Comprehensive School Reform Program

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The Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program (CSRD):
Selected Profiles of Early State Implementation Efforts
Archived Information

May 22, 1998


The Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) program provides States with funds to help improve student achievement, particularly in Title I schools, through the implementation of research-based, comprehensive school improvement strategies. CSRD provides support for improving entire schools through schoolwide programs that coordinate and combine funds from Federal, State, local and private sources to ensure that each child meets challenging state content and student performance standards. CSRD builds upon and leverages ongoing efforts to connect higher standards with school improvement at the State and local level.

States can play an important role in supporting local schools and districts as they prepare for comprehensive school improvement, including assistance with determining school needs, choosing research-based models and effective comprehensive reforms, and evaluating the impact of those reforms. States also have a vital role in integrating comprehensive reform with their own standards-based school improvement efforts. By aligning CSRD with state accountability and student assessment systems, school improvement processes, and initiatives targeted to low-performing schools, States can set the stage for raising student achievement.

The profiles below illustrate how selected states are approaching the implementation of CSRD. For example, some states are making strong efforts to disseminate information about CSRD and help districts and schools understand what it takes to choose research-based models and implement effective comprehensive school reform programs. Wisconsin has sponsored numerous workshops across the state, bringing together districts and schools with representatives of reform models and experts on finance to explain how to successfully restructure schools. The State is working closely with its regional education laboratory to continue these dissemination and technical assistance efforts.

Ohio is benefiting from lessons it has learned in implementing its own comprehensive school reform program, the Venture Capital Schools program. As a result, the State will emphasize school planning, preparation, and accountability for comprehensive school reform in distributing CSRD funds. Ohio plans to help schools to use data to identify needs and improve their programs, and is developing a set of specific indicators to measure the success of comprehensive school improvement efforts.

Delaware also will emphasize planning and matching of models to school needs in its review of CSRD applications. The State has established specific research-based criteria for schools to use as a guide for developing comprehensive school improvement plans. Applicants must explain how the program selected is likely to be effective in addressing the specific needs and problems identified in the school.

Kentucky, Maryland and Illinois are integrating CSRD with their school-based accountability systems and providing technical assistance to low-performing schools. Kentucky will target CSRD funds to schools identified as "in decline" and train highly skilled educators to help those schools both identify research-based models that fit schools' needs and prepare strong CSRD applications. In Maryland, the State's School Support Network, which includes a team of specialists and distinguished educators, will help low-performing schools analyze their needs and select appropriate reform programs; moreover, to ensure the quality of proposed comprehensive programs, teams of Maryland officials will visit finalists for CSRD funds as part of the application process. Illinois will provide districts with Goals 2000 grants to help raise the capacity of low-performing schools to apply for CSRD funds.

Along with each profile, a State contact is listed who can provide further information.

  • DELAWARE: Helping Local Schools Match Needs and Resources With Comprehensive Reform Strategies
  • ILLINOIS: Integrating Comprehensive Reform into Statewide School Improvement Efforts
  • KENTUCKY: Assisting Local Schools to Undertake Comprehensive Reforms and Raise Achievement on State Assessments
  • MARYLAND: Using Data and Accountability to Help Local Schools Select Successful Reforms
  • OHIO: Building on the Venture Capital Schools Experience
  • WISCONSIN: Using Outreach to Strengthen Local District and School Capacity for Comprehensive Reform

DELAWARE: Helping Local Schools Match Needs and Resources With Comprehensive Reform Strategies

Delaware's Department of Education requires all schools in the state's 19 school districts to develop school improvement plans. To facilitate this endeavor, the state has established specific research-based criteria for schools to use as a guide as they develop and implement their improvement plans and work to create more effective schools. The school improvement plans include program indicators of success and must explain how the program or reform model that is selected is likely to be effective in addressing the specific needs and problems that have been identified during the planning process. Schools are encouraged to use Title I and Goals 2000 funds to support their planning activities.

The Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) program will complement these efforts because it will support schools as they implement the improvement plans that have been developed. State officials will rely on information they collect during periodic quality reviews of school improvement plans to help identify the schools in the state that will receive CSRD awards. In addition, those schools that apply for but do not receive a CSRD grant to implement their improvement plans will be encouraged to use other resources, such as their regular Title I allocations, to support their school reform efforts.

Ron Houston
Director of Unified Planning
Delaware Department of Education
Federal Street at Lookerman
Dover, DE 19903
(302) 739-2770
Fax: (302) 739-3744

ILLINOIS: Integrating Comprehensive Reform into Statewide School Improvement Efforts

The Illinois State Board of Education is taking steps to integrate the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) program into the state's standards-based strategy for raising student achievement. Illinois will use CSRD funds as an additional resource to assist local schools to implement comprehensive reform programs designed to help students meet new state standards. Local schools that receive CSRD grants will be required to integrate those funds into consolidated school improvement plans that serve as a roadmap for each school's educational program and show how the entire school budget -- including local, state, and federal funds -- will support comprehensive reform.

To help districts and schools understand CSRD program goals and procedures, Illinois has developed a comprehensive state communication plan. The Illinois State Board's web site links to comprehensive school reform resources such as federal guidance, regional education laboratory information, and research-based models. At regional informational meetings on federal and other grant programs, Illinois is providing districts and schools with grant writing assistance. Illinois is also coordinating bidders' conferences where research-based school reform models are showcased to help schools choose approaches that complement their own school improvement plans. In collaboration with its federally funded regional education laboratory, Illinois is providing local schools and districts with videos about research-based comprehensive school reform models to further assist them in choosing a model that best fits their individual needs.

Illinois will measure schools' eligibility to receive CSRD funds based on two sets of indicators. First, the State Board will consider schools' need by examining their academic achievement records based on the state assessment, student poverty levels, attendance rates, and other criteria. Second, the State will rate schools according to the quality of their current programs designed to implement comprehensive school reform. To accomplish the latter, the state is developing a survey to help schools evaluate their own school improvement planning, progress in aligning curriculum to state standards, parent and community involvement, and educational leadership. State officials anticipate that many schools will not have the capacity to participate in the first round of CSRD grants. Accordingly, Illinois will provide districts with small Goals 2000 and other grants to assist schools that lack the capacity to apply for or to effectively implement CSRD programs. The State will offer these schools an opportunity to apply for program funds for the 1999-2000 school year, if funds are available, as well as attempt to align other federal, state, and local funds to achieve the objectives of CSRD.

To evaluate district and school implementation of CSRD, Illinois is developing a process to evaluate its own efforts to support comprehensive school reform programs. Because schools may use locally developed models as a part of their comprehensive, research-based reform programs under CSRD, the State is specifically developing a method for using CSRD federal program guidelines to measure the impact of locally developed programs on student achievement, attendance rates, the rate of violent incidents, dropout rates, and other key indicators. Illinois will also coordinate CSRD program evaluation requirements with the state's other federal program evaluation efforts to further focus on integrated service provision and evaluation.

Barb Alexander
Principal Consultant
Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street, E-310
Springfield, IL 62777
(217) 782-3810
Fax: (217) 782-7170

KENTUCKY: Assisting Schools to Undertake Comprehensive Reform to Raise Achievement on State Assessments

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) will integrate the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) program with the state's school-based accountability system and other strategies that support state and local education reform goals, particularly in the area of technical assistance to local schools.

Student testing for Kentucky's next accountability cycle, which extends from 1998 to 2000, will occur in spring 1998, with results available in fall 1998. To ensure that current data are used to identify the state's lowest achieving schools and to give schools sufficient time to select an educational model and prepare for its implementation, Kentucky officials have set a February 1999 due date for districts and schools to submit their CSRD application.

The state is also aligning one of its main tools for helping low-performing schools with its efforts in comprehensive school reform. Local schools that have been identified as "in decline" as a result of their low or declining student test scores are assigned a highly skilled educator to work with their staff in an effort to raise student achievement. As of fall 1998, it will no longer be mandatory for low-performing schools to accept such assistance, but Kentucky will award bonus points on the CSRD application to such schools that do agree to participate. This summer, the state will prepare designated educators to assist local schools in identifying a model that is most appropriate for meeting schools' specific needs, as well as in completing strong CSRD applications.

