Washington, D.C. - The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is releasing a first-ever scientifically based review providing comparative ratings on the effectiveness and quality of seven widely adopted education service providers that generally serve low-performing schools in low income areas.
The findings by AIR’s Comprehensive School Reform Quality ( CSRQ) Center, which reviewed all publicly available research and information on each model, found that despite their popularity, there is only limited scientific evidence of their effectiveness. Six of the models are for-profit entities, while one – Imagine Schools – changed its status to nonprofit during the review.
The report, entitled “CSRQ Center Report on Education Service Providers,” concludes that only one model – Edison Schools – currently has a solid body of evidence of its efficacy.
The seven models operate in approximately 350 schools nationwide and collectively serve a significant portion of the total number of schools using education service provider models. Each model was profiled and rated in the following categories: evidence of positive effects on student achievement, on additional outcomes, and on parent, family, and community involvement; evidence of a link between research and the model’s design; and evidence of services and support to schools to enable successful implementation.
“The evidence for education service providers is emerging, so the jury is still out on the effectiveness of many of these models,” said Steve Fleischman, a vice president at AIR who oversaw the report. “All programs claiming to improve student achievement, including education service providers, will be increasingly challenged to demonstrate effectiveness based on rigorous studies.”
One of the seven models, the New York City-based Edison Schools, received a “moderate” rating in “Category 1: Evidence of Positive Effects on Student Achievement.” No models received a “moderately strong” or “very strong” rating.
Four models earned a “zero” rating: The Leona Group, in Phoenix, Ariz./East Lansing, Mich., Mosaica Education, based in Atlanta, Ga., National Heritage Academies, located in Grand Rapids, Mich., and White Hat Management, which is based in Akron, Ohio. A rating of “zero” means that evidence was found to provide a rating for this category, but none was of sufficient quality to be counted as reliable.
Imagine Schools in Arlington, Va., and SABIS Educational Systems, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., received a “no rating” because there was no evidence available for review in the category of “Evidence of Positive Effects on Student Achievement.”
According to Fleischman, “The release of this report is particularly timely given the increasing numbers of schools facing ‘restructuring’ as part of the accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) as well as the growth of the charter school movement.” In both instances, decision makers may consider education service providers a viable option in their search for support to improve student outcomes.
Increasing numbers of schools are entering their fifth year of not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal law, triggering a requirement that the schools enter a restructuring phase.
The report defines an education service provider as a for-profit or not-for-profit organization that contracts with new or existing public, charter, or private schools and/or school districts to provide comprehensive services to schools, including educational programming (such as curriculum design and professional development), or administrative services (such as operations or human resources management).
AIR’s CSRQ Center created the guide to provide education stakeholders with a decision-making tool to sort through the range of education service provider models available to support whole school or district improvement, and does not endorse one particular service provider over another.
The CSRQ Center screened approximately 900 studies and documents to use in rating the seven profiled models. The CSRQ Center, a multi-year project funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, developed its review framework in consultation with an Advisory Group consisting of leading education experts and researchers, and is closely aligned with NCLB requirements for school reform based on scientifically based evidence and on accountability based on results.
The report builds on AIR’s pioneering work in conducting consumer-friendly research reviews. In November 2005, AIR released a similar report evaluating the quality and effectiveness of 22 widely adopted elementary-school comprehensive school reform models.
AIR hosted a panel discussion on the report’s results on Monday, April 24, at its corporate headquarters at 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. Panel participants included: John Chubb, chief education officer of Edison Schools; Michael Petrilli, a vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation; and Nancy Van Meter, director of the American Federation of Teacher’s Center on Privatization.
Interested parties, including representatives of the seven models studied, were invited to attend.
About CSRQ Center
The Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center (CSRQ Center, www.csrq.org) is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, through a Comprehensive School Reform Quality Initiative Grant (S222B030012) and is operated by the American Institutes for Research (AIR, www.air.org).
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is an independent, nonpartisan not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research on important social issues and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity.