The passage of the No Child Left Behind Act—with its emphasis on accountability for results, increased flexibility and options for schools and parents, and “doing what works”—creates new opportunities and a strong impetus to identify, select, and implement effective school improvement strategies. Since the mid-1990s, one approach for raising student achievement—school-level adoption and effective implementation of externally developed, research-based comprehensive school reform (CSR) models—has been tried in more than 8,000 schools nationwide.
Whether a school adopts a model that offers a comprehensive package of practices or decides to build its own from individual research-proven components, decision makers need reliable information to help them answer the central question: Which of these programs work well to raise student achievement or accomplish other important student outcomes? Unfortunately, those most directly responsible for improving education—state officials, school board members, administrators, and teachers—and those concerned about its success—educators, parents, policymakers, and the public—have few resources at their disposal to answer this question.
To meet this pressing need, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education to create and operate a Comprehensive School Reform Quality (CSRQ) Center. The CSRQ Center will provide timely and reliable tools and technical assistance to support urban and rural educators and education decision makers in choosing the highest quality CSR model to meet locally defined needs.
The CSRQ Center promises to help raise student achievement and improve other important student outcomes for millions of America’s children by helping education decision makers identify and apply “what works” in the area of comprehensive school reform.