THE elementary years offer the most promising prospects for reforming American education, concludes a report released today by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
In ''The Basic School: A Community for Learning,'' Carnegie Foundation president Ernest Boyer calls for a ''new vision of elementary education'' and provides a blueprint for the new model.
In preparing the report, researchers visited elementary schools from coast to coast and surveyed teachers, principals, parents, and children. ''Clearly, the push for school renewal needs a new beginning,'' Dr. Boyer says. ''This time the focus must be on the early years.''
The blueprint calls for an end to the typical piecemeal approach to school reform. ''What we have done is to identify practices that really work and put them all together in what we call the Basic School,'' Boyer says.
The report suggests that elementary schools develop a curriculum made up of ''core commonalities,'' linking traditional subjects into ''integrative themes, which spiral upward with increasing complexity from one grade level to the next.''
The proposed ''Basic School'' makes language a priority. ''Every student in the Basic School, to be educationally successful, must learn to read with understanding, write with clarity, and effectively speak and listen,'' the report says.
The ideas in this report will move quickly into the classroom. A core group of 13 elementary schools in 12 states have agreed to implement the key concepts. Participating schools range from Public School 207 in New York City to Tiospa Zina Tribal School in South Dakota. In July, teachers and principals of the schools will start developing curriculum materials based on the report.
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City, Kan., is providing $1.5 million to support the project for three years.