Comprehensive teacher evaluation systems are a core element in the current federal strategy for improving elementary and secondary education. On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, PSA completed a study of the design and early implementation of high-stakes teacher evaluation systems in eight local school districts. The study is intended to help other districts and states learn from the experiences of these eight districts and apply the lessons to their own work in teacher evaluation and support. The exploratory analyses of district experiences may also help inform future research on the effects of teacher evaluation systems on teacher professional practice and student performance.
PSA evaluates programs and policies that support the development of social-emotional learning (SEL) skills and 21st century competencies in youth. PSA created a framework of promising practices to support SEL in elementary-grades afterschool programs as part of a study for the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, and developed a research brief exploring how an expanded learning day can support the development of academic mindsets for ExpandED Schools. PSA is also preparing a paper for Asia Society on international strategies for supporting the development of 21st century competencies based on the experiences of school systems in the United States and Asia.
PSA assessed the impacts of City Year’s Whole School Whole Child (WSWC) model on the performance of 150 schools—in 22 cities and 17 states—that partnered with City Year in 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14. City Year is an education-focused nonprofit organization that partners with public schools to help keep students in school and on track to graduate. See the full report here and its coverage in EdWeek here.
With SRI International, PSA is participating in a two-year project on teacher leadership in K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The project, for the U.S. Department of Education, will clarify the characteristics of teacher leader programs, identify challenges and opportunities for the field, and facilitate activity that moves the field forward. After analyzing programs and gaps in the field of STEM teacher leadership, the team convened experts—including policymakers, researchers, program leaders, and practitioners—to define and advance strategies for improvement. The team is facilitating Research Action Clusters of experts to investigate practical issues in STEM teacher leadership, identify lessons for the field, and develop action plans.
PSA conducts high-quality evaluation, research, and policy analysis to improve decisions in education and youth development.
When schools and their partners work together systematically, enriched learning can follow. In a multi-year evaluation of the national demonstration of ExpandED Schools, PSA has explored the implementation and adaptation of a model for expanding the school day through strategic partnerships with community-based organizations. The evaluation found that developing a shared vision and systems for fostering shared responsibility between the school and the community partner organization—including joint leadership, joint professional development, and clear messaging—was foundational to transforming the learning experience. The evaluation also identified supports and resources necessary to overcome barriers to scaling and sustaining an expanded day.
While teacher evaluation garners headlines, systems of evaluation and support for principals have quietly begun to mature. Six urban districts are working with The Wallace Foundation to strengthen principal evaluation and support as part of a comprehensive pipeline for novice principals. A PSA report on their work explores educator evaluation that is aligned to standards for school leadership and has been rolled out over time. The report highlights the changing role of principal supervisors in helping principals learn and grow. It is the latest in a series from the evaluation of the Principal Pipeline Initiative.
Out-of-school time (OST) programs are well positioned to enhance students’ Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills, increase their interest in STEM fields, and increase their engagement in learning overall. Staff from PSA are currently conducting an evaluation of a component of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Great Futures in Science Programs. Through Club member surveys, interviews with Club program and administrative staff, and observations of program activities, evaluation team members are assessing the implementation and outcomes of the Ready for Robotics and RoboTech programs in operation at approximately 20 Clubs nationwide. The study is intended to help BGCA understand which factors facilitate or impede the successful implementation of STEM programming in the Club setting.