COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL REFORM PROGRAM
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD,
YOUTH AND FAMILIES
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, JUNE 23, 1998
Serial No. 105-122
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education
and the Workforce
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS *
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE FRANK RIGGS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF GERALD TIROZZI, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; ACCOMPANIED BY WILLIAM KINCAID, PROJECT MANAGER FOR THE COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL REFORM DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, AND PIERCE HAMMOND, DIRECTOR OF OFFICE REFORM ASSISTANCE AND DISSEMINATION, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION *
STATEMENT OF E. D. HIRSCH, RESEARCHER, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA, PRESIDENT, CORE KNOWLEDGE FOUNDATION, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA *
STATEMENT OF JOHN ANDERSON, PRESIDENT, NEW AMERICAN SCHOOLS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA *
STATEMENT OF GLEN HARVEY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, WESTED, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF JACQUELINE AUSTIN, DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENT, JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY *
STATEMENT OF STEVE ROSS, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY AND RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE *
STATEMENT OF JOEY MERRILL, ASSISTANT HEAD, SCHOOL FOR THE COMMUNITY DAY CHARTER SCHOOL, LAWRENCE, MASSACHUSETTS *
STATEMENT OF IRWIN KURZ, PRINCIPAL, PUBLIC SCHOOL 161, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK *
APPENDIX A – WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE FRANK RIGGS *
APPENDIX B – WRITTEN STATEMENT OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY GERALD N. TIROZZI *
APPENDIX C – WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MR. E.D. HIRCSH, JR. *
*** Articles submitted by the Honorable David R. Obey are on file in the Majority Office of the Committee on Education & the Workforce, and may be obtained by calling 5-4527.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1:08 p.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Frank Riggs [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Riggs, Castle, Goodling, Peterson, Souder, Martinez, Roemer, Scott, Owens, and Tierney.
Staff present: Susan Firth, Professional Staff Member; Melanie Merola, Legislative Assistant; Kent Talbert, Professional Staff Member; Sally Lovejoy, Education Policy Advisor; Jay Diskey, Communications Director; Alex Nock, Professional Staff; Marci Phillips, Professional Staff; June Harris, Education Coordinator; and Roxane Foleser, Staff Assistant.
OF THE HONORABLE FRANK RIGGS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF
Chairman Riggs. [presiding] Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I call to order this hearing of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth, and Families, a subcommittee of the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
And the purpose of today's hearing is to conduct a fact-finding inquiry on a newly funded initiative, the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration program. The Comprehensive School Reform program was funded for the first time in the current fiscal year, the Federal Fiscal Year 1998, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill. The purpose of the program is ostensibly to provide incentives for schools to develop reform programs based on reliable research and effective practices with an emphasis on basic academics and parental involvement.
The appropriations bill provided $150 million for this program divided as follows: $120 million going to States based on the title I formula for school reform programs in title I schools, $25 million to States based on the school-age population, ages 5 through 17, in each State for school reform programs in any school, $5 million for the regional educational laboratories, and $1 million for the United States Department of Education to identify research-based approaches and to disseminate that information to States, school districts, and schools.
The Appropriations Conference Report stressed that school are not restricted to using only those approaches identified by the Department, but are free also to develop their own reform programs based on rigorous research and meeting certain criteria, including using proven methods for teaching and learning and providing high-quality teacher and staff training.
As one of the Members of Congress who was involved in preparing this language, and in the 11th-hour negotiations regarding this particular appropriation, I want to make clear that it is my intent that this program should be a resource for schools to implement a research-based design that meets the unique needs of their student bodies. Schools should not be required to adopt a one-size-fits-all model of reform. They should be free instead to adopt the curriculum portions of one model, the governance portions of another, or something developed entirely at the local level, as long as it fits with the criteria outlined in the statute.
We will hear from two panels this afternoon. One, the first panel, we will hear from the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Dr. Gerry Tirozzi. Assistant Secretary Tirozzi is a very familiar visitor to our committee, and we have enjoyed working with him over the past two years. On the second panel, we will hear from researchers and practitioners familiar with comprehensive school reform.
And I think I'm joined by my colleagues in saying we very much look forward to their testimony. And we'll just note for the record that our fact-finding hearing today apparently coincides with the subcommittee markup by the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee for Fiscal Year 1999 appropriations. So it would be my hope that perhaps we could confer with the appropriators regarding any decision that they intend to take with respect to this particular program in Fiscal Year 1990 based on the testimony and the advice and recommendations we receive from our witnesses today.
I now recognize the ranking member of the subcommittee, my good friend Congressman Martinez.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you. Mr Chairman, let me commend you for convening this hearing.
The most often discussed and debated issue here in Congress is school reform: how to achieve it, how to accomplish it, where it should be driven from, the local or federal level. Here is a program that is Federally instigated, but locally driven. I can't think of a better way to foster school reform.
Mr. Chairman, I applaud you for convening this hearing on the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program, which was authored by Congressman Obey and Porter in the Fiscal Year 1998 Appropriations Act. And I understand from your statement that you had a little to do with the final language on that, so I commend you also for that.
The program provides Federal seed money to schools to help them initiate, in cooperation with parents and teachers, comprehensive school reform. Schools may utilize existing reform models and tailor them to meet unique needs of their communities, or they may design their own approaches. Whatever their origins may be, these comprehensive reform efforts will be based on reliable research and effective practices.
We're honored that Assistant Secretary Tirozzi has joined us to speak about this national effort to support locally-designed and locally-driven school reform. We'll also hear about several of the school reform models currently in existence from the individuals who had a hand in designing them, as well as from those who have implemented at the local level. Ms. Jacqueline Austin, the Director of Curriculum and Assessments with the Jefferson County Public Schools, will provide us with her perspective as a former principal of a school that adopted a comprehensive reform strategy.
I look forward to the testimony of these witnesses and thank them for helping us understand the possibilities for success through this Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Martinez.
Chairman Goodling, do you have any opening statement you'd like to make?
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE WILLIAM GOODLING, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. Goodling. I just want to welcome the Assistant Secretary, and particularly Mary Jean sitting behind him. She and I have been at this business for a long, long time trying to bring about improvements.
One of the questions they had here on a list I noticed was: how is the Department identifying research-based approaches for school reform? And I just would add to that question, proven reliable, as we've been down this path of one-size-fits-all and silver bullets and you name it. It's gotten us into an awful lot of trouble. It reminds me of a little Dr. Spock, who 30-some years ago said, ``If you allow your children to do their own thing, they'll all grow up to be well-adjusted, mature adults.'' And 30-some years later he said, ``Boy, was that a mistake.'' Yes, that was three generations later of mistakes, and we've been doing that in education. I hope with this amount of money and with these efforts, we'll find out what really works, and see whether we can't improve education for all children.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Any other members seek recognition for the purposes of making an opening statement?
Hearing none, then we'll go right to Dr. Tirozzi.
As I mentioned in my opening statement, I feel that Dr. Tirozzi really doesn't need an introduction before this committee. And I know all of my colleagues have had a chance to work with him. As I mentioned, he is the Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education at the United States Department of Education. He's joined today by Mr. William Kincaid who is the Project Manager for the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration, and Pierce Hammond, the Director of Office Reform Assistance and Dissemination. I'm told that they are available to respond to questions but will not be making any statement.
Dr. Tirozzi will be discussing the Department's implementation of the school reform program and the role of OERI in reviewing locally-designed reform initiatives.
So again, Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here. Please proceed with your testimony.
Mr. Goodling. Mr. Kincaid came up during those Dr. Spock years, I believe, taking a look at him.
We'll have to see how we can judge him with his performance today.
Mr. Kincaid. But I think I've got you beat on the gray hair.
Chairman Riggs. I think that explains a lot.
STATEMENT OF GERALD TIROZZI, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; ACCOMPANIED BY WILLIAM KINCAID, PROJECT MANAGER FOR THE COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL REFORM DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, AND PIERCE HAMMOND, DIRECTOR OF OFFICE REFORM ASSISTANCE AND DISSEMINATION, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Mr. Tirozzi. Thank you, Mr. Riggs. Mr. Riggs, and, members of the committee, it's a pleasure to be here this afternoon, and I applaud you for calling this hearing. We're very excited about this program, and we welcome this opportunity to have this discussion with you.
Late last fall, as you know, Congress did in fact enact this legislation. And I guess I would suggest first, and by the way, you have a copy of my formal statement for the record. I'm just sort of going to talk directly to you. Last Fall, this program was enacted by Congress, and we feel it does represent a powerful, new opportunity for local communities to really make a difference in terms of addressing the issue we all want them to address: student achievement.
I think the key difference in this effort and a number of other things we've done at the Federal level, this does in fact call upon local school districts to utilize comprehensive research-based programs, not the program of the day or ``program de jure,'' as I like to say. And as Mr. Goodling and others have said, it's not, you know, one program or one-size-fits-all. The key is, I'm going to repeat this, comprehensive research-based programs. And the legislation does an excellent job of identifying nine criteria which help us to characterize what we mean by comprehensive and reform-based.
I should also note the legislation identifies 17 models which to varying degrees do in fact address the 9 criteria. And this very important point: the legislation also encourages local school districts to utilize locally developed programs. But, again, the significant difference is, while we support the local development, they, too, must ensure they have some type of research-based, some evidence of effectiveness before moving forward. They also must really point out the extent to which they address the nine elements which are identified in the legislation.
As Mr. Riggs said, the budget is $150 million. About 80 percent of that money goes to title I schools. Next year if our requested increases were funded, that would allow us to serve additional title I schools. The grant is structured in such a way that States apply to the Department. And we're interested in the model they're going to use, how they're going, the selection process, how they're going to evaluate their program, et cetera. I'm pleased to tell you that we've had a good reaction to the States, and I want to return to that in just a moment. The present appropriation, we feel, will allow the Department to provide funds to serve about 2,900 schools in the model this year. And if the increase we're recommending for next year, $30 million, is in fact appropriated, we can serve an additional 600 title I eligible schools, which I think is a significant move in one short year.
We have provided, I would suggest, very extensive guidance to States. It is non-regulatory, but it is broad guidance that in fact does give very good direction to States and districts as they move forward. We're really calling upon the State education agencies to provide technical assistance to districts. The regional laboratories play a major role. They are funded to do this, and also they have the capacity to provide technical assistance to States and districts. And our own comprehensive centers are involved, as well. So we think we have a model in place that will provide the assistance.
Also, I want to reference the Catalog of School Reform Models which OERI bore the responsibility for and which was developed by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory in cooperation with ECS, the Educational Commission for the States.
I think it's very clear, to spend a minute on that, and Pierce may want to add to this in a few moments, but this really put together in one document, a catalog, if you will, of comprehensive research-based models. There are 44 different models identified in that catalog. But the point to make clear is that if you read the catalog carefully, it looks at the nine elements, and then it really gives you a sense of how each of the programs does in fact address each of the elements. And you will see this with several of the programs, there are voids as you look across. This is not a Department of Education or an OERI recommendation for approved models. I want to make that clear. This is a case where we're trying to the extent possible to identify models that are on the playing field in terms of what these nine elements are. Some are much more powerful than others in terms of meeting the criteria. It is our goal in working with OERI and the regional lab. In the fall, it is my understanding, there will be another copy of the catalog or an addendum to the catalog which will identify other programs which come forward and which in turn feel they do meet the criteria.
I also represent to you, very quickly, that interest has been very intense across the country regarding this program. There have been State and regional conferences conducted. The model developers are rapidly moving forward to build their capacity. And I think you know, New American Schools is also being funded to develop capacity. Eighteen States have already submitted applications. And this is very, very good when you consider we only sent the initial application out, I guess it was in the early spring, and we've already reviewed about 11 of these. And today, as a matter of fact, just coincidentally, we're announcing the first seven grants to States. We have a high level of optimism that all of the States will be coming in by the early Fall.
We have a very formal evaluation plan in place that will look at student achievement over time, over the three years. And I should have mentioned earlier, each grant is worth three years and a minimum grant of $50,000 per school, which I think is important.
July 1 and 2, next week, we're having a national conference here in Washington, a national summit. About 200 to 300 will be here representing each of the 50 States, again, tremendous interest in coming to Washington to discuss this.
I guess I want to just conclude on a particular point. I know you have a number of questions. I think this is the type of a program, if I may use the word, it's like an incubator program. We start it; we look at it. It's a demonstration project. But I think it does have the potential to point the way for more effective use of our Federal dollars, then in particular may have some real potential in looking at title I, the reauthorization. It has some real potential in title I for how school-wide dollars are spent.
And please keep in mind that we have 25,000 eligible high-poverty schools in America. And in one year, we've gone from approximately 10,000 school-wide programs to 15,000 school-wide programs. So this is becoming the huge initiative across the country, in the extent to which we can use research-based comprehensive programs we feel will make a difference.
So, I do want to commend the Congress for passing this legislation. It's very early in the game, but we think with the interest that has been stimulated and the cooperation we're having, of course, with OERI, and the labs, and others to promote this, we have every expectation that we have hit a real powerful nerve here that would improve student achievement across this country.
I think I'll stop at that point and see if you have any questions.
Mr. Hansen. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I'm sure we do.
The first one that comes to mind is, since it's taken a while to get this money which we authorized and appropriated last fall, and I guess which actually became available to the Department at the beginning of the current Federal Fiscal Year, October 1, into the pipeline, and it's going to take even longer to get the money to the field, why do you think an additional $30 million dollar increase is warranted in the next appropriations budget cycle?
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, I think the interest level has been so intense on the part of the States and on the part of the districts. And in talking to several of the developers, I mean phones in some cases ringing off the hook with people wanting to ask more questions about the various models and initiatives. The fact that we see it has, I think it has great potential for the school-wides, as I said earlier. And so many districts across America are moving towards school-wides that, you know, just moving the paradigm, if you will, from 2,900 schools to 3,500 schools, we just think, you know, could make sense.
And I'd rather be in the position where we're asking for the dollars, we know the interest is there, rather than let a year go by and say no to ``X'' number of schools that were ready to go because we didn't have the wherewithal. And arguably, I mean $30 million is a lot of money in the context of we spend $8 billion in title I alone. We just think it's a wise investment. It's still a form of venture capital, if I may borrow from the business ``financula.''
Chairman Riggs. How many of the title I schools that meet the school-wide poverty criteria have applied for this funding? Do you have any way of knowing that?
Mr. Tirozzi. Actually, we couldn't really answer that question now because we're just approving seven States today. Now, the States in turn will compete these dollars at the local level. But keep in mind 80 percent of the schools served will be title I schools. It would be my personal opinion that probably a very high percentage of that 80 percent will be title I school-wide programs, probably 90 percent.
Chairman Riggs. And if that's the case, the school-wide programs have even more flexibility under Federal law to, if you will, sort of commingle their money to leverage?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. Do you think that we should look at perhaps expanding that? Allowing more title I schools that same sort of flexibility as afforded schools that currently qualify as school-wide?
Mr. Tirozzi. I think the present formula we're using this year, it's the final year, we're at the 50 percent poverty level to be eligible to be a title I school. I think once you go much lower than the 50 percent, you're getting down to 43, I mean ultimately, I guess if you carry it out to the ``nth,'' you could say all title I schools could be school-wides. But if you end up with schools that are serving 10, 15, 20, 25 percent of the students in title I, to make it a school-wide, I think you have to understand that a significant percentage of your money is then going to really go to non-title I eligible kids, whereas at 50 percent and above, you really are ensuring that you're targeting the dollars to where we know we have the major problems.
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Secretary, do you see any way that these monies can be used to leverage other reforms in public education that you, the Department, and the Clinton administration are promoting such as charter school reforms? And I believe you've submitted an ed-flex proposal to Congress seeking more regulatory flexibility and more regulatory waivers for local schools from Federal rules and regulations?
Mr. Tirozzi. I mean, specifically, the charter schools-my answer will be, yes, I think it does allow us to move in other areas. It is my understanding that charter schools are looking seriously at submitting their own proposals under this law. They should be implementing research-based comprehensive programs based around the circumstances for which they, in turn, were created. So I think the movement toward flexibility_this administration_I think you know this: With the waiver board we now have, 12 States have ed-flex status. We have a proposal before you to look at all States having ed-flex status, again, trying to give States flexibility. I think it's interesting when you give flexibility at the same time as you've got a model coming along that calls for research-based comprehensive programs, I think you have a greater potential for accountability down the road.
Chairman Riggs. I'm going to ask you two other questions. One is: what is the Department doing to encourage local school districts to develop their own models or school-wide reform, based on their local needs?
I'm thinking that perhaps Mr. Kincaid or Mr. Hammond can respond to one or both of these questions.
And the second is to elaborate on the role of OERI and the regional labs in implementing this particular program.
Mr. Kincaid. On your first question, one of the most important things that we've done is to emphasize in our program guidance that locally-developed approaches are acceptable within the context of the program as long as they address the nine criteria, including those for having a strong research basis. And we have, in fact, provided an example of the way that that could come about, because we do think that's important. And in our interactions with States and local school districts, we've continued to emphasize that. Also, in the review process, as we look at State education agency applications for the program, that's one thing that we look at to make sure that they are providing room for truly comprehensive research-based approaches that may be locally developed.
Mr. Hansen. Okay.
Mr. Hammond. The regional labs have consulted, as they always do, with the State departments of education and others in their regions about their applications to the Department. They've held a series of meetings to try to understand the needs of the States and to explicate what the program is about to make sure that they're understood, that to provide technical assistance in putting the applications together. They produced a catalog; I brought five copies with me; if you'd like them, you're welcome to have them.