Members of the state's Title I school support teams will receive CSRD training to better support low-performing schools in their region. Potential applicants will also have access to technical assistance from the state on completing the CSRD program application via the Kentucky TeleLinking Network. Summaries of different educational models, as well as contact information, will be posted on the state's web page. Even before the CSRD legislation passed, Kentucky was assisting local districts and schools through publication and dissemination of its Results Based Practices Showcase: 1997-98, which describes school reform models backed by evidence of effectiveness.

Recipients of the comprehensive school reform awards will receive ongoing assistance from the highly skilled educator assigned to their school. In addition, the state will provide targeted assistance to those schools that applied for grants but were unsuccessful. The goal of this assistance is to help these schools to analyze their current spending and determine the most effective way to reallocate program funds (such as Title I ) to allow them to carry out their desired comprehensive reform effort. Schools with CSRD grants will also receive technical assistance on how to reallocate funds and tap additional resources to implement their reform programs and sustain them beyond the three-year CSRD program period.

Joseph Clark
Director, Division of Program Resources
8th Floor Capital Plaza Tower
500 Mero Street
Frankfurt, KY 40601
(502) 564-3791
Fax: (502) 564-8149

MARYLAND: Using Data and Accountability to Help Local Schools Adopt Successful Reforms

The Maryland State Department of Education is taking steps to integrate comprehensive school reform with its statewide strategy to support research-based instruction. Maryland already has an active partnership with New American Schools to support schools in implementing NAS entire-school designs, and the state's new School Accountability Funding for Excellence (SAFE) program is a natural fit with the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD).

Under SAFE, which will be implemented beginning in July 1998, each school system will be required to submit a comprehensive plan to increase at-risk students' success and to integrate local, state, and federal funding sources. Like CSRD, SAFE includes a focus on research-driven reform, and Maryland plans to use CSRD's nine criteria for comprehensive reform programs as standards for SAFE. The State Department of Education is developing a presentation for state educators to demonstrate the relationships between consolidated planning, SAFE, and comprehensive school reform, and plans to assist districts in expanding their consolidated planning processes to include SAFE and CSRD.

Maryland is providing strong leadership in matching schools with research-based school reform models. Before choosing a reform strategy that best fits their needs, Maryland schools must conduct a needs assessment based on the school-level performance data they are required to collect and publish annually under state law. Schools then disaggregate data by race, ethnicity, and gender, to assist in identifying models, matching models to their needs, and ultimately developing or adopting a comprehensive reform program that will help them close achievement gaps identified in the data.

In addition to presenting information on comprehensive school reform at several statewide meetings of local school system superintendents, Maryland worked with its federally-funded regional education laboratory to sponsor a showcase of research-based reform models, attended by principals and administrators from all over the state. Maryland has adapted federal CSRD guidance to its state context and conducted mass mailings of the information to schools and districts, and plans to include information on needs assessment and choosing an appropriate design in the CSRD subgrant application.

Schools applying for CSRD must work closely with their districts to plan comprehensive school reform programs, and Maryland will require districts to delineate the support they plan to provide to schools that apply for the funds. To select CSRD grant recipients, Maryland will consider, among other criteria, each school's score on the state's school performance index, which ranks all schools in the state on criteria that include achievement in core subject areas, attendance, graduation rates, and dropout rates.

As part of Maryland's process of evaluating applications for CSRD funds, teams will conduct site visits to ensure the comprehensiveness, integration, and quality of the proposed programs. The review team will verify the information in school applications, review the process schools use to choose their programs and discuss how schools intend to sustain their programs beyond the initial years of CSRD funding. Final funding determinations will be made based on these site visits.

Maryland plans to give technical assistance to some of the state's lowest performing schools. The state will assist schools in need of improvement that are not ready to apply for CSRD funds, as well as those schools that do not make it past the site visit phase of the CSRD application process, helping to strengthen the capacity of such schools to successfully plan and implement comprehensive reforms. Maryland will sponsor leadership institutes, reform model design fairs, and study groups and forums targeted to aid such schools to develop the capacity to participate in the program. In addition, the state will collaborate with its federally-funded regional education laboratory and comprehensive regional assistance center, as well as institutions of higher education, to help such schools.

