Evaluation of the California Subject Matter Projects | SRI International

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Evaluation of the California Subject Matter Projects

SRI is studying the effectiveness of the California Subject Matter Project's professional development, which offers discipline-specific training to teachers across California.

The University of California Office of the President (UCOP) has contracted with SRI since 2002 to evaluate the professional development activities of the California Subject Matter Project (CSMP) and their impact on teachers and students. The CSMP was established in 1988 by SB 1882 (Swofford) to build California's ability to provide teachers with high-quality professional development across the disciplines. The nine-member network provides content-rich subject matter professional development in the following areas: the arts, history-social science, international studies, mathematics, physical education and health, reading and literature, science, world language, and writing. Each of the projects supports a number of regional sites throughout California.

SRI's work with the CSMP is designed to meet three related goals:

  1. Provide staff at the project and site levels with data that can help them continuously improve their programs
  2. Determine the effects of Project activities on teachers and on students
  3. Build the research capacity of the CSMP through targeted assistance

To meet these goals, SRI has conducted surveys, case studies of programs in each of the nine projects, quasi-experimental analyses of the effects of the CSMP on student achievement, a cross-project pilot study to identify common goals and outcomes of the subject matter projects, and a cross-project evaluation of two CSMP professional development programs. Additionally, SRI has provided technical assistance for sites' local inquiry projects.

To meet our goals this year, efforts focus on two areas:

  1. Designing and implementing a series of case studies of CSMP programs
  2. Technical assistance to UCOP to improve their system for supporting the continuous improvement of CSMP sites

Using a Design Based Implementation Research (DBIR) framework, SRI is currently conducting three case studies of CSMP professional development programs. SRI researchers and CSMP site staff worked together to design each case study, develop the research questions, and plan the data collection activities and analytic procedures. Whenever possible, researchers sought out opportunities to develop the research capacity of sites and projects by designing study components where SRI researchers will help refine and improve projects’ existing data collection instruments that site staff will continue to use after the conclusion of the case study.

Data collection activities include collection of surveys and instructional artifacts, as well as interviews with participating teachers. The three subject matter projects included in this round of case studies are the California Arts Project, the California Math Project, and the California Science Project.

In addition to the case studies, we are providing technical support to UCOP to build their capacity to assess and support the continuous improvement of CSMP sites.

Principal Investigator: H. Alix Gallagher
Program Director: Miya Warner