Chairman Riggs. Absolutely.
Mr. Hammond. This is the catalog that Dr. Tirozzi referred to that discusses, presents, information about 44 programs including the 17, but in addition some others. I might say this is also available through the World Wide Web.
They have developed hotlines that are available so that people from State departments and then ultimately people from school districts can be in touch with them.
They have produced video tapes that can be made available more broadly for people who aren't able to get to meetings that they've held in their regions and their States, so they can investigate the models that are available. They aren't available for all models yet, but they are developing them so that eventually all 17 will be covered.
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Tirozzi, let me also ask you, while we're on the subject of budget proposals and budget requests, how much has the administration requested for Federal charter school grants?
Mr. Tirozzi. This year, I believe it's $120 million. Is that correct? $120 million.
Chairman Riggs. Does that represent an increase over the current?
Mr. Tirozzi. Twenty million.
Chairman Riggs. Twenty million increase?
Mr. Tirozzi. It's a $20 million dollar increase.
Chairman Riggs. Because the current fiscal year appropriation is $100 million?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. Well, I'll defer my other question until hopefully the opportunity to go to a second round.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Here again, the funding that we're providing for school reform is targeted at title I schools, and there are a lot more schools in the United States than just the title I school.
Mr. Tirozzi. Absolutely.
Mr. Martinez. And you know, so we don't get confused, that we're providing the panacea for all school reform out there. I would like to point out that there are other school districts that have, prior to that law that we passed, provided for school reform. There is one in Memphis that started school reform in, I believe, 1995-96, before this law was passed. And they seem to have gotten results back already that show that the whole-school reform program has actually improved the students' scores and that they're doing a lot better. And where a lot of that evidence was anecdotal before, they now have studies that show the results. From knowing that, with the Federal monies only reaching a percentage of title I schools, don't you feel that the programs, as they become more successful on a local level_
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Martinez. _are going to be encouraging others to develop the same programs?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes. As I guess I tried to say earlier, my point of view would be that if this effort is successful, and I firmly believe it is going to be, I think it is going to cause States and local school districts to look at all of their own dollars as well as the Federal dollars. I mean, candidly, if you find certain schools moving ahead very well because they are involved in research-based comprehensive programs and other schools continue to lag behind, I think some very serious questions are going to be asked about why States and districts aren't moving in the same direction, you know. And I think one of the stimuli, if you will, for this program is if you look at the success of some of the New American Schools models over the last several years, yet you wonder why more school district aren't jumping on board. And I think what we're trying to say in the legislation and what we're trying to do and implement it, is to really put forth the kinds of models that hopefully can make a difference with the understanding that local school districts make the decision, not the Federal Government. But there's accountability built into the system.
Mr. Martinez. And that's why I like this program. It's Federally instigated, but it's locally driven.
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Martinez. And as it is more successful, it will drive others in the local area to develop the same kinds of programs.
As we look towards the reauthorization of this program, can you sum up kind of what the lessons are that we learned from this comprehensive school reform program that will give us the kind of impetus we need to put as we move towards that reauthorization of the Elementary and the Secondary Education Act?
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, one of the problems will be, we are, as you probably know, beginning the process right now of reauthorization. And believe it or not, next January or February, we will have a bill up here on the reauthorization of the Comprehensive School Reform Design Model will only have been in place from September through January. I think the interest that has been stimulated, the kind of research that's being done, the evaluation, the designs that are developing, all of that can influence our thinking. But I really can't stand before you and say the evaluation of this program, in and of itself, I mean, can drive that engine. It just would be too early, But I think we'll learn a lot of very valuable lessons.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Martinez.
Chairman Goodling, do you have any questions?
Mr. Goodling. Secretary, I just want to indicate you don't know how much it warms my heart when I hear the word flexibility.
For 20 years, I would say, you know, if we gave the local districts an opportunity to be creative and innovative, they might even make some of our poorly thought-out programs work. So I'm happy to hear that word. I even hear it in the Congress occasionally now, when we're on the Floor of the House. Things are improving.
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Chairman, if you would yield to me, while you're here, I want to ask Secretary Tirozzi one very blunt question. And that is whether the Department is going to show any preference in reviewing the grant applications from States, or for that matter local school districts, that have indicated their support for the administration's proposed, quote, unquote, ``voluntary national tests?''
Mr. Tirozzi. No.
There's no reference whatsoever; no.
Chairman Riggs. Well, I'm only being a little bit facetious because I see that one of the criteria is having measurable student performance goals. How does the Department determine whether a State working with local school districts has measurable student performance goals?
Mr. Tirozzi. Bill, you want to talk about what you're reviewing?
Mr. Kincaid. One thing to keep in mind is that what we're really reviewing in these applications is what the State plans to do in terms of its competition, how it's going to operate its competition, what it plans to do in terms of technical assistance and dissemination, and what it plans to do in terms of evaluation. So we're really reviewing that in terms of how it's going to ensure quality in those areas. We're not reviewing the States' standards and assessments system or what kind of testing regime that they have. We do encourage States to link this effort with what they're doing more broadly in their standards and accountability effort because we think that that's important. But what the focus is on is what the State is doing in terms of its standards and testing and how this program is being used to help further reform, given that.
Mr. Goodling. Will the gentleman yield back from my time?
Chairman Riggs. Yes, absolutely.
Mr. Goodling. I just want to make sure we get the message_
Chairman Riggs. The chairman reclaims his time.
Mr. Goodling. _taken back down downtown. There isn’t going to be one test, a national test?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. That's why, if the chairman will allow me to use his time here for just a moment, I was curious, because it seems to me that the Department has really embraced this program, is proposing additional appropriations for this program, is acknowledging that one of the criteria must be measurable student performance goals, but is at the same time stressing that those goals be developed in a bottom-up type of fashion, and in such a fashion as to provide maximum flexibility for States and local school districts in setting those goals. That's correct?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. All right. Thank you.
Congressman Roemer is recognized.
Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I, too, want to welcome in the chorus of your high qualifications and high marks for working with me and with other Members of Congress, Dr. Tirozzi. It's nice to have you back before the committee. And we look forward to continuing the good working relationship that we've established on other issues.
Let me ask you a couple of quick questions. In terms of the regulatory relief bill for other schools, when do you intend to come up with that, or introduce that, or work with Congress on that?
Mr. Tirozzi. You are speaking to ed-flex?
Mr. Roemer. Yes.
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes. And Mr. Riggs mentioned this earlier, and I correct myself. We have not officially sent up a bill yet to Congress. We are working on a bill. I know the Republican Congress has a bill of its own. I can't give you an exact answer because that's really the Secretary's call. But I know one of the strong debates we're having on it, we promote ed-flex. We think it's great; we have it in 12 States. If we go to 50 States, the strongest question I would give to Congress in whatever version is enacted if it is enacted, is somehow someway while we all should applaud flexibility, and I do, we really have to figure out a way to have accountability at the same time. It can't just be a giveaway kind of a program. You know, you give dollars, but you have to get something back in return. And that something really is accountability, and ideally, for student achievement. If Mr. Goodling could_I thought he was rather blunt and direct on his point on national testing.
I want to make the point. I mean that's a concern I have, and I know this is not the forum for it. But you know, when you look at block grants, I mean there really is very little if any accountability I can find, you know, for block granting dollars. So I would hope that we can work in a very cooperative way if we're going to move toward more flexibility for States and districts to, yes, promote it. The Department is promoting it; Congress wants it, but I think we need to figure out how we can make it accountable at the same time, because otherwise I can't stand before you in a year and tell you what it did.
Mr. Roemer. Well, Dr. Tirozzi, I think you and I probably would agree on the goals that we would like to achieve with the Secretary and the President on accountability and flexibility. The Republican bill may differ significantly from what you want to achieve, but if the Democrats have no alternative, if there is not an ed-flex bill for us to work on, then we have to work off the Republican bill in a bipartisan fashion. And if it is not bi-partisan, then oppose that. But certainly the goals that you and I might share on an issue like this, could very well correspond to some of the things we've done together on charters schools and other types of issues_
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Roemer. _in education. So I would strongly encourage you to continue to work on a ed-flex bill that you can send up and have some Democrats take the lead on, and work in a bipartisan way with Republicans.
My second question would be with respect to, the implications of this whole school reform on schools in the title I program?
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, I think it's a very good question. We've been talking about it internally, as I tried to say earlier. I think it's premature, I mean to really talk specifically about the impact. But my own sense is, if you look at the design of this program and the fact that it is looking at research-based comprehensive models, and we're trying to impact on school-wide efforts. It would definitely seem to me, as we move out into a new reauthorization phase or next wave, if you will, of title I, somehow, someway I believe firmly that this legislation is going to impact on title I. But I can't be as specific as I would want to at this point until we see how this one plays out for awhile.
Mr. Roemer. I'd be very anxious to see what your internal discussions are at this point, since 80 percent of the grants, I believe, are targeted_
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Roemer. _title I schools.
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Roemer. We certainly want to see what impact this does have, measure that, and have the accountability, but also have some goals that we want to achieve as well, too, with the accountability and flexibility.
Finally, in terms of the statistics you've cited on awards and grants. You said that 18 States have applied?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Roemer. And you've announced, as of today, seven?
Mr. Tirozzi. Eighteen have applied; eleven have been formally reviewed. The process of review takes approximately 45 days; that's from the day the application is received, reviewed. Then we put together a peer review committee, bring people in from across the country. They review the application. We're on a very fast time line with the States, and I think they're really appreciative of what we've done, and Bill's worked very hard at this. Today, we're announcing seven grants. I think over the next month or so, we'll be announcing a number of others. In the other States, in fairness, they have to get their own act together and submit the applications. But we're moving them very quickly.
Mr. Roemer. Do you expect to announce more based upon more applications coming in and not reviewing the remaining? You've awarded 7, so you still_these 11 that did not get grants will not_
Mr. Tirozzi. No. No, I'm sorry. I didn't explain that correctly. We've received 18.
Mr. Roemer. Right.
Mr. Tirozzi. We've reviewed 11; 7 will be announced today. The other four are in what I would call final consideration.
Mr. Roemer. So they have not been excluded?
Mr. Tirozzi. No; absolutely not.
Mr. Roemer. Have the 7 from 18 going down to the 11 been excluded?
Mr. Tirozzi. No.
Bill, you want to explain?
Mr. Kincaid. Maybe I should clarify just what the review process is. We have a process where we bring together a group of experts in education reform, typically from other State Education agencies, local principals, superintendents, and others who are knowledgeable about school reform, and bring them together to review the State education agency's application for how it plans to operate the program. And both, to make a recommendation to the Department on whether the legislative criteria have been met, but also to provide constructive feedback to the State to help it operate its programs in the most effective way possible. And this is something that I think the States have found to be useful. So, where things stand is that we have received officially 18 applications; 11 of those have been through that formal review process; another 5 are scheduled to go through that process later this week. Of that number that has been through that peer review, the seven are the ones that are to the point where they can be approved.
And so at this point, generally speaking, it's not a matter of if it can't be approved or not, it would be maybe there's some more information that's needed or something like that. So, that's the way it's been working.
Mr. Roemer. Thank you.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Roemer.
Congressman Castle is recognized.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I missed the beginning of this, so I'm sort of picking it up. But I mentioned something, Dr. Tirozzi, that you've not mentioned here. And I suspect that maybe it's not a subject of any of the applications which you have. But it is part of the Comprehensive School Reform program, and it's mentioned in your testimony a little bit. And that's the whole concept of teaching. You know, you stated in here you recognize the potential for the wider use of comprehensive research-based models for school reform to help strengthen teaching. And then it says, ``provides high-quality continuous teacher and staff professional development and training.'' All that's well and good. That's taking the teaching staff that we have. Is anyone coming to you with any different concepts or approaches of how to bring teachers into their particular schools? Are any of the school districts basing any of their applications on that? Or are you looking for that at all?
Mr. Tirozzi. Well first, we don't really see the individual school applications.
Mr. Castle. Right. Well, you're right.
Mr. Tirozzi. Those are the applications the States review.
Mr. Castle. I understand.
Mr. Tirozzi. But when you look at the nine elements carefully_
Mr. Castle. I've mis-spoken that_
Mr. Tirozzi. When you look at the nine elements or the nine criteria, one does talk about you do need a faculty buy-in, if you will, to the model, whichever model is selected. And having been involved myself at a school district level and working through some different models or magnet schools, if you will, you know if there are teachers who really don't want to try a particular model, and you know, the rest of the faculty does, it almost has its own sorting out process, it's been my experience. But it takes a period of time.
The other thing it calls for in one of the elements of comprehensive research-based is on-going, sustained professional development of faculty. As I look at some of these models, and as I look at the success of certain of them, and you know without naming a number, success for all would be an example. With the schools where that model's in place, it is proving that it does transform a faculty and how they think about teaching learning, and how the model interacts with their own teaching styles. So I think there are a number of lessons we are learning and will continue to learn.
And if I may, I don't know if Pierce, do you have anything you'd like to add from the OER research perspective?
Mr. Hammond. I think you've covered it well. Thank you.
Mr. Castle. I appreciate your answer, and I think that's very important. And I think it's a very important thing to focus on. I've always been a believer that ultimately gets down to the classroom and the teachers_
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Castle. _the teacher and the teacher aid. But my question is really more of the selection of teachers and the whole comprehensive teacher process, not the reform of what we do once they are teachers with the training. All that's needed_
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Castle. _don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to give that short trip. But I just think, I mean the more I'm reading, the more I'm looking at this, I just think we're on the borderline of a crisis with respect to teachers, in terms of retirements coming up. We have teachers that don't look like the people that are teaching anymore in terms of gender, and color, and various other aspects. We know we have the problems with those that didn't major in the various subjects which are there. We're not doing much to attract anyone who didn't go through teaching universities and colleges. And it just seems to me that we've really got to wrestle with this. And I was just wondering if, in this program, anybody is looking at that at all? I suspect the answer is no. And if the answer is no, if you have any thoughts on that, I'd love to hear those as well. I just think it's becoming a major problem in education.
Mr. Tirozzi. I think there's a ``yes'' in the answer with this, but I'm guessing it's going to take some time to play out. I think what it's going to do is, as schools develop these models and put them in place with a strong teacher buy-in and a commitment to do things differently, it's going to change teaching styles. It's going to change curriculum; it's going to change program. That, in and of itself, may be a significant catalyst throughout a district, I mean, to do some things very differently. And candidly, if I were a superintendent right now, and you're trying some of these models and they're making a difference, I mean, over time. You know, I use a metaphor that, you know, we celebrate all of our little victory gardens and we never get to amber waves of grain. That's my metaphor. But the metaphor is, a good superintendent is going to look at why it's working in two or three schools and ask the serious question, ``Why can't I do this in all my schools?'' I mean, develop these kind of models, which part of that is going to be the quality of the teachers.
I think you're asking a broader question which I_
Mr. Castle. I am.
Mr. Tirozzi. _really understand and support. You know, we're going to need 2 million teachers over the next ten years. And in this country, whenever we've had potential teacher shortages, we tend to lower standards, not raise standards. That's a real concern I have. But a major onus there is on the States, because the States approve teacher preparation programs; the States really decide whether or not they want to provide additional dollars for salaries. They raise standards for the profession. And I know a number of States that have done that extremely well. They've raised standards, they've raised salaries. I came from one, Connecticut. And I think if States get involved, and I'm not going to suggest taking this more seriously, because they do take it seriously. But I think legislatures, governors, and chief State school officers really have to shape a lot of leadership in terms of how we're going to shape what's happening in teacher ed in States.
Mr. Castle. Well, I'll close by just saying I don't totally disagree with you, but I don't think that the States have shown a lot of imagination in how to approach the profession of teaching. And I am not sure, I mean it's funny that we would argue, or maybe the Department of Education would argue, we need national testing. And I don't feel as strongly about that as the chairman, but don't tell him that.
Maybe it's not an all bad program. But you know, to say that we want national testing but, ``Gee, it's the States responsibility and teachers.'' I mean I think it is a national question; I think it's a national responsibility. I mean I think the greatest function of the Department of Education is to use the bully pulpit to really shape education out there. And I just think we need to be a lot more articulate and to be a lot more expressive about teachers. I mean my own judgment is that good teachers should be paid more; poor teachers should be dismissed more rapidly. There should be legal protections with respect to that. We ought to make it a profession which will attract more people than we have today. Not because we have bad teachers, I'm not trying to suggest that. But we're going to lose a lot of teachers, and we need to replace them with good teachers, and if possible, even better teachers.
So I just hope all of us could address teaching. So that's sort of where I'm coming from.
Mr. Tirozzi. And there are a number of initiatives embedded in the reauthorization of higher education which can have an impact on improving teaching, but even having said that, and those are very good proposals, ultimately when you look at the magnitude of the issue I agree with you. I mean there has to be a national priority, but I think States have to get their arms around this.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Castle.
Congressman Scott is recognized.
Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, all States are eligible to apply; is that right?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Scott. And only 18 have applied so far?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Scott. Are you expecting applications from most of the others?
Mr. Tirozzi. I would say all 50.
Mr. Scott. Even Virginia?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Scott. That slipped out.
Mr. Tirozzi. It's already been received.
Mr. Scott. The applications that you are reviewing, does the application include the program for each school, or just the State's proposal on how they're going to administer the funds?
Mr. Tirozzi. Bill?
