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Karin Chenoweth
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Writer-in-residence for The Education Trust, Karin Chenoweth is co-author of Getting it Done: Leading Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2011), which explores what leaders of successful K-12 public schools have done to promote and sustain student achievement, particularly among low-income students and students of color. Her earlier work for Harvard Education Press includes How It's Being Done: Urgent Lessons from Unexpected Schools and It’s Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools.

Chenoweth is a long-time reporter and education writer who has written for such publications as American Educator, American Teacher, and Education Week, as well as The Washington Post, where she was a columnist on schools and education. Prior to that, she was senior writer and executive editor of Black Issues In Higher Education (now Diverse).

Entries by Karin Chenoweth

How Can We Learn from Success Without Some Way of Telling Who's Successful?

(1) Comments | Posted April 19, 2015 | 12:09 AM

For a bit more than a decade American educators have had an unprecedented opportunity to find successful schools and learn from them.

That's because, as part of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, students throughout the country have taken state tests in reading, math, and science with results reported...

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Can You Define a "Basic" Education?

(0) Comments | Posted April 9, 2015 | 4:32 PM

Last week I joined eleven of my fellow citizens to decide the fate of a young man who didn't help his cause by smirking through his trial.

We jurors took our jobs seriously, and -- as is built into the design of the jury system -- we each brought our...

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What Does Supportive Leadership Look Like?

(0) Comments | Posted March 31, 2015 | 7:55 AM

National Public Radio did a recent story looking at why teachers stay on the job despite the inherent difficulties and relatively low pay. It cited a 2012 survey of teachers, which found that 68 percent of teachers cited "supportive leadership" as "absolutely essential" to retaining good...

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Really? This Is How High Achievement Is Greeted?

(1) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 12:35 PM

The first time I visited Elmont Memorial High School in New York's Nassau County almost eight years ago, then-principal Al Harper showed me the space where he had carved out the science research lab. It was crammed with myriad equipment. Just what I can't remember, except that there...

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Why Would You Call Them 'Miracle Schools'?

(4) Comments | Posted March 13, 2015 | 4:41 PM

A recent online kerfuffle* raised the question -- yet again -- of whether it is possible for schools to help children of color and children from low-income homes learn to high standards.

I'm always a bit surprised that it's still necessary to have this conversation, but I guess...

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What's Science Got to Do With Teaching and Learning?

(1) Comments | Posted March 6, 2015 | 2:30 PM

For decades, cognitive scientists slowly accrued a solid understanding of how people learn but never bothered to tell teachers and students what they had found.

It is as if, says author Benedict Carey, "doctors had discovered a cure for diabetes and spent 50 years characterizing its molecular structure before giving...

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Learning From Improvement or Not

(1) Comments | Posted February 26, 2015 | 4:47 PM

Whenever I see that a low-performing school's students have improved their performance on state tests, I am curious. What happened?

That is why I was eager to visit a school that was one of the lowest performing in the state three years ago, but last year showed dramatic improvement.


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Teachers in a Pickle

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 6:50 AM

Not long ago, two teachers asked me a question that I found rather poignant: How could they help make their schools successful when their principals have no interest in changing what they're doing?

The occasion was the National Title I Conference in Salt Lake City. I had met...

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Reading Instruction and the Achievement Gap

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 12:44 PM

One of the schisms dividing the education field is the differing opinions about "reading" and "reading instruction."

To those outside the field, this might seem a little -- shall we say -- arcane. Reading is what you're doing right now, right? No mystery there. And reading instruction -- that's what...

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Fresh Thinking on Student Discipline

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2015 | 5:17 PM

An interesting piece of new research should help teachers, principals, parents, and community and school board members think in fresh ways about student discipline.

Traditionally, many people have thought that schools are better places to learn when all the troublemakers are out of the building. This theory, which makes a...

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Think Promise Neighborhoods Before Promise Neighborhoods Were Cool

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 3:50 PM

Drew Charter School has a big ambition -- to provide a cradle-to-college pipeline so that every student living in its Atlanta community graduates high school with college admittance in hand.

The school's ambition is an integral part of an even bigger one -- to break the cycle of...

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Leading Coherence

(0) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 3:26 PM

Over the past 10 years, I have visited dozens of schools with significant populations of students of color and students living in poverty that demonstrate high achievement on state assessments.

The schools are different in lots of ways -- they are big, small, urban, suburban, elementary, secondary, integrated and racially...

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The Education Paradox Requires New Ways to Think About Schools

(0) Comments | Posted November 12, 2014 | 2:30 PM

When surgeon and noted medical writer Atul Gawande wanted to make the point that treating patients today requires specialized teams of medical personnel, he listed some of the procedures surgeons are allowed to perform. He didn't list them all, because surgeons can legally perform more than 4,000 procedures, ranging from...

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Where the Data Speak of Capacity

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2014 | 11:25 AM

In a never-ending quest to find schools to learn from, I found myself flying into the Sault St. Marie airport in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and driving north and west, parallel to Lake Superior. For all intents and purposes, I felt I might as well be in Canada: Residents use some...

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Big School, Small School

(0) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 11:51 AM

A new study of the small high schools that New York City opened in the last decade seems to have re-ignited a debate about whether small high schools are better for kids than large schools and whether it's possible to really measure which is better.


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"Every Number Represents a Kiddo's Face"

(0) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 9:26 AM

Last week I quoted a principal who said about the student achievement data in her school, "They are just numbers, but the teachers here know that every number represents a kiddo's face."

This is a profound way to think about data, but it isn't universally understood among...

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Expecting Excellence

(3) Comments | Posted October 7, 2014 | 4:04 PM

All over the country are schools that demonstrate the power they have to help students from all backgrounds learn to high levels. They don't often attract attention, in part because they are busy doing the work. They often aren't doing anything terribly innovative -- at least in the sense that...

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The Mantra of a Broad Prize Winner Is About Teachers

(2) Comments | Posted October 2, 2014 | 1:38 PM

If you are employed by the Gwinnett County School District, you are either a teacher or you work to support teachers.

That, at least, is the mantra promulgated by the superintendent, J. Alvin Wilbanks. I have heard the same thing from enough other Gwinnett County educators -- principals and...

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Can We Call 70 Percent of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents a Consensus?

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 2:10 PM

Why Not? It May Be as Close as We Get

It sometimes feels as if our country is so polarized these days that a poll broken out by Democrats, Republicans, and Independents would find partisan disagreement on the color of the sky.

But there is a commonsensical notion about education...

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Kids Are In School for About 15,000 Hours - Does How They Spend That Time Make a Difference?

(0) Comments | Posted September 9, 2014 | 4:37 PM

The question of whether schools affect student achievement has been debated ever since the publication of James C. Coleman's landmark 1966 study, "Equality of Educational Opportunity" -- commonly known as the Coleman Report.

Coleman was not an educator but a sociologist who pioneered the use of large...

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