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Leading High-Performance School Systems – Event

In March of 2019, Marc Tucker and leading education voices came together for a discussion of his new book Leading High-Performance School Systems: Lessons from the World’s Best, and its vital insights on designing and building highly effective systems to educate U.S. students to world-class standards.

Informed by three decades of research, the book describes the strategies used by top-performing countries and shows in detail how school superintendents, principals and school boards can adapt and implement those strategies in the American context. The book lays out a comprehensive education reform agenda for the future that is based not on theory or ideology but the actual performance of nations that have used these strategies to far outpace the U.S. and the system designs they used to get there.

Speakers included:

  • Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO, Learning Policy Institute
  • Dan Domenech, Executive Director, AASA
  • Susan Fuhrman, Past-President, Teachers College
  • Sybil Knight-Burney, Superintendent, Harrisburg School District
  • Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, OECD
  • Tom Washington, Superintendent, Crawford Central School District

“Few people know better than Marc Tucker how to make sense of complex and unstructured data, and how to help educational leaders translate what works elsewhere into what can transform their own school systems. His latest book gives the concept of an education ‘system’ an entirely new meaning.”

Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills


“In Leading High-Performance School Systems Marc Tucker distills lessons he and his NCEE colleagues have learned from decades of studying the world’s best education systems and makes those lessons available in clear, compelling, actionable language to U.S district and school leaders. In addition to the intended audience, I would strongly recommend this book to teacher leaders as well, for it makes a powerful case that teachers must be at the center of any comprehensive strategy to improve education outcomes for America’s children.”

Robert Schwartz, Harvard Graduate School of Education


“In my travels across the country and world, I’ve visited schools and districts that treat educators like professionals and leaders and that work diligently to make sure all students have what they need to succeed. I won’t rest until all students have the same opportunity. Marc Tucker, drawing on some of the best school systems in the world, gives us not only hope for the future, but concrete steps on how to build a system that honors the work educators do and creates an equitable system that closes the opportunity gap.”

Lily Eskelsen García, NEA President


“In this highly accessible book, Tucker makes an evidence-based, clarion call for the US policy makers and practitioners to abandon the mediocrity of the status quo and embrace tried and true practices from the world’s highest performing school systems. By illuminating the architecture of the leading school systems, Tucker offers a theoretical framework as well as practical guidance on implementing proven strategies. At once inspirational and pragmatic, this book diagrams a promising pathway to a brighter future for America’s students and educators.”

Paul Reville, Francis Keppel Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Director of Education Redesign Lab


“Profound technological change and the accelerating pace of scientific discovery are reshaping the way we live. The world into which today’s students will graduate and work is fundamentally different from the world in which we were raised. Yet the American education system, designed for another era, is failing large numbers of our students who will not have the skills to survive in and navigate the economy of the future. Our school systems urgently need to be redesigned to get all students to 21st century standards and to reduce the huge gaps in achievement. Easy to say, tough to do. Can it be done? Drawing on a lifetime of involvement in education reform and of studying education systems around the world, Marc Tucker translates the best ideas from school systems around the globe, including in the US, into provocative but practical advice for school leaders on how to create world-class schools at scale. Vital reading for school superintendents and principals.”

Viven Stewart, Asia Society


“When reading Marc Tucker’s work over the decades, I have often thought, “Oh for a world in which the U.S. education system magically morphed into the high-performing system Tucker described!” Tucker’s new book is a practical guide to leading such change. It describes how to build pathways from the current system that fails so many students to a high-performance school system purpose-built for the future. It’s a must-read for education leaders at all levels of the system.”

Joanne Weiss, Former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan


“The book is a magnum opus, a compilation of the best research, thinking, and action of pioneering educators around the world, including Tucker himself. Grippingly written, persuasively argued, and vivid in its examples, this account will provide readers with a clear set of ideas about what is educationally possible, why it is necessary, and what we should do about it.”

Linda Darling-Hammond, Learning Policy Institute and Stanford University


“America’s schools barely earn a passing grade. Too many other countries are way ahead. Our children and our country deserve the best. Marc Tucker gives us a proven blueprint for building school systems that can restore excellence. Must reading for all school leaders at every level.”

Robert L Joss AC, Dean Emeritus, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University


“The task of an Urban Superintendent when faced with the challenges of trying to provide an equitable education for every student, can seem insurmountable at times. In the search for solutions, one quickly comes to the realization that there is no one perfect solution or ‘magic remedy’. Woven together with narratives that highlight successful and impactful achievements, this book offers educational leaders a view of top performing systems and standards from around the world and the U.S. In my review, I have found this book to be very useful in providing me with insightful discussions that detail pertinent and needed background information. The analysis by its author and contributors based on extensive research further illustrate core principles that help me understand the development of “highly effective systems” needed to educate our students.”

Sybil Knight-Burney, Ed.D., Harrisburg (PA) School District


“Since 1983, when President Ronald Reagan’s education secretary, Terrel H. Bell, first warned us that our nation was at risk, the most effective way to educate our youth has been a subject of great debate. Marc Tucker is universally regarded as a well-respected leader in that debate. By using a data-based approach to inform state leaders on what works and why, he had been instrumental in providing information that help shape new approaches on how we educate students. Marc’s visionary approach breaks down long held, faulty assumptions that reveal how assembly line education no longer benefits U.S. society. He and his colleagues provide proven and workable solutions to stakeholder groups that range from governance structures to classroom instruction.”

Stephen Gurthrie, Superintendent of New Sussex Technical School District (DE)


“This book is a gift to Education Leaders as it smartly combines examples of success around the world with a game plan for implementing a highly effective system of addressing students’ needs and, in turn, the future economic viability of American society.”

David Driscoll, Former Commissioner of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts