Research & Evaluation

The Comer School Development Program has a substantial history of evaluation and research, both by its own staff and by external evaluators. Comer schools have been assessed on a variety of factors at different levels, including school climate, level of program implementation, and students’ self-concepts, behavior, social competence, and achievement.

These studies indicate significant effects on school climate, student attendance, and student achievement. Effects are generally first manifested in the improvement of school climate, indicated by improved relationships among the adults and students in the school; better collaboration among staff members; and greater focus on the student as the center of the education process.

Research has also shown that in schools that used the Comer Process consistently, there was a significantly greater reduction in absenteeism and suspension than in the district as a whole. Comparative studies of Comer and non-Comer schools also demonstrated that student self-competence, self-concept, and achievement was significantly more improved for Comer students than for non-Comer students. In addition, in cases where the program has been faithfully implemented, it contributed to the closing of the achievement gap.

In the report, Comprehensive School Reform and Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis, published in 2000 by the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk (CRESPAR), the School Development Program was identified as one of three Comprehensive School Reform models “meeting the highest standard of evidence.”

Selected Evaluations

The following research publications address the work of the Comer School Development Program.

  • Anson, A.R., Cook, T.D., Habib, F., Grady M., Haynes, N.M., Comer, J.P. (1991). The Comer School Development Program: A theoretical analysis. Journal of Urban Education, 26 (1), 56-82.
  • Borman, G., Hewes, G., & Brown, S., (2002). Comprehensive school reform and student achievement-A meta-analysis. CRESPAR, November 2002, Report No. 59.
  • Borman, G. (2009). National efforts to bring reform to scale in America’s high-poverty elementary and secondary schools: Outcomes and implications, Washington, DC: Center on Education Policy.
  • Comer, J. P. & Emmons, C.L. (2006). The research program of the Yale Child Study Center School Development Program. The Journal of Negro Education 75(3): 353-372.
  • Emmons, C. L. & Comer, J. P.(2009) Capturing Complexity: Evaluation of the Yale Child Study Center School Development Program, in R. Deslandes (ed.) International Perspectives on Contexts, Communities and Evaluated Innovative Practices: Family-school-community partnerships. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 204-219.
  • Cook, T.D., Murphy, R.F., Hunt, H.D. (2000). Comer's School Development Program in Chicago: A theory-based evaluation. American Educational Research Journal, 37(2), 535-97.
  • Millsap, M.A., Chase, A., Obdeidallah, D., Perez-Smith, A., Brigham, N., & Johnston, K. (2000). Evaluation of Detroit’s Comer Schools and Families Initiative. Final Report. Cambridge, MA, Abt Associates, Inc.
  • Noblit, G.W., Malloy, W.W., & Malloy, C.E. (2000). The kids got smarter: Case studies of successful Comer Schools. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc.
  • Stevenson, M.F. & Engstrom, D. (1999). Evaluation of the Comer-Zigler Initiative, 1996-1999. Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy, Yale University.
  • Turnbull, B.J., Fiester, L., & Wodatch, J. (1997). “A process, not a program": An early look at the Comer Process in Community School District 13.
  • Wong, P.L., Oberman, I., Mintrop, H., & Gamson, D. (1996). Evaluation of the San Francisco Foundation Bay Area School Reform Portfolio. Summary report. Stanford, CA: Stanford University.