Effective Schools Programs:

Their Extent and Characteristics

HRD-89-132BR: Published: Sep 13, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO conducted a national study of effective schools programs to provide information on program characteristics, focusing on: (1) the number of school districts with effective schools programs; (2) common program characteristics and practices; (3) how school districts evaluated program effects on student achievement; and (4) federal requirements for program evaluation.

GAO found that: (1) about 41 percent of the nation's school districts had effective schools programs, covering about 38,000 elementary and secondary schools during the 1987-1988 school year, and an additional 17 percent planned to implement effective schools programs during the next few school years; (2) about 27 percent of the school districts had programs that met certain program criteria for planning and monitoring programs and improving school effectiveness and an additional 13 percent of the districts evaluated their programs by disaggregating academic achievement data by student socioeconomic status or ethnicity; (3) about 53 percent of the programs operated in elementary schools, while about 20 percent of the programs operated in secondary schools; (4) effective schools programs were more likely to operate in large school districts, but operated at the same rate in urban and nonurban areas; (5) about half of the school districts with the programs required some or all of their schools to implement the programs, while the remaining programs were voluntary; (6) school districts frequently received external assistance for the programs from state education agencies, universities, federally-funded education laboratories, and other noneducation agencies; (7) about 64 percent of the districts with programs received external assistance, most often from state agencies; (8) about 83 percent of the districts used achievement tests to measure program effectiveness, 75 percent used such nontest measures as dropout and attendance rates, and 66 percent used both; and (9) only about 12 percent regularly disaggregated achievement test results by student socioeconomic status, and 9 percent by ethnicity, while 22 percent disaggregated nontest measures by sociooeconomic status, and about 29 percent by ethnicity.

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