Challenges of Conflicting School Reforms: Effects of New American Schools in a High-Poverty District

Challenges of Conflicting School Reforms: Effects of New American Schools in a High-Poverty District

Challenges of Conflicting School Reforms: Effects of New American Schools in a High-Poverty District

Challenges of Conflicting School Reforms: Effects of New American Schools in a High-Poverty District

Synopsis

A decade ago, New American Schools (NAS) launched an ambitious effort for whole-school reform to address the perceived lagging achievement of American students and the lackluster school reform attempts that have produced so few meaningful changes. RAND assessed the effects of NAS designs on classroom practice and student achievement in a sample of schools in a high-poverty district. It found that while high-stakes tests may motivate these schools to increase performance, they may also provide disincentives to adopt richer, more in-depth curricula that could improve students' learning opportunities.

Excerpt

As a private nonprofit corporation, New American Schools (NAS) began in 1991 to fund the development of designs aimed at transforming entire schools at the elementary and secondary levels. Having completed competition and development phases, NAS currently is scaling-up its designs across the nation. During the phase when NAS was committed to implementing its designs across schools within partnering jurisdictions, RAND's research assessed the impact of NAS designs on classroom practice and student achievement in a sample of schools in a high-poverty district during the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 school years.

The current study is aimed at those who want to better understand the expanding area of whole-school, or comprehensive, school reform and its effects on teaching and learning within high-stakes accountability environments.

RAND's assessment of NAS schools has spanned several years. To date, RAND studies about New American Schools include:

Implementation in a Longitudinal Sample of New American Schools: Four Years into Scale-Up, by Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Mark Berends, and Scott Naftel, 2001 (MR-1413-EDU).

The Relationship Between Implementation and Achievement: Case Studies of New American Schools, by JoAn Chun, Brian Gill, and Jodi Heilbrunn, forthcoming (DRU-2562-EDU).

“Reforming Whole Schools: Challenges and Complexities,” by Mark Berends, Susan Bodilly, and Sheila Nataraj Kirby. Forth . . .

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