School improvement efforts take many forms. CREP specializes in developing methods
that examine not only what works, but also why some improvement initiatives may be
more or less successful than others. This type of approach is valuable because it
provides "formative information" that facilitates data-informed decision making. Additionally,
the contextual information is valuable in understanding factors that impact success.
Although our evaluations are customized to each project, key components often include:
- Perceptions and experiences from key stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, administrators,
- Observations of instruction and student activities
- Assessment of school climate and culture
- Program implementation monitoring
- Analysis of student outcomes and performance, including areas such as achievement,
behavior, and attendance
Selected recent evaluation projects by educational area
Art to Grow Program
This program was provided by the Dixon Gallery and Gardens to Memphis area schools.
The Dixon's educational outreach instructor traveled to schools in the "Dixon's Hands
On Van" to conduct one hour art lessons, including a presentation and a hands-on activity.
The purpose of the evaluation was to determine if participating teachers felt that
the Dixon Gallery and Garden's "Art-To Grow" program was engaging, age appropriate,
and educational for their students. A series of observations and questionnaires was
utilized in the study.
Aesthetic Arts Education
This project evaluated the Aesthetic Education in Rural Settings Conference presented
by the Crittenden Arts Council's Delta Aesthetic Education Institute and the Lincoln
Center Institute. The purpose of the evaluation was to determine if the Aesthetic
Education in Rural Settings Conference increased the participant's understanding of
aesthetic education practice, strategies, and implications; and if it increased their
understanding of the role of aesthetic education practices as they relate to the rural
setting. The evaluation utilized three measures: questionnaires completed by the participants,
a focus group comprised of a selection of conference participants, and observations
conducted during conference workshops.
Different Ways of Knowing Arts Integration
This study focused on an arts integration model based on the Different Ways of Knowing
program. Questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, observations, and achievement analyses
were used to address the following areas: the extent to which the program (1) facilitated
integration of the arts into the core elementary, middle and high school curricula,
(2) strengthened arts instruction, and (3) impacted academic performance and students'
skills in creating, performing and responding to the arts.
Knowledge is Power Program
The Knowledge is Power Program is specifically designed to raise academic achievement
of at-risk urban middle school students via interventions such as extended learning
time, rigorous curriculum, after-school access to teachers, and extensive family-school
connection. CREP has conducted a longitudinal case study of an urban middle school
implementing the KIPP program. Link to reports.
TN Charter Schools
CREP has served as the state evaluators of Tennessee charter schools since the first
cohort of schools opened during the 2003-2004 academic year. The evaluations have
examined the progress made in program implementation, instructional practices, school
climate, and student achievement. A mixed-methods design, encompassing both qualitative
and quantitative data, was employed. Link to reports.
Jubilee Catholic Schools
The Jubilee schools are a group of urban Memphis Catholic schools operated by the
Catholic Diocese of Memphis that had previously been closed due to lack of enrollment
and funding. In the late 1990's and early 2000's, these schools were reopened to provide
education to students that live in high-poverty, inner-city Memphis neighborhoods.
These schools offer reduced tuition based on family income in order to provide a quality
Catholic-based education to children who would not be able to afford it under normal
circumstances. The purposes of this longitudinal evaluation are to examine (a) student
achievement outcomes and (b) stakeholder perceptions related to school climate, conditions,
and instruction. A mixed-methods design, encompassing both quantitative and qualitative
data, was employed.
Chicago ELIS Program
The Effective Leaders Improve Schools (ELIS) project is charged with improving the
quality of principal preparation in the Chicago Public Schools. This includes bringing
coherence and alignment to three approved principal preparation programs: LAUNCH,
New Leaders for New Schools (NLNS), and the University of Illinois-Chicago Ed.D (UIC).
LAUNCH is a district program, NLNS is a national program, and UIC is university-based.
All three utilize a one-year internship experience with a mentor principal for participants.
CREP has conducted a longitudinal study of the ELIS project since the2005-2006 academic
TN Department of Education's Beginning Principals' Academies (BPA)
Since 1995, CREP has provided school climate audits and self-assessment tools for
BPA participants. Collecting, understanding, and using the data for school improvement
decision making are the key areas of focus.
Center for Urban School Leadership (CUSL) - The University of Memphis
CREP has conducted two studies of programs sponsored by the CUSL-UM. The first was
the Memphis Leadership Fellows Program (MLFP), which is a year-long leadership development
program designed to prepare prospective principals for the Memphis City Schools (MCS).
The second, which was implemented in a rural context, was the Establishing Professional
Learning Communities (PLC) in Fayette County Schools. This is a one-year educational
program for central administrators as well as a support program for site-based leadership
teams. The program is a joint venture between the Center for Urban School Leaders
(CUSL) at The University of Memphis and the Center for Data Driven Decision Making
(CDDRE) at Johns Hopkins University. Both evaluations focused on goal attainment,
implementation, and participant experiences.
School Reform and Improvement
The primary purpose of the Accelerated Schools Plus (ASP) model is to transform school
communities characterized by high poverty and low academic performance into enriched
environments via the use of instructional strategies traditionally used with gifted
and talented students. This study examined the implementation and impact of the Accelerated
Schools PLUS (ASP) model during the first two years of implementation in two states.
Two major research questions were addressed: (1) What changes in school climate take
place during the first two years of the ASP model implementation? (2) To what extent
are changes in school climate associated with changes in student achievement?
Chicago Fresh Start Schools
Based on the experience with a two-year Partnership Initiative between the Chicago
Public Schools and Chicago Teachers Union, a new program called "Fresh Start" was
designed to move teacher-led school improvement forward in Chicago. This program incorporates
lessons learned from the Partnership experience and strategies that have proved effective
in other districts. Enhancements made by CPS and CTU administrators included: more
choice regarding participation; more autonomy from the auspices of the Area Office;
creation of instructional leadership teams; and implementation of a peer review system.
The mixed-methods design addressed the (a) degree to which reform initiatives are
being effectively implemented in each of the schools and the factors associated with
implementation success or difficulty; (b) extent to which positive changes in school
climate, as a precursor of successful reform, occurs; (c) "value-added" contributions
of the various types of support made available to the schools through the Fresh Start
staff/representatives from the district and union; and (d) the perspectives and experiences
of school administrators and staff relating to the model implementations in particular,
and reform efforts in general.
Different Ways of Knowing CSR Model
The Different Ways of Knowing (DWoK) model builds on students' multiple intelligences
to develop their skills in different areas. This study used a quasi-experimental approach
to examine the impact of the DWoK model on student achievement and attendance. Link to report.
Edvantia CSR Research Study
This collaborative project with Edvantia (formerly AEL) examined the impact of five
Comprehensive School Reform models on instructional practices, school climate, and
reading achievement. A quasi-experimental, mixed-methods design was used.
Memphis Restructuring Initiative
This study examined the Comprehensive School Reform initiative undertaken by the Memphis
City Schools. A longitudinal study using questionnaires, interviews, focus groups,
observations, and analysis of value-added achievement scores was conducted. Link to report.
School Renaissance Program
This study examined the effects of the School Renaissance (SR) comprehensive school
reform model on student achievement in an urban district in Texas. A rigorous matched
treatment-control pretest-posttest design was employed. The primary research questions
were: (1) How do SR schools compare to matched Comparison schools in student achievement?;
(2) Do SR effects relative to Comparison schools vary for (a) reading and mathematics;
and (b) elementary and middle schools?; (3) Do SR effects vary for different types
of students?; and (4) Do SR effects relative to Comparison schools vary as a function
of the degree of SR model implementation? Link to report.
Success for All and Direct Instruction Study
This research examined the effectiveness in an urban school district of two of the
most widely used Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) programs: Direct Instruction, implemented
in 9 district elementary schools; and Success for All, implemented in two elementary
schools. In examining impacts on student achievement and school change outcomes (e.g.,
teacher buy-in, school climate), a mixed methods research design was employed, encompassing
both quantitative and qualitative analyses. Link to reports.
Science, Math, and Engineering Programs
Building Bridges to Health Sciences Literacy
The Building Bridges to Health Science Literacy Program has two primary goals: (1)
introduce authentic problem-based learning (PBL) in Science instruction and (2) develop
an educational program to illustrate and explain the process and goals of genetic
research. The evaluation plan was designed to address the goals of the PBL teacher
training as well as the school-level application of the training. The plan employed
a mixed-methods approach, encompassing both qualitative and quantitative data on the
multiple project processes, products, and outcomes.
Girls Experiencing Engineering
The Girls Experiencing Engineering (GEE) program administered by The University of
Memphis Herff College of Engineering was designed to instill young women with confidence,
interest, and awareness of a wide array of career opportunities within science, technology,
and engineering fields. Program activities included daily design competitions, presentations
from female engineers and students, and brief "field work" snapshots of related disciplines
presented by visiting scientists and professors. The evaluation was aimed at examining
student attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge through the use of a mixed-method design
utilizing both pre- and post-program qualitative and quantitative data.
The University of Memphis' Summer Math Academy is a two-week residential summer program
for rising high school sophomores and juniors from the Memphis City School System
(MCS). The program focuses on enhancing math skills (especially algebra) and had a
variety of collateral activities geared toward college preparation and planning. The
overall goals of the Academy are to improve skills for success in college and to establish
stronger connections for the participants with the college environment. The evaluation
used observations, interviews, questionnaires, and assessments of Algebra knowledge
to examine the impact of this program.
Memphis Science Partners
This program is geared toward implementing LabLearner in elementary and middle schools.
LabLearner is a science lab program that equips schools with a working and well-stocked
science lab, an age-appropriate curriculum covering all of the national science standards,
and professional development for teachers. The longitudinal evaluation examined teacher
and student perceptions, usage of lab materials, and impact on student science knowledge.
Smart and Thrive Algebra Programs
SMART and THRIVE are programs utilized within the Little Rock Public Schools to serve
at-risk students. The overall purposes of the SMART and THRIVE programs are to provide
supplemental pre-algebra support to students entering Algebra I and to prepare students
to meet state standards in Algebra I, respectively. The programs' intentions/goals
are to: a) provide a solid foundation for Algebra, b) encourage exploration; c) make
mathematics fun; d) enable students to achieve academic success in mathematics; and
e) create the confidence necessary to pursue higher level courses. The SMART program
meets for two consecutive weeks during the summer. The THRIVE program meets every
other Saturday during the Spring semester. The global purpose of the evaluation was
to: a) provide cumulative evidence of SMART/THRIVE implementation practices; b) examine
the extent to which the programs have been effective in improving and remediating
academic achievement of African-American students; and c) explore perceptions of participants,
parents and teachers as well as level of student participation in SMART and THRIVE.
This program provides Tennessee schools with a financial literacy curriculum and professional
development for teachers based on the Financial Fitness for Life (FFL) program of
the National Council on Economic Education (NCEE). The evaluation focused on the impact
the program had on students' financial literacy.
Supplemental Educational Services
Supplemental Educational Services (SES), a component of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
Act, provides free tutoring to economically disadvantaged children who are attending
Title I schools in at least their second year of school improvement. CREP has served
as state SES evaluators for numerous states. Key evaluation components are: Provider
effectiveness; Customer perceptions and satisfaction; and Service delivery and compliance.
Link to reports.
Teacher Training and Development
New Teacher Center at The University of Memphis
The New Teacher Center (NTC) at The University of Memphis provides intensive mentoring
services to beginning teachers working in urban middle and high schools. The two overall
purposes of the NTC are to significantly improve retention of new teachers and to
positively impact student achievement in the Memphis City Schools (MCS). The evaluation
utilized mentor focus group, classroom observations, control and treatment teacher
surveys, and an analysis of both student achievement and teacher retention data.
TN Transition to Teaching Program
Transition to Teaching is an Alternative Licensure C program which was designed to
attract extremely capable individuals who bring maturity and a variety of work experiences
to the teaching of math and sciences at the middle and high school levels. The collaborative
program involving the Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Board of Regents,
and local educational agencies began in the spring of 2003. A mixed-methods design
was used to examine participant perceptions and experiences, attainment of program
objectives, and program outcomes.
Teaching American History (TAH)
CREP evaluated TAH programs in both the Memphis City Schools and Kansas Public School
System. The programs sought to implement innovative and cohesive models of professional
development for elementary and secondary teachers. The broad goals of the programs
were to improve the achievement in American history of students in low-performing
and Title I schools by increasing teacher knowledge, understanding, and appreciation
of American history through professional teacher training. The evaluation focused
on implementation of program activities, perceptions and experiences, and impact in
instruction and knowledge.
Georgia Southern Professional Development District
The goals of this project were to facilitate university and district collaboration,
and to align professional development that teachers at all grade levels received in
the district. The evaluation utilized questionnaires, observations, interviews, and
analysis of achievement data to examine the implementation and outcomes associated
with the program.
Tutoring Programs and 21st Century Community Learning Centers
20/20 Vision Tutorial Program
The 20/20 Vision Tutorial Program attempts to help middle school students who are
low achievers in mathematics succeed academically in their coursework and on the Tennessee
Comprehensive Assessment Program through tutoring and remediation work. A quasi-experimental
design was utilized to address the following questions: (1) What are the impacts of
the tutoring program on tutored students' achievement?; (2) Which students receive
tutoring and how do they compare to the overall student population with regard to
poverty, gender, and prior achievement?
Youth Education Through Sports (YES) Program
The Youth Education through Sports (YES) Foundation program provides after-school
tutoring for middle school basketball players in six Memphis City Schools (MCS) middle
schools. The goals of the YES Foundation After School program are to enhance academic
achievement and promote life-long learning skills in student athletes through well-structured,
after-school tutoring sessions. The overall purpose of this evaluation was twofold:
(a) to provide evidence of the implementation progress and educational outcomes for
the program, and (b) to provide formative evaluation data as a basis for guiding improvement
planning and documenting progress in attaining program goals.
21st Century Community Learning Centers
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program is authorized by the
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and provides out-of-school opportunities for academic
enrichment to help students meet state and local performance standards in core academic
subjects. Programs and activities are designed to reinforce and complement the regular
academic program of participating students. Families of students are offered opportunities
for literacy and related educational development. CREP is evaluating 21st CCLC in
multiple states. The evaluations focus on the impact of the programs in the areas
of student academic achievement, operation, participation, objectives, activities,
student behavior, and partnership.