Drew Charter School Partners of Innovation and Partnership for Expansion Innovation Grants

Principal Investigator(s): Jessica Gale

The Drew Charter School Partners on Innovation grant provides over $1 million over three years to support the creation of new applied learning opportunities for Drew’s approximately 900 K-8th grade students.

Through this grant, Drew is implementing a varied of student programs and teacher professional development initiatives with the goal of becoming a model STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) school with a rigorous project-based learning (PBL) curriculum.

The Drew Charter School Partnership for Expansion grant is a 2-year, $750,000 grant intended to support the completion of Drew’s cradle-to-college education pipeline. To this end, the grant supports the expansion of Drew’s K-8 program and the addition of grades 9-12 through the opening of the Drew Senior Academy in Fall, 2013.

Our Role: The CEISMC Evaluation Group is conducting external evaluations for both of Drew Charter School’s Innovation Grants.

Methodology: The evaluation of Drew’s Partners of Innovation and Partnership for Expansion employs mixed methods in order to document progress toward program goals. Our evaluation methodology includes regular classroom observation of PBL and inquiry-based teaching, conducting surveys of teachers and students, analyzing student achievement data and engaging students, teachers, and school leaders in discussions of grant activities through focus groups and interviews. This evaluation serves as the basis for an upcoming presentation on the evaluation of project-based learning at the 2013 Annual Conference of the American Evaluation Association. (See abstract below).

Evaluating the Implementation of Project Based Learning: A Case Study of Urban Charter School

As part of Georgia’s Race to the Top program, a $19.4 million Innovation Fund was created to support innovative programs implemented by individual school districts and charter schools. This case study describes the ongoing evaluation of an Innovation Grant-supported Project Based Learning (PBL) initiative in one high-performing urban charter school. PBL seeks to “engage students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks” (Buck Institute, 2003, p. 4). A transformative mixed-methods evaluation (Mertens, 2009) was designed to provide formative and summative data regarding the initial adoption and implementation of PBL initiative following intensive teacher professional development. This session will highlight challenges and key strategies for evaluating the implementation of PBL in K-12 educational settings. Specifically, the session will describe survey and focus group methodology employed to measure teachers’ attitudes toward PBL and perceived implementation of PBL strategies. The planning process for school expansion, collecting and analyzing student achievement data, and documenting student and teacher participation in grant-supported activities. Like our evaluation for Drew’s Partners in Innovation grant, the evaluation for this grant employs a range of methodologies including document analysis, classroom observation, the analysis of student achievement data, and the collection and analysis of qualitative data through interviews and focus groups with students, teachers, and school leaders.