Boosting Student Achievement: The Impact of Comprehensive School Reform on Student Achievement

June 2006

This paper investigates the effects of implementing CSR models on student achievement.

Over the last 10 years, federal, state, and local education agencies have devoted considerable resources to support the implementation of Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) models. In addition to the 1.6 billion federal dollars distributed through the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) project and its successor, the CSR program, states and districts have made CSR adoption a central reform strategy for their lowest-performing schools. Despite a policy commitment that extends across multiple education sectors, researchers have failed to find consistent evidence that CSR adoption leads to improvement in student performance, with much of the work criticized for weak methodological approaches.

The work presented here employs the most promising analytic techniques available for non-experimental studies (discussed by Bifulco, Duncome, and Yinger, 2005) to investigate the effects of implementing CSR models on student achievement. With a dataset of Texas student achievement scores, we test the hypothesis that receiving CSRD funding has a positive effect on student performance at the award schools. We also take the additional, and relatively uncommon, step of measuring the quality of CSR model implementation to explore the hypothesis that higher-quality implementation will have a greater impact on student achievement.

Related Research: