Comprehensive School Reform Program

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An important opportunity to improve entire schools and raise student achievement using scientifically based research and effective practices

View an overview presentation of the CSR Program.

Helping Schools Adopt Comprehensive Improvements With a Track Record of Success.
The Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) Program began in 1998 and was authorized as Title I, Part F of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was signed into law on January 8, 2002.

The CSR Program is an important component of the No Child Left Behind Act. It is helping raise student achievement by assisting public schools across the country to implement effective, comprehensive school reforms that are based upon scientifically based research and effective practices. Congress has supported this initiative by appropriating $308 million to the CSR program for Fiscal Year (FY) 2003.

The focus of the CSR Program is to raise student achievement by employing proven methods and strategies to produce comprehensive school reform. CSR builds upon and leverages ongoing State and local efforts to connect higher standards and school improvement. This program helps to expand the quality and quantity of schoolwide reform efforts that enable all children, particularly low-achieving children, to meet challenging academic standards.

Over 1,800 schools in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico & schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) received grants as part of the original 1998 cohort. An additional 1,000 schools were funded through the FY 2000 funding increase. We anticipate that 3,000 new schools will receive funds from the 2001 and 2002 funding allocation.

A Strong Focus on Approaches that Strengthen the Entire School.
The Comprehensive School Reform program is designed to foster coherent schoolwide improvements that cover virtually all aspects of a school's operations, rather than piecemeal, fragmented approaches to reform. States provide competitive grants to school districts on behalf of specific schools that have indicated a readiness to adopt comprehensive reforms to help students reach high standards. To qualify for funding, schools must thoughtfully integrate eleven components described in the legislation. The legislation requires CSR schools to access high-quality technical assistance from outside partners experienced in schoolwide reform.

Choosing Reforms Based upon Scientifically Based Research and Effective Practices.
A key feature of the program is that it provides incentives for schools to develop comprehensive reform programs based upon scientifically based research and effective practices. These reforms must help all children to meet challenging State academic content and achievement standards. Whether they use a nationally available approach or develop their program locally, these schools must coherently integrate the eleven components of reform. CSR supports schools undertaking comprehensive reforms that show the most promise for successful implementation and help students reach high standards.

Eleven Components of a Comprehensive School Reform Program.
Schools are required to implement a comprehensive school reform program that:

  • Employs proven methods and strategies based on scientifically based research
  • Integrates a comprehensive design with aligned components
  • Provides ongoing, high-quality professional development for teachers and staff
  • Includes measurable goals and benchmarks for student achievement
  • Is supported within the school by teachers, administrators and staff
  • Provides support for teachers, administrators and staff
  • Provides for meaningful parent and community involvement in planning, implementing and evaluating school improvement activities
  • Uses high-quality external technical support and assistance from an external partner with experience and expertise in schoolwide reform and improvement
  • Plans for the evaluation of strategies for the implementation of school reforms and for student results achieved, annually
  • Identifies resources to support and sustain the school's comprehensive reform effort
  • Has been found to significantly improve the academic achievement of students or demonstrates strong evidence that it will improve the academic achievement of students

Targeting Schools that Need to Substantially Raise Student Achievement.
The focus of the CSR Program is schoolwide change, particularly in Title I schools, where there is the greatest need to substantially improve student achievement. States must give priority to LEAs that plan to use the funds for schools identified as needing improvement and that demonstrate a commitment to assist schools with reform implementation and sustainability. The legislation also states that when awarding funds to LEAs, States shall take into consideration equitable distribution to different geographic regions within the state, including urban and rural communities as well as to schools serving a variety of grade levels.

Initial Start-Up Funding to Support Long-Term Improvement Efforts.
CSR funds are not intended to support separate projects that are "added on" to existing programs or projects in a school. Rather, the funds help schools improve their entire educational operation, through, for example, curriculum changes, sustained professional development, and enhanced involvement of parents, based on a careful identification of local needs.

CSR funds help finance the initial implementation of comprehensive reforms that are coordinated with and sustained by all the resources available to the school, including federal, State, local and private resources. These resources support integrated strategies that enable all children, including children from low-income families, children with limited English proficiency, and children with disabilities, to reach challenging academic standards. Each participating school receives at least $50,000 of CSR funds a year, renewable for up to three years.

Funding Levels and Timing.
For Fiscal Year 2003, Congress appropriated $233.5 million to support comprehensive reforms in schools eligible for Title I funds. An additional $74.5 million is available to all public schools, including those eligible for Title I. Funds will become available to states on July 1, 2003.

Need Further Information?
In addition to the information at this website, you may also contact the Comprehensive School Reform Program at 202-205-4292, or at 1-800-USA-LEARN, or by e-mail at compreform@ed.gov.

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Last Modified: 12/02/2004