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Regional workshops were held around the country, supported in part from funds administered by the Division of Personnel Training. Since most of the children are located in State Residential schools for the blind, funds appropriated under P.L. 89–313, administered by the Division of Educational Services, were used to buy materials necessary to implement the program. Graduate students at the University of Texas, supported through Bureau training funds are engaging in research to examine the process to determine if it might serve as a model for other attempts to bring about changes in the educational system. In summary, the implementation of the program required the commitment of funds and manpower from every operating Division within the Bureau.
The job wasn't completed in the 12 months proposed, rather it took 16 months.
EXPERIMENTAL SCHOOLS PROGRAM-U.S. OFFICE OF EDUCATION
Experimental Schools is a new program in the Office of Education. It was introduced by President Nixon in his Message on Educational Reform (March 1970) when he called for such a program to be a "bridge between basic educational research and actual school practices".
By supporting a small number of large-scale comprehensive experiments with a major focus on documentation and evaluation, Experimental Schools serves as a successful bridge from research, demonstration, and experimentation to actual practice.
In response to the President's message, the Congress appropriated $12 million for Fiscal Year 1971.
When Sidney P. Marland, Jr., was appointed U.S. Commissioner of Education December 17, 1970, he announced that rapid implementation of the Experimental Schools program was one of his highest priorities. On December 28, 1970, some 20,000 copies of the first announcement regarding this new program were distributed nationwide.
The announcement set forth the general policies that were established specifically for governing the first projects and it solicited letters of interest from all agencies interested and able to combine into a single, comprehensive, kindergarten through grade 12 project a wide variety of promising practices for 2,000 to 5.000 predominantly low-income family children.
By February 1, 1971, nearly 500 letters of interest had been sent to the Experi. mental Schools office. An independent selection committee recommended eight which, in its judgment in cooperation with the Experimental Schools staff, had put together the most creative and most significant combinations of promising practices that could be fully operational in September, 1971. Each of the eight sites was given a 60-day planning grant to work out comprehensive programs meeting all the requirements laid out in the first announcement entitled-Basic Program Information: Hxperimental Schools. The eight agencies which received the $10.000 planning grants were:
Austin, Texas, Independent School District
Rochester, New York, City School District
Each of the three sites developed its own unique program, each has met the Experimental Schools requirements in ways which suit the particular needs of the communities involved, and each has combined a variety of promising practices into a comprehensive K-12 school design.
The plans are complex. They encourage flexibility. They allow for change and adaptability as progress reports and interim results show the need for changes in direction and/or emphasis.
Recognizing the need for long-term assessment, each Experimental School site is funded for five years of operation ; first for 30 months to be followed by additional funding for the final 30 months. On June 1, 1971, thirty-month operational grants in the following amounts were awarded to: Berkeley
$3,639,063 Franklin Pierce
$3,580,877 The Berkeley, Franklin Pierce, and Minneapolis projects should not be viewed as models. Each was developed out of the experience, the history, and the special characteristics of a particular site at a particular time—the spring of 1971.
The Experimental Schools program expects to have a limited number of new starts in each of the next five years. During the life of the program, it is the intent of the U.S. Office of Education to support a wide variety of comprehensive experiments. Thus, the requirements, procedures, format, and criteria used to select Experimental School sites will evolve and change from year to year.
As a major component in the proposed National Institute of Education, the Experimental Schools program is designed to increase and improve basic knowledge about the process of education and to implement on a wide scale significant concepts derived from research done in a “real world" setting.
In the past, Federal research activities in education have concentrated heavily on single programs such as staffing, curriculum and the use of technology.
Results from such piecemeal experimentation have been disappointing; few significant changes have been implemented. The thrust of the first three Experimental School sites is comprehensiveness in all grades K-12. Numbers are limited to a minimum of 2,000 and a maximum of 5,000. The comprehensive designs emphasize compatible and mutually reinforcing curriculum reform, staff training, administrative reorganization, community participation, and evaluation strategies.
The Experimental Schools program fulfilled its priority mandate to have programs in operation in September 1971, despite its late activation (December 17, 1970). Experimental Schools initiated 3 projects, operational September 1971, involving over 11,000 students over 65% from low-income families. The three projects derived from research, demonstration and experimentation in a comprehensive education program.
Among those practices considered most promising by FY '71 projects were: "Patterns in Arithmetic" (a media/programmed approach to individualized math instruction) developed by the Northwest Regional Laboratory; Bilingual materials developed by Title VII grant to Tucson, Arizona Public Schools ; “Man, A Course of Study” developed by an NSF award to Educational Development Corporation (EDC); "Collaborative Problem Solving" developed by an EPDA grant; "Individually Prescribed Instruction" developed by Research for Better Schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ; "Work Opportunity Centers" developed by Vocational Education Bureau and Title III funds; Environmental Science Center developed by Title III; the Charette (an organizational technique) developed by the Facilities Branch of USOE: Child Development Center developed by the Follow Through program of USOE; and the "Pyramid Reading Program” developed by the University of Minnesota under a Title IV grant. These practices illustrate the movement of ideas developed by Federally-supported research programs into wider practices. The three are located in the Berkeley Unified School District, Berkeley, California; the Franklin-Pierce School District, Pierce County, Washington; and the Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Because of the complexity of their programs and because of their ambitious goals, any one or all three of them may fail to achieve success. But regardless of the degree of achievement overall-or for any of the components—the three sites represent nationally significant comprehensive educational experiments.
