Page 2 of 3
Top cities to live and learn 2011
Best cities 2011: clusters of excellence — find the regions with the most pro-education towns
Best cities 2011: top 10 education towns nationwide
Best cities 2011: homes under $100K
Best cities 2011: homes $100K-$199K
Best cities 2011: homes $200K-$399K
Best cities 2011: homes $400K-$599K
Best cities 2011: homes $600K-$799K
Best cities 2011: homes over $800K
Best cities 2011: Midwest
Best cities 2011: Northeast
Best cities 2011: South
Best cities 2011: West
The missing ingredient: What don't these towns have?
Find out how we picked the winning cities 2011
By Carol Lloyd
Teacher mind meld
There probably isn’t a superintendent in America who won’t extoll the virtues of great teacher development and collaboration. But the district serving Barrington, RI (like many on our top 10 list) has systemically implemented these ideals through what's known as "professional learning communities," or PLCs. Typical professional development often consists of lectures or seminars by random experts. PLCs are teacher-centered, problem-solving support groups in which teachers help each other solve real problems with their students. PLCs, which are gaining support from both teachers and administrators, are predicated on the following assumptions: 1) For teachers to feel like professionals, they need a professional community; 2) The best way to improve teaching craft is to help teachers solve real-life problems (How can I get Jessica to stop blowing spit wads?) vs. abstract pedagogical debates (whole language literacy vs. phonics?).
Patrick Guida, School Committee Chair and parent of two Barrington school graduates, says that adopting the PLC model strengthened an already collaborative culture between Barrington teachers. "We already were following many of these strategies, but since [implementing PLCs], it has assisted us in continuing to support our teachers and making sure every teacher continues to improve."
Barrington PLCs make time for collaboration so teachers work together planning curriculum, problem solving, and supporting one another. "But perhaps most important," says Guida, "is that it encourages high expectations for the teachers, students, and administration." These high expectations have had tangible — and positive — results for Barrington's high-school kids. Now all the students, not just the high-achievers, are encouraged to consider Advanced Placement courses, for example.
Setting the bar high, one child at a time
Faced with a move to the greater Boston area in 1998 as their first child was entering kindergarten, physician William Kassler and his wife "pored over the numbers."
"We looked at multiple metrics — class size, student-teacher ratio, test scores — and we chose Bedford exclusively for the schools," says Kassler. Although the hamlet near the city of Manchester is relatively affluent compared to some towns nearby, its housing prices (median home price $293,730) are far lower than those in Boston, where Kassler sometimes commutes.
Twelve years and three children later, Kassler says their choice has been validated "over and over and over." No matter what their issue, Kassler says he found the school system "flexible and responsive." Teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors consistently tailored individual responses to their concerns — whether for an accelerated curriculum or troubleshooting a learning challenge. "We never had to fight or argue for special services."
When asked if Bedford is yet another pressure cooker for Generation Race to Nowhere, Kassler acknowledges there’s a debate about Bedford’s sky-high expectations. The new high school’s International Baccalaureate program offers what Kassler characterizes as "the best of both worlds": Any student can take advantage of the rigorous program by enrolling in individual classes, while the most driven kids can choose the far more intensive full-time, two-year diploma.
Sign up for our free newsletter and we'll send you
more just like it every week.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.