SPR’s work in education research helps funders, policymakers, and practitioners make informed decisions about their investments. We have conducted evaluations all along the education pipeline—from early childhood education to postsecondary schooling and job training—and for clients ranging from the U.S. Department of Education to nonprofit organizations and foundations. Using rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods, we focus on identifying effective practices, deriving lessons for future application, and clearly describing the challenges that need to be addressed.
SPR is helping clients analyze critical data on the needs of children ages 0–5 and their families so that they can strengthen their service delivery systems.
- First5 Ventura County. This project is analyzing parent surveys to explore the relationship between participant and program characteristics and progress towards three key outcomes articulated in the First 5 Commission’s Evaluation Framework: access to care; kindergarten readiness; and knowledge of child development, resources, and parenting.
- Evaluation of Preschool Special Education Practices. This national-level evaluation for the U.S. Department of Education (in which SPR is a subcontractor to Mathematica Policy Research) examines preschool special education services received by children ages 3–5. The evaluation also assesses the feasibility of conducting an impact study on preschool special education interventions.
- Evaluation of School-Linked Services. This three-year project for the Children and Families Commission in Orange County CA examined the county’s Performance Outcomes Measurement System (POMS) to determine whether children receiving Commission-funded services performed better in school than those who did not, as measured by statewide educational exams.
- Evaluation of the Bay Area Early Childhood Funders’ Quality Child Care Initiative. This evaluation assesses a collaborative effort by more than 22 foundations in the 10-county San Francisco Bay Area to improve low-income working families’ access to quality childcare.
- Evaluation of the Centralized Eligibility List (CEL) Pilot Project. The California Department of Education requested this evaluation to determine how well 10 pilot counties’ CELs (consolidated lists of families requesting subsidized child care) meet the needs of state, county, and local governments for child care funding and planning purposes. The evaluation will examine what CEL methods work best in which settings and will gauge the true demand for subsidized childcare.
- Evaluation of the Quality Child Care Initiative Apprenticeships. SPR analyzed activities of training providers and provided technical assistance to five demonstration states attempting to establish childcare apprenticeships.
Our work in K-12 examines efforts at the school, district, and system levels to identify how programs and policies affect students.
- Afterschool Programs. SPR’s evaluations of afterschool programs provide administrators with data they can use to answer key questions. Have programs been structured as they were originally intended? How well do they “fit” in the school environment? What effect do they have on the children who participate in them?
- Evaluation of the Youth Workforce Development Programs of San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth, and their Families (DCYF). For this project, SPR is assessing the employment and educational outcomes of youth who participated in one of more than 30 school-based programs in San Francisco using client data systems and academic data from the San Francisco Unified School District.
- Evaluation of the Specialized Teen, Youth-Led Philanthropy (YLPhil), and Youth Organizing (YLOrg) programming of San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth, and their Families (DCYF). This project is evaluating the educational and youth development outcomes for youth participating in one of 68 afterschool programs in San Francisco. Data sources include phone interviews with staff members at 17 “case study” programs, site visits to 12 “best practice” programs, an online youth survey, and administrative data from SFUSD.
- Evaluation of San Francisco Beacon Initiative. Beacons Centers are afterschool programs located in San Francisco schools. SPR is re-examining the existing quality standards, evaluation methods, and evaluation processes of the Beacons Centers as a basis for implementing continuous improvement.
- Evaluation of Oakland’s Fund for Children and Youth. This 29-month, mixed-methods evaluation examines the quality and outcomes of 66 community-based youth programs funded by Oakland’s Fund for Children and Youth (OFCY). The evaluation analyzes data from youth and parent surveys, structured site visits, interviews and focus groups, and administrative program databases on an annual basis.
- School Improvement and Policy Reforms. To provide policymakers and practitioners with evidence about effective practices, we have conducted many studies focused on school-based interventions and policy reforms.
- Evaluation of Juvenile Alternatives to Suspension (JASP). SPR is evaluating a school-based intervention designed to reduce suspensions among San Francisco’s most vulnerable middle school students. SPR is evaluating the planning and implementation of the program and documenting short-term student-level outcomes using student records and case study interviews.
- Monterey County Office of Education’s Migrant Education Program: Community Needs Assessment. The needs assessment is examining the educational needs and achievements of migrant students in Monterey County, CA. Key project activities include surveying district-level staff members at 13 school districts, migrant resource teachers, service providers, and parents; visiting selected school-based programs for migrant students and conducting interviews with students, parents, and community leaders; and analyzing administrative data to synthesize community needs and student outcomes.
- Impact Evaluation of Race to the Top (RTT) and State Improvement Grants (SIG). This five-year study is assessing the implementation of RTT and SIG and determining the extent to which the increases in state and district capacity that have come about as a result of RTT grants and SIG strategies have improved student outcomes. SPR, a subcontractor to Mathematica Policy Research on this project, is responsible for recruiting states, districts, and schools, and conducting telephone interviews with 30 school districts.
- Evaluation of California Education Policy Fund (CEPF). This evaluation, funded by the Hewlett Foundation, is examining the efforts of 18 organizations working in different niches of education policy reform—including finance reform, college readiness, data systems, standards, and effective teachers—to improve California’s education policy system. Using an organizational assessment and social network surveys, SPR is documenting the intermediate outcomes of grantees’ policy change efforts.
