American Institutes for Research
October 2006

Publications from the CSRQ Center, a project of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), are the Consumer Reports of the comprehensive school reform (CSR) world. A previous edition evaluated CSR models at the elementary level (see here); this one focuses on middle and high schools. It rates 18 CSR models by reviewing their evidence of effectiveness in five categories: student achievement; additional outcomes, such as high attendance and effective discipline; parent, family, and community involvement; link between research and the model's design; and services and support. Most models had little or no rigorous data in several of the categories. When it came to the most important outcome--student achievement--AIR gave four models (America's Choice, School Development Program, Success for All, and Talent Development High) a grade of "moderate," (as in "moderate" evidence of effectiveness) which is the middle rating on a scale of "very strong" to "zero." Six other models (including Expeditionary Learning and KIPP) present "limited" evidence on this front. Eight more received the "zero" ranking. The report offers the caveat that "these reviews are intended to clarify options, not to point to or endorse best buys from among the reform models that are profiled." But as a basic guide to negotiating the congested terrain of CSR models, it's a pretty good start. Read it here. (Also see the CSRQ model registry, which collects information on models not included in the report.)

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