Best Practice Framework: Critical Needs at the Elementary Level

Check out our searchable data base of research reports, presentations, and other resources at our project website.

In 2011, research teams investigated ten consistently higher- and five consistently average- performing elementary schools to determine differences in practices along the five themes of the framework below. For more information about each finding, follow the Learn More link.

High School Completion (2013) Critical Needs, Elementary (2011) ELL Elementary (2016) High School (2008) Middle School (2007)
Organizing Themes Best Practices
Curriculum & Academic Goals
  • Goals are aligned from classroom to district, and goal-setting is a collaborative process.
  • Within each building teachers feel that they are working toward shared goals and collaborate extensively to achieve those goals.
  • The goals for student achievement apply to all students, including English learners and those with special needs.

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Staff Selection, Leadership, & Capacity Building
  • Care is taken to hire educators who will fit well with the school culture and philosophy and who value and desire to work with diverse and challenging populations.
  • When teachers are asked to adopt new practices ongoing support is provided formally and informally.
  • Approaches to curriculum and instruction are not “cookie cutter” but expect teachers to be problem solvers.

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Instructional Programs, Practices, & Arrangements
  • Instruction is student-centered, hands on in flexible groupings, and differentiated to meet the needs of every student.
  • Teachers make connections, build on student strengths, and fill gaps in background knowledge, often through technology.
  • Approaches are consistent across classrooms and collaboration between teachers and specialists is ongoing.

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Monitoring: Compilation, Analysis, & Use of Data
  • From classroom to central office, a variety of data are used to monitor progress and assess effectiveness.
  • Progress monitoring and using data to change or develop and test new programs and practices is continuous.
  • Data analysis involves discussions between teachers, specialists, and administrators – a team approach.

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Recognition, Intervention, & Adjustments
  • Students’ identified needs are addressed by teacher or specialist, regardless of formal classification.
  • Positive reinforcement and intervention is the dominant approach for both academics and behavior.

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