past failed reforms and the general conditions needed for success is well-stated and illuminating." (Grant Wiggins, President 2006-02-06)

"Breakthrough has the potential to make a significant contribution to our thinking in education. The call for personalization of teaching and learning is bold. It’s in our basements, and bringing it to the ground level is essential. The timing of the book is excellent." 

(Carol Ann Tomlinson, Professor, University of Virginia 2006-01-20)

“Those interested in finding the link between general school reform initiatives and specific strategies that will actually impact classroom practice will cherish Breakthrough. Fullan, Hill, and Crévola present a model that allows teachers to provide precise instructional strategies to specific students who need timely support in order to master specific skills—without falling victim to the ‘prescription trap.’ Their critical pathways concept provides teachers with a powerful framework for integrating pre-assessment, instructional focus, formative assessment, data analysis, and job-embedded professional development to deliver the precision teaching that leads to continuous improvement. Furthermore, they make a compelling case that this model is not only desirable, but also imminently feasible.” (Richard DuFour, Educational Consultant 2006-01-20)

"This is a timely and thought-provoking book. Fullan, Hill, and Crévola address the complexity of teaching and leading, and offer a compelling way forward that focuses on learning for all students through personalization, precision teaching, and professional learning for educators. By connecting assessment with learning, leading with teaching and learning, and classrooms instruction with district and government roles and responsibilities, the authors present an integrated approach that promises to ‘breakthrough’ the sterile standardization that plagues contemporary education."

(Dean Fink, Professor, OISE/University of Toronto 2006-01-20)

"Breakthrough points the way to a new definition of effectiveness-one grounded in a powerful theory of action that brings together personalization, precision, and professional learning in new ways. Practical pathways are provided to help the readers apply this theory of action to their own circumstances. Before making any changes, read this book first!"

(Thomas A. Sergiovanni, Lillian Radford Professor of Education, Trinity University 2006-01-20)

"Thanks for a provocative and conceptually rich piece. I enjoyed it and got a great deal out of it."

(David T. Conley, Professor, University of Oregon 2006-01-20)

"An outstanding book for educators to transform classroom practice and learning strategies. It builds important perspectives on personalizing learning that will inform current practice. Highly recommended." 

(Brent Davies,Professor, University of Hull, UK 2006-01-20)

"Breakthrough is one of those few books that demonstrably understands the importance of personalizing learning and the need to mobilize the whole system towards this goal. Fullan, Hill, and Crévola provide a clear specification of what is required for a learner led curriculum and what it means to work from the classroom out. Their articulation of how assessment leads instruction and is integrated into curriculum design is exemplary."   (David Hopkins, HSBC iNet Chair of Internat’l Leadership, Institute of Education, University of London 2006-01-20)

"Breakthrough tackles several very thorny problems: how to nurture high quality classroom instruction on a large scale, and how to do so by building on existing professional know-how. Solutions developed in the book warrant careful study by all those with an interest in educational reform."

(Kenneth Leithwood, Professor, OISE/University of Toronto 2006-01-20)

"Breakthrough explores interesting possibilities for us to radically individualize classroom instruction - and gives convincing reasons why. I especially like the concept of ‘critical pathways’ as a way of organizing learning."

(Mike Schmoker, Educational Consultant 2006-01-20)

"An ambitious and timely book, Breakthrough is a critical read for those genuinely interested in school reform. Fullan, Hill, and Crévola get to the heart of the matter-improving instruction based on evidence!" 

(James Spillane, Olin Professor in Learning and Organization, Northwestern University 2006-01-20)

"From cover to cover, the information provided in this book allows readers to think about the past and be hopeful about the future of education reform and practice." (Constance Ellison, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology 2007-02-16)

"The authors provide a sound alternative to the lock-step approach that is currently in vogue in many educational settings. Their focus on internal accountability is consistent with student-centered approaches to education." (Sam Evans, Dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences 2007-02-16)

"Anyone with an interest in educational reform or instructional improvement would benefit from reading this book, reflecting on the ideas presented, and engaging in conversation with others concerning its implication for 21st-century schools." (PsycCRITIQUES, January 2007 2007-02-20)

"Breakthrough is exactly the kind of information that educators need to take any reform movement from 'good idea' to 'best practice.' " (Principal Navigator, September 2006 2007-04-10)

“Interesting, easy to read, and filled with educational insights. This book has much to commend it.” (Journal of Educational Change, August 2007, Vol. 8(3) 2008-02-15)

About the Author

Peter Hill retired as secretary general of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) on December 14, 2007. He has held numerous senior positions in school administration and educational research in Australia and the USA, including as head of the school system in the State of Victoria, Australia, and as professor of leadership and management in the faculty of education of The University of Melbourne. More recently he was director of research and development at the National Center on Education and the Economy in the USA. Over the past decade he has directed and assisted in a number of large-scale, comprehensive school improvement projects. His research interests are in the fields of assessment, school effectiveness and improvement, and instructional leadership.

Carmel Crévola is currently an independent international literacy consultant, author, and researcher who works extensively in Australia, Canada, UK, and the US. Her focus is on assisting systems to align their assessment processes, instructional practices, and instructional leadership. Crévola has pioneered new approaches to data-driven literacy instruction and has led several large-scale school reform initiatives in both Australia and the USA. Formerly a school principal in Victoria, Australia, she has 22 years of K–9 classroom teaching experience.

