ERIC Identifier: ED363668
Publication Date: 1993-09-00
Author: Burnett, Gary
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban
Education New York NY.
Chapter 1 Schoolwide Projects: Advantages and Limitations.
ERIC/CUE Digest, Number 92.
Since 1981, Chapter 1 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act has
provided school districts with supplementary services funds for more than five
million low-achieving students across the country. Schools have used Chapter 1
funds, whose allocation is based on the number of students from poor homes, to
design programs to benefit low-achieving students. Historically, to serve this
population, the majority of schools have relied upon "pull-out" classes which
both isolate Chapter 1 students from the larger student population and, as many
have suggested, limit the educational effectiveness of the programs themselves
by providing little beyond remedial instruction.
Under current legislation, the Hawkins-Stafford School Improvement Amendments
of 1988, schools with an enrollment of at least 75 percent low-income students
may use Chapter 1 funds to create "schoolwide projects" for improving
educational programs throughout an entire school rather than for implementing a
discrete remedial program. Such projects are intended to strengthen the
education of Chapter 1 students through enriching the educational experience of
all students. This effort to bring broad educational reform to entire schools
rests on the assumption that, in the poorest schools, it makes more sense to
serve all students than to provide supplementary services to Chapter 1 students
(U.S. Department of Education, 1990, 1993). Thus, through schoolwide projects,
students who may just miss eligibility for Chapter 1 but who could still benefit
from programs can receive assistance.
Chapter 1 legislation has permitted schoolwide projects since 1978; they
were, however, rarely implemented prior to 1988 due to a requirement that
districts match Federal grants with funds of their own (U.S. Department of
Education, 1993; Millsap, Turnbull, Moss, Brigham, Gamse, & Marks, 1992).
Since the passage of the Hawkins-Stafford Amendments, when the matching funding
requirement was dropped, the number of schoolwide projects has grown much more
rapidly than other types of Chapter 1 implementations, even though fewer than
one-third of eligible schools had adopted the model by the 1991-1992 school year
(U.S. Department of Education, 1993). Currently, more than 2,000 schools
nationwide have schoolwide projects, the majority of which are elementary
schools in urban districts (Millsap, Moss, & Gamse, 1993).
TYPES OF SCHOOLWIDE PROJECTS
Amendments allow considerable flexibility in the implementation of schoolwide
projects, although there are some limitations. The U.S. Department of
Education's Chapter 1 Policy Manual (1990) suggests that projects may consist of
class size reduction efforts, staff development and parent training, and
extended day activities.
Thus, schoolwide projects vary widely across the country. To date, most
schools have used schoolwide projects to reduce class size and to strengthen a
variety of already existing programs (U.S. Department of Education, 1993). Other
typical schoolwide implementations include the following:
* an informal process of student selection for
supplementary and pull-out services to provide any student with extra support on
an "as-needed" basis;
formal staff development programs;
the services of supplementary professional staff members, such as counselors,
social workers, project coordinators, in-class teaching assistants, etc.;
family-oriented programs, such as in-school parent centers, ongoing home visits,
collaborative projects with family service agencies, school-based child-care,
early childhood education, etc.;
innovative practices, including the development of teacher resource centers,
cross-age groupings, cooperative learning arrangements, augmented school
libraries, etc.; and
other enrichment programs, such as expanded field trips and extended-day or
extended-year programs (Millsap et al., 1992; Gittleman, 1992).
BENEFITS OF SCHOOLWIDE PROJECTS
Schoolwide projects have
generated widespread enthusiasm: they have been touted as an ideal method for
providing underachieving students with extra help, and even as a means of
removing the "disadvantaged" label from the poorest Chapter 1 schools
(Gittleman, 1992). As yet, however, because many schoolwide projects are in the
relatively early stages of development, there have been few full-scale
evaluations of them, and it is difficult to adequately assess their impact (U.S.
Department of Education, 1993).
Still, nearly 85 percent of principals in schools with schoolwide projects
have reported generally positive results from their projects (U.S. Department of
Education, 1993). According to these principals, those projects can:
offer more flexibility in delivering supplementary services than traditional
Chapter 1 programs;
offer assistance to all students rather than to a limited population, while
still serving traditional Chapter 1 students; and
eliminate or transform many negative features of traditional Chapter 1 programs,
In addition, some cities--like Philadelphia--with long-term projects have
reported consistent gains in student test scores, grades, and attendance over
more traditional Chapter 1 sites (Davidoff & Pierson, 1991).
DRAWBACKS OF SCHOOLWIDE PROJECTS
Despite the positive
results of Philadelphia's schoolwide projects, such success is not universal.
