In 1986, faced with failing schools in impoverished, inner-city neighborhoods, the Baltimore School Superintendent turned to Johns Hopkins University researcher Bob Slavin for help. "We came to an agreement that we would try a model based on the idea that every single child was going to be successful - no matter what," Slavin says. That model became research driven Success for All (SFA), now used in over 1,000 schools and rated one of the most successful reform models according to a meta-analysis of school improvement programs.
What you'll see in a Success For All school:
- 90-minute reading groups: These fast-paced reading groups are held school wide at the same time every morning without interruption. Each lesson plan is structured around the same basic framework in which the teacher explains new material, allows children to work in small groups, tests them informally or formally, and recognizes students for academic improvement and teamwork. SFA packs the 90-minutes, using drills and chants to keep children engaged.
- Grouping by ability: Children who are the same age are grouped by ability for their 90-minute reading block. They are assessed regularly, and advance as they improve. If the child is not improving, that student receives individual tutoring and other support.
- Cooperative learning: Children work in pairs or in very small groups to insure participation in learning by all students. They talk to each other about their reading, and subject matter, sharing questions and seeking answers.
- Continuous testing and assessment: Teachers constantly monitor student's progress, formally and informally. All children are assessed in reading every nine weeks. Teachers use date from assessments to plan lessons or interventions for individuals or groups, and also to do periodic regrouping of students on the basis of their latest performance.