Overloaded and Underprepared

Strategies for Stronger Schools
and Healthy, Successful Kids

100% of the authors’ proceeds from the book will directly benefit Challenge Success.


During our first decade, we have learned what works and what doesn’t when trying to make changes in schools and in homes. At the urging of those who have worked closely with us, we decided to write a book of best practices that we hope will be shared widely so that more schools and families can benefit from what we have learned.

Our society’s over-emphasis on grades, test scores, and rote answers has stressed out some students and marginalized many more. We know that these students have lost their enthusiasm for learning and aren’t retaining important concepts and skills. Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids provides the tools needed to begin making immediate changes at school, in the community, and at home that will benefit all kids.

Our current fast-paced, high-pressure culture works against everything we know about healthy child development. While there is content that must be mastered, our singular focus on results has led to a lack of attention to other components of a successful life — the ability to be independent, adaptable, ethical, and motivated critical thinkers. Based on over 10 years of work in the field and over 20 case studies from Challenge Success schools, Overloaded and Underprepared serves as a guide for change, offering practical solutions that can be implemented in a single classroom or on a school-wide scale. The book describes in detail the research-based SPACE framework, providing best practices on:

  • Students’ schedule and use of time
  • Project and problem-based learning
  • Alternative and authentic assessments
  • Climate of care
  • Education of parents, students, and faculty about well-being

Overloaded and Underprepared helps educators and parents better prepare students — mentally, emotionally, and academically — to handle the challenges they will face in school and in life.


Praise for Overloaded and Underprepared

Parents, teachers, and administrators are all concerned that America's kids are stressed out, checked out, or both — but many have no idea where to begin when it comes to solving the problem. That's why the work of Challenge Success is so urgent. It has created a model for creating change in our schools that is based on research and solid foundational principles like communication, creativity, and compassion. If your community wants to build better schools and a brighter future, this book is the place to start.

Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New World

Finally, a book about education and student well-being that is both research-based and eminently readable. With all the worry about student stress and academic engagement, Challenge Success synthesizes the research on effective school practices and offers concrete tools and strategies that educators and parents can use immediately to make a difference in their communities.  By focusing on the day-to-day necessities of a healthy schedule; an engaging, personalized, and rigorous curriculum; and a caring climate, this book is an invaluable resource for school leaders, teachers, parents, and students to help them design learning communities where every student feels a sense of belonging, purpose, and motivation to learn the skills necessary to succeed now and in the future.

Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University

This new book from the leaders behind Challenge Success provides a thorough and balanced exploration of the structural challenges facing students, parents, educators, and administrators in our primary and secondary schools today. The authors' unique approach of sharing proven strategies that enable students to thrive, while recognizing that the most effective solutions are tailored on a school-by-school basis, makes for a valuable handbook for anyone seeking to better understand the many complex dimensions at work in a successful learning environment.

John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University