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Comprehensive School Reform: Technical Assistance

Technical assistance providers play critical roles in helping schools and districts to successfully implement their comprehensive school reform (CSR) efforts. The expertise and experience they bring to the table can drive the reform process, complement existing knowledge and skills in a school or district, and reserve precious resources for the core work of teaching and learning. One of the 11 components of the Comprehensive School Reform program calls for states to "ensure that funded programs are supported by qualified technical assistance providers that have a successful track record, financial stability, and the capacity to deliver high-quality materials, professional development for school personnel, and on-site support during the full implementation period of the reform." States are encouraged to require documented evidence to ensure that technical assistance providers meet these fundamental requirements.

Some states require that technical assistance and model providers complete and sign an assurance form that affirms that they meet the basic CSR requirements for a quality provider. After the service provider has assured the state in whatever manner necessary that they meet the basic requirements, it is then the responsibility of the school or district to further evaluate the specific nature of a provider's services.

NCREL's recently published Guide to Working With External Providers helps schools and districts in selecting a high-quality external provider. The guide advises schools and districts to require that external providers offer services that are aligned with established goals, part of a long-term strategy, customized, research based, and focused on building capacity. These five quality factors set the groundwork for external assistance that will result in the successful implementation of a CSR program that positively impacts student achievement.

Learning Point Associates offers resources that address local- and state-level concerns and challenges in implementing CSR and school improvement efforts.


The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement
Provides schools and districts with specific CSR information and assistance as well as offers guidance on organizing, planning, implementing, and sustaining school improvement efforts.

Literature Review of Sustainability and Resource Reallocation for School Improvement Programs
Offers a synthesis of current research on these two important CSR planning and implementation topics.

Making Good Choices: A Guide for Schools and Districts
Presents a decision-making strategy for informed data decisions and outlines steps for choosing a CSR model.

Making Good Choices: Districts Take the Lead
Focuses on strategizing, building support, facilitating informed choice, forging strong relationships with schools, and building capacity.

Making Good Choices: Sustainable School Improvement
Focuses on sustaining the school improvement effort by presenting information on building commitment, developing capacity, finding time, increasing staff retention, and finding money for continuous school improvement.

Additional Resource

Longitudinal Assessment of Comprehensive School Reform Program: Implementation and Outcomes
Summarizes the first year of the Longitudinal Assessment of Comprehensive School Reform Program. Study was conducted for the U.S. Department of Education by WestEd and COSMOS Corporation, with the assistance of Duerr Evaluation Resources.

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