Book Review

Doubling Student Performance … and Finding the Resources to Do It

by Allan R. Odden and Sarah J. Archibald, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2009, 164 pp. with index, $68.95 hardcover, $31.95 softcover

With the federal focus on school turnarounds and accountability, we all want to know what works in improving student performance. In this book, Allan Odden, professor of education leadership and policy analysis at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Sarah Archibald, a researcher, provide a guide for administrators and teachers who want to focus on improving student learning.

In Doubling Student Performance … and Finding the Resources to Do It, Odden and Archibald highlight 10 steps to double performance through case studies and funding leads. They show how much some schools have accomplished by creatively redirecting existing resources.

The chapter outlining the 10 steps was especially useful because it allows the reader to take a mental inventory of what he or she already has under way and what may come next. Examples include ambitious goal setting, formative assessment, effective use of student time and in-service development. One step they claim as unique to their work is continuously seeking out research evidence, best practices and top experts to improve learning.

The authors strike a balance between research-based practices and evidence from real schools. The initial chapters provide examples from a wide range of settings that help readers to see parallel applicability in their own schools.

Three additional chapters — on smaller class size, professional development and extra help for students — serve as case studies with the key concept that funding possibilities are endless when you look for them. Odden and Archibald also explain what it takes to improve learning. In the case of professional development, they say improved practice takes 10 days of teacher training, instructional coaching and $100 per student.

Reviewed by Larry L. Nyland, superintendent, Marysville Schools, Marysville, Wash.