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National School Reform Initiatives

National School Reform Initiatives

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American Federation for Children
A privately funded, not-for-profit national organization, AFC’s stated mission is “To improve our nation’s K-12 education by advancing systemic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low-income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children.” They serve as the national clearinghouse for privately funded voucher program information. The site includes links to school choice facts and options.

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 Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence (CREDE)
The Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE) is focused on improving education for students who face language and cultural barriers to reaching their full potential such as race, geographic location, and poverty. They promote research that provides educators with tools to help them implement best practices. They have developed “Five Standards for Effective Pedagogy” which are Teachers and Students Producing Together, Developing Language and Literacy Across the Curriculum, Making Lessons Meaningful, Teaching Complex Thinking, and Teaching through Conversation.

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.

The Heartland Institute
This website from the conservative Heartland Institute provides resources about student-centered education policy including news stories, commentary, research and other publications.

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.

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..

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.

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 Center for Educational Equity.  

“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), now part of the American Institute for Research (AIR): The Southwest Education Development Laboratory (SEDL) was a private, not-for-profit education research and development corporation based in Austin, Texas. “SEDL’s mission [was] to find, share and sustain effective solutions for the most urgent problems facing educational systems, practitioners, and decision makers in the southwestern United States.” In 2015, SEDL merged with AIR. SEDL materials are still hosted on AIR’s site and “The combined organizations have new and enhanced capabilities to conduct research and provide technical assistance to diverse populations across a broader geographic area.”

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.

WestEd is a non-profit research, development and service agency whose focus is on children, youth and adults in the Western 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.