Cover: Evaluating Comprehensive School Reform Models at Scale

Evaluating Comprehensive School Reform Models at Scale

Focus on Implementation

Published Nov 7, 2006

by Georges Vernez, Rita T. Karam, Louis T. Mariano, Christine DeMartini

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Despite increasing pressure for improving student achievement, most studies of comprehensive school reforms show only a modest effect — or sometimes no effect at all. But if reform has not been implemented, or has been implemented only in part, changes in student achievement cannot be expected. To fill the “implementation measurement” gap, the authors developed a unique methodology to quantitatively measure the level of school reform implementation. They applied this methodology to measure actual implementation of four different models in a large number of schools, along with a corresponding set of non-model schools. They found that very few schools have fully implemented their reform model. Practices in model and non-model schools are similar, although some practices are implemented more thoroughly or frequently when prescribed by a model. At the current level of implementation, comprehensive school reform is likely to have little effect on student achievement.

The research described in this report was conducted within RAND Education under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

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