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CSR Practitioner's Guide to SBR - Introduction

Welcome to the Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) Practitioner's Guide to Scientifically Based Research. This guide is designed to help those planning for or implementing CSR to understand and respond to the new federal regulations regarding the quality of research supporting CSR programs. The 2001 re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires that state and local education agencies receiving CSR funds have quality research to support their choice of practices, strategies, and overall approach.

The new federal requirements build upon a growing movement to raise the quality of school programs by requiring that they first be reviewed for evidence of effectiveness as indicated by quality research. However, there is often a lack of research that meets the highest quality standards for research, as defined by the federal legislation, upon which to base these decisions. In a few areas of education research--most notably in reading--there has been a substantial improvement in quality and a growing consensus of experts around what is "known." In most other areas of education research, however, such strong evidence and convergence of opinions do not exist. In those cases, educators planning for CSR rely on other research available, including research reflecting "best practices" or other professional wisdom.

The National Clearinghouse for Comprehensive School Reform (NCCSR) designed this tool so that those making decisions about developing or funding CSR programs can understand the research available on the various CSR components and can easily access a variety of supporting resources, most of which are available on-line.

This guide will help CSR practitioners:

  • Understand federal definitions of scientifically based research (SBR)
  • Identify CSR regulations that refer to SBR
  • Recognize the responsibilities of state and local education agencies for SBR
  • Determine how SBR relates to specific CSR components
  • Locate resources that will aid in designing a CSR program supported by scientifically based research when available and the best alternatives when it is not.