Research and Results

“The Paideia philosophy gives students lifetime skills. It teaches them how to engage in civil dialogue, think critically, and look at both sides of issues. Because students learn how to agree to disagree, a Paideia school environment is really positive.” – Steve Ball, principal

Watch this short video with Dr. Ann Philgren from Ignite Research in Sweden to hear more about research findings related to Paideia Seminar.

Paideia schools are known to significantly improve students’ learning experience. Early studies, based on schools in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Chattanooga, suggest that Paideia reforms affect the climate of the classroom and school, increasing both students’ and teachers’ interest in academic study and democratic self-governance. More recent research has backed up these findings, while presenting new evidence about Paideia’s positive influence on academic achievement and social development.

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Research, Articles, and Testimonials

Follow these links to find:

Or see below for key findings in four areas:

These findings look at the ongoing development of students and teachers, reflecting Paideia’s view that both youth and adults are lifelong learners.


blackboy2 crop“Paideia is the ideal education. It gives you a broad intellectual perspective. You understand more cultures than your own. It gives you a chance to express your ideas. You can be yourself most of all, and express yourself any way you want to as long as you are reasonable.”

12th grade student, cited in Gettys, C. & Wheelock, A. (1994), Launching Paideia in Chattanooga. Educational Leadership. 

“She loves [seminars] because she can talk a lot and choose to agree or disagree with her classmates. Neither mistaken nor different notions about a story result in criticism. Incorrect comprehension of a story is corrected by helpful classmates or prompts from the teacher to help a child self-correct. Differences of opinions are accepted as the norm.”

Parent of a 4th grader, cited in Nesselrodt, P. & Schaffer, E. (1993). Results From the First Year of a Nationwide, Multi-method Evaluation of Innovative Programs Serving At-risk Students: Implementation of The Paideia Proposal. Atlanta, GA.: American Educational Research Association. 

“Paideia students had a higher average daily attendance (84% and 91% versus 78% and 85%).”

Herman, R. & Stringfield, S. (1995). Ten Promising Programs for Educating Disadvantaged Students: Evidence of Impact. San Francisco, CA: American Educational Research Association.


“Our own experiences with learning about Paideia Seminars and dialogic discussion in general have led us to see the teacher, what she does and does not do, as pivotal. In our eyes, the teacher bears a great burden for initiating dialogic discussion, for setting the stage, for turning students’ outlooks on what it means to discuss.”

Billings, L., & Fitzgerald, J. (2002). Dialogic discussion and the Paideia seminar. American Educational Research Journal, 39(4), 907-941.

“Several of the key participants [teachers] stated that the Paideia seminar was helping them build relationships with other teachers.”

Mangrum, J. (2004). The Evolution of a Professional Learning Community: The Role of Dialogue Initiated Through Faculty Paideia Seminars. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. 

“In addition to the demands of teaching in Adler’s three modes, Paideia teachers must fully understand how to integrate curricular areas. This requires a good knowledge of all contents.”

Nesselrodt, P. & Schaffer, E. (1993). Results from the first year of a nationwide, multi-method evaluation of innovative programs serving at-risk students: implementation of The Paideia Proposal. Atlanta, GA.: American Educational Research Association.

“The most significant finding that we derived from our year-long study of the Paideia Seminar in Lynne Murray’s classroom was that the seminars began to improve only when she focused considerable post-seminar time and energy on assessing what happened during the dialogue and then used the data gleaned from that assessment to deliberately plan the next seminar in the series…

“Part of Lynne Murray’s planning always reflected appropriate sections of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, specifically that which she was responsible for delivering to her students…

“In reflecting on the very first seminar of the semester, the August 22, 2002 seminar on “The Hoard,” she wrote: ‘While I was pleased with the level of interaction, my map tells me that we need to build the number of textual references. I had three males involved in sidebar conversations, and they were very, very quiet [in terms of speaking to the group]. The dialogue was dominated by 8 people, and 5 people didn’t speak at all. We need to work on encouraging everyone to speak in seminar and make the sidebar guys feel comfortable enough to share their ideas with the whole group.’

(Reflection, August 22, 2002) Billings, L. & Roberts, T. (2004) “Planning, Practice, and Assessment in the Seminar Classroom,” High School Journal.


girlinpink crop“The children at Goldblatt, an overwhelming number of whom are economically disadvantaged, read and discuss pieces of literature and original historical documents rather than merely learning decoding skills from basal readers and being exposed to distilled textbook versions of history. They are learning to verbalize their ideas and to think about other people’s views. They are learning that intellectual arguments are healthy and stimulating.”

Nesselrodt, P. & Schaffer, E. (1993). Results from the first year of a nationwide, multi-method evaluation of innovative programs serving at-risk students: implementation of The Paideia Proposal. Atlanta, GA.: American Educational Research Association.

“High teacher expectations are rewarded with student academic success, as shown by recent ninth grade state proficiency test scores.”

2000-2001 Grade 9 Proficiency Test:
Percent of Students Passing


Arambula-Greenfield, T. & Gohn, J. (2004). The Best Education for the Best is the Best Education for All. Middle School Journal, Vol. 35, No.5.

“Overall, approximately 83% of all students passed the End of Grade Reading Test in the year after Paideia was implemented, which was 6.8% more students than passed the test in 2001. This finding was consistent for male and female (+5.2 and +6.6 respectively) students and especially high for students who are Black (+16.0).”

