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Unformatted text preview: 116 Volume 19 ✤ Number 1 ✤ Fall 2007 ✤ pp. 116–138 r Closing the Achievement Gap Through Teacher Collaboration: Facilitating Multiple Trajectories of Teacher Learning Thomas H. Levine & Alan S. Marcus University of Connecticut Researchers and policy makers have identified various achieve- ment gaps in the academic progress of U.S. students based on race, class, and language. To help close such gaps, two approaches might be considered: (a) School and district leaders might increase control over teaching and curriculum, choosing a proven reform strategy and enforcing a minimum standard of instruction for all; and/or (b) school leaders might put teachers on teams aiming to build instructional capacity while trusting teachers’ professional judgment to develop their own curriculum and methods of instruction. Although these two approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive, they suggest very different roles for teachers and administrators; each approach has differ- ent advantages and disadvantages. The first approach seems reasonable. When school or district leaders choose an approach or program that prescribes teacher behavior and is shown to have measurable impact on specific metrics and then implement that approach with fidelity, it is rea- Copyright © 2007 Prufrock Press, P.O. Box 8813, Waco, TX 76714 summary Levine, T. H., & Marcus, A. S. (2007). Closing the achievement gap through teacher collaboration: Facilitating multiple trajectories of teacher learning. Journal of Advanced Academics, 19, 116–138. How should district and school leaders improve education for students traditionally underserved by public education: by increasing control over teaching and curriculum, or by empowering groups of teachers to have more collective autonomy, responsibility, and opportunities for pro- fessional learning? The second approach—promoting multiple trajecto- ries of learning among groups of teachers—has advantages, as well as some challenges, as a means of closing various achievement gaps. Sociocultural theory informed our research, as it helped us envision how people who work together create opportunities for the adaptation and learning of new practices while increasing the likelihood that individu- als internalize new skills and ways of thinking. Through the analysis of a conversation among teachers about Vickie, an English Language Learner, we examine the larger context of a school’s reforms. This analy- sis illustrates both the possibility and desirability of helping teachers engage in multiple and evolving types of teacher learning in order to succeed with students like Vickie. Closing the achievement gap likely will require more than just choosing the right intervention and imple- menting it with fidelity. Conceptualizing the work of closing the achieve- ment gap as requiring multiple, ongoing trajectories of teacher learning suggests what teachers, administrators, and district leaders can do to: foster and inﬂuence trajectories of teacher learning, promote internal-...
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- Spring '09
- Trajectory, Education reform, Journal of Advanced Academics