Chapter 1 Program Improvement: Cause for Cautious Optimism and a Call for Much More Research

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The program improvement provisions of the Hawkins-Stafford Amendments to Chapter 1 rest on the optimistic premise that school-level accountability pressures directed at Chapter 1 will lead to higher academic achievement for educationally disadvantaged students. Although the legislation may be unrealistic in assuming that improvement is primarily an act of will, it correctly focuses on the school as the appropriate unit for change. Principals of over 200 schools identified for program improvement in three states were surveyed to determine local responses to the new provisions. Over two-thirds of responding schools had begun to implement programmatic changes. Fully 84% supported the legislative provisions. Research is called for to study the effects of the legislation and to provide additional options to low-performing schools.