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“The Accelerated Schools story is perhaps the most surprising and certainly one of the most dramatic. AS teachers reported significantly higher levels of change than teachers from other (comprehesive school) models."

Cited from " Implementing for Success: An Analysis of Five CSR Models"


Accelerated Schools plus is dedicated to the creation of schools in which every child has the opportunity to succeed as a creative, critical, productive member of our society. In Accelerated Schools, schoolwide changes support exciting and powerful learning opportunities and assist all students to learn and succeed in school and later life.

The implementation of the Accelerated Schools philosophy and practices in schools across the United States has resulted in outcomes such as increased mastery of basic and higher order thinking skills, more innovative and effective curriculum and instructional practices, improved attitudes toward schooling and learning, increased parental involvement; and improved school climate. Starting with two pilot schools in 1986-1987, Accelerated Schools has reached over 1,600 elementary, middle, and high schools.

School Accomplishments

Accelerated Schools plus is very proud of the hard work and dedication of its affiliated schools. Below we highlight examples of changes and improved academic achievement at accelerated elementary, middle, and high schools.

School Name / Subject Area
Year/ Score
Milwaukee Education Center (WI)
Percent proficient math
Percent proficient reading
Bell Middle School ( WI )
Percent proficient math
Percent proficient reading
Academy of Accelerated Learning ( WI )
Percent proficient math
Percent proficient reading
Custer Elementary School ( WA )
Percent proficient math
Percent proficient reading
Taft Elementary ( OR )
Percent proficient math
Percent proficient reading
Ben Martin Elementary ( NC )
Percent proficient math
Percent proficient reading
West Smithfield Elementary ( NC )
Percent proficient math
Percent proficient reading
Web Academy HS ( NC )

Percent proficient English I

Percent proficient Algebra I
Percent proficient Algebra II
Percent proficient Geometry

The table below compares student performance on the PACT in 2001 and again in 2004 for schools in South Carolina that have been affiliated with Accelerated Schools for at least four years. As the table illustrates, all three schools met AYP and have increased the percentage of students meeting standard during this four year time period. On average, the percentage of students meeting standard increased 10.8% in ELA and 21.6% in math. Subgroup data for Sunset Park Elementary are provided because attendance boundaries changed during this time period, but improvements continued for the school's original population.

AYP 2004
  2001 2004 % Change 2001 2004 % Change  
















* Lambs Elementary joined Accelerated Schools in 1997and Ladson Elementary joined in 1998.

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Evaluation-Related Studies

To date, a number of evaluations have been conducted regarding the implementation and effectiveness of the Accelerated Schools model, including the following:

Aladijem, D. K., & Borman, K. M. (2006, April). Summary of findings from the national longitudinal evaluation of Comprehensive School Reform. A paper prepared for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.

"Our data shows ATLAS Communities and Accelerated Schools building the kinds of social capital demonstrated to have an impact on student achievement."

• Academic Performance Index (API) Growth results released from the California State Department of Education website (2005).

"Two schools at the elementary level deserve special mention. Austin Creek School in the Rincon Valley Union School District attained an API score of 934, which is the highest in the county and the only score over 900. Sheppard Accelerated School in the Roseland School District increased its API by 60 points, which is the largest increase among the county's elementary schools. This is especially notable since this school serves an economically disadvantaged and ethnically diverse student population."

The Education Alliance at Brown University released a report entitled "Implementing for Success: An Analysis of Five CSR Models" (2005).

The study finds that Accelerated Schools plus is the most effective comprehensive school reform model, compared to four other national reform models and to control schools. The study evaluates the implementation of the different reform models and examines the effect of the model on teacher practice.  The research compares schools served by each model with comparison sites (control schools) and compares models with each other. Below are highlights taken directly from the report. Accelerated Schools came out on top! Here are the highlights taken directly from the report:

In relation to other school reform models:

  • "The Accelerated Schools model registered significantly higher amounts of change than other models on the greatest number of indicators of all the models in this study - another example of Accelerated Schools' breadth. The question then becomes, 'What is it about Accelerated Schools in particular that seemed to inspire change across a range of instructional indicators outside the scope of the model?' Perhaps Accelerated was more effective at creating an excitement about reform and the desire to take the reform process above and beyond a specific CSR model in its teachers."
  • "The Accelerated Schools story is perhaps the most surprising and certainly one of the most dramatic.  AS teachers reported significantly higher levels of change than teachers from other models on 39 out of 39 instructional indicators it advocated in 2001."
  • "A substantially higher percentage of AS teachers used hands-on strategies in the classroom.  AS teachers also made much greater use of community resources than teachers in the other three models."

In relation to teachers in comparison sites:

  • " AS teachers were found to be using strategies for cooperative learning/student interaction more often than their counterparts.   Also, AS teachers were more likely to collaborate, support the use of comprehension strategies, and link community interaction than their comparison site teachers." 
  • "Greatest differences [between AS teachers and comparison site teachers] included having students exhibit what they have learned before an audience and having students work in teams with individually defined leadership roles." 
  • "AS teachers reported collaborating with teachers in different subjects and different positions more than comparison site teachers." 
  • "AS teachers reported using community resources and introducing cultural traditions more routinely than comparison site teachers."