An innovative thinker who is sought-after by institutions, publishers, and international think-tanks, Michael Fullan is special advisor on education to Dalton McGuinty, the premier of Ontario. He formerly served as dean and professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and from Nipissing University in Canada.

Fullan served as dean of the faculty of education at the University of Toronto from 1988 to 2003, leading two major organizational transformations, including a merger of two large schools of education. He is currently working as adviser and consultant on several major education reform initiatives around the world.

He bases his work on research and practice on both the public and private sectors, finding an increasing convergence in this literature. He has written several bestsellers on leadership and change that have been translated into several languages. Four of his books have won book of the year awards, and his publications have been translated into several languages.

Now, Michael Fullan is offering his experience to you in an online professional development opportunity!

Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Corwin; 1 edition (April 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412926424
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412926423
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Fullan is professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Recognized as an international authority on organizational change, he is engaged in training, consulting, and evaluating change projects around the world. He is the author of The Six Secrets of Change and the bestselling books Leading in a Culture of Change and Turnaround Leadership, all from Jossey-Bass.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Fullan, Hill and Crevola have done an excellent job in redirecting thought on educational change by refocussing on what actually happens in classrooms (where the rubber meets the road, as Jimmy Thompson in LeRoy often says).

A major problem with most educational change is that it is political and structural in nature and is designed to change the ways schools operate. The impetus for change founders on the vested interests imbedded in school communities and adds to the festering debate about the inability of educational change to make a real difference to students' learning. With Michael Fullan adding Hill and Crevola to the writing team, he has added a lot of credibility to this text in the eyes of school-based personnel.

This book is a testament to the fact that we need to change inputs to bring about better outcomes for students. The expectation that teachers, if left to their own devices, will improve outcomes is patently false when examining large organisations. Clearly there are individual exceptions but generally speaking Fullan is on the right track here.

I feel that this book will be a very well received book because fellow educators will recognise the book for what it- the first step on a journey worth taking. On the strength of that, our school leaders' reading group has chosen this text as our next reader.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down to earth May 12, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fullan and fellow authors present a logical, no-nonsense approach to reforming education where it is needed the most - in the classroom. They present the argument that only when instruction is changed to meet the needs of all learners, instruction is monitored daily through student progress so that it can be adjusted, will real improvement in student academic achievement be realized. It is an easy read. It should be required reading in all educational leadership programs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breakthrough by Michael Fullan October 11, 2007
Michael Fullan does an excellent job discussing differentiated learning. His book, Breakthrough presents a new way to look at educational reform and break away from current curriculum first strategies of educators. Instead, he discusses focused learning with students at the center. In the book, learning is individualized and geared towards individual needs. Fullan provides examples and ways to collect data using focus sheets, student profiles, and instructional matrixes. Great book to read for those interested in serving all students and their needs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
In the book Breakthrough, Fullan, Hill, and Crevola pose the question: If healthcare can reform in order to meet the individual needs of patients, then why can't education change to meet the individual needs of learners? The authors' purpose is to share their work towards and vision for a new paradigm shift in educational practices in order to individualize instruction for each student using data-driven instruction.

Fullan, Hill, and Crevola take the healthcare concept of "Critical Care Paths" which is a map for each patient based on his/her needs and apply it to education. These Critical Care Paths seem to connect easily with education in that they include such concepts as "timing, sequence, and the interventions necessary to achieve the desired outcomes" (p. 52). The authors used this system as a model and created what they call the Critical Learning Instructional Paths (CLIP). They describe how they applied their system to two early literacy programs. In doing so, the authors bring theory into practice by providing these real-world examples of their CLIP system. This made their method easier to conceptualize and less idealistic. In addition, they provide examples of how their system can be applied to other areas and levels of education. Most educators will appreciate that the authors consider the reality of implementing such a system while being aware of the constraints of the school day and budget. The book ends with a chapter on how to provide leadership to put their system in place.

This 100-page book was clear, concise and research-based. It provided specific examples and a realistic description of what needs to be in place in order for a "Breakthrough" to occur.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Breakthrough December 26, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The best sentence in this book was the last one. "While it takes a whole village to raise a child, it takes a system to raise every child."

Everyone agrees that the future success of public school reform lies in developing expert systems. That is the key. It is easier said than done. Breakthrough does a good job documenting the failures of the direct instruction movement to achieve wholescale, systemic reform. Their failures exist in spite of the large sums of money and expertise that have been invested into the method.

The authors also talk about the importance of teacher and principal leadership to bring about systemic reform and the importance of personalizing instruction so that data is used to make instruction more effective. The book, however, falls short in the application. The last half of the books reads like a direct instruction manual. Yeah, that's right, it is a real yawner, which is surprising for an author like Fullan. I guess you can't hit a homerun every at bat.

What is lacking is the balance that must be found between using data to know where each child is at and yet at the same time providing interesting, inspiring work to the student so that her interest and motivation to learn remains high. Motivation and relevancy--especially in the 21st century is essential. The problem I am seeing across the country is that people are trading data for inspiration. It doesn't work that way. We must realize that doing work that matters--along with measuring progress toward meaningful benchmarks is the key. Otherwise, we might just find ourselves confusing assessment for learning. Not a healthy proposition.

This little volume is not a page turner, but it does make some good points.
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