Publications & Resources

"No Excuses": School Reform Efforts in Exemplary Schools of Kentucky

Dec 1999

Shelby Wolf, Hilda Borko, Monette McIver and Rebekah Elliott

In our initial discussions with Kentucky Department of Education administrators about exemplary sites, one educator suggested we look for schools that had a “‘no excuses’ approach”: Schools where “you don’t say why things can’t be done. You say, ‘What is it that we need to do?'” In this technical report we will follow two elementary and two middle schools where they not only talked about what they needed to do to meet the Needs of the state reform effort, but they acted upon it, creating a “no excuses” atmosphere. Our images of reform suggest that resource decisions are often based on human relationships among faculty members, and that these, in turn, influence the desire to go out into the community to get what’s needed to propel learning forward. Our schools characterized themselves as “lighthouses” and “universities” where ongoing learning was key. But the business side of things was less critical than the emphasis on “family.” Thus in this report, we will demonstrate how four different exemplary schools took on the question of “What is it that we need to do?” and formed a shared vision through their dedication to students, staff, faculty, and school.

Wolf, S., Borko, H., McIver, M., & Elliott, R. (1999). No excuses: School reform efforts in exemplary schools of Kentucky (CSE Report 514). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).