Oct 23, 2006


The Schools Without Failure (SWF) program was developed to create a
supportive and positive school environment through which students will be able
to succeed academically. The program attempts to create a classroom
environment where students take responsibility for their own education.
Ten schools were paired and randomly assigned to a treatment or control group.
Teachers initially led classroom meetings where students discussed questions
related to their own lives. Then, a second type of classroom meeting
called an “educational-diagnostic meeting” allowed
students to discuss academic topics that the class had been studying. Social-problem
solving meetings were phased in to allow students to discuss specific classroom
problems and potential solutions to those problems. Meetings were held at
least 3 times per week for an academic school year. The study below found
that the Schools Without Failure program changed teacher behaviors, reduced
teacher referrals to the principal, did not affect achievement over the course
of the study, but increased student perception of the importance of school and
the value of education in their lives for students in grades 4-6 but not those
in grades 1-3.


Target population: Elementary and middle
school students in grades 1-6

The Schools Without Failure program
uses a classroom meeting/discussion format several times per week to allow
students to have some control over their classroom environment. The
program seeks to increase student responsibility, communication with teachers
and peers, student perceptions of education’s value,
and positive classroom behaviors.


Masters, J. R. & Laverty, G. E.
The relationship between changes
in attitude and changes in behavior in the schools without failure program.
Journal of Research and Development in Education, 10,36-49.

Evaluated population: 3,500 elementary and
middle school students in grades 1-6. 25% of students were from low SES

Approach: 10 schools were paired based on size,
socioeconomic status, and achievement scores. Next, one school from each
pair was randomly assigned to either a control or SWF treatment
condition. Control condition schools continued on a regular curriculum
pattern and received no other treatment programs for one year, when these
schools implemented SWF. Treatment school teachers were trained in the program
and were required to hold classroom meetings at least 3 times a week according
to the SWF program guidelines. Teachers were assessed on a variety of
measures to capture their ratings of classroom behavior, effectiveness of the
program, and attitudes towards education. Students were assessed on
measures of attitudes towards school, self concept, and academic
achievement. Outcomes for the treatment group after two years are
compared with scores for the control group after one year of delay and just before
the control group schools began implementing the treatment.

Results: Assessment at a 2 year follow-up found
that there were no impacts of the program found in grades 1-3, but a
significant impact of SWF was found in grades 4-6. Students in grades 4-6
in the SWF group believed more strongly in the importance of school and
learning when compared to students in the control group. Impacts were
also found for teacher behaviors and referrals to the principal but not teacher
attitudes. Likewise, student achievement was not affected by assignment
to the SWF program.



Glasser, W. Schools without failure. New York: Random House,

Jensen, K. Schools without failure in Madison, Wisconsin:
A case study. Paper presented at the American Educational Research
Association Annual Meeting, March 1, 1973.

Keepes, B., Engle, P., &
Thorne, L. A school without failure. Research Bulletin 123. Palo Alto,
California: Palo Alto
Unified School District, 1971.

Masters, J. R. & Laverty, G. E.
(1977). The relationship between changes in
attitude and changes in behavior in the schools without failure program.
Journal of Research and Development in Education, 10,36-49.

KEYWORDS: Academic Achievement, Education, Civic
Engagement, Helping Behavior/Social Responsibility, Educational Expectations,
Elementary School, Middle School, Communication, Academic Self Concept, Middle
Childhood (6-11), Adolescence (12-17), Children, Adolescents, School-Based,
Cognitive Development, Social/Emotional Health and Development.

Program information last updated 10/23/06

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