Evaluation of the McKnight Foundation’s Education and Learning Program | SRI International

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Evaluation of the McKnight Foundation's Pathway Schools Initiative

SRI is evaluating efforts to improve the literacy of pre–K through third-grade students in the Twin Cities.

The McKnight Foundation’s Pathway Schools Initiative is an effort to improve the literacy of students in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota) through pathways that integrate and enhance prekindergarten through third-grade literacy education. The objectives of Phase I of the study were to

  1. Document baseline conditions to understand the strengths and needs in the partner districts.
  2. Formatively support the development and refinement of the Pathway Schools Initiative.
  3. Measure the initiative's effectiveness in developing proficient third-grade readers.

SRI education researchers used a multimethod approach that involved case studies, teacher observations, teacher logs, and early literacy assessment data to provide information on program implementation and impacts. Findings from Phase I (2011–15) are presented in the report Improving Early Literacy in PreK–3: Lessons Learned, as well as learning briefs on Teacher Instructional PracticesLeadership for a PreK–3 Literacy InitiativeFamily Engagement, and Establishing a Coherent Literacy Program.

Phase II of the evaluation began in the 2015–16 school year and concluded in the spring of 2018. The Phase II evaluation:

  1. Tracked progress on a fundamental set of outcome indicators focused on student learning, instructional quality, and continuity in the preK–3 enrollment pipeline: Summary of Fundamental Evaluation.
  2. Facilitated and supported district and school collaboration in a developmental evaluation to engage leaders in gathering and using data to inform their decisions about practices, programs, and policies. SRI produced learning briefs for each cycle of developmental evaluation (briefs for cycles 123 and 4 are available to the public).

Through these activities, the evaluation has contributed to the Pathway Schools Initiative stakeholders’ knowledge and thinking about how to build a preK–3 literacy system that results in proficient third-grade readers among diverse and high-need students.