Mr. Kincaid. The application outlines how the State is going to run its sub-grant competition, the criteria that it intends to use, how it's going to ensure that any particular local proposal that's funded meets the nine criteria in the legislation and has the strong research basis.
It is really about how you run the competition and then beyond that, how to provide technical assistance and disseminate information about available school reform approaches, and then finally how the State is going to evaluate the effectiveness of this program and at the local projects. So we don't get information about particular schools; all we receive is information about the State, when it makes the awards, it will provide information to the Department about the particular school selected and what kinds of approaches they're going to pursue. But that's after awards have been made.
Mr. Scott. And you don't expect to second guess those decisions?
Mr. Tirozzi. Okay. No, sir.
Mr. Scott. The $50,000 a year minimum, is that $50,000 a year or $50,000 divided over three years?
Mr. Tirozzi. Per year.
Mr. Scott. What is the average amount? Do you have any idea what the average amount of the grant will be?
Mr. Kincaid. At this_
Mr. Scott. What a typical grant might be?
Mr. Kincaid. At this point, it has ranged. Some States in their applications, and of course it's early, have indicated that they expect to provide, to stick with the $50,000 minimum for any school. Some States intend to go with the range, maybe $50,000 to $75,000 or $50,000 to $100,000 per year. So it varies, and I don't think we could have an average yet. That is per year for up to three years if this school is making substantial progress in its reform effort.
Mr. Scott. Is that up to three years?
Mr. Kincaid. That's right, the total.
Mr. Scott. It may be too early to know this, but many of the kind of things you can think of on your opening statement, you have nine things that the program has to do, many of those can be done without money. I mean it is supported by school, faculty, administrators, and staff, includes a plan and things like that. What do you expect them to do with the money?
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, essentially, some of the models that would be adopted, there would be a need for technical assistance with the staff. I mean a lot of professional development would have to go on. In some cases, it would involve new and different materials that would have to be used. In fairness, if you're going to bring in some of the external models in particular, I mean those folks really, you know, have to come in and work with your faculty. Quite a bit of the money would go there for technical assistance, training, professional development, those are the keys, curriculum.
Mr. Scott. Computers?
Mr. Tirozzi. Computers, sure.
Mr. Scott. You've emphasized, and I congratulate you on emphasizing the importance that whatever you're doing is research-based. A lot of the programs sound good, but don't have any basis in reality. Are you requiring anything specific in terms of what researched-based means?
Mr. Tirozzi. Pierce, you want to talk a little bit?
Mr. Hammond. The booklet has several categories that are looked at for research-based, and particularly how it affects student achievement.
Mr. Scott. I mean is there a finite amount of research which may limit you in terms of what your options are? I mean is there_
Mr. Hammond. They have to show that it's been effective in more than one place so that this is something that has the possibility of being spread to a variety of schools.
Mr. Tirozzi. Has it worked in other places? Can it be replicated in other places? I mean those are the kinds of questions that are being asked in terms of_
Mr. Scott. Does it have to be peer reviewed, for example?
Mr. Hammond. Does the research have to be peer reviewed?
Mr. Scott. Right. Is there any requirement that research-based_
Mr. Hammond. External research, that is correct.
Mr. Tirozzi. Bill, wants to add to this. I'm sorry.
Mr. Kincaid. The way that we have addressed this in terms of the program is that in our non-regulatory guidance that we have shared with the States, we have included a suggested framework that States, and districts, and schools may wish to use in evaluating particular programs in terms of their evidence of effectiveness. It encourages questions about the research basis for the program. What kinds of evidence exist for improvements in student achievement based on evaluation? What does it take to implement a particular program in a school? And has that approach been replicated in other schools?
The approach that we encourage is to ask questions that indicate how rigorous the evidence is in those four areas. So the more, for example, in terms of evidence of student achievement, if you have an approach that has had sustained gains for a lengthy period of time, then that approach would be stronger in terms of its research basis than an approach that only has been implemented and shown gains for a couple of schools for a short period of time.
Those are the kinds of questions that we have encouraged. And that's the kind of approach that we've encouraged is to ask for any particular approach that's proposed, how does it stack up in those areas? That's the way to encourage rigor.
Mr. Scott. Is peer review part of that process? That research that has been peer reviewed?
Mr. Kincaid. Our guidance doesn't address whether the research itself has been peer reviewed. The process that States have for considering applications, that process is a peer review process where they consider local applications and how they stack up in these areas. In our guidance, we do focus on the more rigorous the background for the research. But we don't get into that exact type of question. It's more, have gains been shown?
Mr. Scott. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The questions was really, do they have any guidance on evaluating the_
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Scott. _strength of the research, and apparently they do.
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Kincaid. Most definitely.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Scott.
Congressman Peterson is recognized.
Mr. Peterson. Thank you.
I had an interesting meeting a couple of weeks ago, and I was a little taken back. I met with about 15 retired teachers who had just recently retired, many of whom I had worked with in State government over the years. They were mostly union leaders, stewards, been active in the union, and we'd had meetings for years. But this was the first time I'd met with them as retired teachers. And they had a message that kind of took me back. And they said, ``You know, there's problems with education that need to be dealt with.'' And he said, ``Forget testing. We know where we're at. Forget new concepts, gimmicks, new systems.'' It said, ``Until teachers have the right to take control of the classroom, we can't teach effectively.'' It said, ``Students' rights, State and Federal mandates have taken away the control of the classroom for teachers. And unless they have control, and have discipline, and respect, they can't effectively teach.'' And they said, ``Americans education will continue to decline until the teacher once again has control of the classroom, and can discipline, and demand respect of students.'' Now that was their message to me. They said it was pretty simple. Forget all this other stuff. It won't work until we have control of the classroom. And I'd just be interested in your comments.
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, again going back to research, there's a wide body of research that tells us it is important to have a safe and orderly school and in an environment that is conducive to learning. And they mean part of that environment, of course, is a well-disciplined environment. And of course, I mean that's something we absolutely want in our schools. I think what has happened though over the last whatever, 20, 25 years, I think in fairness we've had a breakdown in a number of societal values. The American family has changed dramatically, and I think we have to respect the reality that schools are a microcosm of society. I mean, those problems don't stay outside; they come in. And I think in fairness to teachers, they've had to confront all types of different issues and problems.
And I think we also went through a period of time when, for a variety of reasons, we fell into a trap, because we were trying to excuse away student achievement because of all these external variables. We continue to lower the bar for learning, which exacerbated the situation.
So on the one hand, I'm saying we raise standards, we talk about accountability, we look at success from them; I think that's all part of the answer. I think we make teaching a profession that, as was talked about earlier. But at the same time, this Nation has to get its arms around what some of the problems are that are in society and community. Problems of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, all of this generate problems for kids when they come to school. And I think most of us know, I mean the climate has changed dramatically over the last 15 or 20 years.
Mr. Peterson. How do we, I mean they just begged for the ability to discipline. They claim they can't discipline today. The system is gone; the students' rights have overtaken teachers' and educators' rights to control the classroom. And I think we can all agree, if kids are going to run the classroom, there is going to be chaos there. I mean that's kids nature. We were kids; we created chaos every time we got a chance and could get away with it. But somehow, somebody_and I reminded them. And I said to them, ``You know, I feel a little bit, as Member of Congress now, where we are far less controlled than when I was in State government for 19 years.'' I said, ``In the 19 years we worked together, you never asked me about discipline. I brought it up sometimes, but you never asked me. Now suddenly as you've left and you've had a chance.'' I think part of it, they had a chance to reflect for a year or two of what they walked away from when they quit teaching, and what had changed. And they were united in one message, ``We've lost control of the classroom.'' And they said, ``Do nothing else until you give teachers the right to control the classroom.'' And so, I think we're still talking about all the fringes use, and I haven't heard any meaningful discussion of, how do teachers get the right to control the classroom and not have other outside groups giving students more rights than the teachers and administrators have to control that classroom.
Mr. Tirozzi. Part of the answer I would give, and I do not know any of these 15 teachers, of course. And I'm going to make the assumption they're all very good teachers. Personally, it's been my experience that even though arguably, I mean, students may have a few rights that some people have questioned, at the same time, I mean I think we have to respect the fact they have rights. But also it's been my experience that when a teacher really knows his or her subject well, is a good teacher, and is fair with students, and they respect that teacher for being fair. And I've been in some of the most difficult schools in America and seen this, where you could have chaos in one hallway and wonderful education going on at the other end of the hall.
I think it deals with the background of that teacher. I think it deals with his or her professionalism, ability to teach the subject. So, I guess I'm trying to make the point that if we really have, I mean, the type of professional staff we want in all of our schools, we can do exactly what you're suggesting. At the same time, there are some issues that society has to look at.
To carry this, I mean even a step further than you may want to carry it, I mean these violent incidents we've had in schools of late. I mean, schools don't hand out weapons. I mean if parents are leaving weapons unattended as Secretary Riley will say, ``guns and unsupervised youngsters don't go together.'' It doesn't work. I mean we have to address that. We have kids growing up as latch-key kids with no meaningful conversation with their parents taking place. That, again, in not an issue schools alone can address.
So we need to get our arms of the Nation around some of these problems and really be aggressive about it.
Mr. Peterson. But it seems like with the type of student that the schools have to deal with today, the discipline that used to be there, needs to be more there, not less. We've walked away from discipline. They claim we have tied their hands and as they reflect back, they realize the last five or six years that they taught, that their hands were tied. They couldn't control the classroom any longer. And they had to put up with so many things that they would have never stood for in their first 10 years of teaching or 15 years of teaching because the system said it was okay. And so they were blaming the system. And I critiqued them; I said, ``You never came to me as a State Senator and said, `Help us get discipline back in the classroom.' Now, as you're reflecting back.'' But I think they had a good message. I mean I think they gave me a message several weeks ago that we better think about. And I don't have an answer. I guess I'm looking at you professionals, because their theory is all the studies in the world and all the new concepts in the world will not work if you don't have order in the classroom.
Mr. Tirozzi. And I think at some point it would be great if we could get some examples of what they mean. I'd be happy to look at them personally. But I'm just trying to make the point, I think if you're a competent teacher, you know your subject material, you treat children fairly, discipline can improve dramatically. And I'm not suggesting any of your 15 fall in that category. I'm simply saying if you don't know your subject matter, you're not a good teacher, it's very easy to lose control because everyone is, quote, unquote ``bored'' if you will and people are going to act out. So I think without having some very concrete examples it's very hard, I mean, to specifically address your question.
Mr. Peterson. Well, I'll share some specifics with you.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Peterson.
Congressman Owens is recognized.
Mr. Owens. Mr. Chairman, I won't take my full five minutes because I'm familiar with the program. And I want to congratulate the Secretary and the staff at OERI for speedy and effective implementation of the program. And I say that although I was a critic of the program when it was first initiated by the Appropriations Committee, I didn't care for the fact that the Appropriations Committee was writing education legislation. But I have to concede and apologize to the Appropriations Committee; they have a winner here, and I think you've implemented and started it very well. And we look for a successful outcome in the long range.
I want to take a little bit of my time, Mr. Chairman, to welcome Mr. Irwin Kurz who is one of your panel members. You have a rather large panel coming up, and I'll be in and out, but I hope to be here to hear Mr. Kurz, who is the principal of Public School 161 in Brooklyn, in my district. And a lot of laudatory things have been said and written about Public 161, and I want you to know that none of them are exaggerations. It is a great school; it's a public school. It operates on a considerable amount of adversity in that it was built I think for about 500 children, and its twice that many in it almost. They have to start eating lunch very early in the morning in order to go through all the cycles in the cafeteria. And they have a coal-burning furnace.
I had some visitors from the school in my office recently, and I told them that they're number one despite it all. No matter what happens, they're determined to overcome, and they are overcoming all the adversity.
But I would like for us, as Members of Congress, and as adults, and as citizens of the United States with a surplus coming up to think about these wonderful children who are learning so well, having problems later on in life because they're in a school with a coal-burning furnace. And a coal-burning furnace is inevitably going to leave some problems. I owned a house once with a coal-burning furnace, and I know that, no matter how you try to attend to the filters, et cetera, a lot of coal dust gets through. If a child sits in a school for six years, eight years, that has a coal-burning furnace, they're going to pick up some of that coal dust in their lungs.
So, it's just one example of how, despite the failure of the public policy making which leaves them with coal-burning furnaces, and we have about 300 schools out of 1,100 in New York City that have coal-burning furnaces, and leaves them with schools that are overcrowded to the point where they have to have lunch too early and too late. Despite all this, here's a public school which excels.
The children in the school also qualify for the school lunches, I think more than 90 percent, so it's poor children in a poor neighborhood, and they excel. And it's an example of what you can do if you have faith in public schools and apply certain kinds of things. And I'm sure that more of that will come out when Mr. Kurz testifies. And I will be back for that testimony.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you.
Mr. Martinez. Will the gentleman yield the balance of his time to me, please?
Mr. Owens. Yes, I'd be happy to.
Mr. Martinez. I do that, because I want to ask you a question first and then make a statement. Are the teachers in that school in control of the classroom?
Mr. Owens. They are engaged. The minute you step in the school, it's a marvelous experience because you feel that they are engaged in learning. The students are engaged from kindergarten up to the very top, every classroom. They're engaged in the way where the problem of discipline, you don't even think about, you know. I've been to a lot of schools, and I've visited a lot schools, and I know the problems of discipline are obvious in most of them.
Mr. Martinez. Yes.
Mr. Owens. But here, they are so engaged; you go into the library which is a beautiful little room, but it's too small, and the kids are crowded in there. But they are all engaged. And there is no problem even though they're sitting right around each other, and they've found room to put 10 computers in the library, also. It's a marvelous experience to watch a school that's well-run, excellent leadership, and most of all, the students are engaged in learning to the point where a lot of other problems don't exist.
Mr. Martinez. Well, the reason I asked that question is that I want to tell a little story to prove my point that the discipline of the school depends on the administrators and the teachers, and if they're not in control, it's their own fault.
There was a situation in which my child was in kindergarten with 24 other children, and the teacher had no control over these 5 year-olds. The parents were called to the school, and we discovered that the problem was that the teacher wanted those children to sit in one spot for the entire class and listen to her read stories. Now, are you going to get a five-year old to sit for four hours in one spot and listen to stories? I got news for you, that should have been the first clue to the administrators in that school that that teacher really wasn't qualified to be teaching that class.
So the kids would get bored after a little while and then start throwing things at each other. And then pretty soon, they'd end up running around the classroom, yelling and screaming at each other, getting out their frustration over sitting there in that spot all the time.
Well, this teacher flunked all 24 kids; flunked them. How do you flunk a kindergartner?
And the school administrator let it stand. Now that was really dumb. The lack of discipline in that class had nothing to do with the children, because those children were perfect angels at home because the parents controlled them.
My son eventually went on to finish high school in three years to make up for being held behind in kindergarten. So, if he did four years of high school in three years, he must have been a pretty good student.
So, was he wrong, or was he at fault? Or was the teacher? I say it was the teacher.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you.
Congressman Tierney is recognized.
Mr. Tierney. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for that courtesy.
And knowing the father of that child, I'd guess he would be rambunctious and probably a little out of control from time to time.
It's nice to see that he straightened out and flew straight in the long run.
I want to thank you gentlemen for being on this. I happen to be a tremendous fan of this program, and was excited when Mr. Porter and Mr. Obey brought it forward, and I tried to work with them in that regard.
One of the aspects of it I'd like to explore is that as I understand it, there are two sets of funding. One pool goes to the title I eligible schools are based on the title I enrollment. And the other basically is a little broader than that. It might reach outside that group.
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Tierney. Which in my district, I think would be very important for those communities that may not have a high percentage of title I people but are on the verge of being there and are not necessarily wealthy or well-off and need some help in these kinds of capital improvements, almost, that you're talking about making here.
Have you received a lot of applications that fall in that category?
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, again, we receive the State applications. But it all depends on which districts apply within a State. In my conversations with Bill_and he can speak to this_I think States are interested. A number of States are, or will be, interested in looking at schools other than title I schools. I think we're going to see that.
Mr. Tierney. And tell me if you would, besides universities and colleges, what other institutions do you see working with the schools and school districts?
Mr. Tirozzi. Bill?
Mr. Tierney. You're nodding, so I guess you must have.
Mr. Kincaid. There will be a variety of organizations working with districts in addition to universities. Some of the model developers now have developed technical assistance capacity. You have more localized folks with expertise in school reform who have a solid knowledge of research-based approaches. So I think you're going to see a mix. Certainly a lot of districts will be working with model developers, including some of those listed in the legislation as well as others.
Mr. Tierney. Are you being fairly open-minded about that, then? And broad-minded on that basis?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes; very much so.
Mr. Tierney. Good. You know, I just think that there's a great opportunity here. I've had some discussions with the chairman here about charter schools back and forth at different times. I mean, to me this is a charter school in place. Do you think I'm wrong in that? I mean many of the things that people seem to be trying to accomplish with charter schools seems to me to be able to done in the context of the public school by using these resources to address those needs.
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, I mean it's interesting you phrase it that way. I mean I wouldn't quite call it a charter school, per se. But, you know, it's interesting in the discussion we have over charter schools, one of the things that's written into our legislation is that charter schools be accountable. And it's one thing to remove rules and regulations, but I mean you just can't give the star away. You really have to be accountable. And I think the schools that will develop the comprehensive research-based models_I mean in a sense, if they're successful, I mean candidly, I'm not going to be concerned by a whole lot of rules and regulations. We want to see them be successful and youngsters are learning. And if they're learning in the context of a particular model they're using, that's wonderful. And I think that can push others.
