Book Review

Kids and School Reform

Reviewed by George E. Pawlas,
Associate Professor of Educational
Leadership, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fla.


Does school reform really have an impact on students, its intended beneficiaries? Kids and School Reform focuses on answering that question by looking through the eyes of students at the reform occurring in selected high schools.

Authors Patricia Wasley, Robert Hampel and Richard Clark based their work on three years of visits to five high schools that are part of the Coalition of Essential Schools. They studied more than 150 students, but focused on getting to know six students on a personal level.

These six, who were sophomores when the study began, differed in personality, personal and economic circumstances and academic achievement. Their comments added meaning to the four interactive connections the authors believe take place in all school settings. One chapter is devoted to an in-depth discussion of each of these connections: repertoire and routine; caring and expectations; innovation and rigor; and small-scale and civil discourse.

The actual voices and stories of the students, when coupled with extended vignettes, make for interesting reading. The authors' inclusion of comments from teachers and administrators provides valuable insights for readers eager to support educational reform that truly benefits students.

(Kids and School Reform, by Patricia A. Wasley, Robert L. Hampel and Richard W. Clark, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, Calif. 94104, 1997, 272 pp. with index, $28.95 hardcover)