Institute for Student Achievement (ISA)    Middle College    Cleveland


The project is funded by the Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) to support and document the development of new small high schools and small learning communities (SLCs) that serve students at risk by preparing them to be college-ready.

What are the ISA small learning communities?

The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) is a nonprofit school redesign external partner with a 14-year history of supporting underserved and underperforming high school students to succeed and go to college. ISA works with school districts to create new small high schools and support the development of new small learning communities in large high schools. ISA believes that in strongly-supported small schools and learning communities, meaningful, sustained relationships develop among teachers and students that facilitate higher student motivation, achievement and aspirations. ISA’s model for school development and transformation is grounded in seven principles, including a dedicated team of teachers and counselors working together to support students and an inquiry-based college preparatory curriculum for all student.

Recent News and Publications

"Using Data to Inform the Practice of Teachers, Schools, and School Reform Organizations." Ancess, J., Barnett, E., & Allen, D. Theory into Practice (Fall 2007)

"Looking Together at Student Work" (2nd ed). Blythe, T., Allen, D., & Powell, B. Teachers College Press (2007)

"RedesigningHigh HIgh Schools."Ancess, J. & Gandolfo, D. Institute for Student Achievement (2007)

"Supporting Students' Success Through Distributed Counseling." Allen, D., Nichols, P., Tocci, C., Hochman, D. & Gross, K. Institute for Student Achievement (2006)

"Implementing Small Theme High Schools in New York City."Ancess, J. & Allen, D. Harvard Educational Review (Fall 2006)

ISA currently supports over fifty small schools and SLCs in New York City, Long Island, Westchester County, and Buffalo, NY; Union City, NJ; Atlanta, Ga; and East Baton Rouge, LA.All serve diverse student populations with a majority of the students considered to be academically underperforming and underserved. Since 2003, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ISA has created 12 small high schools and collaborated on the conversion of one large high school in New York City, all based on the ISA principles. ISA will launch 4 more new small high schools in New York City.

What is NCREST’s role?
Since 2001, NCREST has served as ISA’s strategic partner in the implementation and documentation of the ISA small schools and SLCs. In that capacity, NCREST has advised ISA’s leadership on the development of the model, designed formative assessments in writing and math and a student survey, and collaborated with ISA leadership to provide ongoing support to the ISA coaches.

NCREST provides ISA with data on:

• Students' baseline skills and progress in math and writing;
• Documentation of the implementation of the ISA principles, including observations
  of classrooms and team meetings and interviews with school staff, parents and students;
• Students’ attitudes about school, self efficacy as students, and future aspirations; and
• (In NYC) Students' performance and progress on curriculum-embedded periodic assessments, designed by schools with support from NCREST2

NCREST regularly provides data reports to the small schools and SLCs for use in ongoing organizational improvement. NCREST also provides analyses of important components of the ISA model, often leading to reports or presentations. Recent reports have focused on how ISA starts up small schools and the ISA principle of distributed counseling.

Project Staff
Jacqueline Ancess ( – Co-Principal Investigator
Fenot Aklog ( – Senior Research Associate
Patrice Nichols ( – Program Manager
Regine Philippeaux-Pierre ( -- Research Associate
Charles Tocci ( – Research Associate
Jonathan Katz ( – Math Specialist
Seungho Moon ( – Research Assistant
JungEun Year ( – Research Assistant
Valerie Jones ( -- Research Assistant
Patrina Huff ( -- Research Assistant
Tenzin Gonsar ( -- Research Assistant
Ji Yun Lee ( -- Research Assistant
Lance Ozier ( -- Research Assistant


NCREST. 411 Main Hall. Box 110. Teachers College. Columbia University. 525 West 120th Street. New York NY 10027. Tel. 212.678.3432. Fax. 212.678.4170.  Directions.