National School Reform Initiatives

  • Summer Hours Monday-Friday: 8:30am-6:00pm; Saturday-Sunday 1-5pm
  •   SSHEL North (Room 100) and SSHEL South (Room 101), Main Library
  • (217) 244-1864

Illinois School Reform

National School Reform Initiatives


The Annenberg Institute for School Reform
The purpose of the Annenberg Institute is to promote, sponsor and study a variety of efforts to rethink and reform schools for American children while providing a non-partisan forum for the exchange of ideas relating to educational reform. The Annenberg Institute was created in 1993 as a semi-autonomous unit at Boston University with initial private funding of $5 million. Principal long-range support comes from a $50 million gift from the Annenberg Foundation, as part of philanthropist Walter H. Annenberg's $500 million "challenge to the nation" to improve American schools. This site contains information on how the Institute will work, and focuses on its activities. It also contains links to pages on the Annenberg Challenge, including specific information on the Chicago Challenge Grant, as well as pages on other Annenberg Institute projects.

Best-Evidence Encyclopedia
The  Best-Evidence Encyclopedia (BEE), created by the Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE) at Johns Hopkins School of Education, offers rigorous reviews of a variety of K-12 education programs. The encyclopedia contains hundreds of reviews and ratings, conducted by CRRE researchers, on a scale from insufficient evidence of effectiveness to strong evidence of effectiveness. These reviews can be used for activities such as research support, as a guide for school improvement processes, professional development, and as a means of identifying like programs for research purposes.

Bibliography on School Restructuring (1995)
This document created by the Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools at the University of Wisconsin- Madison is a comprehensive list of research and theoretical literature in school restructuring. The work is organized into five main sections: General References, Student Experiences, Professional Life of Teachers, School Governance, and Collaboration between Schools and Community.

Blue Ribbon Homepage
Established in 1982 by the Secretary of Education, the Blue Ribbon Schools Program has evolved into a national school improvement strategy. The program serves to promote quality education by recognizing outstanding public and private schools, disseminating effectiveness criteria, and fostering cooperation between schools. This site includes information on application procedures, programs updates, winning schools and tips on "what works."

"Career and Technical Education Reforms and Comprehensive School Reforms in High Schools and Community Colleges: Their Impact on Educational Outcomes for At-Risk Youth"
This report, published by the National Dissemination Center for Career and Technical Education, examines the effects of vocational education reform and its impact on at-risk students. In doing so, the report analyzes research in three broad areas: student risk factors in education, the state of secondary vocational education, increasingly known as career and technical education (CTE), and the interplay of CTE and other comprehensive school reform efforts. In addition, the report explores reform efforts in postsecondary CTE programs, usually found at community colleges.

CATO Institute Research Area: Education Reform Studies
Founded on the principles of Libertarianism, the Cato Institute is a public policy research foundation. "The Institute has become a national leader in exploring and promoting market-based public policy alternatives involving privatization, school choice and competition, and the creation of charter schools." Included are a summary of the Institute's research and policy agenda, links to Cato briefings, reviews of selected books, and some full text articles online.

The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement
The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement was funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education in collaboration with Learning Point Associates. Although the center’s website is no longer active as of 2009, the archived version contains education research resources including a searchable online database with approximately 5,000 abstracts of studies, reports, and articles, and webcast discussions with national experts on education topics.

The Center for Education Reform
The Center for Education Reform is an independent, national, non-profit organization providing support and guidance to individuals nationwide who are working to reform schools. This site has links to pages containing rich information, including the following: Center for Education Reform Press publications; detailed descriptions of various aspects of education reform (charter schools, school choice, etc.); statistics and "at-a-glance" information; and contact information for many other education reform groups.

Center for School Transformation
The Center for School Transformation aggregates years of school reform news and research by the conservative Heartland Institute.  The website provides resources about student-centered education policy including news stories, commentary, research and other publications. 

