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Book Review: Diploma Matters

Title:  Diploma Matters: A Field Guide for College and Career Readiness, by Linda Murray. Jossey-Bass, 2011.

Description:  This title is a practical guide to implementing proven school reform strategies that tackle the achievement gap, allowing students of all backgrounds to succeed. The book dispels myths often believed by ”naysayers” who feel that increasing the rigor of high school graduation requirements forces a college-prep curriculum on students who are simply “not cut out for higher education.”

In clear, step-by-step fashion, Diploma Matters lays out a plan for schools wanting to emulate the success of the San Jose district, whose experience offers valuable lessons learned. Says author Murray, “We tried programs that weren’t effective and tossed them away….we spent a long time doing the research and development so that you won’t have to.”

Bottom Line:  The strength of this book lies in the wealth of tools it provides for administrators to use immediately. For example, the chapter on the Educational Opportunity Audit describes in detail how a district team would identify barriers students might encounter as they progress through high school. Murray also provides a complete implementation blueprint (including one for a sample school) that outlines action steps, timeline, expected outcomes, persons responsible and resource needs. Readers will discover a goldmine in the book’s detailed appendices, which walk them through focus group protocols and surveys about various aspects of school functioning such as budget, curriculum and professional development.

About the Author:  Linda Murray, Ph.D, serves as superintendent in residence for the Education Trust-West, working on high school reform. She was also a member of California’s P-16 commission and the California Diploma Project Leadership Team. Murray, a former superintendent for the San Jose district, oversaw dramatic increases in graduates’ college and career readiness during her tenure.

How to Purchase:  Diploma Matters retails for about $19 and is available through Amazon.

Related resources

See an excerpt from Diploma Matters.


Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
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