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Sustainable School Change

Defying Gravity: Literacy Reform in Urban Schools

Raphael, T., Weber, C., Goldman, S., Sullivan, M. P., & George, M. (2005). Defying gravity: Literacy reform in urban schools. Journal of Literacy Research, 37(3), 267–286.

National Reading Conference Oscar Causey Award Presentation, Albuquerque, New Mexico. National Reading Conference Yearbook, 2010. Read Full Article »

Helping High Schools Meet Higher Standards

Au, K. H. (2013). Helping High Schools Meet Higher Standards. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(7), 535–539.

Educational policy in the U.S. currently centers on college and career readiness, with the spotlight on high schools to meet higher expectations for students’ literacy achievement. A focused, disciplined approach to literacy improvement is recommended, based on three major actions. Read Full Article »

Improving Literacy Achievement in Elementary Schools: The Standards-Based Change Process and the Common Core

Au, Kathryn H., Strode, Elizabeth V., Madison Vasquez, Jaime, Raphael, Taffy E. (2014). Improving Literacy Achievement in Elementary Schools: The standards-based change process and the common core. In S. B. Wepner, D. S. Strickland, & D. J. Quatroche (Eds.), The Administration and Supervision of Reading Programs (5th ed., pp.74-83). New York, New York: Teachers College Press.

Sustainable school improvement must be grounded in an effective infrastructure and allow educators to construct their school's own staircase curriculum, assessment, and instruction to improve student achievement through standards. Read Full Article »

Improving the School Literacy Program: Developing Coherence in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessments

Weber, Catherine M. (2013). Improving the School Literacy Program: Developing coherence in curriculum, instruction, and assessments. In B. M. Taylor & N. K. Duke (Eds.) Handbook of Effective Literacy Instruction: Research-based Practice K-8 (pp. 486-509). New York, New York: Guilford Press.

In an era of high-stakes testing, there is a strong push for data-based decision making;
however, it can be difficult for teachers and schools to know which data to collect
and how to use them to increase students' literacy achievement levels. To improve the
school reading program, educators must work together as a professional learning community
(PLC) to build coherence within and across grade levels to ensure success for
all students. This chapter begins with an overview of research related to schoolwide
curricular coherence and assessment data. It then unpacks ways that school teams can
work together to improve literacy teaching and learning schoolwide. Read Full Article »

Negotiating the Slippery Slope: School Change and Literacy Achievement

Au, K. H. (2005). Negotiating the Slippery Slope: School Change and Literacy Achievement. Journal of Literacy Research, 37(3), 267–288.

I believe that we, as literacy researchers, can make valuable contributions by working alongside educators in schools in what appears to be a critical point for public education in the United States. My purpose here is to discuss my experiences with school change in response to higher standards: how I became involved in this work and the insights I have gained about working at the school level, scaling up the change process, levels of implementation, and student results. Those of us involved with change efforts know that we are negotiating a slippery slope, a precarious situation in which schools, especially those serving high numbers of students living in poverty, may be labeled as failures to be rescued through the privatization of education. Read Full Article »

Schoolwide Change to Improve Literacy Achievement

Au, K. H. (2006). Schoolwide Change to Improve Literacy Achievement. In K. H. Au, Multicultural issues and literacy achievement (pp. 173-194). Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates.

This chapter begins with a discussion of why whole-school change based on standards is needed, and why educators should focus on in-depth change for long-lasting results and avoid the temptations of superficial quick fixes. Four characteristics of in-depth change are presented. Then the Standards-Based Change Process (SBCP) is discussed as an example of a system with these four characteristics. The chapter closes with a discussion of the importance of long-lasting change for schools serving students of diverse backgrounds. Read Full Article »

Transformative Practices for Literacy Teaching and Learning

Raphael, Taffy E., Au, Kathy A., & Popp, Jacquelynn S. (2013). Transformative practices for literacy teaching and learning: A complicated agenda for literacy researchers. In S. Szabo, L. Martin, T. Morrison, L. Haas & L. Garza-Garcia (Eds.), Literacy is transformative: 35th annual yearbook of the association of literacy educators and researchers (Vol. 35, pp. 9 - 32). Louisville, KY: Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers.


This article is designed for school and teacher leaders interested in enacting a system that creates a sustainable improvement initiative. We share features for transformation from the federal to the school level, in light of Common Core State Standards and what we’ve learned from international and U.S. research on school change. We describe how the SchoolRise Seven Levels to Success has successfully supported schools in their sustainable change efforts. Read Full Article »