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Effective Schools Movement

Page history last edited by Sandy Parks 9 years, 5 months ago

Effective Schools Movement

Coorelates of Effective Schools

Presented by Sandy Parks

Historical Context of Work


The movement was led by Ronald R. Edmonds (1935-1983).  Edmonds was an educator and leader in the State of Michigan in the late sixties and early seventies.  He saw the educational inequities in his underprivileged schools and wanted to improve them.


The movement focused on the reform of all public schools.  The researchers (including Dr. Lawrence Lezotte) felt that schools were not effective in teaching all children, especially those with economic disability.  Through their research, the Correlate of Effective Schools was published.  Research focused on schools that were already effective and performing above what was expected.  It also focused on educational variables that were controlled by the schools.  This excluded the background and living conditions of the child.




Ron Edmonds was the most important influence in the Effective Schools Movement.  He researched with other well-known educators and published “The Correlates of Effective Schools”.  This publication put the attention on the schools that were not effective in low socio-economic communities. 

Purpose of Reform


Schools were not performing equally throughout the United States and Edmonds saw the need to make things equal.  He researched effective school and found common aspects in each.  Edmonds stated in his publication, Effective Schools for the Urban Poor (1979), the most important aspects of an effective school are: 


1.       Strong administrative leadership

2.       Climate of expectation

3.       Orderly school environment

4.       Basic skills take priority over other school activities

5.       School resources are focused on the fundamental objectives

6.       Monitored progress


After his death, the movement lost momentum, until the National Center for Effective Schools Research and Development took over.  The Center focused on the Correlates and expounded on them.  They became the Edmonds’ Second Generation Seven Correlates and were effective from 1985-1995:


Clear and Focused School Mission

There is a clearly articulated mission for the school through which the staff shares an understanding of and a commitment to the instructional goals, priorities, assessment procedures, and accountability


Safe and Orderly Environment

There is an orderly, purposeful atmosphere that is free from the threat of physical harm for both students and staff.  However, the atmosphere is not oppressive and is conducive to teaching and learning.


High Expectations

The school displays a climate of expectation in which the staff believes and demonstrates that students can attain mastery of basic skills and that they (the staff) have the capability to help students achieve such mastery.


Opportunity to Learn and Time on Task

Teachers allocate a significant amount of classroom time to instruction in basic skills areas.  For a high percentage of that allocated time, students are engaged in planned learning activities directly related to identified objectives.


Instructional Leadership

The principal acts as the instructional leader who effectively communicates the mission of the school to the staff, parents, and students, and who understands and applies the characteristics of instructional effectiveness in the management of the instructional program at the school.


Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress

Feedback on student academic progress is frequently obtained.  Multiple assessment methods such as teacher-made tests, samples of students’ work, mastery skills checklists, criterion-referenced tests, and norm-referenced tests are used.  The results of testing are used to improve individual student performance and also to improve the instructional program.


Positive Home-School Relations

Parents understand and support the school’s basic mission and are given opportunity to play an important role in helping the school achieve its mission

Impact on Best Practices

Schools focused on factors that could be controlled within the schools.  The movement gave many educators renewed hope that all students could learn.  It also brought about unity among educators, researchers, and communities.  The communication of the research findings was instrumental in over seven hundred school districts in the United States.

Problems or Failures


Edmonds died in 1983 at only the age of 48 of a heart attack.  This caused a halt in the leadership and slowed the movement.  That was until the movement was revived in 1986 by The National Center for Effective Schools Research and Development (1986-2004).  The center made clear the principles that had formerly been introduced by Ron Edmonds.


In March, 2001, M. Donald Thomas and William L. Bainbridge published "The Contamination of Effective Schools Movement" where they report the five fallacies to Edmonds principles.  This article can be accessed through the following link.  http://schoolmatch.com/articles/SAMAR01.htm


Other Interesting Facts


Ronald Edmonds was a very accomplished man who earned his bachelor’s degree in American History from the University of Michigan.  He earned his master’s degree (also in American History) from Eastern Michigan University.  He later received a certificate from Harvard University Graduate School of Education in advanced study. 


His Career Accomplishments:

  • Michigan State University (1981-1983), Professor
  • New York City Schools (1978-1980), Senior Assistant for Instruction
  • Who’s Who Among Black Americans (1980-1981)
  • Educational Leadership (1979) included the Correlates of Effective Schools.
  • Search for Effective Schools (1977) – identification of city schools that were instructionally effective for poor children.
  • Lecturer for Graduate School of Education, Independent Study, and Director of Urban Studies, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts (1973-1977)
  • Assistant Superintendent, Department of Public Instruction, State of Michigan (1970-1972)
  • Faculty Member of Improving State Leadership in Education Program, Department of Public Instruction, State of Michigan (1970-1971)
  • Faculty Member of Labor School at University of Michigan, and Human Relations Director for Ann Arbor, Michigan public schools (1968-1970)


Impact on Others



In 1966, "The Equal Eduational Opportunity Survey" was publish by J.S. Coleman.  The report determined family background to be the major indicator in a student's academic achievement.  Edmonds fought this idea.  He felt that the schools focused on changing student behavior and made no effort to change school behavior.  He is quoted, "taught low-income children to learn in ways that conformed to most schools' preferred way of teaching."


 In 1979, Edmonds is quoted in his “Educational Leadership” article:


"It seems to me, therefore, that what is left of this discussion are three declarative statements:

(a) We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling

is of interest to us; (b) We already know more than we need to do that; and (c) Whether or not we

do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven't so far."


Even though early research determined the school atmosphere as the major indicator to a student's academic achievement, more recent research relies on strong district support.




Edmonds, Ronald.  “Effective Schools for the Urban Poor,” Educational Leadership 37 (October 1979), 15-24.


Lezotte, Lawrence. Revolutionary and Evolutionary:  The Effective Schools Movement.  Retrieved June, 1011, from www.effectiveschools.com/main/resources/resources-44-45.html


Effective Schools Process: http://library.lakeforest.edu/archives/EffectiveSchoolsProcess.html



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