The Understanding Fiscal Responsibility (UFR) Curriculum Evaluation (2010- present)



NCREST serves as the evaluator of the Understanding Fiscal Responsibility Project (UFR). The UFR Project is developing a social studies and mathematics curriculum that focuses on the federal budget, the federal debt, and budget deficit. The curriculum aims to enhance student understanding of public policy issues; to foster the skills needed to analyze these issues; and to cultivate the dispositions necessary to become engaged with these issues as citizens. An initial set of curriculum activities was piloted in 2010-11 with a second to be piloted in the spring of 2012. The NCREST evaluation documents the implementation of the curriculum, looks at the impact that the curriculum has on students, and explores the factors that might contribute to students’ learning. The evaluation is designed to provide feedback on the pilot implementation to support the preparation of the final version of the curriculum. Launch of the curriculum is expected by summer 2012, with over 100,000 copies of the curriculum to be distributed free-of-charge to interested teachers in every United States high school.

About the partner organization
Dr. Anand Marri leads the UFR Project with a collaborative team from Teachers College that includes faculty in the social studies mathematics programs, NCREST, and EdLab. To support the work, the Peter G. Petersen Foundation provided a three-year $2.45 million grant.

Key activities
The initial evaluation involved a comparison of the UFR curriculum implementation in secondary schools in three cities (Austin, TX, Cincinnati, OH, Duluth, MN, and New York City, NY). That study focused on four key questions:
  • What is the current status of students’ knowledge/skill/attitude and teachers’ curriculum practice regarding the federal budget, national debt, and budget deficit?
  • To what extent is the UFR curriculum enhancing students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes regarding the federal budget, national debt, and budget deficit
  • What impact does using the UFR curriculum have on teachers’ interest and self-efficacy in teaching these issues?
  • How do teachers perceive the UFR curriculum? What do they see as the strongest and most problematic elements?
The UFR evaluation employs a mixed method approach that includes:
  • Surveys of student and teachers
  • Interviews of teachers and a sample of students
  • Classroom observations that focus on how the UFR lessons were implemented by teachers
Links
URF Curriculum Needs Assessment and Evaluation Instrument Pilot Study Executive Summary: Year 1(2009-2010)
UFR Curriculum Pilot Study Brief: Year 2 (2010-2011)
UFR Curriculum Evaluation Study Brief: Year 3 (2011-2012)


 
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