“The biggest improvement, consistent with the 6th grade data, was with Black students where 9.3% more students passed the EOG in the first year of Paideia than did the previous year. Again, addressing one of the Paideia goals of reducing the achievement gap between Black and White students, there was a 10% change (+9.3 v. -1.5) between these two groups.”

“Consistent with grades 7 and 8, the gap between the percentage of successful achievement between Black and White students was reduced by more than 9%.”

“In summary, Asheville (NC) Middle School showed a noticeable improvement in the percentage of students who passed the End of Grade (EOG) tests in both reading and mathematics from the year prior to implementation of Paideia (2001) and its first year (2002). With regard to reading, the improvement was consistent across all students and all three grades, with one of the more significant findings being that there was a large percentage increase of Black students passing the EOG reading test across all three grades at Asheville Middle. Concerning mathematics, there was a clear and positive impact from Paideia from the year prior to implementation to the end of the first year of the program. This trend was significant with 6th grade students and appeared to level off in 7th and 8th grade as the percentage of students that passed the EOG was slightly lower for each grade. Exceptions to this trend were for 7th grade females and 8th grade Black students who saw an increase in percentage of students passing the EOG from 2002 to 2003. Finally, there was a clear and consistent decrease in the achievement percentage gap between Black and White students across both reading and math and all three grades with the exception of 7th grade math.”

“The average increase of 8.5% of students performing at the satisfactory level in 2002 and 2003 is not only solid, but is moderately higher than Jefferson Parrish results of a 2.0% increase and the 3.5% increase at the state-wide level.”

“In language arts, there was a solid and positive difference between the percentage of students at Indian Avenue and Brighton City that performed at proficiency or advanced, with several subgroups (i.e., males, Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites) having positive differences of more than 10%.”

“Overall, 3rd graders at Park Lodge Elementary School performed better from 1999-2003 on ITBS Reading, Math, and the Reading/Math Composite than did their peers at Clover Park School District and statewide. A consistent finding was that Park Lodge, although beginning its trend with higher scores than Clover Park in 1999, expanded this difference by 2003, often by double-digit percentages. In addition, Park Lodge consistently began its trend below the statewide average in 1999 and “passed” the state by 2003. This trend was consistent across all three domains.”

“In general, the review of a cross-section of student performance in the academic areas of reading, language, math, science, and social studies revealed a considerable and positive difference in the average national percentile score for students in grades 3-8 that attended CSAS as opposed to their grade-peers in other Hamilton County schools. The students at CSAS typically scored between 15-20 percentile points higher than Hamilton County students across grades 3-8. This noticeable difference was evident in all five subject areas for 2001.”

Robinson, E. (2004) Evaluating the Impact of the Paideia Program on Standardized Student Achievement, Baylor University.

“Some of the most important outcomes of the [Paideia] seminar, such as improved articulation, higher-order thinking skills, and interpersonal skills, are not directly measurable by current standardized tests. At Githens in the early 1990’s, with few if any sustained, substantial variable beyond the institution of a school-wide Paideia seminar program, writing tests designed to measure quality of articulation and organization of ideas saw striking gains in student achievement over a three year period.”

Chesser, W., Gellatly, G., & Hale, M. (1997). Do Paideia seminars explain higher writing scores? Middle School Journal, 29(1), 40-44.

“Students in the Paideia program seemed to express and support their ideas better than comparison students, based on scored writing samples.”

Herman, R. & Stringfield, S. (1995). Ten promising programs for educating disadvantaged students: evidence of impact. San Francisco, CA: American Educational Research Association.


“Regardless of the subject, the unifying feature is that every child is expected and nurtured to learn. Students simply are not allowed to give up on themselves, and teachers will not give up on students.”

Arambula-Greenfield, T. & Gohn, J. (2004). The Best Education for the Best is the Best Education for All. Middle School Journal, Vol. 35, No.5.

“The structure of the Paideia Seminars was imperative in developing the professional learning community… I think people have been reaching out more; it seems like it. They are asking for others help and assistance.” Comment by female teacher

“I’ve actually seen a little more people being deliberate to do things. Not saying that that’s not sincere, but I’ve seen people going an extra step which was good to see. I see people calling on people a little more; asking to do things and actually asking for help.” Comment by male teacher

“The Paideia Seminars provided a professional development structure that allowed all the teachers to share concerns about themselves, their students and the school community. Unlike unstructured conversations, the Paideia Seminar required teachers to remain focused on the text and apply it to their situations (the facilitator would not let it digress into a griping session). Having a protocol that was structured but not rigid allowed the teachers to problem solve in a safe, non-threatening environment.”

Mangrum, J. (2004). The Evolution of a Professional Learning Community: The Role of Dialogue Initiated Through Faculty Paideia Seminars (2004). Unpublished doctoral dissertation.

“Paideia schools categorized with those showing ‘noticeable achievement gains.’ The key factors for site-based success appear to be the fit of the design to the particular school and how the school uses the design as a framework and catalyst for improving its climate and educational programs.”

Ross, S., Wang, L., Sanders, W. Wright, S., & Stringfield, S. (2000). Fourth-year achievement results on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System for restructuring schools in Memphis. Memphis, TN: University of Memphis, Center for Research in Educational Policy.

“In addition to Paideia’s impact on achievement, the effects we observed on several measures of student affect are important to consider. In particular, the effects on interpersonal factors suggest that students in Paideia classrooms consistently experience less friction and alienation. Because of increased concern about school violence stemming from student alienation, this is a very important finding.

1999 UNC-Greensboro Report