Evaluation of the Smart Scholars Initiative


The National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching (NCREST), a research center at Teachers College, Columbia University has been contracted by the New York State Board of Regents to conduct an evaluation of the Smart Scholars initiative. NCREST researchers are committed to conducting evaluations that contribute to the ongoing improvement of student experiences and outcomes as well as the dissemination of best practices.

About the partner organization

In 2007, with support from the Gates Foundation, the New York State Board of Regents decided to actively support the development of additional early college high schools to promote improved high school graduation and college-going rates among students from high need populations.  The Board created the Smart Scholars initiative and allocated approximately $12 million to open or re-design 23 schools, as well as to provide them with the support and guidance of EdWorks, an intermediary organization. 
The Smart Scholars evaluation has been designed to examine different aspects of the Smart Scholars design, implementation, and outcomes using a mixed methods approach. We are especially interested in learning about how schools are implementing the Smart Scholars model and the ways in which students are benefiting.

Key activities

The researchers will gather data in the following ways during the five-month period of the evaluation:
Survey of school leaders and faculty: To learn more about schools’ designs, activities, outcomes, and factors that have supported or hindered their progress, we will conduct a survey of all Smart Scholars’ administrators and faculty. The survey will be administered in May and June of 2013.

School visits: School visits will be conducted to learn about a sub-set of the Smart Scholars schools in greater depth. We will visit a total of six schools representing diverse regions of the state, designs, higher education partners, etc.  Each full-school day visit will include interviews and observations.

Analysis of student outcomes: To assess the attainment of the short and medium term outcomes, we will obtain data sets from the Smart Scholars initiative and the NYDOE, which will allow us to look at outcomes such as graduation from high school, completion of college credits, and grades earned. We will also examine how the outcomes of Smart Scholars students compare to non-Smart Scholar students from the same schools.

Synthesis of school report card data: The New York State school report cards contain a wealth of data that can be used in the evaluation. The 2011-12 report cards will be analyzed to examine key program features, participant characteristics, and short-term outcomes.

Interviews with Smart Scholars leadership: Interviews will be conducted with the senior manager for the Smart Scholars project and the intermediary representative. In addition, we will plan to interview advisory council members, prioritizing those with at least a year of active involvement with the council.

National Center for Restructuring Education Schools & Teaching (NCREST)
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