November 13, 2006

Studies Show ...

American Institutes for Research (AIR) has updated their Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center Report on Elementary School Comprehensive School Reform Models (PDF) to include new research studies.

As in its previous study, the Direct Instruction Model and Success for All were found to be the most successful models. The report also points out that only a few of the models had a substantial research base to support their effectiveness.
For more than one third of the models, the CSRQ Center identified only 10 or fewer studies that seemed to be relevant for our review of the overall evidence of positive effects of the models on student achievement. In contrast, one model (Direct Instruction) had more than 50 and another (Success for All) had more than 100 studies that were originally considered for review in Category 1. After screening more than 800 studies for quality in Category 1, we found 95 studies that met CSRQ Center standards. Again, these were unevenly distributed, with nearly one fourth of the models having no studies that met CSRQ Center standards and with
five models (America’s Choice School Design, Direct Instruction, Literacy Collaborative, School Development Program, and Success for All) having five or more studies that met CSRQ Center standards.
I liked this gem from the Direct Instruction description.
Based on its experience, NIFDI feels that family and community involvement is peripheral to accomplishing its mission to accelerate student achievement. The NIFDI model assumes that since parental involvement cannot be controlled by school leaders, the Full Immersion Model of DI should not require parental involvement.
If you read the edusphere blogs, you'll know that parental involvement is frequently touted as the holy grail of education reform. Good work if you can get it.

It is not a coincidence that the two education reform models, DI and SfA, that achieve the best results, i.e., significant boost student achievement, dramatically alter the structure and nature of schooling. This is because schools, as they are currently configured, are not concerned with student achievement, especially the achievement of low-SES and low-IQ kids.

But don't get your hopes up just yet because another study by Rand finds that MOST SCHOOLS FAIL TO FULLY ADOPT REFORM MODELS DESIGNED TO BOOST STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.
Schools that embrace comprehensive reform models designed to improve student achievement frequently do not fully adopt all practices recommended by the model developers, according to a RAND Corporation report issued today. The findings call into question whether the comprehensive school reform model approach that has been adopted by more than 8,000 schools nationally can become a key strategy to help improve student performance. A survey of 250 schools from Florida and Texas that embraced comprehensive school reform models found that none had adopted all of the changes the models called for to boost student achievement, according to the study by RAND Education. The reason most often cited for failing to adopt all aspects of the reform packages was a shortage of support for needed improvements and investments such as teacher training. "

At the current level of implementation, comprehensive school reform models are likely to have only modest or no effect on student achievement," said lead author of the report Georges Vernez, who is a senior social scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Without substantially more support, it is not likely most schools will be able to faithfully adopt these models of school improvement." Comprehensive school reform is based on the idea that a school should have a coherent educational strategy that addresses every aspect of its operation.

More than $2 billion in federal funds have been used to implement the approach at schools nationally. Studies assessing the success of comprehensive school reform models have been mixed, with some showing a modest improvement in student achievement and others finding no impact. Most of those studies assumed schools had adopted all aspects of the reforms. RAND researchers surveyed principals and teachers at the schools in the study, and visited a number of campuses in order to more closely assess adoption of the chosen comprehensive school reform model. Researchers found some types of changes were embraced more often than others. Schools were most likely to adopt the curriculum prescribed by the model developer, but were less likely to adopt the recommended instructional practices.

Practices designed to increase parental involvement were the aspect least likely to be adopted. Most of the schools in the study did not have the level of support recommended by developers of the models. Teachers reported receiving about half of the recommended initial training and only one-quarter of the recommended ongoing professional development, according to RAND researchers. In general, teachers reported a lukewarm commitment to adopting their school's reform model and most felt the training they received was not adequate. However, in schools where the level of support increased, so did adoption of the developer-recommended practices, according to researchers.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

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