Cover: New American Schools After Six Years

New American Schools After Six Years

Published 1998

by Thomas K. Glennan, Jr.

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In July 1991, New American Schools (NAS) was established to develop designs for what were termed break-the-mold schools. Its initial goal was to create designs to help schools enable students to reach high educational standards. This simple goal has evolved into something considerably more complex. The notion of a whole-school design remains at the core of the New American Schools mission. Experience made clear, however, that designs by themselves were unlikely to effect change in schools. NAS and its design teams began work to develop design team capabilities to assist schools to implement the designs, terming this design-based assistance. Experience also made clear that the character of the school district influenced a school's success in implementing the designs. Thus, in the last two years, NAS has devoted increasing attention to helping jurisdictions develop what it terms a supportive operating environment. This evolution in the NAS program reflects an awareness that NAS initiative is only one of many factors affecting school performance in participating jurisdictions. For example, building and district leadership, teacher quality, union support, and community support also play major roles in shaping those outcomes. RAND, in its role as evaluator of the NAS initiative, will continue to carry out a variety of studies of the NAS initiative in an effort to understand the effects of many of these factors on student outcomes.

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