Children First America
A privately funded, not-for-profit national organization, CFA's stated mission is "to promote parental choice in education through private tuition grants and tax funded options,..." They serve as the national clearinghouse for privately funded voucher program information. The site is well organized and includes links to affiliate programs, choice legislation, research, news and debates.

CREDE Programs and Projects
The Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence's research and development focuses on critical issues in the education of linguistic and cultural minority students and those placed at risk by factors of race, poverty, and geographic location. CREDE sponsors five research programs. Particularly of interest is Integrated Reform and System Studies research-Program 5, which focuses on eight particular areas: estimating the population of at-risk students; evaluating the effectiveness of "untracking" low-achieving minority students; improving English-language instruction; Appalachian children's academic and social development; Native American school/community reform; case studies of exemplary Native American-based indigenous education; and, classroom social organization and peer and student/teacher relationships. Of additional interest is their page on Teacher-School-Systemic Integration for Effective Reform [].

An Educators' Guide to Schoolwide Reform
This well organized report examines 24 schoolwide approaches drawing on the expertise of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), an independent, internationally recognized research organization. Under contract to the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Education Association, the report provides a comprehensive assessment of the quantitative effectiveness of each of the chosen school reform approaches along with the selection criteria. Included are detailed evaluations of each unique reform approach, with a comparative overview. Also provided are in-depth details of the selection and evaluation criteria. Web addresses for each reform model are included when available.

EdWeb Home Room: Exploring Technology and School Reform
Described as "An intelligent, detailed, informed and practical guide, both to education related issues concerning the Internet, and to educational resources on the World Wide Web...," by Harvard Educational Review, this site contains well-organized, straightforward information on various aspects of education, including school reform. There is an emphasis on computers and the Internet in these pages, but there is plenty of general information, as well. The pages on school reform provide a synopsis of its history, including a link to the full text of _A Nation at Risk_, in addition to explanations of various methods of reform.

MiddleWeb: Exploring Middle School Reform
Middle Web is a collection of useful web sites geared toward middle school reform produced by the Focused Reporting Project, and with financial support from the Program for Student Achievement of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. MiddleWeb provides resources for schools, districts, educators, parents, and public school advocates working toward reform in the middle grades. In addition, this site includes hundreds of articles and links about curriculum, teaching strategies, teacher professional development, parent involvement, classroom assessment, and more.

National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA): Education Issues
The NCPA is a nonprofit public policy research institute dedicated to seeking private sector solutions to public policy problems. This site provides a wealth of information pertaining to education from this perspective. Included here are such topics as: school choice, spending and school finance, school management and control, teachers' unions, as well as other topics. Also included are essays providing NCPA's point of view on bilingual education, curriculum and standards, compulsory attendance and other issues related to education.

National Education Access Network
Users of this site are presented with a map of the United States. Clicking on a state provides a list of recent events, current or recent litigation related to education, and information about costing out in the chosen state. Some states have links to government agencies that may be of interest to those browsing the site. In addition, visitors can also browse legal developments, policy research, and publications from the National Access Network.  

NCREST: National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching
From the homepage, "NCREST (at Teachers College Columbia University) was created to document, support, connect, and make lasting the many restructuring efforts going on throughout the nation....The center brings together many voices: those of Practitioners and Researchers, Parents and Students, Policy Makers and Teacher Educators." Besides this basic description of the organization, the homepage contains only a link to NCREST Websites and Projects, which include Teachcomm Web, Leading Edge and Basic School National Center.

Quality Counts
Links to state-by-state information on education quality and hypertextual map of the United States can be found at this Education Week on the Web site. The site also contains a 'Report Card' for each state. The reports provide educational indicators such as student achievement, teaching quality, and school climate. Information, useful percentages, and grades are given for each subject..

