Drawing upon his experiences as a former school superintendent and an academic, Larry Cuban examines the implications of the effective schools research for policy and practice at the district level. He focuses on the critical role played by the superintendent and by district-level policies in creating preconditions for local school improvement. Examining the issues that both separate and connect the worlds of theory and practice, Cuban describes the dilemma of school leaders who, armed with only an incomplete theory of school improvement,must make important policy decisions in the face of time pressures and political demands. He warns of some of the unintended consequences of effective schools practices that employ top-down strategies to achieve the narrow goal of raising test scores. Administrators, he argues,need a variety of policy tools and top-down and bottom-up strategies to generate significant improvement at the local level.

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