And I think, also, we're going to see the potential here for charter schools, themselves, to come on the playing field and adopt different models and move in this direction. I think you may actually see some charter schools in the future developed around certain of the new models that they're looking at.
Mr. Tierney. One of the observations I've made going around is that it may be one of the more important features of this, is the principal_
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Mr. Tierney. _of a given school on that. Do you share that observation?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes, as a matter of fact. I'm sorry Mr. Peterson left, and I didn't want to get into a long debate on that question. But something Mr. Martinez said. You know, again, we look at Ron Edmond's work in terms of what he talked about for instruction in an effective school. In addition to climate, he talked about good, solid leadership. Go around the country and you see good schools. Almost immediately, when you go into a good school, you find a good principal, a person who is in charge, a person who is fair with the youngsters, fair with the teachers, who knows curriculum, who knows instruction. That's the kind of person that can make a difference. That's why somewhere in this whole paradigm of looking at school reform, or this discussion I should say, we need to figure out ways to get more involved in developing school principals, because they've largely been left off the playing field of school reform. You know how we develop them, in-service them? And I couldn't agree with you more. I think the principal is probably one of the key roles in any school district, probably more important that the superintendent, it's the principal in a school.
Mr. Tierney. Absolutely.
Mr. Tirozzi. That's where the service is delivered, in the school, not in the central office.
Mr. Tierney. Again, I want to thank you for the good work you're doing. And for the courtesy that you've given me, Mr. Chairman, allowing me to speak even though I'm not on the subcommittee. Thank you.
Chairman Riggs. Well, we're happy to have you join us, Mr. Tierney.
And before we excuse the Secretary, I'd like to ask just a few more follow-up questions. One is, Mr. Secretary, or, Mr. Kincaid, how many FTE's does the Department use to administer this particular program?
Mr. Tirozzi. Here he is, no.
It feels that way. Bill, what do we have now for staff? It's a very small staff.
Mr. Kincaid. We will have on board five directly, very shortly. We also work closely with the staff of the title I program and the Goals 2000 program, as well as folks from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, and school improvement programs. But there are five directly.
Chairman Riggs. I understand that, but I want to make sure that I understand that as a result of the Congress appropriating money for this program for the first time, the Department has had to add five additional full-time staff people, is what you're testifying today?
Mr. Tirozzi. It hasn't necessarily been added; no. We've moved some priorities around; some positions are not filled that were filled in the past, vacancies. This has to be a priority. I don't have the_I can get it for you. It's two or three new positions were probably added.
Chairman Riggs. Okay.
Mr. Tirozzi. Not five.
Chairman Riggs. And those would here in Washington at the Department of Education?
Mr. Tirozzi. Right. In other words, Bill came over to run the program. Bill is just a transfer back to the Department.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. Now, Mr. Secretary, you keep mentioning how charter schools may be eligible for some of this funding, and they may be implementing some of the reforms that are recommended or are suggested as held up as models for school-wide reform under the legislation. Would a charter school, though, still have to apply for this funding through the State, through the SEA?
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes, this is trick one. Bill, handle this one for me.
Mr. Kincaid. Charter schools would apply. It would depend on whether the charter, itself, is an LEA or not. That's the issue about whether they are a part of the school district or whether they're independent as an LEA. If the charter school is considered an LEA under State law, then it would apply directly to the State. If it's within a school district, then it would be a part of a district's application to the State.
Chairman Riggs. I see. And would a local charter school that received Federal taxpayer funding, that part of the seed money grants that are made for charter schools, would it receive a preference over another charter school that did not receive Federal taxpayer funding in the form of a start-up grant?
Mr. Tirozzi. No.
Chairman Riggs. Okay.
Mr. Tirozzi. No.
Mr. Kincaid. There's no provision for that.
Chairman Riggs. All right. Well, I just am interested in this whole issue, obviously, because it came along with very little consultation with, we, the authorizers, the policy making committee. It was really largely an initiative of the appropriators, and as I understand it, Mr. Obey, as the ranking member of both the subcommittee and the full committee late in the budget process last year. So we're still sort of trying to get our arms around this.
Having said that, Mr. Secretary, I'm interested in why the program is tailored for or directed to title I schools. How does something like school-wide reform or this school reform program, how does that fit in with the traditional Federal taxpayer role in providing compensatory education to title I schools?
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, I mean the way the formula is structured, of course, one of the goals we have is to try to provide assistance to the schools that have the greatest need. I mean that's the way the program has been funded; that's the commitment the Federal Government has had. And you know, we continue down that road. I think if you look realistically, when I mentioned earlier about 15,000 schools are now school-wide models in title I, that means all of those 15,000 have at least 50 percent poverty to be eligible to be title I. IF we step back and analysis any set of test scores, retention rates, attendance rates, those are generally the schools that have the most difficulty in terms of student achievement. And it would seem a program like this, it fits very nicely with the whole direction we've been_I guess another way to answer that, Mr. Riggs, I believe that Mary Jean Latan is right behind me. I believe 7 percent of the school districts received something like 60 or 70 percent of the title I funds. So it is very targeted, and that's where the action is. I mean, that's where the need is, and I think as a Nation, we should be putting our resources where we know we have the greatest needs, because we have a limited amount of dollars.
I think where this legislation is interesting, it allows that 20 percent of the funds to be used for all other schools. So hopefully that, in and of itself, I mean can send a message that, you know, we want to see what happens in other than title I schools.
Chairman Riggs. But that's a relatively small amount, some would say a pittance. And do you, to the extent that you foresee, this program continuing in subsequent years, the so-called out years? They'll use the budget and the appropriations lingo. Would you want to maintain that 80/20 split?
Mr. Tirozzi. I would say yes. Candidly, I think we should always be open, but I do think the commitment we have is to target funds where we have the greatest need; that's a major equity principle. I mean when we go before Congress, and we testify before you, and we ask the very serious questions, and you shared about student achievement, how kids are doing. It's not in suburban America that we really have the problems. We really have the significant problems in poor rural, poor urban communities. That's where we really need to figure out how we're going to address those problems. And I think this type of a grant, it's very small, I mean to see this as just spreading it across the country, I think would be a terrible mistake. It think it should be a targeted kind of a proposal. I don't think 80 is magical. I mean you could move that a bit, but I do think the majority of the funds should stay in title I eligible schools.
Chairman Riggs. Well, it seems to me, Mr. Secretary, that if we're really concerned about promotion of school reform, the money ought to go to any school that is doing exciting, innovative things. And we get back, again, to the traditional role of the Federal Government and Federal taxpayers in compensatory education. And you're talking about taking the, if you will, the precious, hard-earned tax dollars of that suburban resident who may send his or her children to a local school in that community, and basically redirecting that money to title I schools in other communities.
Mr. Tirozzi. But the very way the title I grant is structured, I mean it is designed to drive dollars. It's a Federal commitment, it's a national commitment to drive dollars where you have the greatest need. I mean that's the way the formula works.
And this grant, once it flows to a State, is predicated on that same formula distribution. And it would just seem to make, you know, consummate sense that in turn you want to drive the dollars there.
Also, I think it's a great use of Federal dollars because we are spending $8 billion on title I. In the reauthorization of 1994, it made a huge commitment to school-wide projects. And school-wide, what we're hoping to do with this, I would like to think in the future is really leverage dollars, I mean so that we could see other school-wide models improve. That's where we really have to make the case.
Chairman Riggs. Well, Mr. Secretary, it seems to me that perhaps we just have a fundamental difference of opinion on this particular subject. Because tomorrow, in this very room, in fact in less than 24 hours, we intend to mark up the Block Grant Dollars to the Classroom bill that would consolidate a host of categorical aid programs where the applicants, some would say the supplicants, have to come back here to Washington with grant application in hand seeking Federal taxpayer funding for any number of particular programs. You indicated, or I think Mr. Kincaid indicated, that ultimately you anticipate all 50 States will apply.
Mr. Tirozzi. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. For at least some small share of this particular funding. What we would prefer to do is put all these programs, including this particular program, the Comprehensive School Reform program into a block grant, drive it down locally, and ensure that 90 cents of every dollar or more gets into the classroom. Ideally, to address the concerns of Mr. Castle and Mr. Peterson, to pay someone who knows that child's name.
I wonder how you would react. You expressed some concerns earlier I think, in response to Congressman Roemer's questions and comments about the lack of accountability. I wonder how you and the Department would feel if, for example, we proceeded with the block grant legislation, but we stipulated that the money into the block grant had to be used for the nine criteria under this school reform program?
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, you could make that stipulation, but my first argument would be that you really have to make certain the money goes where you have the greatest need. I personally think, and this is where we may disagree, that is what the Federal role should be all about. You don't have enough money. Only 7 percent of our funding goes to elementary and secondary education. The other 93 percent comes from State and local. That's a very small percentage of the pot. And I think the extent to which we target that money makes a difference. We have schools out there that have tremendous needs, and title I in particular has been a great catalyst for a lot of these schools.
I also think even if you build in the nine elements, I don't think you've built in any kind of an accountability system. And the history of block grant, they have no constituency. Over time, the money goes down; it never really goes up. And I do think you're going to hear this from a lot of school districts and parents across this country who really don't want to go in that direction.
Chairman Riggs. So, what are you doing then to ensure accountability? You're saying that the programs funded must meet the criteria? And then you're going to review how the States distribute this money? And how local school districts use it to meet or exceed these particular criteria? Is that your goal?
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, it's interesting. In a discretionary grant program, I mean at the Federal level we could have much more accountability than you can generally have in a formula-driven program. I think in this particular case, yes; we are going to monitor. We have a formal evaluation. After three years, we do expect to see student achievement move up. We are going to develop case studies where we're going to look at what works. And you know, there's not a long history in the Federal Government, no matter who is in charge of withholding funds, I think you know that. But I'm not suggesting that here today we're going to withhold funds. But I mean there's a greater potential if State's are abusing the dollars or districts are not really, you know, addressing the models, that you could see some attempt on our part to be more forceful on that particular point.
Chairman Riggs. Well, I hope so, Mr. Secretary. I don't know that I'll be around to see it. But my gut instinct tells me that with all 50 States applying, all 50 States will get some share, some small part of this money. And it will be viewed like the rest of their title I money, which is an annual operating subsidy. And that's my gut sense. And philosophically, our party, the majority party in the Congress, disagrees with this approach of everything being topped down. All the applications coming back to Washington, as opposed to a block grant which drives it locally, because we frankly share the concerns about accountability. But, we feel that the best way to get that accountability is to drive more money locally where the local decision makers can be held accountable by concerned parents such as the example that Congressman Martinez cited.
I just want to ask one other question and that is, because I know Congresswoman Northup has a real concern in this regard; we've discussed it at some length and we'd like to get your thoughts on clarifying the congressional intent in the guidance, which is to allow schools the most choice in determining which type of research-based reforms best meet the needs of their school. In other words, and I think this is the acid test, will this really be a bottom-up process where a local school district and a State can use the money for some sort of other reform initiative, assuming that that initiative is based on reliable, replicable research? And are you open to clarifying in the guidance that you issue that local schools and States are encouraged to seek or to recommend to the Department other types of reform initiatives other than the ones that the Department holds out as a model itself?
Mr. Tirozzi. Well, the LEA, itself, the local educational agency is the applicant to the State.
Chairman Riggs. Right; I understand that.
Mr. Tirozzi. So the local school district has to, in a sense, approve the model that a school wants to use. I think we should absolutely support that concept, because ultimately you're not going to have any potential for systemic reform if every individual school is off doing its own thing. The guidance, I think, is very clear, that while we have identified 44 models, they'll be an addendum in the Fall. We encourage locally developed models, and that's where_I mean I can't imagine, personally, a local school superintendent, he or she wants to be successful, if schools are coming forward with models that address the elements whether it's an already recognized program or a newly developing program, that they're going to say ``no'' to it.
On the other hand, if a school district or a State wants to make a determination that, you know, they want deal with those 44 models rather than take on the universe. That's a right they have, too. I mean the legislation does allow that.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
And I think with that, we will excuse you_
Mr. Tirozzi. Thank you.
Chairman Riggs. _and your two associates. We appreciate you taking time from your schedule to join us today.
We call forward our second panel of witnesses.
Mr. Tirozzi. Thank you.
Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman?
Chairman Riggs. Congressman Scott?
Mr. Scott. As they're coming forward, the chairman made comments on the Federal role. I think there are a couple of areas, as the Secretary mentioned, some very worthwhile projects have either no constituency or very minuscule constituency. And there are other things we can do that we can take advantage of the economies of scale like research and things like that. But if it were not for the Federal role, there would be no IDEA, there would be no Title I, because these are the kinds of things that don't have strong constituencies.
Chairman Riggs. Yes. I appreciate that Congressman Scott. And as you may recall, let's get our witnesses coming forward here and we can have an informal colloquy, I did make a commitment some time ago to our colleague, Congressman Fattah, of Pennsylvania. We had originally planned to have a hearing last Friday on this whole concern that he and other of our colleagues have voiced about funding, equity, and funding parity issues, especially with respect to urban schools. And the Federal role, the Federal taxpayer role in providing the compensatory education benefits to socially and economically disadvantaged young people, students. And that's a discussion I look forward to having and want to continue to have. And again, I will just assure you, as Congressman Fattah and anyone else with an interest or concern in this area, that we will be having that hearing soon. I anticipate that it will be some time between our return from the July 4th congressional district work period and the beginning of the traditional congressional summer recess.
All right, so we have our witnesses settled in. I know that two members, Congresswoman Northup and Congressman Ford want to introduce members of this panel. We will notify their offices, and upon their arrival, recognize them for the purpose of making those introductions. So, what I will do is, rather than introduce everybody at once, proceed with our witnesses one by one, beginning with Dr. Hirsch, who is a very frequent visitor to Capitol Hill and a very expert witness on many of the subjects that we have addressed over the last two years. He is also president of the Core Knowledge Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as a nationally-known researcher at the University of Virginia. Dr. Hirsch, as I just mentioned, has served as an expert witness on our committee before, most recently I believe in the hearing that we had on the reauthorization of the Head Start program. Did you testify on the Head Start?
STATEMENT OF E. D. HIRSCH, RESEARCHER, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA, PRESIDENT, CORE KNOWLEDGE FOUNDATION, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA
Mr. Hirsch. Correct.
Chairman Riggs. I believe, Dr. Hirsch. And today, he's going to be focusing on research he's done on comprehensive school reform.
So, Dr. Hirsch, thank you for being here again. We're glad you could come up, and please proceed with your testimony.
Mr. Hirsch. Mr. Chairman, thank you. It's a great honor to be here. And I'm grateful to you and members of the committee for inviting me.
And I'm also grateful to be made aware of the Porter-Obey legislation on school reform. I am a frequent visitor, but I travel here only when summoned. And so I've been unaware of the generous amounts of money that are being allocated to school reform by this Congress. And I've also been largely unaware of the praiseworthy Obey-Porter bill, which has tremendous potential for improving public education if its stipulations are refined and if its highly laudable intent is carried out in actual practice.
As you know, I'm deeply concerned with public school reform, particularly grassroots K through 6 reform called Core Knowledge, which has attracted over 700 public schools in 44 States. Core Knowledge neglected what was going on in Congress. And I now see that Congress has neglected to place Core Knowledge on the Obey-Porter list of exemplary reforms. Some districts, for example, the State of New Jersey has taken the absence of our name as grounds for declining to allow schools to use Core Knowledge under this legislation. I'm assured by your staff that this sort of exclusion was not intended, and certainly, though, the exclusionary effect exists.
And I also think we mustn't assume that disadvantaged students to whom this is primarily targeted, as we saw in the last testimony, cannot do demanding work. I hope the next version of the bill will name well-proven and excellent programs that do require demanding work. I'm thinking of the AP program, the International Baccalaureate, and of course, Core Knowledge.
I've attached to my testimony some independent evaluations, quite independent, which show significant improvements in quality, above all in equity from using a demanding curriculum like Core Knowledge.
But my main reason for being here isn't to plead our case but to wear my scholar's hat and to recommend specifically some ways to make the language of the next appropriations bill still more effective than the current language in encouraging more public schools to become better, faster.
My first suggestion is that the next appropriation bill should amplify what is meant by reforms based on reliable research. This refers to what Congressman Scott was questioning about. The idea is excellent, but in context, the words are open to misconstruction because all education reforms claim to be based on reliable research. There doesn't exist an educational program or practice that isn't supported by data by some educational researcher. The term ``reliable research'' should be further defined as research that is accepted by the consensus of scientific opinion. For instance, the programs that are currently on the exemplary list of Obey-Porter on page 97 have diverse, sometimes inverse relations to the findings of mainstream science. The critical scientific fields in education are cognitive and developmental psychology. The most esteemed scientists in those fields are bemused and distressed by the sorts of research claims that are often made in education reforms. I suggest adding to the phrase, quote, ``reforms based on reliable research'' the further phrase, ``practices based on consensus science.''
Here's my reasoning: As soon as you stipulate consensus science, the administrators of this bill will need to consult the best-respected psychological researchers, and this will tend to filter out some of the shaky claims to reliability that are made by some of these model programs. The Department of Education should impanel an advisory board of distinguished psychologists who have been approved by the American Psychological Association and the National Academy of Sciences. If we're talking about reliability, we should put in place, what Congressman Scott called peer review. The consensus of the best-respected researchers is the closest connection we fallible humans have with reality, and no lesser standard should be applied when experimenting with our children.
