Updated August 2002
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H. Technical Assistance
H-1. What is the role of the SEA in providing technical assistance to LEAs and schools regarding comprehensive school reform?
In its application for funds, each SEA must describe how it will provide technical assistance to LEAs and consortia of LEAs, and to participating schools, in developing, implementing, and evaluating comprehensive school reform.
This assistance could include workshops on comprehensive needs assessment and planning during a school's or Lea's reform development stage. During implementation, assistance could include advising on flexibility provisions or providing information on state standards and assessments. SEAs can also help LEAs design their required evaluation of the implementation of comprehensive school reforms to measure the results achieved in improving student academic achievement.
H-2. What commitment must the SEA make regarding technical assistance for funded comprehensive school reform programs?
Each SEA must ensure that the comprehensive reform programs it funds are supported by technical assistance providers that have a successful track record, financial stability, and the capacity to deliver high-quality materials, professional development for school personnel and on-site support during the full implementation period of the reforms.
H-3. Must States give priority to an LEA or a consortium of LEAs that supports the reform efforts of its schools?
SEAs must give priority to an LEA or to a consortium of LEAs that plan to use CSR funds in schools identified as being in need of improvement or corrective action under Title I, Part A and demonstrate a commitment to assist those identified schools with budget allocation, professional development, and other strategies necessary to ensure the comprehensive school reforms are properly implemented and are sustained in the future. (See F-3.)
H-4. What commitment must an LEA or a consortium of LEAs make regarding technical assistance to CSR schools?
In applying for CSR funding on behalf of one or more schools, an LEA or consortium of LEAs must describe how it will provide technical assistance and support for the effective implementation of the comprehensive school reforms based on scientifically based research and effective practices selected by those schools.
H-5. What kind of technical assistance can LEAs provide to their CSR schools?
LEAs are in a unique position to provide assistance to their schools implementing comprehensive reform. Because of their control of district infrastructures, policies, and procedures, LEAs can participate in reform efforts by providing both guidance and flexibility. They can align district-arranged professional development with school reform initiatives. LEAs can also provide practical assistance with budgeting and resource reallocation. In addition, school districts can sometimes waive non-essential district requirements and allow schools to modify some procedures. CSR funds provide financial incentives for reform, but only with substantive support at the district level can schools sustain those initiatives.
H-6. Does technical assistance provided by an LEA constitute the "external support" required for participating schools?
No. LEAs have certain responsibilities for providing participating schools with technical assistance and support in the implementation of their comprehensive school reform programs, but that technical assistance does not fulfill the CSR requirement for external support.
H-7. How must a school address the technical assistance component of its CSR program?
Schools awarded CSR funds must use high-quality external technical support and assistance from an entity that has experience and expertise in schoolwide reform and improvement, which may include an institution of higher education.
The inclusion of this component in the CSR legislation reinforces the importance of assistance and outside guidance in implementing lasting reform. The perspective provided by qualified external assistance providers is invaluable in keeping school reforms on track. They provide a wide range of resources and experience, helping schools to avoid reform pitfalls and setbacks and to deal with them effectively when they do occur.
As comprehensive reform planning becomes comprehensive reform implementation, it is crucial that schools stay on track with their reform programs, and credible and informed technical assistance providers are essential to this process. These technical assistance providers must deliver timely, high-quality professional development and needed follow-up. Consultations and site visits are essential.
As a part of their comprehensive school reform program, some schools choose to align with a national model provider to attain such expertise. Others choose to contract with regional educational laboratories or comprehensive assistance centers, or develop a university partnership, although none of these entities must be chosen.
Each school must find the "right fit" when determining its technical assistance provider. The provider must have a deep understanding of the school's unique needs and goals and possess the expertise needed to help the school address them. Foremost among the concerns of the technical assistance providers must be the maintenance of the comprehensive nature of the school's reforms. Technical assistance cannot focus solely on one or two elements of a school's design, but must guarantee that all areas of the school's program are addressed.