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"It's Being Done": Academic Success in Unexpected Schools illustrated edition Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1891792397
ISBN-10: 1891792393
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Every American must read this book. It demonstrates unequivocally that an unyielding belief in the ability of all children regardless of background to excel at the highest levels combined with a relentless commitment to excellent instruction can radically transform public education in this nation. If every school in America adopted the lessons of It s Being Done, then the achievement gap in my view, the greatest injustice facing our nation would be relegated to the history books." --Jason Kamras, 2005 National Teacher of the Year

"Can a good school enable disadvantaged children to catch up? Some say, No, we must change society first. This scrupulous and humane book shows that a good school can make a decisive difference in giving every child a chance to achieve the American Dream. Karin Chenoweth is to be warmly thanked for showing in detail how some schools and their devoted staffs have refuted the idea that demography is fate." --E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia

"'It s Being Done' is a refreshingly honest and thoughtful analysis of American K-12 education. It comes at a time when so many people are asking if it is possible not to leave children behind, especially children who are poor and of color. Chenoweth s research carefully documents important examples of academic achievement among these children in a variety of challenging circumstances. She identifies the many characteristics of successful schools, including setting high expectations for students, data-driven instruction, the wise use of school time, ongoing professional development of teachers, and comprehensive leadership teams made up of principals, teachers, parents, and community members. It s Being Done will contribute significantly to the national conversation on the education of our children. Perhaps more important, it will give us reason to hope." --Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

From the Back Cover

This straightforward and inspiring book takes readers into schools where educators believe—and prove—that all children, even those considered “hard-to-teach,” can learn to high standards. Their teachers and principals refuse to write them off and instead show how thoughtful instruction, high expectations, stubborn commitment, and careful consideration of each child’s needs can result in remarkable improvements in student achievement.

“Every American must read this book. It demonstrates unequivocally that an unyielding belief in the ability of all children—regardless of background—to excel at the highest levels combined with a relentless commitment to excellent instruction can radically transform public education in this nation. If every school in America adopted the lessons of ‘It’s Being Done,’ then the achievement gap—in my view, the greatest injustice facing our nation—would be relegated to the history books.” — Jason Kamras, 2005 National Teacher of the Year

“Can a good school enable disadvantaged children to catch up? Some say, ‘No, we must change society first.’ This scrupulous and humane book shows that a good school can make a decisive difference in giving every child a chance to achieve the American Dream. Karin Chenoweth is to be warmly thanked for showing in detail how some schools and their devoted staffs have refuted the idea that demography is fate.” — E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia

‘It’s Being Done’ is a refreshingly honest and thoughtful analysis of American K-12 education. It comes at a time when so many people are asking if it is possible not to leave children behind, especially children who are poor and of color. Chenoweth’s research carefully documents important examples of academic achievement among these children in a variety of challenging circumstances. She identifies the many characteristics of successful schools, including setting high expectations for students, data-driven instruction, the wise use of school time, ongoing professional development of teachers, and comprehensive leadership teams made up of principals, teachers, parents, and community members. ‘It’s Being Done’ will contribute significantly to the national conversation on the education of our children. Perhaps more important, it will give us reason to hope.” — Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Karin Chenoweth is a longtime education writer who currently writes for The Achievement Alliance. From 1999 to 2004 she wrote a column on schools and education for the Washington Post, and before that she was a senior writer and now executive editor of Black Issues in Higher Education (now Diverse).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Education Press; illustrated edition edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891792393
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891792397
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Timothy J. Bartik on August 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book, "It's Being Done", focuses on schools that are successful AND have high percentages of students with low incomes and students from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Success is judged based on both consistent high levels of test score performance, and by visits that suggest that these high test scores really do represent high levels of student skills. The bulk of the book is made up of profiles of individual schools based on test score data and Chenoweth's visits to each school and interviews with key stakeholders at the school.

The author, Karin Chenoweth, is a former education writer for the Washington Post. She doesn't seem to really have an axe to grind. Compared to other books I have read about how to reform schools, she seems more focused on describing what is going on in these schools than in distorting reality to fit some ideological point.

Many of the book's case studies of individual schools are available for free online, under "Success Stories" at [...] . However, the book adds some updates on how the schools have done since they were visited, and the last chapter has a very useful summation of what the authors feels the lessons are from these case studies.

This final chapter of the book does an outstanding job in summarizing the commonalities among these successful schools. These successful schools differ greatly in size, the school calendar and schedule they follow, their use of technology, whether they have uniforms or not, whether they use prepackaged school reform models or not, the extent of parent and community involvement, and many other features. But they do have some commonalities, which, according to Chenoweth, include the following:

1.
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This is a terrific look at American schools that are succeeding. It gets well beyond the usual tales of charismatic principals to actually distill the methods and approaches that are common to these thriving schools. Educators may not like everything she has to say--but parents will.
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This book describes 15 remarkable schools where dedicated educators defy difficult demographics and close the achievement gap. All are regular district schools -- no charters, privates, magnets, or exam schools -- where students of color and poverty achieve at high levels. The concluding chapter lists practices and qualities that fuel their success. In my view, the attribute that floated to the top in virtually every chapter was strong leadership supporting quality teachers.

The last three paragraphs are priceless. She likens these schools to the Wright brothers' first aircraft and says "Once Orville and Wilbur demonstrated how to answer the challenges of drag and gravity, getting from their experimental plane in Kitty Hawk to the Boeing 747 was no longer a theoretical challenge but an engineering one. In the same way, the schools profiled here demonstrate that the job of educating kids to high levels -- even kids traditionally considered 'hard to teach' -- is theoretically possible."

This is a must-read for anyone involved or interested in education reform.
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I am immersed in a detailed study of the achievement gaps in our local school district. Asian and White students in our high performing suburban schools are significantly out-pacing the African American and Hispanic students on all measures of performance and at all educational levels. In the aggregate, our district has much to celebrate. However, when disaggregated, our achievement data make it clear that our struggling minority students are not being well-served.

Karin Chenoweth's book is inspirational and informative. Multiple case studies are presented in clear, unbiased, wonderfully readable prose. The schools' stories are filled with successful strategies that can be adapted and replicated locally. The summary of gap-closing, "it's-being done" school characteristics should be posted in every faculty room and school office where educators say they believe that all students can achieve at high levels. Talk is cheap. This book is about successful action.
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I have been working in education for twenty years and THE most frustrating thing I hear is that teachers and administrators want "different students." Literally, when asked what they need to succeed, the first response in 90% of the sessions I run is "different students" (also described as "more motivated students" and "better students"). This comment is invariably followed by a great deal of head nodding and "amens."

What It's Being Done shows us is that you really don't need different students, you need thoughtful grownups--school leaders and teachers who are able to develop a focused goal and a plan to get there. This book distills the learning from these 15 previously low expectation, but now high performing schools for all to learn from. It may not be as easy as some would like to improve student performance in the face of the intractable social problems we have previously used as an excuse, but it is certainly not as hard as many would like to believe.

This is a must read for all principals and teachers who have even once thought, "I'd be a great teacher, if I just had different students."
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