Let me also suggest you introduced the term ``effective practice'' for the term ``reform.'' That will help the bill encourage best practice whether it happens to be an innovation or not. And there is nothing inherent in an innovation that automatically makes it an improvement. Congress and the public it seems to me want to encourage effective practices that get results, whether they're innovations or not. And some of the off-the-shelf reforms named in the Obey-Porter list do produce better than average results, but others do not, despite what is said by the regional labs. The focus on this legislation should be on getting schools to follow effective principles and practices however they are packaged, whatever their provenance.
And that suggests another language improvement. I think it would be wise to avoid absolute limitation to programs that call themselves comprehensive reforms. The public is interested in results, not in structures. And the listing of particular structures on page 97 and 98 of the legislation is far too restrictive. It doesn't always correspond with the findings of research. For example, the stipulation G which requires assistance from a comprehensive school reform entity seems mainly a convenience for perpetuating a bureaucratic entity. The late James Coleman, a great scientist, author of the Coleman Report, properly warned against legislation that concerns itself with inputs and structures rather than results. I hope we heed late Professor Coleman.
The bill's limitation to comprehensive inputs seems like a good way to gain results. It implies no aspect of schooling will be neglected. But as recent reports on some of these comprehensive schools indicate, the claim to comprehensiveness has not always been achieved, even when lots of money has been spent.
On the other hand, when members of a school community agree on specific aims, goals, outcomes, whether or not they're part of a comprehensive program, they often attain comprehensive results quite effectively, even more effectively. And that's because when you share aims that include administrators, students, parents, teachers, everybody is on board. You get comprehensive results.
Well, to summarize, the bureaucratic structures for improvement should be permitted to vary in this legislation. It's the results that you count. It seemed to me, there was a general sentiment in that direction.
Also, it would be very informative to discover from the data that generated by this program, whether a non-comprehensive approach might be quite cheap and would yield more comprehensive results than these more elaborate and expensive programs. It's unscientific to prejudge that issue, and I don't think the legislation should do so.
My last, main point about the language is, the bill stipulates a set-aside for purposes of evaluating results, a laudable idea, essential. But, I think that the States who receive the grants, and also the schools who receive the data, should be required to produce data and send it back.
But I've become wary of funding experimental programs and their evaluations out of the same grant of money. Any deep student of human nature gradually comes to see that under that structure, if the money for the program is cut off, then so is the money for the evaluation. So, there's always a tendency to prolong the evaluation. We have to wait, leave disagreeable subjects untouched, to be too understanding of failure. It's a hazardous enterprise at best. There are so many variables in educational evaluation. It's better to make a completely separate evaluation grant to an entity sponsored by the GAO or something like that to separate the continuance of the program from the continuance of the evaluator. That is, I think, a critical structural element and a potential improvement. To paraphrase Jefferson, we need to have a wall of separation between the interests of those who run one of these educational programs and the interests of those who evaluate it.
Finally, I'll take 30 seconds, with your indulgence, Mr. Chairman, to name not nine of bureaucratic structures but five basic principles of K through 12 education that are accepted by consensus science.
First, learning is slow and cumulative. Knowledge builds on knowledge.
Second, children's readiness to learn is not mainly a natural growth, but a product of what they have learned previously at previous grade levels.
Almost all children can be brought to this readiness through adequate learning at the prior grades.
Four, adequate student learning is highly correlated with adequate curriculum and teacher quality, a point made by members of the panel.
Finally, teacher quality is highly correlated with teachers' subject-matter knowledge and general knowledge.
And I don't know of a single research psychologist who dissents from those five principles. And so it seems to me you want to make sure, even if the structures are not lock-step, that those basic principles are being met. They're not merely optional elements of effective school reform. They're essential to quality and to equity in all programs. Now some of the programs that are listed do meet some of those criteria and principles, but we should strive that all of our schools should meet those fundamentally agreed on principles if we're to achieve major improvements in K-12.
I'm prepared to amplify these remarks, Mr. Chairman, later on should that prove useful, either in questioning or in writing, and I thank you again for inviting me.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Dr. Hirsch, for your testimony. I think it's an excellent way to, if you will, segue to our other witnesses.
Congresswomen Northup was here but she just left a moment ago. But I believe she is in a markup and so we're going to, upon her return, recognize her for the purposes of introducing her constituent, Ms. Austin. And Congressman Harold Ford is here and would like to be recognized for the purposes of introducing, I believe, Dr. Ross, one of our other witnesses, who I assume is also a constituent.
So, Congressman Ford, you're recognized for that purpose of introducing Dr. Ross.
Mr. Ford. Thank you, Chairman Riggs, and, Chairman Martinez, thank you, sir, and thank my colleagues on the committee. I serve on the full committee but this is not my subcommittee, so I'm appreciative to come before and just say a few words.
Welcome to all the panelists, but particularly to the one from the great ninth district in Tennessee who has been a leader. Chairman Riggs got his Ph.D. from Penn State University in 1974. I was four-years old, but I'm a Penn graduate, so I won't hold that against you, Dr. Ross, that you're a Penn State man.
He has done tremendous work back home in the field of school reform, Chairman Riggs. He's sort of cut out of the same cloth that you are in terms of wanting to ensure that all of our kids are afforded an opportunity to learn to prosper and flourish in tomorrow's highly-competitive, some would even say fiercely-competitive, marketplace. Of the 20 to 25 schools in which he has directly played a role back home in helping to redraw and to reconfigure curricula, we've seen vast improvements in many areas. He is subscriber to the whole school reform which many of us in this Congress are.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce the director of the Center for Research and Educational Policy at the University of Memphis, an outstanding scholar, one who is widely respected in education circles, not only throughout the mid-south but certainly throughout the Nation, my friend Dr. Steven Ross.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Ford. And you're very welcome to stay with us if your schedule permits.
And Dr Ross, thank you for being here.
Now we're going to jump back to Mr. Anderson and continue down in that process, again, with the caveat that we're going to recognize Congresswoman Northup for the purposes of introducing Ms. Austin, if she returns. And I also understand you have a bit of a time constraint, Ms. Austin, so we'll make sure that we work in your testimony.
Our next witness is Mr. John Anderson. He's president of the New American Schools Development Corporation in Arlington, Virginia. I certainly have heard of the New American Schools Development Corporation. I haven't had a chance to meet Mr. Anderson, but I'm told they're doing extensive work in the area of school reform. He's joining us today to discuss that work and what Congress can learn from it as we implement the Comprehensive School Reform program.
So thank you for being here, Mr. Anderson. Now please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF JOHN ANDERSON, PRESIDENT, NEW AMERICAN SCHOOLS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA
Mr. Anderson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much. We at New American Schools are very appreciative of the opportunity to meet with you and your committee today.
You know when you think back when Sputnik I orbited the earth, American scientists that were running in the space race couldn't turn to their competitors in the Soviet Union to ask for help or advice. They couldn't review the plans for Russian rocket motors nor study the satellite's schematics. The Americans' work would have been much more effective and efficient had they been able to consult with the best thinking of the time.
Traditionally, educators who have tried to raise student achievement in their schools have been like those early American scientists. They've set out alone using their own knowledge, and experience, and commons sense to find ways to improve student achievement. They perhaps found a program or two directed at addressing specific obstacles or, if they were lucky they found an expert to provide one-time training. What they did not get, however, was a complete package_the education equivalent of the launch pad and the rocket, the radar system, and the satellite, along with the skills to use them. In too many cases, their reforms never really got off the ground.
Educators no longer are bound by the limits of their schools, or even their own school districts, as you have provided last November when you voted to give thousands of schools access to experts and practitioners who can guide them through comprehensive school reform.
Well, this movement toward comprehensive school reform gives schools a chance to adopt, and adapt, a proven framework for school-wide improvement. It's strict enough to guide educators through those tough issues that are inevitable in school change, but they're flexible enough to let them resolve those issues in unique ways that consider the conditions in their schools and in their communities.
For the past seven years, New American Schools, a business-led, private, non-profit organization, has worked to create a group of eight organizations, we call them design teams, that provide high-quality, research-based tools and assistance to schools in need of improvement. We currently are working in over 1,000 schools across 40 States and we represent a powerful public, private partnership for school reform.
We do believe that schools need choices; we do believe that one-size-does-not-fit-all. We also think it's essential to have criteria about what a comprehensive reform is, and we do believe that the nine criteria listed in the guidance and in the legislation do define what a comprehensive school design is and should become the standard for providers of comprehensive school reform.
Now there's ample evidence to document that these designs can work for students. In many schools that have successfully implemented one of the designs, students produce higher quality work, achieve at higher levels, and show improvement on standardized test and other performance indicators.
Discipline problems are down; one of the solutions to discipline problems in schools is to create an engaged learning environment for all students. Student and teacher engagement are up, and parent and community involvement both rise.
Now in a written submission, we comment on the Rand Corporation's review of New American School Designs and their foremost reason for the fact that they work, and work sooner than normally would be expected, is that each design is comprehensive and covers virtually all aspects of schooling which is a departure from the traditional fragmented approach to reform.
It's possible to transform not only individual schools, but also to effect broad-based improvements across entire school districts. For example, San Antonio, Texas, a district with 70 percent of its schools that are committed to implementing a comprehensive design. The number of low-performing schools on the State TASS exam has dropped from 42 to no more than 3. The dropout rate is down 44 percent. And math, reading, and writing scores have all improved double digits.
You're going to hear about Memphis from Dr. Ross today. And a recent study of comprehensive school redesign there, indicates that significant measurable gains can be realized across all grades and all subjects within two years.
Finally, some recommendations; we believe that comprehensive school reform represents the last, best hope for fixing what ails American public schools. We believe that the disconnect between education practitioners and researcher must be corrected, and that strategic partnerships between the private and public sectors can provide a critical link. We submit the following four recommendations for your consideration.
Number one, the program should be extended, expanded, on 1999.
Second, we urge you to pay additional attention to support district-level efforts to help schools select, implement, and sustain effective comprehensive designs.
Third, we ask you to consider to commit resources to develop a larger supply of quality school assistance providers, both from those existing assistance organizations as well as supporting a national competition to select and develop new providers.
And last, we ask that you ensure that the evaluation of the program continues. We cannot say enough about effective evaluation. and the Rand Corporation and others have learned a lot about how you evaluate comprehensive school reform, and it involves both looking at how well the model is implemented as well as what are the results and improvements in student achievement.
Finally, simply stated, the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration initiative should continue because based on our experience, it works for children, it works at scale, and it demonstrates the appropriate and effective use of Federal education funds, and that is to support local choices for improving public schools.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Anderson.
We now turn to Dr. Glen Harvey. She is the chief executive office at WestEd, the regional education laboratory that serves my home State of California as well as Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. Dr. Harvey has conducted extensive research on school reform at WestEd, and joins us today to discuss those research findings as they relate to the Comprehensive School Reform program.
Now, Dr. Harvey, please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF GLEN HARVEY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, WESTED, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Ms. Harvey. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Do you want to pull that microphone?
Ms. Harvey. I'm sorry.
Chairman Riggs. There you go.
Ms. Harvey. Better?
Thank you very much. I very much appreciate the opportunity to comment on this very important school reform initiative. I particularly welcome the opportunity to speak with this committee because I assume this is the committee that will be looking at the effectiveness of this program, and applying what you hear and learn to reauthorization of title I in the future.
I can't comment yet on the evaluation of this reform effort since it is just starting to roll out in our States and our region. However, what I can do is look at the educational research and development and share some lessons learned from that about the design of this program.
WestEd has a 35-year history of applying the best of R and D to educational improvement efforts. And we've learned a great deal about what works and what doesn't.
What I'd like to do today is highlight five elements of the program that researchers suggest are essential to its success.
The program is comprehensive in its focus. It's based on research. It's adaptable to locally-driven needs. It includes a strong evaluation component, and it provides ongoing assistance to all of the schools that participate.
Let me begin with its defining characteristic: comprehensiveness. Much of the reform in the past has been fragmented; it's been piecemeal. We know from looking at research efforts that reform takes basically four approaches: fix the parts and pieces, fix the people, fix the school, or fix the system. Comprehensive school reform focuses on the system and takes the best of the other three approaches and holds the most promise for success.
We know to make a difference for all children in this country, we need to be comprehensive; we need to look at all the pieces: curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development, community and parent involvement. All of these pieces need to be addressed and in place if schools are going to serve all our children well.
The second essential element is that its research-based. There has been a large investment, in R&D, in educational research over the last decades, and it really has paid off. We know a lot about what it takes for schools to work with children. And to have all children learn, we need to apply it. This program is very positive and strong around urging schools to begin where it matters, with what works.
The third essential element of this program that I see as its strength is that it's adaptable to locally-driven needs. We know that children and adults learn in very different ways. We know that one school is very different from another. You cannot take a program that's effective in rural New Hampshire and necessarily expect it to have the same results in innercity Los Angeles. We know that one-size-does-not-fit-all; reform occurs school-by-school, community-by-community.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, in California many of our poorest innercity schools have been required to hire a number of teachers who are on emergency certificates. These are teachers who are asked to teach the hardest to reach students, under the worst conditions, with the least preparation. In these schools, many of the teachers are not prepared to develop their own comprehensive models. They may do better to adopt a model that is prescriptive and that focuses on the needs of their specific children, like Reading Recovery, Success For All, or Accelerated Learning.
In other schools, however, in equally poor innercity schools where the faculty is experienced and there is strong parent involvement and community support, it may be much more preferable for a more flexible model to be adopted or even such as the Coalition of Essential Schools, or for that school to develop its own model based on their rigorous standards set forth in the program.
The fourth strong component of this program is its inclusion of evaluation. And here I think Dr. Hirsch and I slightly disagree. I think that including evaluation in this program is essential to build capacity of educators to be able to learn from their successes and what does and doesn't work so they can continue to apply it. If we intend for this program to be brought to scale and warrants more schools to be involved, we really need to learn from what we're doing, from our successes and our failures. We also need to shift to a stronger accountability model so that all the schools involved are held accountable for the results. And all those who are involved, such as laboratories, for providing assistance are equally accountable for results.
And finally, a final strength that I haven't heard mentioned very much today is the emphasis put on ongoing support to the schools participating. If there is anything we know from research, we know that the best program in the world designed as well as possible and implemented with the best intentions can fall apart without ongoing support for teachers, and administrators, and parents as they grapple with implementing these programs.
So these are the five elements of the program that I believe research suggests are successful, comprehensive, and focused, research-based, adaptable to local needs, strong evaluation, and ongoing assistance. I strongly encourage you to preserve those components in this program and to continue those programs in any reauthorization considerations you might have.
Finally, I just simply would like to thank you and the Congress for not only giving me the opportunity to testify, but for your strong support for comprehensive school reform. I encourage you to give this program the resources and the time necessary for it to make a difference for each and every child in our country.
Thank you very much.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Dr. Harvey, and thank you for coming all the way out from San Francisco. I know what that cross-country travel is like.
I'd like to go to Ms. Austin at this point in time, because I don't know if Congresswoman Northup is going to be able to return. It is my understanding she is in the middle of a markup session in that Appropriations Subcommittee, sort of, if you will, the counterpart to this particular committee. We're the authorizers and they're the appropriators that makes some of the line item budgetary decisions on how Federal taxpayers dollars are spent. And they are marking up, as I understand, at the present, as we meet the subcommittee for Fiscal Year 1999. But I know she wanted very much to be here to introduce you, Ms. Austin.
And I'm also told that, again, you have apparently a return flight, so I want to, with the indulgence of our other witnesses, skip to you at this point in time and introduce you. You are the director of Curriculum and Assessment at the Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville Kentucky. And I don't know if anybody told you, but I born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and I am a product of the Jefferson County Public Schools.
She is here today to discuss with us the Jefferson County experience with comprehensive school reform. And I take it that this was one reason why Congresswomen Northup is so interested in this particular subject, why she worked hard in helping to fashion a bipartisan compromise on the language that accompanied the actual budgetary appropriation for this program last year.
Ms. Austin, thank you for being here. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF JACQUELINE AUSTIN, DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENT, JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
Ms. Austin. Thank you, Chairman Riggs, members of this committee, fellow educators, and other concerned citizens. I, too, am very grateful to have this opportunity to participate in this hearing regarding comprehensive school reform today. I am a practitioner. I'll be speaking basically about my experiences as principal of John F. Kennedy Montessori Elementary School in Louisville. I was principal there for the past 10 years, so I'm newly appointed as director of Curriculum and Assessment.
I was a very sad day for me 10 years ago when our test scores revealed that our students were at rock bottom in every subject area. Our students were performing at a very low academic level. Our test scores in reading, language arts, mathematics, science, were the lowest in the district. Our daily attendance rate was the lowest in the district. And our parental involvement and participation was very minimal.
Our school could be found at the bottom of most lists that described student performance in Jefferson County Public Schools. I was devastated; I was used to being associated with the top of the list, the top performers. This was devastating to me as a new principal. So when 32 percent of our kindergarten class failed, and 23 percent of our first graders failed and were unable to progress to the next level, it became very clear to me that we needed to look for other ways to address problems facing our school.
The good news, though, for me as a new principal was we didn't have anywhere to go but up. We took bold steps to address our problems and found effective ways to meet needs of the students attending Kennedy.
