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UConn School Reform Program Adopted by National Authority (Released: 12/04/00)

By Janice Palmer, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- Accelerated Schools Project, a school reform program based at the University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education, has been endorsed and adopted by New American Schools, the nation's leading authority on research-based comprehensive school reform approaches.

New American Schools is a nonpartisan, nonprofi organization established in 1991 by national business and education leaders under a directive by the Bush Administration to overhaul the public education system. The group is dedicated to shaping and driving a growing comprehensive school reform movement and finding new ways to raise student achievement dramatically. Since its inception, hundreds of reform designs have been examined and tested, while the group determined which ones to adopt and promote. Accelerated Schools Project becomes only the 10th program endorsed by New American Schools.

"We are very pleased to be accepted into the New American Schools portfolio of design teams," says Gene Chasin, director. "It is an endorsement of our success in improving schools and raising student achievement levels in schools throughout the United States and in four foreign countries. We are honored to be included in this highly regarded group."

"New American Schools is known as one of the leading school reform organizations in the country," says Richard Schwab, dean of the Neag School of Education. "Its endorsement not only recognizes the achievements and potential of Accelerated Schools Project, it opens the door for receiving increased grant support."

Accelerated Schools Project is known for bringing all students, particularly those at risk, into the educational mainstream by the end of elementary school. By using accelerated learning and enrichment strategies instead of remedial instruction, under-achieving students eventually perform at levels appropriate to their age group, rather than falling further behind through the slowed-down remedial process. The Accelerated Schools Project approach is currently in use at more than 700 schools in 41 states and four other countries.

"They have undergone a rigorous review process that has demonstrated the highest standards for their design, and we are pleased to endorse the Accelerated Schools Project as one of our comprehensive school reform designs," says Mary Anne Schmitt, president, New American Schools.

Since no one design fits all schools, New American Schools offers an array of tried and true reform programs so communities are able to choose the one which best suits their needs. These designs reorganize an entire school around a road map or comprehensive plan that results in higher student achievement, quality professional development for teachers, principals and other school personnel, greater parental and community involvement, and an improved school environment.

The Accelerated Schools Project is designed to be a flexible program for each school to emphasize the strengths and special characteristics of each Accelerated school through a common philosophical framework. Three guiding principles -- unity of purpose, empowerment with responsibility, and building on strengths -- are the foundation of all Accelerated schools. The schools are also premised on nine values, and a system of governance that encompasses the entire school community -- faculty, administrators, students, and parents. The program uses an enriched curriculum, emphasizes language development, and focuses on problem-solving and higher order analytical skills.

For the last 12 years, the Accelerated Schools Project has undertaken and encouraged evaluation of its schools. The evaluations "have shown that Accelerated Schools consistently raise academic achievement, student attendance, and parental participation, and reduce student turnover, special education placements, students retained in grade, and teacher turnover," Chasin says.

Accelerated Schools Project joins a portfolio of other notable school reform programs endorsed by New American Schools, including Modern Red Schoolhouse, Outward Bound and Roots & Wings.

For more information, go to: Accelerated Schools Project and New American Schools.

December 2000 Releases
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