Evaluating Data on School Turnaround AmeriCorps Efforts
- School Turnaround AmeriCorps aims to increase underperforming schools’ educational attainment.
- Abt helped with the strategy for collecting data, and then for the data evaluation.
- The findings about the program’s benefits will inform future policymaking.
School Turnaround AmeriCorps is a grant program to increase high school graduation, college readiness, and educational attainment for students in our nation’s persistently lowest-achieving schools, designated as School‐Improvement Grant (SIG) or Priority schools. A partnership between the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the U.S. Department of Education created the program to improve academic outcomes for students.
In the design year, Abt provided subject matter and methodological expertise to CNCS in thinking through strategies for collecting outcome data and options for the design of a national evaluation that discovers the value AmeriCorps adds. As part of the two-year evaluation, Abt led a mixed-methods comparative case study design, using a combination of surveys (e.g., of grantee staff and school personnel), individual and/or focus group interviews (e.g., of school staff, parents, and AmeriCorps members), case studies of selected program and comparison schools, and administrative data (from grantees’ annual progress reports to student data).
The evaluation sought to understand the mechanisms underlying the contributions of School Turnaround AmeriCorps and the most effective program models. The evaluation included about three-quarters of the nearly 70 schools in the program. The evaluation found that stakeholders in the majority of School Turnaround AmeriCorps program schools perceived that AmeriCorps services support turnaround efforts in multiple ways, including improving students’ academic achievement and socio-emotional health. Information on the dynamics of that support can inform future policymaking.