- Evaluation of Authentic Teaching, Learning and Assessment (ATLAS) Communities’ Comprehensive School Reform Model. This two-year formative and summative evaluation explored how ATLAS reforms have impacted both teaching and learning. SPR studied implementation of the model and the effect of reform efforts on students, teachers, parents, and schools. The study included 16 schools that were implementing ATLAS in four school districts nationwide.
- Evaluation of Building School District-Based Strategies for Reducing Youth Involvement in Gangs and Crime Through a Workforce Development Approach. This project examined the efforts of five school districts with the highest dropout rates in the country to increase student achievement, promote work readiness skills, and reduce youth involvement in gangs and violent crime. Data collection included site visits to 36 high schools and youth programs and an examination of MIS data.
- Evaluation of Mentoring, Educational, and Employment Strategies to Improve Academic, Social and Career Pathway Outcomes in Persistently Dangerous Schools. This project examines comprehensive school reform efforts at nine urban high schools that have been classified as “persistently dangerous” under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The initiative funds mentoring programs, academic interventions, workforce interventions, programs to improve school climate, and case management services for students who are most at risk of school failure or disengagement.
- From Intolerance to Understanding: A Study of Intergroup Relations Among Youth. This five-year study of six high schools in California, funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the Spencer Foundation, examines the effects of contextual influences and the impact of secondary school interventions on intergroup relations.
- Study of Student-Centered Instruction and Assessment. SPR was commissioned by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) to produce an in-depth case study of City Arts and Tech (CAT), a charter high school in San Francisco. The case study assesses CAT’s student-centered educational model, which features project-based learning, portfolio assessment, interdisciplinary exhibitions, teacher collaboration, and strategies for student personalization and differentiation.
- Educational Leadership. SPR has specialized expertise in evaluating efforts to strengthen the leadership capacity of school and district leaders.
- Impact Evaluation of Support for Principals. SPR is subcontracting with Mathematica Policy Research on this multi-year project to examine the impact of professional development for elementary school principals at 100 schools in 10 school districts.
- Evaluation of Google’s Talent Academy. This formative and summative evaluation is assessing the effects of the pilot program launched by Google to support the efforts of 10 school districts and charter management organizations (CMOs) to improve their talent management systems.
- Evaluation of NALEO Education Fund’s Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE). SPR provided consultation to the NALEO Education Fund on training Latino school board members on how to close the achievement gap among low-income students. This project was part of NALEO’s Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE) project, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Evaluation of the Forum for the Future of Higher Education. The Forum for the Future of Higher Education serves as a learning community for leaders from select colleges and universities across the country. This evaluation, carried out for the James Irvine Foundation, which provides grant funding for the Forum, assessed the goals of the Forum and the impact of its work.
Our studies in post-secondary education examine efforts to support successful transitions to college and careers. We work with colleges, foundations, CBOs, and policy makers to identify policies and practices that are effective in helping students become college- and career-ready. We have specialized expertise in evaluating career pathways in post-secondary education, having evaluated pathway programs in the manufacturing, energy, information technology, and health sectors in 43 community colleges in 17 states.
- College and Career Readiness
- Evaluation of the California Career Pathways Trust Program (CCPT) of the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE). This two-year evaluation is examining student and system-level outcomes of a career pathways initiative being implemented at 17 school districts and eight community colleges in San Diego County. Key outcomes of interest include changes in academic achievement and increased coordination between school districts, community colleges, and employers to strengthen career pathways systems. SPR is collaborating with SDCOE to improve the quality of the data collected from school sites.
- Impact Evaluation of the Pell Grant Experiments. This six-year project for the U.S. Department of Education examines the effects of expanding Pell Grant eligibility by allowing individuals with bachelor’s degrees and individuals interested in short-term training to receive Pell funding. The project includes a large-scale random assignment study to measure impacts, and collection and analysis of administrative data on educational enrollment and completion, employment, and earnings for up to three years after random assignment.
- Evaluation of Resilience, Education, Adventure, and Community (REACH Program). This evaluation is assessing individual-level outcomes of a four-year experiential education program for high school- and college students. The evaluation is using a mixed method approach to document short-term academic and youth development outcomes and the program’s successes, challenges, and lessons learned. Key data sources include a review of student records, youth interviews, and a post-program survey.
- Evaluation of Texas Guarantee’s (TG) Public Benefit Grant Program. This project examined the outcomes of the Public Benefit Grant Program, a program designed to increase college access and success among underrepresented students in Texas. SPR documented grantee-level outcomes and assessed the gaps between the impacts/outcomes that were anticipated and those that actually occurred. Project activities included a document review of 87 grantees, an online survey, telephone interviews with 30 grantees, site visits to five grantees, and staff and board member interviews.
- Evaluation of the Pathways to College Network. SPR conducted a three-year evaluation of the Pathways to College Network, a large collaborative formed to improve access to higher education among traditionally underserved youth. The Network comprised foundations (including the Irvine Foundation), nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and the U.S. Department of Education.
For more information, or to discuss potential projects, please contact: