Giving Compass’ Take:
• Susan Sepanik describes how MDRC gathered and used feedback to improve their AVID college preparation program.
• How can other programs use iterative feedback to improve their programs throughout their lifespan? What sources of feedback are necessary for proper evaluation and course correction?
• Learn why funders need to collect feedback from grantees.
Rural school districts in low-income communities face unique challenges in preparing and inspiring students to go to college. As part of a federal Investing in Innovation (i3) development grant, supported and evaluated an initiative that sought to improve college readiness in rural schools, in part by aligning teaching strategies across grade levels and between schools and the local college. Our implementation research allowed us to provide formative feedback that program leaders used to improve the process.
We evaluated a collaborative initiative that involved
- three rural school districts (four middle schools and four high schools) in central Florida,
- a local college with satellite locations near each of the school districts, and
- a nonprofit organization whose goal is to close the opportunity gap for disadvantaged students — the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Center.
The initiative involved two main parts. First, it implemented the AVID College Readiness System (ACRS) — a model that focuses on ensuring that all students in a school are being prepared for success in college and careers. Second, AVID and its school partners developed alignment activities to build collaboration within and across grade levels, schools, and the college.
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For three years, we measured the fidelity of each of the key AVID components to the model as designed, which allowed us to assess the growth in each component. We also conducted interviews and focus groups with staff members across the partnership, as well as with middle school and high school students at four of the eight participating schools. The perspectives of participants helped us learn about the obstacles to implementation as well as the factors that promoted it.
To support the development of the initiative, we shared information from these efforts — formative feedback — with the AVID Center after the first and second years of implementation so the partners could identify areas that needed improvement or expectations that needed adjustment.
Read the full article about formative feedback by Susan Sepanik at MDRC.
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