Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rigorous Schools and Classrooms: Leading the Way

Suggesting that schools can become more rigorous often provokes a variety of reactions from defensiveness to outright hostility. But I believe that schools must continually strive to improve their curriculum and the quality of instruction and assessment. In my new book. Rigorous Schools and Classrooms: Leading the Way (, co-authored with Barbara Blackburn we provide a three-part definition for rigor.

Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels.

Together these three elements provide the basis for nurturing and sustaining rigor in schools. Our focus in the book is straightforward: to provide principals and teachers with a practical guide to help make your school more rigorous. We introduce the COMPASS model, a set of 7 tools that leaders can immediately use to transform their school. They include culture, ownership and shared vision, managing data, professional development, advocacy, shared accountability, and organizational structures.

Barbara and I hope that the ideas in the book are helpful to you as you work with your community to improve your schools. Additional resources are available at or at my website ( We'd enjoy hearing from you about the book.

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