Looking Together At Student Work, Second Edition

by Tina Blythe,David Allen and Barbara Schieffelin Powell, Teachers College Press, New York, N.Y., 2007, 96 pp., $15.95 softcover

School leaders looking for systemic strategies to improve student achievement would be well-served by Looking Together At Student Work, part of the publication series on school reform by Teachers College Press.

The authors provide specific structures for teachers to review student work collaborating with others. Actual case studies are presented where these structures have been applied to a school setting.

The crux of Looking Together At Student Work appears in the fourth chapter, which addresses three types of protocols and the purpose behind each. The tuning protocol is an evaluative structure whereby participants review students to establish standards, improve assignments and give feedback to teachers. The collaborative assessment conference is primarily descriptive in nature, designed to learn more about individual student learning and reviewing teacher practice. The consultancy is interpretive, intended to improve classroom practice.

The authors then present real-world applications of each model in a public school. The result is that educators can visualize how each works when implemented.
The final chapter provides an overview of a facilitator’s role with these protocols. The suggestions are directed towards someone relatively new to the facilitative process. The protocols are sufficiently described so that a school leader can identify which model might best suit the institution.

Reviewed by Marc Space, superintendent, Putnam Valley Central Schools, Putnam Valley, N.Y.