In 1993, we began working with the National Alliance for Restruction of Education which is currently known as America's Choice for School Design. Our faculty and staff was interested in the comprehensive, research-based school improvement model, primarily because of the focus on student results and student-based education. The conviction that virtually all students can and must achieve at high levels along with their promise to provide professional development and technical assistance to implement this comprehensive program, made it most appealing to my staff.
As principal, I was visible in the classroom. I was checking the lesson plans and observing classroom instruction on a daily basis. However, student progress remained very slow. We were implementing a variety of programs. That, in retrospect, I realize now, they were probably fragmented and piecemeal approaches to the changes we were trying to make. The strong focus of the National Alliance on results using assessment, curriculum planning, and high-performance management techniques to achieve those results helped me, as the school leader, understand that all of our time and energy had to be focused on student achievement.
Of course, marshalling all energy and resources towards student achievement presented a challenge. It involved what we called selective abandonment, letting go of efforts and programs that did not help students achieve at high levels. We eliminated the add-ons and those programs that were just continued out of tradition. The selective abandonment process caused anxiety separation for teachers. They didn't want to let go of activities they had participated in four years.
But by 1994, Kennedy was beginning to reap the fruits of our labor. Performance in reading and math tripled; performance in writing quadrupled, and scores in science and social studies were twice what they had been two years earlier. Our school far surpassed its performance target and earned cash rewards from the State. The Louisville Courier Journal had something very powerful to say about Kennedy students. ``Kennedy Montessori frugals: Teachers scale the educational mountains.'' That's what the headline read.
Without a doubt, though, we had not reached our peak in student performance. In fact, in 1996, results from the State assessment showed a dip in our previous level of performance. Nonetheless, we had moved considerably to get our students to standard.
How did Kennedy accomplish this feat? Mostly the school's gains came about through wise planning to improve student performance. Of course most schools develop plans on a regular basis, but too often those plans are not carried out. And there is not always a clear link between school objectives, getting students to standard, and the strategies they choose to implement those standards. My experience at Kennedy shows that setting clear targets for student performance and linking strategies to the targets can reap impressive results.
If we expect all students to learn at high levels, we need to define specifically what our expectations are. And those expectations must be clear to students, parents, school professionals, and community members. Given a clear set of standards for performance, students have a visible target to aim towards.
Our experience at Kennedy generally mirrored a process that was developed by the National Center to help schools improve student performance, and those include: agreeing on the purpose, analyzing the situation, setting performance targets, selecting strategies, developing implementation plans, and then implementing the plan. And of course, last, but not least, monitoring that implementation plan and evaluating the results.
Although the process does not have to be followed in that order, and we certainly did not follow it that way at Kennedy, each one of these steps are crucial to achieving your school improvement goal.
I see the red light is on, I'll try to skip down through some of this.
Monitoring implementation and evaluation results means making sure that those strategies are implemented as intended, and looking at results to see if the strategies are actually working for the students in your school.
The school leadership team at Kennedy took a long hard look at our approaches after the first year of implementation. We found that the school team program showed some success, but in others we were not doing well. So it's constantly evaluating, adjusting your teaching, going back to your original goal of what you set out to do.
This successful implementation of America's Choice for Design at Kennedy has been a great benefit to the students there. Since my move to Central Office, the staff continues to work with American School Design.
The school is no longer at the bottom of the list of the student performance in school achievement. Our student attendance now exceeds the district. Our parental involvement is at an all-time high. The most recent State test results indicate that the students at Kennedy are continuing to improve in the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. The school leadership team is committed to the America's Choice for School Design reform model.
Although Kennedy still has a long way to go, the school is committed to research-based comprehensive school reform and offers its framework as a systemic, results driven. And insistent leadership will help make the difference for the students there. The school's approach to planning will continue to be instrumental in helping them reach their performance target. Planning for results will help improve student performance, not for one student, but for every student in the school.
And I thank you for the opportunity to share my experience with you today.
Mr. Souder. [presiding] Thank you very much for coming.
Dr. Ross, you already received an eloquent introduction from Congressman Ford, so I'll just let you go ahead with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF STEVE ROSS, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY AND RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
Mr. Ross. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate the opportunity to tell the committee the Memphis story in the hope that its success will continue for Memphis and also be reflected in other districts across the Nation.
I'm going to describe some research that was conducted, research that I think was very reliable research and perhaps important research. It was conducted collaboratively by the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Johns Hopkins University. The purpose was to examine the effects on student achievement of school reform designs that were implemented in Memphis city schools.
The district-wide restructuring formally began in Memphis city schools in 1995. In the Spring of that year, 34 schools selected 1 of 8 whole-school restructuring designs. Six of the designs: ATLAS, Audrey Cohen College, Co-NECT, Expeditionary Learning/Outward Bound, Modern Red Schoolhouse, and Roots and Wings were sponsored by New American Schools. Two designs, Accelerated Schools and Paideia, were developed by independent design teams.
In the fall of 1995, the schools began implementing their selected designs with assistance from New American Schools, the design developers, and the school district. In 1996, 14 new restructuring schools were established. In 1997, 19 more were added. This coming Fall, all Memphis city schools will be restructured schools.
But as the initial 34 schools, back in 1995, began their implementations, we conducted evaluation research, initially to assess processes implementations. One major finding, and this is important in light of what we heard today, was that most schools selected appropriate designs that were matched to their goals, educational philosophies, and student populations. Not all did, but most did.
Second, the formal restructuring process generally provided organization and new energy to existing district initiatives for schools to implement site-based management and associated educational reforms.
Third, in nearly all schools_and we observed this over and over_movement toward greater use of student-centered learning activities such as projects, exhibitions, and demonstrations were evidences. Classroom became busier and more active places. Planning time for teachers increased. The design implementations in most Memphis schools were rated positively both in our research and in studies by the Rand Corporation.
And now for the study I've told you about, it examined performance on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment program, which is the State mandated standardized achievement test. Using the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment system, comparisons of year-to-year gains were made on 5 subjects: reading, language, math, science, and social studies, between 25 elementary schools that started restructuring in 1995 to 1996 and matched control schools, all other elementary schools in the district, and national norm gains.
The literature on school reform as you know, and it's been brought out today, suggests that successful implementation of whole-school restructuring generally takes five to six years. We were, therefore, surprised by what our results showed. In 1995, before the designs were actually implemented, students in the 25 redesigned schools were making significantly less improvement from year to year, across all grades and subjects, than students in the comparison schools in Memphis. Thus, the restructuring schools actually started out as lower performers.
By 1997, however, students in the redesigned schools were making significantly greater gains than other students. Specifically, their average overall learning gain of 107.5 percent indicated that students across all grades and subjects were improving at a faster rate than the national average, which is 100 percent, and notably faster than students either in the control schools or are at 93 percent and all other Memphis schools which were at roughly about 97 percent. This trend was highly statistically significant and was reflected in all five subjects.
Given the relatively short duration of the reform effort, two years, these results need to be viewed cautiously. Nonetheless, they are highly suggestive about potential restructuring effects. The study also provides the first broad-scale objective evidence of learning gains in schools that have adopted New American Schools Designs and related designs. Formerly, evidence of the success of these designs has been largely anecdotal.
These results have several implications. First, from a measurement and evaluation standpoint, the findings demonstrate the data from traditional standardized tests can measure progressive change in student performance when analyzed longitudinally using a value-added system like the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment system. Specifically, value-added gain score data provided control over variables such as student ability and socioeconomic status, therefore, yielding a much more sensitive test of restructuring program effects than is normally achieved and can be achieved conventionally.
Second, results of the study, or the time of the study, has been too short for the designs to have been fully implemented at all schools. But it still appears likely that the more active teaching and learning observed were having a positive impact that was bridging the initial performance gap.
Third, the fact that the Memphis design implementations have been rated as strong, compared to other districts involved in similar restructuring, is suggestive of the benefits of ensuring that design principles and procedures are correctly and fully represented in the individual school programs. Quality implementation is important.
To wrap up, further studies, which we’re conducting now, will reveal whether these trends remain consistent in year three and will also relate outcomes to the quality of implementation. These investigations should provide useful information for improving designs, judging their impact on performance, and determining which designs work best in different school contexts.
Mr. Souder. Thank you very much for your testimony.
Our next witness whom I'm pleased to welcome is Ms. Joey Merrill. She is the assistant head of schools at the Community Day Charter School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Community Day Charter School using the Modern Red Schoolhouse Design of comprehensive school reform. And Ms. Merrill joins us today to discuss their experience with this design model.
STATEMENT OF JOEY MERRILL, ASSISTANT HEAD, SCHOOL FOR THE COMMUNITY DAY CHARTER SCHOOL, LAWRENCE, MASSACHUSETTS
Ms. Merrill. Thank you, Congressman. I wish to submit my testimony for the record, and thank you for inviting me to testify today. I'm honored to be on the panel of so many distinguished researchers and leaders in school reform.
I'll be sharing some information about our Charter School of Youth of school reform research today. Community Day Charter School is a small elementary school. It's located in Lawrence, Massachusetts, which is about 30 minutes North of Boston. This small, mill town is largely comprised of Latino population and working class population.
The school was started in 1995 by a non-profit organization, Community Day Care Center of Lawrence. The mission of the 30-year day care center is to service the working families of Lawrence, and one such need was to have more choices in schooling. Our school's charter is a contract with the State and articulates our school reform goals. Some of our values include teaching a strong work ethic and responsibility, creating a solid citizenry for Lawrence, supporting the community of Lawrence by creating a virtual community at our school, and meeting students where they are and pushing them toward a set of world-class academic standards which are the Modern Red Schoolhouse standard.
The main goal for our school, and for the families, is to make certain that our students are able to utilize the opportunities this country will offer them as they get older. We believe this can only be done when our students have mastery over English, history, science, math, geography, Spanish, and uses of technology. In other words, our students must be able to compete effectively.
Some of the program elements of our school included a longer school day, 8 to 4. We have before and after day care, after school day care. We also believe in English emersion for language minority students, who are about half our students, and full inclusion of students with special needs. We have a dress code, mixed aged groupings of grades, a strict discipline code, and a teacher and an assistant teacher in every room of 22 students.
Each child has an individualized learning plan to support each child's unique strengths and weaknesses. And we also have a common curriculum that we've developed, based on interdisciplinary phymatic units which were written to teach the Modern Red Schoolhouse's academic standards. Our units are also informed by Edie Hirsch's Core Knowledge rich content.
Schools can certainly implement school reform models with technical support from research organizations. Most public schools, however, do not have a particular time frame in which to achieve the desired results. Charter schools do have a very specific time frame to demonstrate the results, namely, the length of a charter and demonstrating progress every year. I believe it is this attention to academic progress for students in real time that gives charters the advantage to implementing school reform.
Charter schools are created to fulfill specific educational purposes and are usually able to select a staff that shares that vision. Charter schools do not have to change the course of the ship and possibly the crew in the middle of the voyage. We are able to start the voyage together with a clean slate.
Finally, a charter school is ultimately accountably to its customers who choose the school, that is, the students and their families. If they are not satisfied with our service or educational product, they will choose another school, and our school will no longer exist.
All of these factors certainly help a staff to organize itself around results. But it is also the internal autonomy that charter schools have that help us to implement school reform quickly. For example, if my school is trying a particular educational strategy with a particular child and it's not working, we change it, and we change it but fast. We are able to make these kinds of quick decision to suit the needs of individual children, and we're able to flex our budget to do the same.
Having been a researcher at the Hudson Institute which developed the Modern Red Schoolhouse Design, and now a practitioner creating a curriculum based on Modern Red's academic standard, I can tell you that implementing research conclusions into a school is not easy work.
It is not easy because many schools do not have the kind of autonomy and accountability as your charter schools. It is also not easy because of the way time is used in the school day. Unlike many industries, the education business is organized so that management is usually dealing with operations, crises, or filling out paperwork all day. Even at a charter school, principals or other technical support providers who can come to the school, researchers can only meet with the staffs when they're not teaching. The opportunity to strategically plan and to organize is scarce. Therefor, I believe that staff time is the most valuable asset of schools implementing reforms.
Our school receives a per-pupil allotment from the State, and it is from those funds that we create our budget. We have done a large amount of private fund raising to pay for our facilities, any capital expenses, and for some program necessities such as providing educational programs in the Summer for students and paying teachers to work on curriculum and to perfect their craft over the Summer. Because teachers deliver the service, they are not mere token representatives to our policy making.
For our staff, that is meant creating our common curriculum of standards-based units in one Summer. Over the last school year and over this Summer, we'll be refining our work and continuing to individualize teaching methods for different kinds of learners.
If it were not for New American Schools Development Corporation Designs, and in particular, the Modern Red Schoolhouse Design, we could not have progressed as quickly as we have in terms of our implementation, and results are already being seen. The designs were ready for us to use and flexible enough for our charter to tailor the design that we chose to our particular needs and our time frame.
The Modern Red Schoolhouse Design and Core Knowledge, in particular, gave us the academic standards in the content we needed upon which to base our curriculum. Reform models bring research to the school, and if the school is equipped to implement the suggested reform, the results are powerful and clear to any visitor.
The Government can help schools improve their service to children by continuing to support school reform models that do research and are proactive, in particular, in offering needed technical assistance to schools. School reform designs can also support schools by linking school practitioners to other school practitioners who have actually accomplished those particular reforms.
It is also my hope that these designs can be supported financially so that they can continue to do more research to fulfill the varying needs of schools attempting to implement reform. I, at the school, no longer have time to do my own research or to find out what the best practices are. I need to be able to call somebody to tell me what the current research says. And that's what other school principals need as well.
The Government can invest in school reform by also supporting charter schools. Charter schools are some of the best pilots of school reform models. Further, charter schools are public schools and deserve equal funding. As a public school, we accept any child who gains entrance to our school through a lottery. The lack of facilities and capital funds offered to charter schools means that fund raising is an ongoing burden, that many expert groups may not be able to afford the opening of a charter school such as groups of teachers because of.
Without the initial financial backing and infrastructure of the day care organization in Lawrence, my school would not exist. Currently, we have over 400 students on our wait list. Our school is only 196 students, and our students' families would like for us to start a high school. Our only extrusion has been three families who left the city. We know that many more families are staying in the city because of the school.
The demand for replication of school reform designs and charter schools is enormous. Investing in the creation of new charter schools offers many families more choices for their children immediately, offers the traditional public school system more models to replicate, and will yield quicker results in a complicated endeavor.
I thank you for allowing me to share the good news about a school that has utilized school research reform and to offer more options for its community. And I hope if you're in Massachusetts, you'll visit us. And I'm going to submit our annual report with actual school result data as part of the record.
Thank you, Congressman.
Mr. Souder. Thank you very much for your testimony.
Our last witness is Mr. Irwin Kurz. He's the principal of Public School No. 161, in Brooklyn, New York. Mr. Kurz comes to us with his own success story. P.S. 161 in Brooklyn has used the Open Court Reading curriculum that has shown tremendous academic gains among high-poverty and minority youth. He joins us today to discuss his experience with its implementation and the factors that have helped lead P.S. 161 to success.
STATEMENT OF IRWIN KURZ, PRINCIPAL, PUBLIC SCHOOL 161, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Mr. Kurz. Thank you.
I've been a teacher and supervisor in the New York City Public School system for 30 years. For the past 12 years, I have been the principal of P.S. 161. Public School 161 is located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. Nearly all of our 1,350 students are African-American, and approximately 95 percent are eligible for free lunch.
Recently, we received the results of the April 1998 city-wide testing program in reading and mathematics. On the city-wide reading test, 80.9 percent of our students scored at or above grade level. On the city-wide mathematics test, 86.1 percent of our students scored at or above grade level. Our scores on state-wide tests are even higher. As compared with schools having similar student populations, the disparity between our test results and test results in these other schools is rather dramatic.
Unfortunately, many people are surprised to learn that minority students can achieve at such a high level. Educators who feel that poverty or the color of one's skin are predictors of academic failure have little chance of succeeding. It is the responsibility of schools to educate students rather than to make excuses that justify failure.
During the past 12 years, we have instituted the following practices which have contributed to the success of our students.
Uniform reading program. We use the Open Court Reading program throughout the school. This reading series combines a strong phonics component with real literature.
Supplementary reading program. It is important for students to want to read. Reading should be a pleasurable experience. We have purchased hundreds of class sets of different novels. Teachers and students select a novel that they would like to read. Students read the book for the homework and answer several comprehension questions. After the class completes the novel, usually in two or three weeks, they select another book.
Principal's Reading Club. Students in kindergarten and grade 1 who can read a book are sent to the principal's office to read the book for the principal.
Students in grades 2 through 5 must write 5 book reports to become members of the club. Members of the club receive a certificate and a Principal's Reading Club button.
Book store. Every Wednesday before school, 7:45 a.m. until 8:15 a.m., we set up a book store where students and parents may purchase books at a reduced price of $1.00. We sell between 200 and 300 books every Wednesday in a half hour.
Weekly writing exercise. Every Wednesday, students in grades 1 through 5 write a composition that is graded and is returned to them.
School uniforms. Students wear uniforms in our school.
Technology. We have two computer labs. Every student visits the lab at least once a week working on literacy and math skills. Some of our classes have computers and printers in their rooms.
Parental involvement. It is important for parents to understand that schools cannot do it alone. We put the parents on notice as soon as they register their children for kindergarten that they are their children's first teacher. In New York City, at the end of April, parents register their children who will be starting kindergarten in September. In June, I conduct an orientation meeting for parents of incoming kindergarten students. At this meeting, the parents are given a copy of a test that will be administered to their children during the first week of school. Parents are encouraged to work with their children during the summer recess to help prepare them to do well on this test. After the first week of school, parents are called back to meet with their children's teachers to evaluate the results of the test. This has helped create a feeling of shared responsibility between the home and the school, and it lets parents know that they, too, are responsibility for their children's education.
