This fall two grants that I have evaluated came to a close. ArtsLINC and Reading First. They could not have been more different from each other is some very foundamental ways. Reading First was a top down federal initiatives while ArtsLINC was a local bottom up effort.
In rReading First professional development was mandated and practices were regulated, in ArtsLINC we sat with teachers to define what how and when they would like innovate and integrate the arts. both grants had exceptional leadership, adequate resources and a well designed professional development.
The progress in both grants have been very different. Reading First had immediate impact on the way Reading was taught, however, after the initial impact very little has changed in subsequent iterations. there were small incremental improvements to teacher practice and very little change in student outcomes.
ArtsLINC on the other hand had a very slow start changes in teacher practice and student achievement lagged. Overtime just like Reading First slowed down ArtsLINC picked up and the change in teacher practice became more pronounced. If you're looking for a quick fix go with the Top Down approach, that seems to be the way we are headed as a nation. If, however, you'd like to have long lasting impact then choose the long and tedious road. The difference is rooted in teacher agency, efficacy and development.