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Ed. Dept Awards Grants Aimed At Improving Middle, High Schools

By Debra Viadero — October 13, 1999 | Corrected: February 23, 2019 2 min read

Corrected: This article gave incorrect information on plans for a federal grant to Success for All, a popular school-improvement program. The elementary school-based program will use the funds to expand into middle schools.

The Department of Education is stepping up its efforts to tackle one of the toughest challenges in the national push for school improvement: bringing change to high schools and middle schools.

Federal officials last week announced the awarding of $12.7 million in contracts this year to seven organizations to refine--or, in some cases, create from scratch--models of effective secondary schools.

The awards were among a batch of new grants and contracts unveiled this month that build on the department’s Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program. Better known as “Obey- Porter” after its sponsors in Congress, the program was established in 1997 to dole out $150 million in grants for schools in poor communities that are looking to purchase proven, comprehensive-- or “whole school"--models for improving learning.

For More Information

Information about the center is scheduled to be available online after Nov. 1 at

Also this month, the department announced a $1.2 million contract for a national clearinghouse for information on effective programs and practices and another $8.7 million in contracts to help nine school design groups meet the demand from schools hoping to benefit from the Obey-Porter program.

‘Time Warp’

The middle and high school grants, which could amount to more than $76 million over the next five years, stem from a growing recognition that change is happening more slowly in secondary schools--particularly in high schools--than it is in elementary schools.

“Even as the world has changed around them, the majority of our nation’s high schools seem to be caught in a time warp from long ago,” Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said in a speech last month.

The largest of the contracts went to two programs that were once primarily based in elementary schools: the popular Success for All program, crafted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, and Different Ways of Knowing, an approach developed by the Los Angeles-based Galef Institute that integrates drama, dance, music, art, and media into core subjects.

Success for All will use its $12.3 million award to expand into high schools, while Different Ways of Knowing, with $13 million in funding, is making its first foray into middle schools.

The other contracts went to: Education Development Center Inc., to refine its ATLAS Communities program for the middle grades; Johns Hopkins’ Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At-Risk, for its Talent Development Model aimed at high schools and middle schools; Manpower Demonstration Research Corp., for its First-Things-First program for secondary schools; the National Center on Education and the Economy, for strengthening the secondary school aspects of its America’s Choice Model; and the Southern Regional Education Board, for combining its High Schools that Work program with its efforts in the middle grades.

The clearinghouse contract went to George Washington University’s Institute for Policy Studies, the Council for Basic Education, and the Institute for Educational Leadership. The three Washington-based contractors expect to have the new National Clearinghouse for Comprehensive School Reform up and running next month.


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