Works in Progress: A Report on Middle and High School Improvement Programs
Progress in middle and high school improvement is hampered by the complexity of secondary school reform in general, and by the lack of solid and usable evidence of what works to foster improvement at this level. Despite the efforts described previously, greater amounts of reliable information and assistance must be provided to middle and high school educators and education reformers so that they can undertake effective improvement.
Works in Progress: A Report on Middle and High School Improvement Programs is the Comprehensive School Reform Quality (CSRQ) Center’s initial contribution to this effort. It serves as a precursor to the CSRQ Center’s publication series that will formally review middle and high school comprehensive school reform (CSR) models in Fall 2006. Future reports will use a research review framework to provide consumer guides on the evidence of effectiveness and quality of leading CSR models.
This report is prompted by the fact that, to date, educators and policymakers have had nowhere to turn to find an orientation of some of the most popular approaches that address key issues in middle and high school education. (See Appendix for a list of programs reviewed in this report.) As the title implies, Works in Progress reviews improvement efforts in a rapidly evolving field. We hope that it provides education decisionmakers with a research-based, user friendly snapshot of a variety of programmatic approaches that have been tried during the past few years to meet the challenges of educating secondary level students. It is intended to help education consumers at the district and school levels make evidence-based decisions about how to improve outcomes for middle and high school students.
However, readers should keep in mind the limitations of this report. It is a survey of current practices and research on approaches that can be adopted by a school or district, not an exhaustive compendium of all efforts underway to improve middle and high schools. For example, the report does not review (a) current efforts to restructure middle schools into a K–8 configuration, (b) the impact of high quality professional development beyond that offered by individual programs as part of their implementation, and (c) the effectiveness of policy initiatives such as high school exit exams.