scaffolded apprenticeship model (Sam)

SAM is a model of school improvement through leadership development involving teams of educators in strategic, inquiry-based research to improve the instructional systems that limit student success.

The heart of SAM is a highly "scaffolded" process that guides teams to identify a learning gap for struggling students, analyze how instructional systems produce it, and act in iterative evidence-based cycles to remove the identified constraint.

This process—particularly the requirement that teams diagnose and track improvement in a targeted skill gap for specific students—develops the practices and habits necessary for continuous improvement. After teams have internalized these skills and habits along with SAM's inquiry process, they lead other colleagues to learn them.

The model can be rolled out as a certification-bearing leadership development program for individuals or teams, or as a more streamlined school improvement process not associated with university credit.

Here's how the SAM program in New York City demonstrated its success in improving student outcomes at the school level: Schools with 3+ years of involvement and commitment to the model bring significantly more struggling students on track to graduation than schools without the SAM intervention.

It brings significant and lasting shifts in school culture, developing shared accountability, evidence-based practice and distributed leadership across these schools.

Click here for information on SAM Citywide, Baruch's School Building Leadership certification program, along with other leadership programs offered through partner organizations.


Click on the links below to access research, reports, and related publications related to the SAM model:

Strategic Inquiry: Starting Small for Big Results in Education, by Nell Scharff Panero & Joan E. Talbert
Collaborative Inquiry to Expand Student Achievement in New York City schools, by Joan E. Talbert
Low-inference Transcripts in Peer Coaching: A Promising Tool for School Improvement, by Rosa Rivera-McCutchen & Nell Scharff Panero
Inquiry Team Handbook, by Nell Scharff Panero
Starting Small for Big School Improvement, by Helen A. Scharff, Deirdre A. DeAngelis & Joan E. Talbert

SAM Evaluation Reports:
Inquiry-Based School Reform: Lessons from SAM in NYC, January 2012
Developing School Capacity for Inquiry-Based Improvement, November 2010
SAM II Evaluation Report, October 2009
SAM II Evaluation Summary, April 2008
SAM Evaluation, March 2008

Related Publications:
Ending the Great School Wars, by James. S. Liebman
Turning Around a High Poverty School District: Learning from Sanger Unified's Success, by Joan E. Talbert & Jane E. David
A Case For the Sentence in Reading Comprehension, by Cherly M. Scott