Research and Evaluation

Comprehensive in nature, the SDP addresses the levers that have an impact on student performance, development and well-being, including school organization, school climate, curriculum and instruction, and parent and community involvement, with relationships and child and adolescent development principles as the foundation.
Such a comprehensive reform model requires an evaluation design that can address the interplay of a wide variety of variables, many of which are not under the control of the program designers, if order is to be brought to the process and meaning to the results. The SDP program evaluation process is designed to capture the complexity inherent in whole-district reform, and to attempt to trace the lines of causation from causes to effects, while remaining congruent in theory and practice with the program that it evaluates.


Regular feedback of information through formative evaluation contributes to the quality of implementation. Emmons and Comer (2009) provide a detailed description of the Yale Child Study Center School Development Program evaluation process.

Selected evaluations

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

  • Cook, T.D., Murphy, R.F., Hunt, H.D. (2000). emptyComer's School Development Program in Chicago: a theory-based evaluation. American Educational Research Journal, 37(2), 535-97.
  • 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.
  • 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. Washington, DC: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
  • 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.

The SDP evaluation process has been funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education:  CFCA#: 84.332B, PR01#: S332B050015; PR/Award #: R215U980019.