Case Example: Americorps: America Reads Mississippi

 

Supporting literacy and teacher development

 

Jason Altman – Lead Evaluator

Mixed Methods (Quantitative, Impact Analysis using Counterfactual, Random-Controlled Experimental Trial, Quasi-Experimental Analysis, Observational, Interview)

Project Description

Established in 1998, America Reads—Mississippi (ARM) is a national service AmeriCorps program that addresses rural and urban education. America Reads-Mississippi is dedicated to improving the reading skills of students, encouraging public awareness and support of literacy, and helping to increase the number of certified teachers in Mississippi.

 

As an evaluation partner, the TerraLuna Collaborative provides timely and comprehensive information regarding ARM initiative implementation with fidelity by nearly 100 AmeriCorps members in more than 20 schools, and for more than 1,000 students across the State of Mississippi. This process includes instituting and maintaining data collection systems supporting program adherence for sites and individuals, and evaluation capacity building. We also study the impact of programming on literacy improvement and attitudes towards literacy of K-3 public school students.

 

During the second and third year of the partnership, the administrators, with support from the evaluation team, have turned an evaluative lens on new and improved practices resulting from previous formative efforts. As an example, first year evidence indicated that the tutor-classroom teacher partnership was not providing the guidance necessary to effectively individualize sessions for students, and sometimes resulted in tutors trolling the internet for lessons. Thus programmers began implementing a nationally recognized and validated curriculum and want to monitor its efficacy and tutor capacity for adherence.

 

Previously, the evaluation team investigated program impact on student achievement using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) during the second school-year of the partnership. The TerraLuna team has also collaborated with America Reads-Mississippi stakeholders to deliver the Elementary Reading Attitude Survey, commonly referred to as the ERAS (McKenna & Kear, 1990). This instrument assists stakeholders in determining and communicating impact at the student-level through an additional dimension rather than simply isolating for student achievement as the only possible impact. Finally, the TerraLuna team also supports qualitative inquiry into members’, teachers’, and parents’ perspectives on the program.

The Team

We organize in project teams.  The flexible team structure allows our consultants to manage their workloads and responsibilities.  This structure benefits our clients by drawing from each team member’s skills and capabilities. 

Jason Altman, Lead Evaluator.

Jason’s duties include partner communication and presentation, primary authorship of all reports, data collection, development of instruments, training of administrators and AmeriCorps members, and facilitation of the evaluation advisory board.

Nadia Akhtar, data manager and quantitative support.

Nadia’s include data management, data processing, high-level data analysis, reporting and general file management, and sample preparation.

Juan D’Brot, quantitative expert.

Juan’s duties include general leadership in quantitative techniques, reporting, study preparation, and sample preparation.