First Things First

Creating the Conditions and Capacity for Community-Wide Reform in an Urban School District

| Michelle Alberti Gambone, Adena M. Klem, William P. Moore, Jean Ann Summers

With a focus on the launch and operation of First Things First in the first two clusters of schools in Kansas City, Kansas, to mount the initiative, this report provides the first in-depth look at how this comprehensive school reform is implemented. Completed by Gambone & Associates under subcontract to MDRC as part of the Scaling Up First Things First project, the report details the six main strategies used to garner support for the reform and to foster its implementation. Among the strategies highlighted are measures taken to inform stakeholders, reallocation of resources and restructuring of central office positions to support the intervention, and strengthening of professional development and technical assistance. Documenting widespread success in increasing stakeholders’ knowledge of First Things First and in securing teachers’ confidence that the structural changes prescribed by the model would improve student outcomes, the report also notes that a substantial minority of staff doubted whether the reform could be implemented in their schools.