Free Resources

These documents are the exclusive property of the copyright holders listed below. As free resources, they may be copied and distributed, however they cannot be modified in any way without the written permission of the copyright holder. In every case of use, appropriate attribution must be visible on the document. CSSR makes no claims as to the type of effectiveness of these resources, as that will depend on who administers them, the context in which they are being utilized, and who interprets the results. 




Don’t Tell But I Want You to Know – Clarifying Roles and Boundaries for Advisors

© 2018 | Jennifer Sugg M.Ed. and Jacob Hayward, Ph.D. Springdale Public Schools


This three page article offers practical advice for Advisory leaders to appropriately respond to student comments, foster trusted conversations, and maintain Advisory as a safe place for students and teachers.

Don’t Tell But I Want You to Know – Clarifying Roles and Boundaries for Advisors


First Response: A Guide to Designing and Delivering Classroom Interventions

© 2013 | Kenneth Templeton, Anna Fazekas & Stephen Abbott, Authors

First Response is a free, public resource produced under U.S. Department of Education Contract No. ED-ESE-11-C-0053.


First Response was created to help school leaders, teachers, paraprofessionals, and support specialists reflect on and improve academic interventions in the classroom. This guide describes an alternative to “hit or miss” interventions; presenting a more equitable approach. This includes guidance on building a collaborative professional culture that: anticipates, prepares for, and responds to individual learning needs; accelerates knowledge and skill acquisition; and remains focused on ensuring college and career readiness for all students. First Response includes profiles of effective intervention programs and best-practices from four high schools. 


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Get Personal

© 2009 Virginia Journal of Education | John H. Clarke & Joe DiMartino, Authors


This four page article addresses the pressing need for educators to engage all students in the learning process by providing a relevant and authentic curriculum.

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The Heart of School

© 2008 Principal Leadership | Joseph DiMartino & John Clarke, Authors


Key Points:

  • Successful advisories begin with the specific needs of a school’s students in mind
  • When the schedule, organization, and curriculum are driven by those needs, the likelihood of success increases
  • A Washington State school provides an example of success with increased student achievement and nearly perfect parent involvement

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Leadership at School: HOW to Get the Job Done Right

© 2006 Principal Leadership | Joe DiMartino & Sherri Miles, Authors


Effective Principals know the value of observing reform strategies that are underway at similar schools, talking with other principals, and adapting innovative ideas to the needs of their own schools. Good Principals word hard to empower their staff members and find new ways to get multiple parties involved in supporting new ideas. As school leaders, they create and sell the message that the focus of any initiative is on students and student achievement. This publication asks the question: What is it about the leadership qualities of these Principals that makes change possible?

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Strategies for Successful Personalization

© 2006 Principal Leadership | Joseph DiMartino & Sherri Miles, Authors


Studies show that student engagement can result form the development of personalized learning. However, high school personalization does not come from a reliable recipe. This publication examines the unique paths to personalization taken by the Breakthrough High Schools. These paths reflect each school’s unique characteristics and existing strengths.

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Demonstrating Success

© 2005 Principal Leadership | Joseph DiMartino & Damaris Rodriguez Teixeira, Authors


Key Points:

  • Two high schools set clear expectations for graduation requirements in the wake of new State legislation
  • Student progress is demonstrated and assessed in end-of-year exams and digital portfolios
  • The digital portfolios provide a complete picture of students’ progress throughout their schooling

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A Personal Prescription for Engagement

© 2004 Leading the Way | John Clarke & Joseph DiMartino, Authors


Key Points:

  • A study that shadowed 24 high school students revealed that personalized schools let students earn respect, acceptance, and trust by accomplishing a wide range of tasks
  • A personalized learning community asks students to complete tasks that mirror the challenges they will encounter as adults
  • The principal is the only professional who is able to influence all aspects of the school community that affect personalization

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Equity in the Classroom 

© 2004 Principal Leadership | Joseph DiMartino & Sherri Miles, Authors


Key Points:

  • Educational equity creates a culture of fairness for all students regarding opportunity, access, and respect for diverse learning styles
  • Detracking, differentiating, instruction, and using integrated assessments are required to meet the goal of educating all students to high standards

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Changing Systems to Personalize Learning: The Power of Advisories

© 2003 Brown University | Debbie Osofsky, Gregg Sinner & Denise Wolk, Authors


The Power of Advisories guidebook helps high school change teams conduct workshops for school staff on setting up a school-wide advisory program, developing ways to introduce an adult advocate into the life of every student, and ensuring that each student has an advisor to help guide student planning, learning, and assessment.

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Access other guidebooks from the Changing Systems to Personalize Learning series.


Creating Student Centered High Schools

© 2002 Principal Leadership | Joseph DiMartino, John Clarke & Mary Ann Lachat, Authors


Most U.S. high schools have not been able to adapt to social changes and demands for accountability. But increasing student achievement means determining the learning needs of adolescents and the kinds of school structures and curricula that assist young adults in becoming vital contributors to society. This publication examines the challenges schools face to overcome these obstacles.

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student voice and choice


Helping Students Become Relevant

© 2009 Educational Leadership | Nelson Beaudoin, Author


This article shares the story of one Maine school’s work to provide opportunities for students be relevant in their school community. This includes the use of Challenge Nights: events that empowered students to take responsibility for the climate and culture of the school.

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The Magic is in the Students

© 2008 Principal Leadership | Nelson Beaudoin, Author


This two page article addresses the educator’s role in helping students find their own voices and facilitate their own learning.

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Community Engagement


Giving Stakeholders a Voice

© 2006 Educational Leadership | Nelson Beaudoin, Author


This article shares the story of one Maine school’s efforts to include more broad stakeholder involvement in school decision making.

