I. SERVE's Policy Program and NCLB
The Policy Program at SERVE developed a variety of documents, web pages, field support efforts, and publications that interpret and clarify the various components of the NCLB Act. Links to the full text of the Act were provided, and important sections were excerpted and placed on SERVE's website.
In addition, SERVE policy staff in each state provided assistance to individual states, serving on key policy teams, task forces, and NCLB review committees. For example, the Georgia Policy Specialist serves on several key policy teams in the Georgia Department of Education, including the No Child Left Behind implementation committee, School Improvement Task Force, the Teacher Quality Task Force, the End-of-Course Test Task Force, Testing Task Force, Limited English Proficient (LEP) Task Force, the Georgia school Administrators Association NCLB Review Committee, and was recently selected to participate in a weekly meeting of the state's education organization leaders. Policy staff also synthesized research on social promotion and retention, state efforts to improve teacher working conditions, and school governance and prepared briefs on a variety of topics, such as state regulations around social promotion and retention, teacher workforce conditions surveys, and board rules related to 2004 state legislation.
II. Identifying high-quality, instructional strategies validated by scientifically based research (SBR)
SERVE's Advancing Reading Achievement (ARA) project is piloting ways to help teachers understand research-based instructional strategies in reading through the use of study groups. Based on lackluster reading achievement results regionally and nationally in the late 1990s and the emergence of high-stakes accountability programs in states during the same period, SERVE began work on a document entitled Advancing Reading Achievement in Elementary Schools (ARA-E). In part, the document reflects the reading research that is the foundation for Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children and The National Reading Panel Report. The rationale for this project included two themes from educational research: research-based instructional practices that lead to improvement in student reading achievement, and research on professional learning communities that result in effective change in practice which can lead to increased reading achievement. It incorporated a faculty professional learning team format to assist elementary educators in providing effective reading instruction to students, and, thereby, developing proficient, successful readers. Based on the success of ARA-E and educator needs, the Advancing Reading Achievement in Middle Schools (ARA-M) document was created in 2003.
III. Implementing Reading First programs
SERVE partnered with the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) on a Reading First Initiative to promote scientifically based reading research and instruction. In January 2003, NCREL was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to provide technical assistance to Reading First states in their subgrant competitions. SERVE is assisting NCREL in this process. Together, NCREL and SERVE have the responsibility to meet with all states and territories that have been awarded Reading First grants. In addition to our work with the states, SERVE is creating four products to assist both SEAs and LEAs as they implement their Reading First programs. The following are SERVE products developed for Reading First.
Scientifically Based Reading Research
This web-based product focuses on scientifically based reading research and how it affects principals and teachers implementing Reading First. For schools involved in the Reading First initiative, scientifically based reading research (SBRR) is the guiding principle for reading instruction, professional development, and assessment. In other words, SBRR affects almost all aspects of reading instruction for K3 teachers. Using this site can help you learn more about these topics:
- The effects of Reading First and SBRR on classroom instruction
- How teachers will use the five essential components identified by SBRR for reading instruction.
- Common scenarios in which teachers and principals might find themselves with regard to SBRR.
- Assistance schools can expect to receive from state education agencies.
Resources for additional information:
SERVE's 2003 issue of The Vision: Creating Good Readers: Initiatives and Issues in Reading describes state programs and scientifically based reading research and includes an article entitled Reading First and Early First Grant Programs.
IV. Supporting improvement of state assessment
The following are SERVE publications and reports related to state assessment:
V. Implementing comprehensive school reform programs validated by SBR
SERVE's work with Comprehensive School Reform is two-pronged. The first aspect involves offering technical assistance to states, districts, and schools. In 2003–2004, SERVE supported the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction in conducting site visits at CSR schools. In addition, SERVE has a web-based resource Understanding Comprehensive Reform that outlines the 11 components of CSR.
Title I Schoolwide Planning
SERVE's Response to the Eleven Components of Comprehensive School Reform:
Understanding Comprehensive Reform (UCR) online resource. UCR is a SERVE online resource that provides background information about Comprehensive School Reform, research aligned to its 11 components, and relevant external links.
Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program (CSR)
Research, development, technical assistance, and dissemination—especially via the web—are components of SERVE's continuing support of this national program.
SERVE Forum on School Improvement
The SERVE Forum on School Improvement is an annual conference held for educators all over the SERVE region. Each year's Forum features a different theme, but all aspects of education are addressed. Participants meet for three days and attend a variety of seminars, workshops, and courses.
Southern States Seminar on Accountability
SERVE convenes invited SEA representatives from the region and other experts in education reform for the annual SERVE Southern States Seminar on Accountability. This conference provides an opportunity for networking among states.