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Sizer's Coalition Gets $2 Million For Regional Research Centers

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The Coalition of Essential Schools, a group of some 200 public and private schools nationwide that are devoted to restructuring themselves, last week received a three-year, $2-million grant from the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund.

The grant will go toward establishing as many as 15 regional centers around the nation to work with the coalition schools, which are committed to fundamentally rethinking and redesigning their programs to stress teamwork and more in-depth study of core subjects. (See Education Week, Feb. 18, 1987.)

The research centers will be able to provide technical assistance to participating schools, linking schools with more experience in restructuring to those just beginning the process, officials said.

Research Funded Included

The grant will also be used for a research project at three coalition schools to record the experiences of teachers, administrators, and parents as their schools undergo the process of joining the coalition.

"The Coalition of Essential Schools has produced remarkable results from its reform efforts with extraordinary financial efficiency," M. Christine DeVita, president of the Dewitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, said in announcing the grant.

The founder and chairman of the coalition is Theodore R. Sizer, who is also a professor of education at Brown University.

The coalition stresses several key principles as the keys to effective school reform, such as allowing teachers to teach fewer topics but in greater depth, limiting the number of students assigned to one teacher to 80 to avoid depersonalized learning, and allowing students to pass only after showing mastery of a subject.

The coalition's approach has won praise around the nation and has been cited as a model by President Bush.

Officials of the coalition said the group currently is considering whether to apply for a federal grant to become a design team for one of the President's "new American schools."--mw

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