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Informing Policy


National Standards of Practice for Career Academies

©2013 National Career Academy Coalition


This document – originated in 2004, and revised in April 2013 – establishes the key elements of the career academy concept and defines the 10 National Standards of Practice by which high-quality Career Academies operate. 

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Assessment Continuum

© 2012 Linda Darling Hammond


This one page graphic provides descriptions and examples of assessments on a continuum from narrow assessments to assessments of deeper learning. This resource is an excellent addition to district or school based conversations on transforming assessment systems. 


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Building a Pathway to the Future: Maximizing High School Guidance and Advisory Support

© 2011 Academy for Educational Development | Anna Fazekas & Constancia Warren, Authors

Building a Pathway to the Future is a free, public resource produced under the U.S. Department of Education Contract No. ED-04-CO-0021/0001.


This Issue Paper was prepared for the US Department of Education’s Smaller Learning Communities Program to serve grantees and the larger education community. The Issue Paper addresses the critical role schools play in helping students build a pathway through high school to postsecondary success. Two main subjects are explored: Creating Individual Pathways to Success, and Navigating the College Choice and Admissions Process. Included are best-practice strategies in place in several districts researched by the authors.

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Writing Goals and Objectives: A Guide for Grantees of the Smaller Learning Communities Program

© 2010 Academy for Educational Development | Bill Bryan & Joseph DiMartino, Authors

Writing Goals and Objectives is a free, public resource produced under the U.S. Department of Education Contract No. ED-04-CO-0021/0001.


This guide was created for the US Department of Education by CSSR. It supports schools to reach their desired outcomes by strengthening both their goal-setting and implementation processes. The guide has two sections: the first section provides an overview of each goal setting and implementation step; the second section, starting on page 14, provides resources to help develop each step. The resources include tools and information to facilitate the creation of a rigorous goal-setting process within a school. 


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(Compilation) Start a Conversation: Moving From Carnegie Units to Competency Based Instruction

Competency Based Instruction and Content Standards | © 2006 Northern Colorado Literacy Resource Center | Kathleen Santopietro Weddel, Author

Building Standards-Based Schools | © 1997 Long Beach Public Schools | Anne C. Lewis, Author

Carnegie “Units” Should Go: Says Study by Boards | © 1988 Education Week | Robert Rothman, Author


The conversation on moving away from the Carnegie Unit towards Competency Based Instruction is not a fad. This collection of readings, spanning over three decades, would make a great literature review for a professional learning community looking to move in this direction.

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Download Building Standards Based Schools

Download Carnegie Units Should Go


The New York Performance Standards Consortium: College Performance Study

© 2005 New York Performance Standards Consortium | Martha Foote, Director of Research


The College Performance Study examines whether the graduates of the New York Performance Standards Consortium schools perform well in college, and whether these schools prepare their students – mostly African American, Latino, and economically disadvantaged  – for college level work. The New York Performance Standards Consortium represents 28 schools across New York State. Formed in 1997, the Consortium opposes high stakes tests arguing that “one size does not fit all.” This Study would be an excellent reading for a professional learning group considering a move towards the use of performance assessments to determine course competency.

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Reliability of No Child Left Behind Accountability Designs

© 2003 The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Inc. | Richard K. Hill and Charles A DePascale, Authors


This article, published in Fall 2003 in Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, would make an excellent reading for professional learning groups considering the policies and ramifications of No Child Left Behind. Excerpted from the article: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires states to establish accountability systems that are both valid and reliable. If one follows the language of the law literally, there is no design that will meet both requirements. If one interprets the law more flexibly, it is possible to create such a design. States will need to approach the problem carefully if they are going to appropriately balance the various probabilities of making incorrect decisions about schools. 


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leading culture change


CSSR Model for Secondary School Redesign

© 2016 CSSR, Inc. | Inspired by QED Foundation’s Transformational Model


The transformation roadmap is unique in its leading-edge content, comprehensiveness, and recognition of the effort required to make major changes with regard to every essential personalization dimension. This resources is aligned to the Ecosystem of Student Driven Learning and all the accompanying resources available at This tool is very effective when used to assess a school’s current level of personalization for the purpose of goal setting, improvement planning, and professional development.

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From Congenial to Collaborative

© 2010 Teachers Matter | Margaret MacLean, Author


A two page resource that addresses the use of protocols to improve teacher collaboration.

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Dig Into a Goldmine: Tools for Teacher Collaboration

© 2010 Teachers Matter | Margaret MacLean, Author


A two page resource that includes two example protocols for use during teacher collaboration.

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Tuning Up Our Teaching

© 2009 Teachers Matter | Margaret MacLean, Author


A two page resource that includes a tuning protocol to use in a professional learning community setting.

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Changing Role of the Middle Level and High School Leader: Learning from the Past – Preparing for the Future

© 2007 National Association of Secondary School Principals | Tony Ferreira, Contributing Editor


This report discusses specific models that have been implemented across the country that are at the forefront of the school change process. It reveals insight on trends in certification and licensure; the impact of national standards; preselection and induction; the need for redesigning the role of the Assistant Principal; the importance of succession planning; the imperative of ongoing and sustained professional development; and a greater awareness of the educational policy discourse impacting the secondary school leader’s role.

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Closing Ranks: The Evolution From Breaking Ranks to Breaking Ranks II

© 2004 SERVE’s Vision Magazine | Joseph DiMartino & Denise Wolk, Authors


This four page article addresses the progression from Breaking Ranks® to Breaking Ranks II® and includes seven cornerstone strategies for improving student performance.

Download Closing Ranks The Evolution from Breaking Ranks to Breaking Ranks II