Not every school can be a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, or can it? Patricia L. Pickles, an award winning educational expert and acclaimed speaker, believes that even schools facing serious socio-economic challenges can succeed, even during the current educational crisis.
Pickles, a former principal and superintendent in Illinois and Texas, suggests ways to close the “achievement gap” and move schools forward. Improvement of student performance, she says, rests in the internal health and collaboration between administrators and school staff along with external partnerships forged between parents and community. Also, careful tracking of test scores, analysis of the causes behind student failure to perform up to nation-wide standards, and time for self-evaluation are all key to “creating schools of excellence and equity.”
Pickles outlines specific methods to help, delineating curricular, instructional, and assessment strategies for educators. When administrators and teachers design professional development and in-service training opportunities together, teacher effectiveness is greatly improved. Pickles is also an advocate of academic team planning and peer coaching for teachers in tandem with strong principalships. She provides multiple behavioral models for effective leadership along with illustrative tables, charts, and useful templates. At the heart of her book is the importance of inclusiveness and equal access to standard resources and opportunities for schools not meeting national performance levels.
Practical, engaging, and student-centered, Pickles’ educational philosophy is coupled with a “call to action” to create effective “platforms” for developing new legislation and enlightened future educational leaders. Without increased funding for special-needs learners, extended-day programming, or intervention services for substance abuse and mental health, schools in trouble will continue to be at risk; unfunded mandates, poorly trained teachers, and teacher shortages are all problems described in her clarion call.
Pickles’ thorough book inspires school districts and professional educators to utilize their full sphere of control for turning schools into “world-class” institutions of excellence.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.