Policy Briefs

Making Real Choices Happen in Traditional Public Schools: Lesson to be learned from non-traditional choice settings

By William E. Bickel and Jennifer E. Iriti
November 2009

How can traditional public schools provide the conditions necessary to implement in-district choice? This brief discusses the innovative, "uncommon" practices implemented in choice settings and the four key structural and cultural conditions that support those practices: a clearly defined and shared mission, non-traditional staffing practices, localized governance, and a customer service orientation.

Sustaining Ambitious Instructional Reforms amidst the Tides of Policy Cycles

By Julia Kaufman and Mary Kay Stein
February 2009

How can schools and districts answer to the high demands of multiple, sometimes conflicting reforms and maintain those reforms over time? This brief illuminates the potential challenges and opportunities for sustaining ambitious instructional reforms over time in the face of policy change. We highlight how administrative turnover and a subsequent focus on newer policies can quickly destabilize other on-going reforms, including the necessary, sustained support for teacher learning that accompanies those reforms. However, we also discuss how schools can develop strategies that lead to the maintenance of multiple instructional policies and create coherence among those policies.

Smart Use of District Resources: Curriculum Change Must Be Coupled with Quality Professional Development for Teachers

By Christian Schunn
December 2008

Curriculum change is an omnipresent feature of school district life: every year, a significant number of teachers teach using curricular materials they have not used before. Administrators frequently ask teachers to make these changes without providing professional development. This kind of change hurts student learning. The research described in this brief suggests that districts would make more effective use of their resources by implementing curriculum change only when high quality supporting professional development accompanies that curriculum change.

Setting the Groundwork for Quality Teaching and Learning: Measuring Instruction in Schools and Districts

By Lindsay Clare Matsumura
October 2008

The purpose of this Learning Policy Center brief is to demonstrate the need for measuring instruction as part of the normal, on-going professional practice of schools and school districts and to provide guidelines for how instruction can be measured most productively. View the LPC blog for this brief.

Getting the Most out of Professional Learning Communities and Coaching: Promoting Interactions that Support Instructional Improvement

By Cynthia Coburn and Jennifer Russell
June 2008

The purpose of this brief is to inform decisions about the design and implementation of professional learning communities and coaching initiatives by presenting research based findings about the potential supports and barriers that influence their efficacy. View the LPC Blog for this Brief

Professional Development as a Lever for Changing Teacher Practice

By Richard Correnti
March 2008

The purpose of this brief is to demonstrate to school and district leaders how professional development can enhance instructional quality. The brief provides empirical evidence demonstrating the influence of content specific professional development on literacy instruction. View the LPC Blog for this brief.

Why Learning Policy?

By Mary Kay Stein
February 2008

The purpose of this brief - the first in our series - is to set the stage for what to expect from Learning Policy Center Briefs. We describe the foundation of our approach, the value that we believe it adds to current policy discussions, and the mission and people associated with our Center.