|Decision Makers:||Educators State Government|
|Population Reach:||10-19% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
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Comprehensive school reform (CSR), also called “school wide” or “whole school” reform, is a coordinated effort to overhaul all parts and systems of a school’s operation. It integrates curriculum, instruction, professional development, parental involvement, classroom management, and school management efforts to improve academic outcomes (Ed Week-CSR 2004). CSR promotes shared leadership and relies on support from teachers, administrators, staff, and outside agents experienced in CSR transformation. It also requires measurable student achievement goals, and regular evaluation to assess a school’s academic results and CSR implementation progress (Borman 2003). Congress incorporated CSR for schools that primarily serve low income students into the No Child Left Behind Act (Ed Week-CSR 2004) and is expected to continue it in some form in the next Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESEA) reauthorization (Peurach 2012).
There is some evidence that comprehensive school reform (CSR) improves academic outcomes (Borman 2003). Additional evidence is needed to determine which programs and implementation methods are most effective.
CSR programs can modestly improve student achievement in most circumstances (Borman 2003, BEE-CSRQ elementary, BEE-CSRQ middle and high). Effects appear strongest after CSR has been implemented for several years (Borman 2003).
Some programs have demonstrated stronger effects than others, particularly in elementary schools (Borman 2003, BEE-CSRQ elementary). Success for All, a CSR program to detect and prevent reading problems (SPTW), improves children’s reading skills (SPTW, IES WWC, BEE-CSRQ elementary, Borman 2003). The Direct Instruction program may also improve academic outcomes (Borman 2003, PPN, BEE-CSRQ elementary).
Implementation quality, rather than student or program characteristics, appears to determine CSR success (Borman 2003). Research suggests that schools can best implement CSR by fitting it to their circumstances (Borman 2003), selectively pursuing cohesive reforms, and building time and resources for CSR into regular operation (Waldron 2010). The professional development component of CSR appears most effective when teachers and administrators share leadership and focus on evidence-based practices (Waldron 2010).
CSR, on average, costs about $105,000 per year in 2012 dollars, although specific costs vary by program. Schools may be able to redirect Title I and other state and federal supplemental funds into CSR efforts (Borman 2003). Success for All typically costs elementary schools $100,000 in the first year, $37,000 in the second, and $26,000 in the third year (SPTW). Direct Instruction costs $284,000 for a school of 500 students in the first year (PPN).
Research indicates that most schools pursuing CSR do not fully implement it. Teachers in CSR schools are usually offered a quarter of the professional development recommended, and may not be given adequate implementation time or leadership roles in the change process (RAND-Vernez 2006).
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