Schoolwide projects in Austin, Texas, have exhibited only minimal improvements
in student achievement--and at a cost several times higher than required for
other Chapter 1 programs (Fairchild, Christner, & Wilkinson, 1988).
Critics of schoolwide projects, in addition, suggest that many of the
perceived benefits reflect administrative convenience rather than a true concern
with educational reform or improved outcomes (U.S. Department of Education,
1993). They have also expressed concern that, because schoolwide projects make
resources available to all students without distinction, they will be diverted
from the students who need them the most. And, indeed, Millsap et al. (1992), in
a nationwide study of Chapter 1 implementations, found at least one project
currently offering services to its highest achieving students rather than to low
achievers, thus subverting the goals of the Chapter 1 program.
Furthermore, like many educational reform efforts, schoolwide projects
require substantial commitment at the local level as well as at the district and
state levels. Not surprisingly, the degree of such commitment varies
considerably. Clearly, schools that are pushed unwillingly into schoolwide
projects by overly enthusiastic districts--an occurrence in a number of
cases--are unlikely to demonstrate the commitment necessary for a successful
program (Millsap et al., 1992).
In general, schools are much more likely to develop schoolwide projects if
they are vigorously encouraged by their states and districts through workshops
and statewide staff development programs. Indeed, Tennessee and Utah--both of
which actively support such projects--have projects in 100 percent of their
eligible schools. Conversely, several other states, including Montana and
Connecticut, did not have a single schoolwide project in place as of the
1991-1992 school year. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education (1993) reports
that a full 45 percent of principals of eligible schools without schoolwide
projects were unaware that they were even an option for their schools.
Finally, evaluation regulations for schoolwide projects may lead districts to
approach them with caution. Like schools with traditional Chapter 1 programs,
schools with schoolwide projects that are unable to demonstrate adequate
academic gains by their students receive technical assistance and other support
for the improvement of those programs. For schools with schoolwide projects,
however, such "improvement" can often mean the dismantling of the schoolwide
project itself, leaving the school to either revert to its original Chapter 1
program or develop a new one from scratch (Clayton, 1991). Because of this--and
because of the complexity of schoolwide projects--the short evaluation cycle
built into Chapter 1 may not allow sufficient time for schools to show adequate
results (Gittleman, 1992). Thus, the implementation of a schoolwide project may
be perceived as an extremely risky undertaking.
Despite general enthusiasm, the available
evidence on the impact of schoolwide projects is mixed, and such projects may
provide little more than cosmetic changes to the delivery of Chapter 1 services.
The implementation of schoolwide projects does have the potential of providing
schools with significant local flexibility in fulfilling the goals of Chapter 1.
For example, they can help schools to eliminate pull-outs completely or to
redefine them as an "as-needed" service instead of as the core of a program.
Despite this potential, however, schoolwide projects have thus far, in most
cases, been limited to administrative changes.
Because of this currently unmet potential, whatever form Chapter 1 schoolwide
projects take in the future, it will be necessary to ensure that they are
developed thoughtfully and thoroughly. Otherwise, they cannot be any more or
less effective than other models of Chapter 1 implementation.
Clayton, C. E. (1991). Chapter 1 evaluation:
Progress, problems, and possibilities. Educational Evaluation and Policy
Analysis, 13(4), 345-52.
Davidoff, S. H., & Pierson, E. M. (1991). A continued look at the promise
of schoolwide projects. Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia School District Office of
Assessment. (ED 330 709)
Fairchild, M. E., Christner, C., & Wilkinson, D. (1988). What price
achievement: A cost-effectiveness study of Chapter 1 and schoolwide projects.
Austin, TX: Austin Independent School District. (ED 300 507)
Gittleman, M. (1992). Chapter 1 program improvement and innovation across the
states. An overview and state profiles. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State
School Officers. (ED 350 379)
Millsap, M. A., Moss, M., & Gamse, B. (1993). The Chapter 1
implementation study: Final report: Chapter 1 in public schools. Washington, DC:
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Policy and Planning.
Millsap, M. A., Turnbull, B., Moss, M., Brigham, N., Gamse, B., & Marks,
E. (1992). The Chapter 1 implementation study. Interim report. Cambridge, MA:
Abt Associates, Inc. (ED 351 420)
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Compensatory Education Programs. (1990). Chapter 1 policy manual. Basic programs
operated by local educational agencies. Part A of Chapter 1 of Title I,
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 amended by the Augustus F.
Hawkins-Robert T. Stafford Elementary and Secondary School Improvement
Amendments of 1988 (Public Law 100-297). Washington, DC: Author. (ED 323 274)
U.S. Department of Education. (1993). Reinventing Chapter 1: The current
Chapter 1 program and new directions: Final report of the National Assessment of
the Chapter 1 Program. Washington, DC: Author.