Three detailed ethnographies of the project, one on the overall change process in a middle school, and two on the treatment of special education children.

• Finnan, C. (1994). Studying an Accelerated School: Schoolwide Cultural Therapy. In G. & L. Spindler, Eds. Pathways to Cultural Awareness: Cultural Therapy with Teachers and Students. Thousand Oaks , CA : Corwin Press.
• Peters, Susan J. (1996). Inclusive Education in Accelerated Schools: The Case of Plumfield Elementary School . (Unpublished paper).
• Peters, Susan J. (1996). Inclusive Education in Accelerated Schools: The Case of Vista Middle School . (Unpublished paper).

Two studies in which an Accelerated School at each of two sites was compared over time with comparable, non-Accelerated Schools in the same district. In longitudinal comparisons of student achievement, the Accelerated Schools outperformed the comparison schools.

• Knight, S. L., and Stallings, J. A. (1995).The Implementation of the Accelerated Schools model in an urban elementary school, In R. Alllington and S. Walmsley (Ed.). No quick fix: Rethinking literacy programs in American elementary schools. New York: Teachers College Press.
• McCarthy, J. and Still, S. (1993). Hollibrook Accelerated Elementary School. In J. Murphy and P. Hallinger (Ed.). Restructuring schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Two cost studies conducted by economists of school reforms for the disadvantaged. Both showed the Accelerated Schools model has the lowest per student cost.

• King, J. A. (Spring 1994). Meeting the needs of At-Risk students: A cost analysis of three models. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 16.
• Barnett, W. S. (1996). Economics of school reform: Three promising models" In H. Ladd. (Ed.). Holding schools sccountable. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution.

One study of the interaction of leadership, Accelerated Schools implementation, and culture change in school districts, schools, and classrooms.

• Finnan, C. and Meza, J. (2002). Can a leader change the culture and embed reform? The Accelerated Schools Project in Memphis . In J. Murphy & A. Datnow, Eds. Leadership for school reform: Lessons from comprehensive school reform designs. Thousand Oakes , CA : Corwin Press.

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Third Party Evaluations

All research pieces referenced on this page are third party evaluations completed without Accelerated Schools input, funding, or involvement.

Manpower Development Research Corporation completed a study of our first generation schools examining third grade test scores for five years prior to and five years the schools became affiliated with the Accelerated Schools Project. A statistically significant effect size equivalent to achievement gains, found in the STAR report, when taking class size from 25 to 16 was found.

• Manpower Development Research Corporation. (2001). Evaluating the Accelerated Schools approach: A look at early implementation and impacts on student achievement in eight elementary schools. New York , NY.

The Indiana Policy Research Center studied Comprehensive School Reform implementation in Wisconsin. Accelerated Schools was the only model to have positive effect on students functioning in the bottom quartile and was the only model to result in a reduction in the retention rate.
• St. John, E. P., Manset, G., Chung, C.-G., Musoba, G., Loescher, S., Simmons, A. , and Hossler, C. A. (2001). Comprehensive school reform: An exploratory study. Bloomington , IN : Indiana Policy Research Center.

A comparison of first graders in three Accelerated Schools (AS) and three Success for All (SFA) schools was carried out in 1996-97 (Ross, Stringfield, et al.) for schools in Tacoma , Washington , completing their first year in the two programs. There were no statistically significant differences between the two models in oral reading, word identification, or passage comprehension. SFA did better in word attack by an effect size of .28. AS was superior in writing with an effect size of .41. The AS model had costs per student that were only 15 percent of the SFA model.
• Ross, S. M., Alberg, M., and McNelis, M. (1997). Evaluation of elementary school school-wide programs: Clover Park School District. Memphis, TN: Center for Research in Educational Policy.

The New American Schools project sponsored whole school reforms in Memphis. The first 25 Memphis elementary schools that adopted the reform models were compared with a matched group of non-reform schools. After three years it was found (Ross, Stringfield, et. Al.) that the comprehensive reform schools outperformed the non-reform schools in achievement. Accelerated Schools had the largest effect size for reading, a gain equivalent to going from the 30th to the 70th percentile among a largely minority and poverty student population. Across five subject tests, Accelerated Schools showed an average effect size of .77. The other reform models utilized in Memphis cost at least six times as much as the ASP model, so that the ASP schools produced about five times as much achievement as the other models per dollar of investment.
Ross, S. M., Sanders, W., Stringfiled, S. (1999). Two and three year achievement results on the Tenessee Value-Added Assessment System for restructuring schools in Memphis. Memphis, TN: Center for Research in Educational Policy.

The Cosmos Corporation evaluated the implementation of various reform models specifically examining implementation issues. Their findings for the Accelerated Schools in the study included the following:
- " Extensive training in AS philosophy and "powerful learning" strategies for all staff; weekly cadres meetings allowed staff to identify issues of concern for the entire school and develop hypotheses to address them."
- "Interviews, classroom observations and documents all made clear that the staff understood and strongly supported the reform process, including some familiarity with the nine CSRD Components."
- "Elements of the method were observed in all classrooms; teachers were actively engaged in accountability and decisionmaking at the school, using expertise to affect change."
Cosmos Corporation (2004). Findings from the field-focused study of the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration program. Bethesda, MD : Cosmos Corporation.

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