Together these first three, and those to come, promise to give a test to the idea of combining several promising practices into a comprehensive, coherent, articulated educational program.
It is imperative that the evaluation and documentation procedures be comprehensive and thorough. Therefore within each five-year program is a special evaluation design. This internal assessment provides for the basic tracking of student progress and for the collecting of vital data. This level of evaluation takes place within an Experimental Schools project site and is conducted by the project staff.
Evaluation on a second level is also specific to an individual site but it is carried out by an evaluation contractor who is external to the project staff. For example, the Human Action Research Institute, Los Angeles, California, has a $748,316 thirty-month contract to evaluate and document the Berkeley site; the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, Oregon, has a $523,236 thirty-month contract for evaluation and documentation of the Franklin Pierce site; and the Aries Corporation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, has a $526,051 thirty-month contract for evaluation and documentation of the Minneapolis site.
The third level of evaluation includes an omnibus evaluator whose activities take in all projects and all sites and whose concerns include replicability of practices and programs, assessment of the second level evaluation activities, and the success of the Experimental Schools program as a whole.
The Experimental Schools program is designed as an evolving program in order to encompass the newest educational ideas as well as avoid the adminis. trative rigidity and program inflexibility that seems to accompany the creation of new units. It is designed as a terminal program yet constantly revising and reviewing its annual focus. Thus, in the fast start accomplished in FY '71 two competitions were necessary: the first, for projects to be operational in September 1971, and the second, for projects to receive sufficient planning and development time to be ready for operation in September 1972.
On March 31, 1971, a second competition was announced by the Experimental Schools office. The second competition broadened the Experimental Schools program by soliciting proposals for comprehensive projects which represent significant alternatives to existing school organization, practice and traditional performance. Applicants were asked to shift their focus and look anew at what students ought to learn, how to make different use of time and space, to rethink staffing patterns and personnel requirements, to consider alternative ways to organize and administer the schools, and to include the community in active participation in educational decisions. The second announcement was sent out nationwide and more than 300 substantive letters of interest were submitted. An independent selection committee chose the following to receive $30.000$40,000 four-month planning grants to prepare a complete proposal :
Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois
Vermont State Department of Education, Montpelier, Vermont On December 1, 1971, several of these applicants, after a review of their proposals by an independent panel, will be selected as Experimental School sites. Prior to receiving five-year operational grants in June, each will receive appropriate development funds for the interim.
The Experimental Schools program itself is experimental-it is testing significant alternatives to present government and pedagogical practices. Most notably:
Funding is for something longer than a year, alowing for continuity and internal integrity while testing and retesting possible alternatives;
The target population is large enough to allow for sufficient experimentation but small enough to be thoroughly evaluated and documented :
The choice of curriculum, organization, staffing patterns, and internal évaluation measures are all the choice of local personnel and the community;
Each applicant is required initially to send in a simple letter of interest rather than a professionally prepared proposal :
Once a letter of interest is chosen by an independent selection committee as a possible contender for an operational grant, the U.S. Office of Education provides a planning grant to allow for any necessary technical assistance;
Instead of the evaluation and documentation coming after a project has been completed or well under way, it is an integral part of each Experimental School site from the beginning;
Documentation includes not only the narrow components in a project, but the project itself and the total environment of which it is a part and which it is shaping;
The independent evaluators will use anthropological and sociological measures to identify both what is appearing to succeed and what is appearing to fail sharing both the "hard" and "soft" data with the U.S. Office of Education and the project staff ;
The three levels of evaluation ensure integrity in the reporting systems; and
Each site will provide an information center for visitors which will not impinge on the experiment itself yet fully inform all interested parties on
the results of the experiment. Five 12-month grants were awarded July 1, 1971 to five applicants whose letters of interest presented a uniquely promising component which, when further developed, could later become a significant part of a comprehensive program. The one-year grant winners are: School District #9, Browning, Montana ; Seaford School District, Seaford, Delaware; Davis County Community School District, Bloomfield, Iowa ; West Las Vegas and Las Vegas ('ity School Districts, Las Vegas, New Mexico; and the Greene County Board of Education, Eutaw, Alabama.
In FY '71 and '72 the Experimental Schools program awards were limited almost exclusively to existing K-12 public school agencies as those deemed most ready and able to design comprehensive projects that encompassed the best of promising practices. From the outset, the planning for Experimental Schools resolved to interpret "schools” broadly to include all of education. Thus, future comprehensive projects, restricted to five new starts in a given year, would be developed and designed in the field to take into consideration such relationships as early childhood education and its linkage to K-12 programming, post highschool education and its linkage to K-12 programming, community-based education which may encompass all ages in given community, higher education and its extension as well as new forms of education designed to improve and reform the present practices.
There are already available a number of sources of funds to conduct basic research and pilot or model projects. Many of these activities will be part of the proposed National Institute of Education (NIE). But there are almost no funds available to support the extension of research necessary to build the bridges between basic research and common practice; between clinical testing of an educational theory and its natural use in a real-world educational setting. In recognition of the large number of important completed basic research experiments and the large time lag between their completion and any large scale operationalizing of their ideas and procedures, a limited number of such experiments will be selected to serve as the basis for the development of large-scale comprehensive experiments with emphasis on developing the means for broad implementation including approaches to financial support, staffing, training, organization, and community participation.
(Whereupon, at 12:20 p.m., the subcommittee recessed, subject to the call of the Chair.)