The American Institutes for Research Issues Updated Rating of 22 Widely Used Comprehensive School Reform Models

Washington, D.C. - The American Institutes for Research (AIR) has released an updated consumer guide rating the effectiveness and quality of 22 widely used comprehensive elementary school reform models. The new report, issued one year after the first guide was released, upgrades the ratings of two models to "moderate" on evidence of success in demonstrating positive effects on student achievement. The status of the 20 other reform models remains unchanged.

The "CSRQ Center Report on Elementary School Comprehensive School Reform Models" was produced by AIR's Comprehensive School Reform Quality (CSRQ) Center, a multi-year project funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The initial report was issued in November 2005. The updated findings are based on new research evidence that meet strict scientific criteria set by AIR researchers.

"The updated report marks the first time that a follow up guide of this type has been issued, demonstrating that the research evidence on whole school improvement models is continuing to grow," said Steve Fleischman, an AIR vice president and director of the study. "Progress is being made in establishing scientific criteria for measuring success as well as in producing evidence that meets that standard."

In the latest findings two models, National Writing Project, in Berkeley, Calif., and Literacy Collaborative of Columbus, Ohio were upgraded from "limited" to "moderate" in Category 1: Evidence of Positive Effects on Student Achievement. Both Literacy Collaborative and the National Writing Project also went from a "no rating" to "very strong" in evidence of a research base for the model's design.

The 22 reform models serve thousands of mostly high-poverty, low-performing schools nationwide. The CSRQ Center review framework was developed in consultation with an Advisory Group composed of leading education experts and researchers, and is closely aligned with the requirement for scientifically based evidence that is part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

In the latest report, no model received a rating of "very strong." Direct Instruction (Full Immersion Model), based in Eugene, Ore., and Success for All, located in Baltimore, Md., received a "moderately strong" rating.

Five other models also met the standards for the "moderate" rating: Accelerated Schools PLUS, in Storrs, Conn.; America's Choice School Design, based in Washington, D.C.; Core Knowledge, located in Charlottesville, Va.; School Renaissance in Madison, Wis.; and the School Development Project, based in New Haven, Conn. Models receiving a "moderate" rating may still show notable evidence of positive outcomes, but this evidence is not as strong as those models receiving a "moderately strong" or "very strong" rating.

Six models earned a "limited" rating in Category 1: ATLAS Communities in Cambridge, Mass.; Pearson Achievement Solutions (formerly Co-nect), in Glenview, Ill.; Different Ways of Knowing, located in Santa Monica, Calif.; Integrated Thematic Instruction, based in Federal Way, Wash.; Modern Red Schoolhouse, based in Nashville, Tenn.; and Ventures Initiative Focus System, located in New York, N.Y. The "limited" rating indicates that while theCSRQ Center found some evidence of positive effects on student achievement, much more rigorous research and evidence needs to be presented on the model to fully support its effectiveness.

Seven CSR models received a "zero" rating in Category 1: Breakthrough to Literacy, from Coralville, Iowa; Comprehensive Early Literacy Learning, in Redlands, Calif.; Community for Learning, based in Philadelphia, Pa.; Coalition of Essential Schools, located in Oakland, Calif.; Expeditionary Learning, based in Garrison, N.Y.; First Steps, in Salem, Mass.; and Onward to Excellence II, located in Portland, Ore. 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 evidence.

None of the 22 models earned a "no" or "negative" rating, which indicate that a model has no evidence available for review, or strong evidence demonstrating negative effects in a given category or subcategory, respectively.

Individuals can visit the CSRQ Center's Web site or AIR's Web site ( to download the entire report.


About AIR

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.


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