04/25/2008 in Announcements

Foundations release report on Cleveland Schools that are Making a Difference

The George Gund and Cleveland foundations have released a report, “Cleveland Schools that are Making a Difference,” which highlights 13 urban schools recognized by independent researchers for inspired leadership, thoughtful curriculum, innovative instructional practices and well-cultivated community and parental involvement.

The foundations engaged independent researchers to provide tangible evidence that quality education can be—and has been—created in a cross section of schools located in the City of Cleveland. The goal of the project was to identify, describe and share best practices that exist within Cleveland’s traditional public, private, parochial and charter schools that make a positive difference in students’ achievement.

Schools featured in the report are:
Louisa May Alcott (Cleveland Metropolitan School District — CMSD)
Citizens’ Academy (charter)
Cleveland School of the Arts (CMSD)
Benjamin Franklin (CMSD)
The Intergenerational School (charter)
Joseph Landis (CMSD)
Miles Park (CMSD)
Orchard School of Science (CMSD)
St. Francis (parochial)
St. Martin de Porres (private Catholic)
St. Thomas Aquinas (parochial)
SuccessTech (CMSD), and
Urban Community School (private Catholic/Christian)

To ensure independence and objectivity, the foundations contracted with the New York-based Institute for Student Achievement and the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University, to act as principal investigators. A Cleveland consulting firm, Candor LLC, provided analysis of student achievement data that was used to identify schools for this project.

All 13 schools selected for this report met several key criteria: they were operating in the 2004–05 school year; the majority of students were economically disadvantaged; and they were demonstrating progress in student achievement gains as evidenced from state report card data, value-added student achievement data, standardized test scores and graduation rates.

Researchers spent months conducting site visits, reviewing data and interviewing students, teachers, principals and parents. They looked at six dimensions that research shows are critical factors in positively impacting student learning: shared vision; strong curriculum and instructional methods; use of multiple data types to drive instruction and student outcomes; presence of a nurturing, safe learning environment; and positive professional development opportunities for teachers and staff. 

Dr. N. Gerry House, a nationally recognized urban education leader who currently serves as president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Student Achievement, said the report is unique for bringing together four types of schools—traditional public, private, parochial and charter—all serving the same student population. Both an executive summary and a full report are available.

The project evolved from the foundations’ larger strategy to help create a portfolio of new, excellent schools in Cleveland. Both the Gund and Cleveland foundations have dedicated substantial resources to support new schools in Cleveland. Foundation grants totaling $1.5 million have supported research, planning and start-up support for new schools in Cleveland, including the CMSD’s four single-sex elementary schools that opened in 2007 and a new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) high school scheduled to open this fall. The foundations granted another $1 million to open and staff the Office of New and Innovative Schools at the CMSD, which will assume overall strategy and supervision of the district’s new opportunity schools, and have also supported various new Cleveland charter and private schools.