Time is set aside each day where teachers can meet with parents. Literacy and mathematical specialists conduct workshops for parents, and parents run an after-school program for students who need adult supervision from 3:00 until 6:00 p.m. These programs, along with strong leadership, an excellent staff, and a no-excuses attitude have helped our students achieve.
On a Federal level, it will be useful for this committee to consider using title I funds for staff development, reduced class size, and increased opportunities for preschool educational programs.
Many parents work and their children need early access to programs which will help them to enrich their lives both socially and educationally. When children are three years of age, their parents should have the opportunity to enroll them in quality educational programs. Federal dollars should be spent to assist local communities in setting up these programs. Although good schools can compensate for some of the deficiencies which students may have at the age of five, it would be better if all students arrive at school with the basic skills necessary to ensure their academic success.
Reduction of class size is another matter that needs to be addressed on the Federal level. If I had the space in my school, I would use most of my title I money to reduce class size. Unfortunately, I have 1,350 students in a school built for 975. We have 30 to 35 students in every class. If I had additional classroom space, I would place students whose reading scores range between the 25th and 50th percentile in classes of no more than 15 students. Those students who are functioning below the 25th percentile would be placed in classes of no more than 10 students. This would allow teachers more time to teach to the specific needs of these students, individually, and in small groups. Reducing class size is important, but for some students reducing the size of the class and changing the mode of instruction is not enough. There are children who are emotionally handicapped and whose handicapping condition prevents them from functioning in a mainstream setting. These students should be removed from the school and placed in an alternative setting. Considerable Federal and local funding would be needed to make reduced class size a reality. Funds will be needed for staff and for building of new schools.
Staff development is another area that could be addressed on a Federal level. All the Title I money spent on remediation programs will be wasted unless students have excellent classroom teachers. You can extend the school day or extend the school year. You can institute Success for All or Reading Recovery programs. You can have any number of pull-out or push-in programs, but these programs will not work unless the child has a good classroom teacher. Title I funds should be used for in-house staff development activities where master teachers can train staff both during and after school hours.
I know that that this committee is considering comprehensive school reform. Please remember that there are schools that are succeeding using a variety of approaches. Every few years we tend to drop everything that is good in education to embrace some new formula for success only to be disappointed with the results. This time let's have the foresight to keep what works and change what needs to be changed.
Again, thank you for inviting me to testify today.
Congressman Owens, I'm happy to say that the coal-burning furnace is being replaced as we speak in our school.
Chairman Riggs. [presiding] Mr. Kurz, thank you, and I must apologize to you and the other witnesses that I had to step our for a few minutes to conduct another meeting. Those kind of scheduling conflicts are unavoidable around this place, as I'm sure you all know. But I do apologize very much and look forward to a little interaction with you.
When we wrestled with the language last year, recognizing that it was thrusted on the full House during these very rushed deliberations of the annual spending bill through the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education, which is the second largest spending bill after the National Defense bill, we got involved in those negotiations. Our side of the aisle, representing the majority party in the Congress, was adamant that local schools not be restricted to using only those approaches identified by the Department. Do any of you witnesses know of local schools that have successfully developed any approaches other than the ones recommended by the Department in their booklet, next to where Dr. Hirsch is seated, entitled School Reform Models? Do you know of any school reform models that have truly been developed in a bottom-up locally-driven process, which I think were Dr. Harvey's terms?
And, Mr. Anderson, you're nodding emphatically, and I guess that's what New American Schools are all about, so would you respond first.
Mr. Anderson. Well, there are numerous schools that are using a comprehensive approach in districts all over the country. One that comes to mind would be the Alliance. It's called the Alliance, and they're in Broward County, Florida. They're locally-developed comprehensive for whole-school approach.
What is the approach in one school though, must be augmented with the assistance to help other schools adopt that approach. That's the missing link; just having a good comprehensive model won't get it. It is having the model available and then having the school that chooses to use that model get the help they need. Now that assistance can either be provided by the model developer themselves, as we do, or it can be provided by the district, as Broward County does for the schools in Broward County using the Alliance.
But however it's done, the key that is different today, is that most schools need help to implement them all.
Chairman Riggs. Well, what is the model in that particular example? The illustration you cite in Florida, what is that model and how does it differ from the models recommended or identified by the Department of Education working with their outside experts?
Mr. Anderson. It is similar. It is similar. It has an intensive reading effort based on the work of direct instruction, which is one of the models that was listed in the legislation. That's the Reading Component. But then they combine the other academic subjects around that to have a whole school. When I say model, I mean a whole school - all students, all classes, all grades, all subjects, all the time.
The district has then provided a group of experts to help other schools in that district implement the Alliance. When we look for new models, and we should, one of my recommendations is that you actually invest in finding new models and helping them create the capacity to help other schools. Finding them is not the problem; they're out there. The problem is helping them, then, proliferate that model with other schools.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. Well, Dr. Harvey, you said that this program is adaptive to locally-driven needs. I'm trying to understand this, because I don't see how it is. And it seems to me that any program that is so top-down in the sense that it ultimately involves the Department of Education awarding it, what are at least at this point in time, competitive grants. I guess ultimately if we get around to grants to all 50 States, it will largely become again like so much of the rest of Federal taxpayer funding for education, and that is, you know, just typically an operating subsidy, large S, if you will, from Federal taxpayers. But how is the program adaptive to locally-driven needs? And does the design of the program competitive awards to the States who in turn make competitive awards to districts; is that really conducive to locally-driven comprehensive or whole-school reform?
Ms. Harvey. Well, in California, as you know, we don't know that yet because it has not rolled out in California. However, my understanding is that in Arizona, they have made, they're planning to roll this out on the first year, and three awards in 1998. And they received 51 or 50, just around 50 applications from local schools in Arizona, and they've picked 12 to fund. And I believe they announced them yesterday actually. So, I have not seen them yet since I was on an airplane, but my understanding is that in Arizona, in fact, they were very, very open to locally-developed programs.
And that some of the proposals took aspects of different programs to be able to say what they needed in their school. So I believe in Arizona, at least, which is a State you would expect that to happen, I believe, given the support of local control, that most of those models that they are proposing are pulling from the research and saying, ``Here's what I need in my school. Here are the gaps; here's what the research tells me will work.'' Just exactly what you were saying, that you're looking at the research and you pick and choose, so you do not have to take one of those models.
And I think the guidance is fairly clear about that. Certainly at this point, I talked with a State board member in California and a member of the Department of Education who has responsibility for this last week, and she said certainly in California they, too, will be supportive of locally-grown initiatives as long as they reflect the guidance, the rigorous components, but it does not mean you have to put them together in exactly the same way.
And if I could just go on for a second, it's like I have a young son and he is suddenly very interested in doing puzzles. What's very important to him is to see the picture of the puzzle. But the strategy he uses on the puzzle is very different. Sometimes he does the corners; sometimes he picks the dinosaur, because that's what he cares about. Sometimes he picks a color. HE can use different strategies to put the picture together. It doesn't mean he has to use the same approach each time.
And I think what we're seeing in comprehensive school reform is that this program allows you to put the picture together for student improvement in many, many ways. It happens that the Department has identified some models, but I don't believe they're saying that's the only way to get there. And I think you'll see in your region that many, many schools will opt to put the pieces together differently.
Chairman Riggs. It just seems to me that the sub grantees wanted to, if not ensure, really increase their chances of being funded, that they probably would select one of the models being promoted by the Department of Education. That's why I say that this program inherently has sort of a top-down philosophy.
But before I assume that, I want to ask Ms. Merrill and Mr. Kurz how they became aware of the Federally taxpayer-funded Comprehensive School Reform program. How did you learn about this program? What interested you in it? And what made you decide to apply to your States?
Mr. Kurz. Well, I didn't apply, and as, on a very local level, a principal of a school, I am reluctant to give anything over to the Federal Government, even my superintendent.
I'd rather run the school the way I'd like to run the school. If I fail, I should be out, or stop the funding. But I'd rather have the leeway to do what I feel is best. And most of the people probably sitting here on the committee, and even in the gallery, probably went to a school that didn't have any comprehensive school reform, and they did quite well. And they had one teacher, and 30 students, and the kids did well. Their parents expected them to do well; the teachers expected them to do well, and they did. And I have that attitude towards the students in my school, and the teachers have that attitude. And the students buy into it; the parents buy into it, and they do well.
Mr. Tirozzi. Mr. Kurz, let me interrupt for just a second to ask you then to make sure I understand what you're telling us. Are you telling us that you have no intention as the principal of P.S. 161 of applying to the New York State Educational Agency for any of this funding?
Mr. Kurz. Well, I had the opportunity to apply for school-wide projects. And I chose not to do it just to go through the paperwork when I couldn't accomplish what I wanted. What I wanted to do with the school-wide project was to reduce class size. I didn't have additional classroom space to do it, so I didn't bother. So I have title I funds, almost a million dollars in my school. And I use them where I have three reading specialists; I have two math specialists. I have early-children paraprofessionals; I use them in that manner. And I'm not interested in taking success for all Reading Recovery, any of the program. I think the school is running very nicely, and I want to continue that way.
I feel that the school is doing so well because of the stability. I've been there for 12 years; the programs have been in place for 12 years; the teachers have been there for a long time. The staff is stable. The student population has less mobility now because the parents want to keep them in the school, and that's why it works. And I have no intention of changing.
Chairman Riggs. Ms. Merrill, how did you learn about this program? And how does it fit into your particular plans? Your long-range thinking and planning, your vision if you will, for the Community Day Charter School?
Ms. Merrill. Well, it's actually mainstream to what we do. I actually didn't know there was money for it until today.
I'm glad to hear it. We will certainly be applying. As a charter school, we take any money we can get from anywhere, practically. I mean we, basically, are hustling private sector and any public sector funds that are out there. We do this; we took pieces of Modern Red Schoolhouse , which is a NAS design and basically the content from Edie Hirsch's work, and combined it because we believe in it. That's why we did it.
And with our small budget, I have wring a dollar about a hundred ways to be able to pay for it. And it's not that the design, itself, is so expensive, it's that time to pay, you know, for teachers to work on things in the Summer. I have to go raise that money privately for them to work this Summer. They want to; we all believe in it, but we need, you know, the money to do it. And what I would just encourage this committee and the full Congress is to make sure that those set-asides are as small as humanly possible, because we need the money in the field.
Chairman Riggs. Well, God bless you and Mr. Kurz both for the work that you're doing. I join all my other colleagues in saying that what goes on at that individual site and in that classroom is all important. I've said many, many times during my tenure as the chairman of this committee that I believe teaching, the role of an educator, is as in the words of Speaker Gingrich, ``a missionary occupation.'' And a teacher can affect eternity for this. They really never know where their influence might end.
Ms. Merrill. Congressman, can I just add one thing_
Chairman Riggs. Yes.
Ms. Merrill. _that I should have added before?
Chairman Riggs. Of course.
Ms. Merrill. I would hope at some point in some legislation that comes along there would be some stipulations about actual results. There's a lot of grants that I can go get and just fill out some paperwork, and nobody ever asks me what actually happened. And I just think that's really kind of disgusting that my taxpayer dollars are used that way.
Chairman Riggs. I'm glad you're saying that, because Dr. Hirsch_
Ms. Merrill. What I would suggest is_
Chairman Riggs. _has been trying to drum that into our thick skulls for some time. I think that points to a large feeling of the Federal Government of getting really at this level of Government in the subcommittee and that is our failure to perform the very legitimate oversight responsibilities as the legislative branch of Government.
But I'm glad that you have the courage to emphatically state your views for the record.
Let me ask one other question of this round before I go to my colleagues, and this is for Dr. Ross and for Dr. Hirsch. The language that we hammered out last year, again, involves a national evaluation of the programs' results after three years. (a) Do you think that's a long enough time period? (b) And I think you both have alluded to this or spoken to this in your testimony but I want to give you the opportunity to elaborate. What should the methodology of that evaluation be? And three, do you think we have any business increasing additional funding spending precious, scarce Federal taxpayer resources on this program until that evaluation is completed?
Mr. Ross. I was hoping you'd ask Dr. Hirsch first.
In terms of evaluation, I think, it's absolutely essential to do that. Whether or not you can get results in three years, with the method study what we found is that we did get results after two years. I think a lot depends upon how you do the evaluation, and I'm not familiar. I've talked to Bill Kincaid a little bit about plans for that. But if the evaluation is such that you're getting data that local districts provide and it's a mix and match thing. It's not something that has control schools and it's not, quote ``good research,'' I don't know if you'll get anything. I think what you might get in that case is a lot of noise that results in good efforts not being shown up.
One of the reasons that the Memphis study did show good success is that we were using a very carefully controlled design. We were using a value-added system that was showing how much students gained from year to year.
So I would suggest that with the national evaluation, less is more. Rather than collecting data that may not be good from many, many, many districts, although you should do that anyway just to see what comes up, running some quality studies with match-control groups where you know what you're getting and what you're doing would be invaluable.
There are other parts to your question, but I don't know_
Chairman Riggs. No, I think you covered it well. I guess the other part of the question was whether we should consider any funding increases for this program until the evaluation has been completed and the results are available to the Congress.
Mr. Ross. Yes, that sounds more like a political question. I think that one of the things that was brought up by Dr. Hirsch way back about an hour ago was, is it valuable to have evaluation by the LEA's, because part of their grants are to do evaluation? And, I think absolutely, yes.
Now these aren't necessarily evaluations that will show the designs are working, but what was done in Memphis and is also done in some other districts is that formative evaluation is done that really shows whether the schools are implementing the designs, whether they're reaching implementation benchmarks. When you go to the schools, do you really see a different kind of learning taking place or do you see the same old thing? If you don't do that, you can spend a lot of Federal dollars on models that end up essentially being a banner in front of the school where there isn't that kind of process accountability.
So there's really two kinds of evaluations; one is process accountability, and the other is results accountability. It's going to take you awhile to get results accountability in the same precise way we did in Memphis because that, again, used a value-added system, state-of-the-art statistics. I would hope that you would be open to getting reliable and sound process evaluation that is showing that good things are happening in the schools. And if that appears, good things not necessarily results right away, but good things in terms of teaching and learning being changed, we found that in Memphis. And I think that that is a basis to say, ``Yes, this program seems to be working. Schools are operating differently. Let's put more funding in.''
Chairman Riggs. Okay. Dr._
Mr. Ross. But I wouldn't make it just a yes or no thing based on results.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Dr. Ross.
Mr. Hirsch. A number of things. I agree actually with the speakers who say evaluation should be part of the program. I see that in the same way as an internal financial officer of a business keeping watch over the books. I mean that's a terrifically important component. But it's also very important to have external auditors for a business, because they no particular interest. And it would be better if the internal auditors, rather the external auditors, had no stake whatever in the continuation of the program. And that's the basic structural point I want to emphasis. Internal evaluation, evaluation that's part of the ongoing procedures is of tremendous importance. But this body, the Congress, it seems to me has the right to demand some totally independent evaluation that doesn't depend on the continuation of the program, which fits into your other question.
Should we continue it if it's not working? That question, It seems to me, connects very strongly with Mr. Kurz's testimony about his school which pretty much reflects in very concrete terms the kind of point I was making about the flexibility of the program. He is not applying for any of these. He's running a first-rate school. If he could get some of that money, because there's a finite amount of money even in our rich economy, and if that money can be spent in a more cost-effective way to reach more children instead of a good, real big hunk of that money going to the entities that are overseeing these programs, to my mind, that's all to the good. And Mr. Kurz would be using all of that money for his kids. It's a program that's known to be effective.
And frankly, a lot of the programs that are listed in the Obey-Porter legislation, are not particularly effective. In fact, there is evidence that shows that they are not effective. I can't understand why they continue to be listed.
So, I'm very skeptical. I'm a Democrat; I'm not a Republican. But I must say, I begin to have Republican sentiments on when money is not going to the kids and not helping the kids with this Federal legislation. I would be very cautious. And I guess my most concrete advice in that regard is to make sure that you really are getting evidence both from the start from good disinterested scientists that this is likely to work. And secondly, on the other end, that it really did work by people who don't have any stake whatever in the continuation of the program.
Those are really my two main points. And I hope that addresses your question.
Chairman Riggs. It does, Dr. Hirsch, and in fact, you articulate very well the concerns that many of us have regarding how we somehow seem to grow these programs over time at the Federal level. And I was really stunned by Mr. Kurz's testimony just a moment ago that he hasn't applied to the New York State SEA and for the funding, in part because of his concern about the regulatory red tape involved.
And, Mr. Kurz, I assume, but I need to ask this anyway for the record, but I'm assuming that the majority of your students are eligible for title I services? What percentage?
Mr. Kurz. Ninety-six, a little over ninety-six percent.
Chairman Riggs. Yes, so obviously you would qualify_
Mr. Kurz. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. _for these funds and any funding for comprehensive school reform?
Mr. Kurz. Sometimes it's not only money that makes schools work. And if my school is working, I don't need all this other money to put in programs that I'm not certain, as Dr. Hirsch mentioned, will work. If mine is working, why do I need the money? It's, you know, leave it alone.
Mr. Hirsch. Actually, the Open Court Reading program is the best researched reading program available. The top reading researchers in the country created it.
