America's Choice School Design

by Thomas Toch

The America’s Choice School Design is one of the nation’s largest comprehensive, K-12 school-improvement programs, serving some 325,000 students in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

The National Center on Education and the Economy, a nonprofit education organization founded in 1988, launched America’s Choice in 1998 after conducting extensive research on the best educational practices nationwide and abroad.

In late 2004, NCEE created a for-profit subsidiary, America’s Choice Inc. The new company’s products include the America’s Choice School Design, elements of the design that are sold individually and consulting services to states and large school systems. The America’s Choice School Design features research-based teaching strategies, a 2½-hour daily literacy block at the primary school level, in-school math and literacy coaches and a safety-net system for struggling students that includes double-period courses in literacy and math.

America’s Choice works with local educators to establish leadership teams and model classrooms in each of the schools that adopt the design. A national network of curriculum and teaching experts helps schools implement the school-improvement program through on-campus and regional and national training efforts.

America’s Choice works with school systems under five-year contracts at a base cost ranging from $70,000 a year for the America’s Choice elementary school program to $75,000 a year for the high school program. Funding typically comes from Title I, the federal Comprehensive School Reform Program and other federal and state sources.

NCEE has contracted with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, headquartered at the University of Pennsylvania, to evaluate the performance of America’s Choice schools. CPRE’s studies can be found at www.cpre.org. More information on America’s Choice can be found at www.americaschoice.org.