Richard Steinke
Deputy Superintendent
School Improvement Services Office
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 767-0229
Fax: (410) 333-0714

OHIO: Building on the Venture Capital Schools Experience

Participants in the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) program in Ohio will benefit from the lessons learned during implementation of the state's own comprehensive school reform effort, the Venture Capital Program. The state program, which began in July 1993, awards grants of $25,000 per year for five years to individual schools that have been identified as in need of improvement. Venture Capital schools are required to have a continuous improvement plan and must be committed to implementing a model for entire-school reform. Based on their observations of this initiative over the past four years, state officials have identified what is necessary for the successful implementation of comprehensive school reform, and this information will be shared with potential CSRD program applicants.

The state has sent a memo describing the CSRD program to all 611 school districts, although recipients of Venture Capital grants may not participate. RFPs are expected to be distributed at the end of June, and state officials anticipate first-round winners to be announced in September 1998. During the summer of 1998, several regional workshops for CSRD candidates will be held around the state. Technical assistance and guidance will focus initially on: (1) conducting data-based needs assessments; (2) planning and preparation for comprehensive reform; and (3) program accountability. For example, state officials will emphasize the need for schools to ensure that all school staff support the implementation of a new reform model. In addition, schools will be advised to gain the support of their local district and board of education before launching a major reform effort. Schools will also receive guidance on how and why data on school characteristics and student achievement should drive continuous improvement efforts and on the importance of establishing a system of accountability that includes specific indicators of success. Local applications will have a section to be completed by external technical assistance providers to guarantee a good match of a building's needs to its comprehensive reform program.

The state will also assist districts on reallocating existing state and federal resources (e.g., Title I, Eisenhower Professional Development, Goals 2000) to support their overall continuous improvement efforts.

Ron Stewart
Associate Director, Division of Federal Assistance
Ohio Department of Education
933 High Street
Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 466-4161
Fax: (614) 752-1622

WISCONSIN: Using Outreach to Strengthen Local District and School Capacity for Comprehensive Reform

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has sponsored several activities and events to help districts and schools throughout the state build capacity to participate in the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) program. For example, at the end of December, the state conducted a mass mailing of the CSRD legislation. As a follow-up, in March, federal guidance on CSRD was sent to all Wisconsin public school superintendents and principals.

In late February, Wisconsin held workshops in Milwaukee and Wausau to showcase various reform models, including models that could be supported by CSRD. At the workshops, representatives of reform models presented their strategies and key program components in concurrent sessions. The workshops, which attracted a large number of participants, were sponsored by the North Central Regional Education Laboratory (NCREL), New American Schools, and the State Department of Public Instruction.

An April workshop sponsored by NCREL and Wisconsin involved 400 participants representing 150 local schools and districts. They attended sessions that focused on defining comprehensive school reform and building schools' capacity to participate in the program, as well as on school finance and restructuring. Participants also attended breakout sessions on topics such as needs assessment, CSRD resources, and school- and district-level planning for comprehensive reform.

Other examples of Wisconsin's efforts to disseminate information and provide assistance include the creation of a CSRD Web site and networking efforts with other education-related groups, such as the Title I State Association. Wisconsin's capacity-building technical assistance to needy schools and districts to facilitate their future participation in the CSRD program also includes on-site technical assistance and support from the state's intermediate cooperative education service agencies. The state's regional Title I regional technical assistance partners will work with Title I schools that need improvement in order to participate in CSRD. State Title I staff are reviewing reform models to better assist schools and districts in making informed choices. Finally, Wisconsin is supporting its dissemination and technical assistance efforts not only with Goals 2000 state funds but also through a strong collaborative relationship with NCREL.

Scott Jones
Coordinator of Student Learning
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
125 South Webster Street
P.O. Box 7841
Madison, WI 53707-7841
(608) 261-6324
Fax: (608) 267-0364

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Last Modified: 12/03/2004