Schools that Make the Grade: What Successful Schools Do to Improve Student Achievement

Authors: Martin J.A. Ratcliffe, Melissa L. Harts; Foreword Author: Ben A. Birdsell M.Ed.

Format: Paperback, 208 pages, 6.0 x 9.0
ISBN: 9781598570908
Price: $29.95

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What turns a good school into a great school? With today's schools under enormous pressure to make adequate yearly progress (AYP), the answers are more important than ever-and this essential guidebook gives K-12 administrators and educators scores of proven, concrete strategies to help their school succeed.

Authors Martin Ratcliffe and Melissa Harts are veteran educators who have who have collective in-the-trenches experience ranging from classroom teaching to district-level administration. Pooling their expertise and the invaluable insights of other frontline professionals, they help education teams work together on seven critical success factors that directly correlate with student achievement, from high expectations to frequent progress monitoring. For each success factor, readers will get

  • dozens of proven, research-based strategies that are aligned to meet federal requirements for school improvement
  • specific best practices tailored for teachers, principals, and district-level administrators, so all members of the education team can do their part to improve student achievement
  • tips for working with diverse students, including students with special needs and English language learners
  • key research studies demonstrating the importance of each factor
  • personal stories and perspectives from successful teachers, supervisors, administrators, and principals

Throughout the book, readers will follow documented case studies of real schools. They'll investigate the diverse approaches these schools took to each of the seven success factors, discover what worked and didn't work, and take away valuable lessons they can implement in their own schools.

An indispensable survival guide to the era of accountability, this groundbreaking book gives schools real-world solutions to the challenges of today's educational climate-and helps teachers, principals, and administrators prepare all of their students for long-term academic success.

Put these seven success factors to work in your school:

  • Foster positive homeschool relations
  • Keep students engaged and motivated to learn in the time given
  • Create a climate of high expectations
  • Develop a clear and focused mission
  • Monitor student progress frequently
  • Receive strong and effective instructional leadership from the principal
  • Ensure a safe and orderly environment


Review by: Timothy P. Madigan, Head of School, Stratford Friends School, Newtown Square, PA
"In this time of high stakes assessments and accountability, I see no greater resource to schools than Schools that Make the Grade."
Review by: Elizabeth A. Potts, University of Virginia
"Demonstrate[s] the research in action, while providing action items for all levels of personnel in schools."

Table of Contents

About the Authors


Foreword: Ben A. Birdsell



  1. The Adequate Yearly Progress/Student Achievement Crisis
  2. What Makes a School Effective in Improving Student Achievement?
  3. Positive Home-School Relations Correlate
    with Samuel R. Bennett
  4. Opportunity to Learn and Student Time on Task Correlate with Mary Brezinski & Glenn S. Gardner
  5. Climate of High Expectations Correlate with Helene Robinson
  6. Clear and Focused Mission Correlate
  7. Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress Correlate with Sonya Jackson
  8. Instructional Leadership Correlate
  9. Safe and Orderly Environment Correlate with James Dwight Davidson & Heather Croft Jackson
  10. The Clarion Call



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