Research Institute on Secondary Education Reform for Youth with Disabilities (RISER)
The mission of RISER "is to expand the current knowledge base related to practices and policies in secondary schools that enhance learning, achievement and postschool outcomes for students with disabilities." RISER's objectives within the first five years of its inauguration are to undertake five programs of research in examining: the use of support strategies in promoting access to the general education curriculum, in engaging and retaining students, and in improving educational results based on authentic achievement standards; the critical attributes of contextualized learning and assessment of authentic learning; the connections between schools and community agencies; the relationship between in-school outcomes data from authentic inclusive pedagogy and schooling practices and postschool outcomes; and, the scope and qualities of the school-based planning processes used in schools demonstrating authentic inclusive pedagogy. A form for nominating a school for participation in the research projects is available online.

Rethinking Schools
This online journal devoted to urban education and school reform is produced by an independent publisher of education materials. Selected articles from past issues are available without charge. The focus of the journal is from an activist perspective, and includes articles on standardized testing, school vouchers, equity and social justice.

School Choice 2003: How States Are Providing Greater Opportunity In Education 
This site provides an introduction to the topic of school choice and a glossary of relevant terms. Through tables and maps, the site provides information about each individual state and its reform efforts.

School Choices: The Citizen's Guide to Education Reform
This searchable site addresses the problems faced by public schools and state school systems around the world, particularly with regard to the comparison between competitive educational markets and government-operated school systems. The purpose of the site is to present and synthesize the "historical and modern evidence on the best way to run school systems." Conflicting opinions are presented and encouraged for submittal.

School Reform News
This conservative publication is a project of the Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute is "...a nonprofit organization devoted to turning ideas into social movements that empower people" (from the Heartland Institute homepage). This page links to the web version of "School Reform News" (1999 to current issues), a newsletter covering school reform efforts nationwide.

"Separate Tables: Academic and Vocational Education Reforms in Traditional Comprehensive High Schools"
This report, produced by the National Center for Research in Vocational Education in 1998, examines the school reform efforts of two traditional, comprehensive high schools in Illinois. Focusing on simultaneous reform in both vocational and academic education, it considers the impact of overall school restructuring on vocational reform efforts as well as the relationship between the two. Through a thorough case study analysis of each school, the report draws conclusions to overall themes and outcomes of the reforms in addition to future policy implications.

Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL)
The Southwest Education Development Laboratory (SEDL) is a private, not-for-profit education research and development corporation based in Austin, Texas. "SEDL's mission is to find share and sustain effective solutions for the most urgent problems facing educational systems, practitioners, and decision makers in the southwestern United States. SEDL's particular emphasis is on ensuring educational equity for children and youth who live in poverty; who are Hispanic, Black, or other minorities; or who have physical or mental exceptionalities." Most of the SEDL's programs carry out field-based research and development. The primary strategies are those of development, dissemination, training, and technical assistance, supported by evaluation and applied research.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Previously Known as Educational Excellence Network, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute supports research, publications, and action projects of national significance in elementary-secondary education reform. The site features sections about policy priorities and commentary.

Tools for Schools
This extensive site provides in-depth essays about 27 models of school reform, divided into 3 categories: Comprehensive school reform models, classroom and curriculum redesign models, and professional development reform models. This information, published by the National Institute on the Education of At-Risk Students, is intended to provide data to "practitioners and policy makers who have decision-making authority for improving the performance of schools with significant at-risk populations."

WestEd is a non-profit research, development and service agency whose focus is on children, youth and adults in the Wester region of the United States. They work with policy makers as well as practitioners with a focus on: Children, Families and Community; Whole School Change; Language, Culture and Equity; Assessment, Accountability and Evaluation; Policy Support; Math and Science Instruction; Safe Students, Safe Schools; Professional Development; School-to-Work; Meeting Special Rural and Urban School Needs; and Technology in Education. WestEd also offers a broad array of publications ranging from policy issues, instruction and case books, technology, educational partnerships and more. In addition, they provide full-text articles online pertaining to many hot topics in education, as well as providing valuable hyperlinks to related information sources. Administered by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, they are part of a network of 10 laboraties which encompass the entire U.S.