School reform programmes – primary and secondary

Educator's summary

As a PDF document

As web pages:
Top-rated programmes
Programmes with limited evidence
Other programmes
Review methods

Full report

As a PDF document (106 pages)

There are many Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) programmes that promise to turn around under-achieving schools.

CSR programmes typically include the following elements:

  • Innovative approaches to instruction and curriculum used in many subjects throughout the school
  • Extensive, ongoing professional development, and coaches or facilitators in the building to help manage the reform process
  • Measureable goals and benchmarks for pupil achievement
  • Emphasis on parent and community involvement

This review summarises research on CSR programmes for primary and secondary schools.

  • All available evidence on CSR programmes designed to improve primary and secondary school achievement was considered, in order to establish what works for pupils aged 5-18.
  • All studies of CSR programmes from all countries were examined, as long as a report was available in English. (NB Most studies took place in the US).
  • This evidence was then used to assess and compare the effectiveness of these programmes.

Descriptions and ratings for all the programmes are included in this summary.

The full report (which this review summarises) is also available. The report was conducted by the Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center (CSRQ) at the American Institutes for Research.