The Academic Achievement Challenge

What Really Works in the Classroom?

Jeanne S. Chall

March 26, 2002
ISBN 9781572307681
Price: $34.00
210 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
Copyright Date: 2000

“A notable education book of 2000....If a school district could choose one person over the past generation to offer advice on educational strategies, the smart money would be on the late Jeanne Chall....This book is a must for people who work inand runschools.”

American School Board Journal

“Chall wants teachers to tap the entire spectrum of education ideasto draw on a wide range of classroom practices regardless of their ideological points of origin. In the end, this call for open-mindedness may be her most important legacy.”

Teacher Magazine

“For school psychologists, this book provides: (a) a useful overview of the history of key ideas which continue to affect what we do in schools today, and (b) and overview of the empirical research on the comparative effectiveness of student-centered and teacher-centered approaches to education. For teachers who are less exposed to the current empirical literature in education, this book is perhaps an even more valuable resource. The teacher training curriculum in most schools of education do not teach how to conduct, evaluate, or employ research findings to improve classroom instruction....Chall provides a clear presentation of the relevant research that relates to improving achievement and the historical context in which certain beliefs, independent of supporting research, gained ascendancy over empirically supported practices....Chall has made a strong case for the effectiveness of teacher centered approaches to educational practice as compared to student centered approaches....For school psychologists, teachers, administrators, and parents this book can provide a clear answer to the question, 'What works in the classroom?'. The next step is to do it.”

School Psychology Quarterly

“Offering cogent recommendations for practice, the book makes a strong case for basing future education reforms and innovations on a solid empirical foundation....The value of a more formal, teacher-centered education is thoroughly demonstrated, with particular attention given to the benefits derived by children of lower socioeconomic status and those with learning difficulties....The book points us towards solutions based on knowledge and past experience, rather than fads and expediency.”

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“Chall wants teachers to tap the entire spectrum of education ideas to draw on a wide range of classroom practices regardless of their ideological points of origin. In the end, this call for open-mindedness may be her most important legacy.”

Teacher Magazine

“How best to instruct students is the central theme of the late Jeanne S. Chall's last book....The ten chapters focus on all aspects of the issue including thorough discussions of traditional, teacher-centered education versus progressive, student-centered education trends in reading, mathematics, science, and social studies, and conclusions and recommendations. An appendix shows the key differences between the two strategies in a clear, concise manner. Highly recommended at all levels.”


“It would create a revolution in American education if every teacher, parent, and school board member were to read this book. What a wonderful, informative, readable, commonsense discussion of what works in classrooms and what usually doesn't work.”

—Diane Ravitch, author of The Troubled Crusade; Research Professor, New York University; Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for Research and Improvement

“The capstone work of a great scholar, this book synthesizes all the relevant research to show that student-centered teaching does not live up to its education-school billing. Rather, it is teacher-centered education which leads to greater excellence and fairness. For the sake of our children, we must not wait decades, as we did with reading, before heeding the truths uncovered by the matchless scholarship of Jeanne Chall.”

—E.D. Hirsch, Jr, Ph.D., University Professor of Education and Humanities, University of Virginia

“In her last book, Jeanne Chall brings her vast experience with the field of education and her rigorous scholarship to bear on what has become the hottest topic of the day. Expanding her focus from literacy to the full range of curriculum, Chall concludes that the preponderance of evidence supports a strong teacher-centered approach to education over methods that transfer primary responsibility for learning to students. This book may well define the educational debates of the next decade. It provides both a needed historical perspective on educational fads and facts, and an incisive analysis of the forces affecting educational change. As such, The Academic Achievement Challenge ought to be required reading for anyone entering the profession of education today.”

—Andrew Biemiller, PhD, Professor and Coordinator of MA Teacher Education Program, Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto

“Beyond being a classic study of what works in the classroom and why, Jeanne Chall's final book provides us with an enduring lesson in how to base recommendations for practice on analysis of research.”

—Mary Beth Curtis, PhD, Center for Special Education, Lesley University