Researchers who studied three high-performing school districts in North Carolina found three common traits: frequent classroom observation by principals and other school administrators, meetings among teachers to discuss student performance and instruction, and the use of research-based instructional techniques by teachers, according to a recent report. While there is no "silver bullet," the schools shared a common goal of improving instruction and offered the support to reach that goal, writes Robert Hanna, a senior education policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.

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