The Texas A&M University Education Research Center (ERC) is pleased to announce it has been awarded a $220,000 grant by United Way of Greater Houston (UWGH) to conduct the Year 5 evaluation of the agency’s urban education initiative. This fifth phase of the evaluation will continue to examine UWGH’s urban education initiative, which involves over 40 non-profit agency programs that deliver educational services for more than 300,000 children and youth from disadvantaged circumstances in the Houston metropolitan area. Hersh Waxman, Yolanda Padrón, and Kayla Rollins are Co-PIs of the project. Additional ERC researchers involved include Danielle Brown, Jackie Stillisano, and Nancy Weber. CEHD doctoral students Kim Wright, Luxi Feng, Manjari Banerjee, and Brenna Lin are also involved in the project.
The ERC team has been working with the UWGH staff to design and implement the evaluation and report on the success of the UWGH Education Initiative. The ERC has developed data collection instruments (rubrics, surveys, observation protocols, etc.) and has collected context, process, implementation, and outcome data on several of the UWGH’s education programs that are being implemented within local schools: (a) Peer-to-Peer Reading tutoring, (b) Education Collaborative [including summer grants: Summer Learning Loss, School-Based Transitions, Kindergarten Prep Camp, and Summer Book Clubs], (c) United Way Reading Together, (d) Parent Education and Engagement, (e) Math Summer Learning and Engagement [Math Camp 2.0, Investment Clubs/Stock Market Game, and United Way MATH Minutes], and (f) Peer-to-Peer Math tutoring. Additionally, the ERC team will analyze academic achievement and socio-emotional data for students involved in UWGH programs at schools and community agencies involved in the Education Collaborative. This initiative includes data from four large school districts in the Houston area, including Houston ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Aldine ISD, and Alief ISD.
“One of the new aspects of our research this year will be to evaluate the effectiveness of a new project that is focusing on low-performing high schools’ feeder patterns” said Waxman. “Last year, the ERC identified the lowest performing high schools in the Houston metropolitan area, and this year UWGH has initiated a project where they and their education partners will focus on helping elementary and middle school students in the identified high school feeder patterns have smoother transitions into high school. We feel that this data driven systematic approach to school improvement will make a difference in students’ academic success in high school.”
The ERC research team will implement a mixed-methods approach for both formative and summative purposes. The summative evaluation will examine the effectiveness of educational programs and practices. The ERC will continue its work in developing a longitudinal, data-based system to be used to describe the quality and effectiveness of the educational programs on students, teachers, parents, and the community as a whole. Systematic observations, interviews, surveys, teacher checklists, and quantitative outcome data (e.g., student achievement, attendance, discipline, and socio-emotional measures) will be used to examine various program components.