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Current Projects

The Education Initiative Evaluation (2016-2017)

The Rapides Foundation is an organization focused on improving public health in Central Louisiana. The Foundation operates with an evidence-based belief that a more educated population fosters a healthy population; therefore, improving K-12 education within the nine parishes in its service area is a priority. To that end, they have undertaken the Education Initiative, in which professional and leadership development (PD/LD) are provided to teaRapides Logochers and administrators in all nine parishes. Two types of training operate at the regional level and are facilitated by external sources: Kagan, a national teacher professional development provider, and the Center for Educational Leadership, a school leadership development provider from the University of Washington. The Foundation also awards Effective Schools Grants designed to meet specific PD/LD needs within individual districts.

Hezel Associates was hired to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of The Education Initiative. The evaluation consists of three separate, but interrelated components with distinct research questions: (a) a formative evaluation, examining the implementation fidelity and quality of the initiative components; (b) an efficacy study, investigating district and school differences in outcomes of interest (e.g., teacher and leader effectiveness and student achievement), and also includes targeted, qualitative case studies at the school level; and (c) a theory-building study to explore the initiative in the broader context of programs outside of Louisiana that are theoretically similar to the Foundation’s initiative.

The formative study is designed as a mixed methods study, in which data are collected via program-related documents, PD/LD participant knowledge assessments, PD/LD participant quality feedback questionnaires, observations of PD/LD sessions, a Support Quality Questionnaire administered to all teachers and administrators in the nine districts, superintendent and other stakeholder interviews, and a focus group with technical assistance staff. Analysis consists of descriptive statistics for quantitative data, a constant comparative method for qualitative narrative, and a synthesis of all data.

The efficacy study uses data provided by the Louisiana Department of Education. Hezel Associates will compute descriptive and inferential statistics (e.g., hierarchical linear modeling) to assess school-level factors related to desired outcomes. Regression modeling will allow for the identification of schools where case study research will be conducted, based on specific criteria that indicate the level of benefit they are receiving from the initiative. Finally, the theory-building study uses data collected in the formative and efficacy studies, and compares and contrasts findings to information gleaned from a literature review of similar initiatives nationwide.

Findings from the three studies will be included in a mid-year and an annual report, in addition to separate efficacy study reports. The theory-building study will result in an iterated logic model for the initiative. Collectively, these findings will serve to inform the Foundation of the success of the initiative’s components on short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals; provide feedback that can help improve programming; and assess how the initiative compares to similar work outside of the state.