kitchen table math, the sequel: Adlai Stevenson High School

Monday, December 27, 2010

Adlai Stevenson High School

On the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum is affluent Adlai Stevenson High School—a one-school district in the Chicago area. Students and teachers there worked in the same team-based professional learning communities and benefited from the same honest, tough-minded leadership advocated here. They relied exclusively on in-house expertise as teams met, by course, to share and prepare lessons and units that they continuously improved on the basis of common, team-made assessment results. Over a 10-year period, under the leadership of Richard DuFour, Stevenson broke every achievement record on school, state, and college entrance exams. Advanced placement success increased by 800 percent (Schmoker, 2001b).

Results Now
by Mike Schmoker
Introduction: The Brutal Facts About Instruction and Its Supervision

I've spent a good two years trying to interest my district in, say, just finding out what it was Richard DuFour actually did at Adlai Stevenson High School.

No sale.

Though I'm told we do now have a professional learning community room at the high school. Apparently there's a sign on the door that says: "professional learning community."

I've gotta get a picture of that.

Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work: New Insights for Improving Schools


orangemath said...

Ms. Johnson,

Sometimes you're too cryptic for me. Do you mean you want to duplicate the PLC success at ASHS or that you wonder what the very successful, very wealthy, Richard DuFour really did? Both questions are of value.

Catherine Johnson said...

Hey OM -

I'm saying, first of all, that I would like my district to at least express some curiosity about what Richard DuFour did at Adlai Stevenson High School.

Second, assuming Adlai Stevenson really has had the increase in scores it had as a result of professional learning communities, then I would like my district to duplicate Adlai Stevenson's success.

Adlai Stevenson has 70% of its graduating seniors passing at least one AP exam by graduation, with the most common score being a 5.

My district has 58% of students passing 1 AP test by graduation with the most common score being nowhere near a 5.

Catherine Johnson said...

I've pushed our high school principal on this. His most recent response was to tell me that Irvington High School and Adlai Stevenson High School are "apples and oranges" because Adlai Stevenson requires AP students to have taken Honors courses before AP.

Therefore Adlai Stevenson's students are better prepared for AP courses, so naturally you'd expect them to do better than our students.

Then he cut and pasted some anti-KIPP material from Wikipedia & School Matters to prove that the only reason KIPP students in Houston score far better than our students do is:

a) KIPP has a longer day & school year
b) KIPP practices a harsh form of mind control called "Kypnotizing" on its students that makes them do score well on standardized tests

Catherine Johnson said...

Forget Stanley Kaplan.

Someone should start test prep company that promises to Kypnotize your kid into a 5 on the AP.