NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED494666
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Dec
Pages: 123
Abstractor: ERIC
The Challenge of Supporting Change: Elementary Student Achievement and the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative's Focal Strategy. Final Report
Porter, Kristin E.; Snipes, Jason C.
This is the second and final report for MDRC's evaluation of the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative (BASRC), a grant-making and support organization in San Francisco, California. BASRC is dedicated to improving student achievement in public schools and narrowing achievement gaps among different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. BASRC reforms are designed as continuous improvement processes driven by collective inquiry into student learning outcomes, school functioning, and teacher practice. This process-oriented reform strategy is designed to build professional knowledge about effective practice, promote mutual accountability, and facilitate collaboration. BASRC hypothesizes that making changes along these lines will result in improved teaching and learning, but the organization does not prescribe particular instructional practices, curricula, or school structures that should evolve as a result of its reform processes. This evaluation centers on a specific BASRC initiative, the "focal strategy," as it was implemented during the 2002-2003, 2003-2004, and 2004-2005 school years in five Bay Area districts (the "focal districts"), and two to four selected schools within those districts (the "focal schools"). Building on earlier phases of BASRC reforms, which began in 1996, the focal strategy was meant to increase the intensity of the core BASRC reforms by creating more opportunities for district and school administrators to interact with BASRC staff. In selecting the focal districts, BASRC tended to focus on districts where a strong working relationship had developed during earlier BASRC efforts, and the focal reforms were implemented on top of existing BASRC reform work in these places. In short, compared with the earlier reform strategies, the focal strategy served as a stronger test of BASRC reform ideas in fewer places. While the first report on the evaluation explored the relationship between the BASRC focal strategy and student reading achievement for third-and fifth-graders in the first two years of implementation in the focal districts, this report focuses only on fifth-graders and provides an additional year of follow-up data. Key findings include: (1) In the districts that participated in the focal strategy, there were improvements in achievement during the years of the initiative, but these improvements were either similar to or only slightly greater than improvements in similar districts in the Bay Area that were not part of the focal strategy; (2) The evidence suggests that the BASRC focal strategy is not associated with substantial districtwide improvements in average elementary student achievement on state standards tests of reading; and (3) Although BASRC originally intended to support both districts and schools in a "bottom-up and top-down" approach, in practice the focal strategy primarily served district leadership, was not sustained at the school level, and, thus, typically did not lead to specific changes in instruction or specific instructional supports at the school and classroom levels. MDRC's evaluation of the BASRC focal strategy expands knowledge about how districts approach systemic reform. (Contains 6 tables and 13 figures.)
MDRC. 16 East 34th Street 19th Floor, New York, NY 10016-4326. Tel: 212-532-3200; Fax: 212-684-0832; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Grade 5
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Palo Alto, CA.
Authoring Institution: Manpower Demonstration Research Corp., New York, NY.
Identifiers - Location: California
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: California Achievement Tests; Stanford Achievement Tests
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A