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Whole-School Reform Models
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Comprehensive school reform (CSR) is a strategy that relies on a combination of methods to improve school quality and performance. As opposed to the traditional approach of trying to change schools piecemeal, CSR focuses on redesigning and integrating all aspects of a school— curriculum, instruction, assessment, teacher training and professional development, school governance and management, parent and community involvement — in a coordinated fashion.

Congress gave a major boost to the comprehensive school reform movement in 1997 when it approved the Comprehensive School Reform Development Program (CSRD), which so far has provided nearly $300 million in federal grants to help low-performing schools across the nation develop and implement "research-based, schoolwide" reform strategies. In turn, a number of states have embraced CSR as a means of providing targeted assistance for low-performing schools.

The process of comprehensive reform begins with the selection of a CSR model or design that fits a given school's (or group of schools') circumstances, needs and goals. There are many models to choose from, each with its own distinctive flavor and emphasis. Some schools have the resources and capacity to shape their own research-based comprehensive reform agenda, but many schools need the kind of help CSR models and designs typically offer, such as ongoing professional development for teachers and a clear implementation plan that includes benchmarks for assessing progress.

An estimated 8,500 schools nationwide are using research-based comprehensive school models.


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