CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

Study of Instructional Improvement

CPRE Michigan’s Study of Instructional Improvement (SII) was a 13-year (1996-2009), multi-method, large scale quasi-experiment that sought to understand the impact of three widely-disseminated comprehensive school reform (CSR) programs on instruction and student achievement in high-poverty elementary schools: the Accelerated Schools Project, America’s Choice, and Success for All. The study also followed a set of closely matched comparison schools. Each of these school reform programs sought to make “comprehensive” changes in the instructional capacity of schools, and each was being implemented in schools in diverse social environments. Each program, however, also pursued a different design for instructional improvement, and each developed particular strategies for assisting schools in the change process. In order to better understand the process of whole-school reform, SII developed a program of research to examine how these interventions operated and to investigate their impact on schools' instructional practice and student achievement in reading and mathematics.

The research program had three components:

  • A longitudinal survey of 115 schools (roughly 30 schools in each of the three interventions under study, plus 26 matched control schools);
  • Case studies of the three interventions under study; and
  • Detailed case studies of nine schools implementing the interventions under study (plus 3 matched control schools).

Field work was conducted during the academic years 2000-2001 to 2004-2004. Since 2005, the project has been focused on dissemination efforts. All of this work had two main purposes: First, to understand the circumstances under which different intervention designs and strategies could be expected to produce changes in particular elements of instructional capacity in schools; and second, to learn which elements of instructional capacity, when present in schools, worked to produce higher levels of student achievement in reading or mathematics.

Most recently, SII has released three important dissemination products:

  • A research report titled: School Improvement by Design: Lessons From a Study of Comprehensive School Reform Programs, by Brian Rowan, Richard Correnti, Robert Miller, and Eric Camburn, which presents an overview of key findings from the study.
  • A website ( that provides users with a) a listing of research papers and publications from the study, b) an online report that describes the SII research program and provides a narrative account highlighting selected findings, and c) an opportunity for users to directly download many of the instruments and data files from the study as well as a detailed user’s manual.
  • The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research—the world’s largest social science data archive—will house and directly disseminate SII data files (
Start date: 
January 1996
End date: 
December 2009