It started with a simple question: What separates high achieving schools from all the others?

Lower Dauphin is entering a new initiative which is designed to increase student achievement. Every school district in the Capital Area Intermediate Unit is taking part in the Learning Focused Schools initiative which provides a framework to utilize the best practices from high achieving schools across the country and adopt those practices to work in any classroom, school building or district.

The Learning Focused Schools model, developed by Dr. Max Thompson, provides strategies and solutions based on practices found in schools with 90 percent of their students achieving proficient or higher on standardized tests with 90 percent poverty or racial diversity. These practices and strategies focus on five areas critical to academic success: Planning, Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and School Organization.

The Learning-Focused Schools Model is a comprehensive school improvement model that provides schools with a consistent language for learning that is organized into a framework designed explicitly for raising student achievement.

This framework organizes the U.S. Department of Education’s exemplary schools evaluations and the research-based strategies that impact achievement the most:

  • Planning through team-based or learning communities,
  • Prioritizing and mapping curriculum,
  • Effective use of graphic and advance organizers,
  • Instructing vocabulary in context,
  • Using summarizing strategies, and
  • Extending thinking strategies.

Moving beyond those effective strategies, the Learning-Focused Schools initiative also specializes in connecting reading comprehension, writing across the curriculum, accelerating and scaffolding learning, balanced literacy, differentiated assignments, and more focused primarily on learning and raising achievement.