Mr. Kurz. I'm not talking about Open Court being a model for other schools. I'm saying it works in my school, and it is a successful program, and I do recommend it to other schools. But I would not be bold enough to say, ``Well, it worked in my school. Let it work in another school.'' And I think something that Dr. Ross touched upon also; when I came into my school 12 years ago and it wasn't doing all that well, they told me it was an Open Court school. And when I went around from classroom to classroom, the teachers weren't wherewithal using it. It was in the closet. It was called Open Court but, you know, it could have had a banner in front of the school as you mentioned, but they weren't using it. So, it's what you do with the program that makes it work. And it's really the people inside the school that make these programs work regardless of whether it comes from the Federal Government, or the local government, or from the school itself.
Chairman Riggs. Yes. Thank you, Mr. Kurz.
I know Mr. Anderson wants to add a word. I need to go to my colleagues, though, but I want to just note for the record you and Dr. Hirsch are making a very effective argument for our block grant approach, whether you know it or not. Try to get money down locally, down to the local level by letting the decisionmakers at that level decide how best to use the money to meet the needs of those kids and that community.
Mr. Anderson. If every school in innercity New York was as good as Mr. Kurz's school, we wouldn't have this issue. We wouldn't even need to have this discussion. The fact, though, in this country is that good schools are the exception and not the norm. And what Mr. Kurz has done in his school with his leadership is what we need to enable other schools to do that don't have that leadership and that don't have that expertise. And they supplement what they are able to produce on their own with outside assistance. And whether that decision is made in a district or at the local school, we believe it ought to be made at the local school level, that once that decision is made, the funding from somewhere to engage that assistance. Effective us of title I money, most schools don't use it effectively today. But the effective use of title I money could accomplish this. So it is to take what Mr. Kurz does so well and to try to make that more pervasive across the country, in our experience is that most schools don't have the wherewithal to do that on their own.
Chairman Riggs. Well, we can continue this debate. I think you could probably condense what you just said down to saying that most schools don't have a Mr. Kurz has principal.
Mr. Anderson. Absolutely.
Chairman Riggs. And you wouldn't get any argument here, but you'd certainly get an argument whether this particular program and this hundreds of million of dollars in Federal taxpayer funding will help more schools get more Mr. Kurz-like principals.
Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman, when did the lights start working?
Chairman Riggs. A moment ago when I was slipped a note saying there are two votes in 20 minutes.
And, Mr. Scott, I will remind you who is chairman of the subcommittee as well.
With that admonition, I'll be a generous as possible with the time for you and Mr. Owens. And if we have roughly 20 minutes, we'll try to evenly divide it between you two gentlemen.
Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman, I was just joking. I was just joking.
Dr. Hirsch, is there a consensus on what consensus research is?
Mr. Hirsch. I wouldn't say so; no, because that's a very abstract question. To find out what consensus research is, you have to take a individual question. Now, if you want to find out what's the consensus on reading, I believe this panel and others have gone into that kind of issue. And you find out that even though there are some strong holdouts on the subject of reading research, there is strong agreement that you need to start children with phonemic awareness. You need to build on phonemic awareness and go onto the next stage, and so on. There are some strong holdouts, but there's a distinct consensus on that question.
There are some questions on which there isn't a great deal of consensus. For example, the right balance between early memorization of the multiplication table and an understanding of the procedures. Most people take, I think, I would say, ``Yes, there is consensus that a balanced approach to that question is the right approach, and not take an extreme or doctrinaire view.'' So if you go on that particular question, there's less agreement than on reading, but there's still a solid core of agreement there. You have to take it question by question. And then you have to say, ``Well, who are the best respected researchers?'' And it seemed to me that you asked the critical question when you said, ``Is this refereed research?'' Because refereed or peer reviewed research is the kind of research that gets into the most prestigious, the best journals, and they filter out a lot of second-rate science. And that is what, by and large, I would say, ``Yes, okay. That's a rough and ready definition of what consensus science is.'' That is what gets accepted by the most respected scientific journals.
Mr. Scott. And Dr. Hirsch, you indicated the need for independent evaluation. How expensive is that?
Mr. Hirsch. I don't think it's very expensive at all in the scheme of things. I should think you could do a darn good evaluation for a million dollars. Then, if you want a really good evaluation, you could probably do it for $2 million. I mean it's chicken feed_
Mr. Scott. You're talking about national, you're not talking about in each school?
Mr. Hirsch. The point is that you don't. Evaluation is a sampling device. You don't evaluate every student. There are various techniques of evaluation. There are control schools, that method, that's very important to use. But there's also looking at individual student achievement which is, seems to me, the bottom line of evaluation. And particularly the equity effects of various programs; that's very easily discernible. It isn't all that hard and all that expensive. The important thing is to ask really hard questions. The really embarrassing questions that usually do not get asked when the program is also funding its own evaluation.
Mr. Scott. Well_
Mr. Hirsch. It's a little bit touchy to talk about that issue. But it's like my example of the external auditors; it's extremely important and I_
Mr. Scott. Well let me ask Mr. Kurz a difficult question. How can you have such a successful school in New York City and most of the schools in New York City don't do as well?
Mr. Kurz. I think we're focused in our school. We have stability. We know what we're doing, and we don't make excuses. Everyone takes responsibility if, I believe it was Mr. Martinez who mentioned something about his kindergarten child and everyone in that class failed. In our school, if a child fails, I fail, the teacher fails, and then we worry about the child.
Mr. Scott. Well, how can that be? Can that be replicated?
Mr. Kurz. It can be replicated, but it has to start from someone who believes in it and not just says it. Because you hear a lot of people saying, ``Oh, all children can learn,'' all this and all that, but I don't know if they really believe it.
Mr. Scott. Well, when you see these turnaround situations, usually the first thing you find is a principal. They changed principals, and then things started to work, like a CEO of a corporation. Can that be replicated? I mean do you have to kick out the principal and start with somebody new? And then how do you pick somebody?
Mr. Kurz. Well, quite frankly, sometimes you do. Sometimes if it's not working from the top, you have to remove the top. And other times you have to give them the tools to create success, and that can be replicated.
Some of the programs, I've listed about 10 or 12, and I even cut it down as I saw the lights flickering. But I have programs that we work and that we use in our school that are effective.
And something like the Principal's Reading Club where I heard someone just, you know, they laughed a little bit because they think it's a cute idea. But I was out in California talking to some principals and superintendents out there, and I asked a question of the principals, and it was rhetorical because I didn't want to embarrass anyone. I asked, ``How many students in your kindergarten classes know how to read?'' And quite frankly, very few principals would know that unless they have the kids come into their office to read. I know we have 150 students who came into kindergarten this year; 136 of them have come into my office to read already this year. So_
Mr. Scott. How many students do you have in your school?
Mr. Kurz. One thousand, three hundred and fifty.
Mr. Scott. How many of their names do you know?
Mr. Kurz. How many of their names?
Mr. Scott. Correct.
Mr. Kurz. Quite a few. I don't know every single name, but I know a lot of students because they come in my office, and I'm in the classroom.
Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman, I'll defer to Mr. Owens at this point.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Scott.
Mr. Owens is recognized.
Mr. Owens. He asked the hard questions already. Let me give you a political preamble here. We're talking about $145 million for the School Reform program here. A very tiny amount when you consider the billions of dollars that are spent on elementary and secondary education. We're talking about school expenditures, you know, in most big city schools between $5,000 and $7,000 per child. When Americans really want to educate somebody as they do West Point cadets, they spend $120,000 per cadet. Well, you might say, ``Well, that's not elementary or secondary. That's higher education.'' Well, Harvard and Yale only spend between $30,00 and $40,000 per student. And we really want to educate people. The taxpayers of this Nation spend $120,000 for the academic education of cadets, not the military maneuvers. If you add that to it, it goes up to $200,000. Recently, I checked these facts with the CRS.
So, we're talking about an atmosphere created in the Nation where we don't have appropriate funding. Before you make evaluations, you can make some assumptions about standards. And we dealt with opportunities to learn standards around here for awhile, and then they were tossed out completely because they were too dangerous. Opportunity to learn standards means simple questions like, ``Do you have an adequate place for kids to learn, to study? Is it safe?'' You shouldn't have coal-burning schools. Children can achieve despite that, but you shouldn't subject them to that. You shouldn't subject them to crowded classrooms and more students in a room that a teacher can deal with; 30 is not bad, you say, but there's some with 40.
We shouldn't do that if we really are serious about education youngsters.
When you have a situation that is working well, you don't need reform. We don't think reform is highly desirable. We're not here to try to sell reform. If it's not broken, don't fix it. P.S. 161 is not broken; it doesn't need to be fixed. But across the Nation, most of the schools are broken. We do need reform; certainly, in our big city schools. Why are they broken? Why do we need reform? Because people like Mr. Kurz are not out there in large numbers. So what does the system need to do in order to get more people like Mr. Kurz? If the key to it is leadership, leadership and administration of the school via the principal, and leadership among the teachers, then that's where we should focus. We talk about staff development as if it's one of the things we'll consider; maybe that ought to be the primary focus.
Mr. Kurz, can you replicate yourself even at your own school? If you left tomorrow to become vice chancellor of New York City Schools for School Improvement, which if they had any sense, they would have tried to recruit you a long time ago. But if you left to go to a position where you could apply your 30 years of experience in the system, and 12 years as a principal, and help other principals to learn because there's a problem. If they have visited your school, the superintendent for your district came over, district 17, and she said she had 16 new principals coming in in September, new, brand new people. Out of the, what do you have 26 schools? Those new principals coming in don't have your experience. You know_
_and as a system as a whole, they don't have experience as principals. How do we have a system which can quickly bring these people up to a level of somewhere near half of what you have to offer now in terms of experience? A leadership which attracts good people to stay in the school as teachers. A leadership which knows the importance of working with parents. A leadership which makes due with what you have in terms of resources. So you got computers; you didn't wait for somebody else to get them. You have them in your school. You didn't wait for the appropriation to come through somewhere else; you got them somehow. On and on it goes. How do we replicate you? How would you recommend that we guarantee a good flow of just top-notch principals in the system?
Mr. Kurz. Well, just yesterday I had the occasion, they want to start, I think you saw our middle school component at 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. They'd like to start another one similar to what we've accomplished in 161. And the principal came over to my school; I met with her yesterday, and we went over certain things.
There are certain basic things that people who are new to the job probably don't know. Believe me, I know a lot more now, after 12 years, than I did when I first started. There are certain simple, basic things in good pedagogy and good principalships that can be taught to other people. But the other people have to have the dedication and the commitment. If the person has the dedication and commitment, then it can work. But if they just have the talk, and they have nothing behind it, then it's just going to be talk. But they're are plenty of people out there_
Mr. Owens. Well, you're our hero, so I don't want to put on the spot_
_but how many teachers started out when you started out 30 years ago who are dedicated, they went on and became principals or administrators? How many left the system?
Mr. Kurz. You know, a lot of people left the system_
Mr. Owens. What percentage?
Mr. Kurz. A lot of people left the system for many reasons. Money was a reason; they weren't happy with their job. They weren't successful. But there are, I have a few friends who have been very successful, and they stayed in the system. But unfortunately, I don't know what the life expectancy of a principal in an urban school is, but I imagine it's rather low. And that's part of the problem of urban education because they don't stay there long enough.
Mr. Owens. How can we change the system so that we keep the good people in? The system in your school keeps good teachers. You introduced me to a few; one who drives in from the suburbs where she could get a job in the suburbs, paying more money, and not have to drive in. She drives in because she likes the system you have at the school. We have 1,100 schools in New York City. How do we get half of them up to the point where the teachers enjoy coming to school and teaching. And they have stability there, because the turnover is tremendous. And somebody mentioned before that you have emergency teacher certificates. We have 32 school districts in New York City, and we have 1, school district 23, where 60 percent of the teachers are emergency teachers; 60 percent. How do you establish standards? And what difference does it make whether the State requires you to take a test? They didn't take a test; they're warm bodies that we beg to come because the shortage is so great.
So, what I'm trying to do is to turn the focus back to the system. This is a little piece of reform designed to deal with the system problem and to try to get us back to the point where systems can do what used to be done sort of, not naturally, not the economics were such that most of the college graduates who came out of school when you came, a large percentage of the top people went into teaching. When I came out, it was beginning to dwindle away. You can get jobs somewhere else. So the top students didn't all go into teaching. And that trend has continued right down to the point where you have the students who scored lowest in college are the ones that go into teaching. And some top students who decide to go into teaching, don't stay there because they have other options and they run into conditions where the principal does not encourage teamwork. And all kinds of things happen, so they quickly get out.
So, I just want to put in a word for the system. This is a step forward in terms of $145 million that will give us some opportunities to look at what does work, whole schools can come to grips with some problems in terms of maybe keeping teachers, maybe developing leadership among principals. But we need a whole lot of other models like this and experiments like this in order to get the system working.
Most of all, we need more support from our Government at every level. We are not supporting our schools enough. It is not enough to put the schools and the principals and the teachers on the spot and not give them first-rate school buildings, where kids can study in safe conditions, the right amount of equipment, books. All of that is what we, as public policy makers, ought to deal with first, standards, standards which would make it possible for every kid to have an opportunity to learn. Then, after that, I think these kinds of reforms, how they operate within that context become very important.
But let's not, you know, spend too much time evaluating too harshly this small effort because_
_it is not the beginning of the solution even. It is just a tiny effort we made, just totally inadequate.
Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman?
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Owens, thank you.
Yes, Congressman Scott?
Mr. Scott. Could I ask Ms. Merrill a question?
Chairman Riggs. Of course, we've been summoned to the Floor for a vote and obviously I want to adjourn the hearing shortly, but ``Yes.''
Mr. Scott. Ms. Merrill, you indicated that each student has an individual education plan. Does that include a social background to determine, I know in Judiciary Committee, we have found that if a young person doesn't have a responsible adult person, individual adult in their life, kind of as a guide, that's usually a high risk for juvenile delinquency. Do you determine whether or not there's an uncle or parents are doing their job, or a coach, or something like that, as part of their IEP evaluation?
Ms. Merrill. Actually, we don't determine whether the parents are doing their job. What we do is, we try to help to facilitate the families to do a better job with their children if they need such help. Each plan is for all children; it is to take the place of the IEP. I know Mr. Kurz is not foolish on accepting this kind of money. We don't accept Federal special ed money because it comes with too many ties for us. It's much simpler to_
Mr. Scott. How do get_
Ms. Merrill. _an IEP for all children.
Mr. Scott. If you don't accept Federal special education money, what_
Ms. Merrill. How do we pay for it?
Mr. Scott. Well_
Ms. Merrill. Again, I have to wring a dollar about a hundred different ways.
Mr. Scott. How do you comply with IDEA, or do you not bother?
Ms. Merrill. We comply because each family who comes into our school accepts sort of the terms of what the school will be like which is a full inclusion school. Which there are many great models in New York City, actually which are full inclusion schools.
Mr. Scott. So, if a person cannot participate in a full exclusion activity, then they are not accepted?
Ms. Merrill. No, there's no full exclusion. That's not really a possibility_
Mr. Scott. Or an inclusion?
Ms. Merrill. What we do is we push in the services that the students may need. We definitely do offer varying kinds of services that deals with students' needs.
Mr. Scott. Are you required to accept people regardless of handicap?
Ms. Merrill. Yes. Yes; and we currently do have students with severe emotional disabilities and situations, autism, et cetera. And we have a full inclusion model.
Chairman Riggs. Congressman Scott, thank you.
And I want to ask one final question to Ms. Merrill. And that is, Ms. Merrill, it's my impression that the comprehensive school, based largely on today's hearing and the testimony we've received from our witnesses, that the Comprehensive School Reform program is Federally driven in sort of a top-down manner. It's also my impression that charter school, the whole charter school reform movement is much more of a grassroots bottom-up, locally-driven movement. Is that your impression being someone who is directly involved in helping to found and operate a local charter school?
Ms. Merrill. I believe it's true that the charter school movement is a grassroots movement, one that is so small sometimes at least internally to our own little school that we definitely need the help of researchers, of sort of the best of the best to be able to call on them to get different ideas at different times. Time is our biggest problem, actually. So, the ability to call on research teams to sort of send in the SWAT team to give us advice, and help, ideas, that's what we need. And cash also helps to be able to facilitate, but that ability to use this kind of system for charter schools, I think, is especially helpful. And our independence, our autonomy helps to push our time frame along.
Chairman Riggs. I think that independence and autonomy are pretty good ingredients for real reform_
Ms. Merrill. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. _and innovation.
And final question, Mr. Anderson, how many are your clients are charter school operators?
Mr. Anderson. We have several dozen, and we are expanding that effort now.
Chairman Riggs. You are extending your outreach to charter schools.
Mr. Anderson. Yes, we have a grant from Foundation to actually expand our work with charter schools. It doesn't matter whether a school is a charter school or how it's funded, a private school, they still need to create a good environment for children, and that's what research-based models can help all schools do.
Chairman Riggs. Absolutely. Do you work with private schools?
Mr. Anderson. No, sir, not yet.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. Well, I want thank you, did you say not yet, by the way?
Mr. Anderson. Not yet.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. I want to thank you very much. And I want to thank all the other witnesses for their testimony here today. We appreciate it; it's going to be very helpful to us in our deliberations regarding the subsequent funding for this program in the next Federal Fiscal Year and beyond as the next Congress takes up the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Chairman Riggs. So, thank you, again. The subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:25 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]