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What Have We Been Doing?

2004-2007: Work in Jewish Day Schools.  In the spring of 2004, Education Matters began development of a new area of work – improving teaching and learning in Jewish Day Schools.  Our first project in this area, funded by the AVI CHAI Foundation in New York and Jerusalem, focused on the development of standards and benchmarks for teaching TaNaKH in grades K-12, and the implementation of the standards in a set of Reform, Conservative and Community Day schools across the country.  Since that time, we began an evaluation of the Peerless Excellence Project, an innovative effort by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) to bring together several donors to support the overall goal of creating a day school community of unparalleled excellence in the greater Boston area. The project further seeks to provide models for day school excellence throughout the country. More recently, we began an evaluation of the CJP’s Special Education Initiative which is designed to improve the capacity of the area’s day schools to educate Jewish students with special needs.

1997-2007: Work in Boston. In the fall of 2003, Education Matters began evaluating Boston's high school renewal program with funds from the Carnegie Corporation. Our focus has been on the district's approach to improving a) literacy teaching and learning, and b) reducing student alienation in its high schools. This work is taking place in the context of the district's restructuring efforts that have resulted in a set of small high schools as well as small learning communities in the district's larger high schools.  During this time, Education Matters has also been evaluating Boston's School Leadership Institute, an effort to prepare high quality principals for the district and to develop and implement a support system for first- and second-year principals. This work is funded by the Broad Foundation and the federal Department of Education.  The firm has also been evaluating the Beginning Teacher Residency Program, the Boston Plan for Excellence's effort to prepare high-quality teachers for the Boston Public Schools.  In March 2006, we began an evaluation of the district’s efforts to better support School-Based Administrators (Assistant Principals, Assistant Headmasters, and Directors of Instruction, for example) by providing them with targeted professional development and other supportive learning opportunities.

The initial phase of Education Matters' work in Boston began in 1997 and was funded with grants from the OERI and the Boston Annenberg Challenge. A major focus of these early evaluation studies was on a) implementation of the district's Essentials for Whole-School Improvement, b) the design and implementation of coaching as a form of school-based professional development, and c) the development and implementation of the district's unique Collaborative Coaching and Learning model.

Education Matters has also conducted several evaluations of pilot programs designed to strengthen the overall initiative. For example, during the second half of the 2003-2004 school year we completed evaluations of the a) Boston Plan for Excellence's Formative Assessment Pilot Project, and b) Boston's pilot implementation of the comprehension-focused reading program called Making Meaning™. [View reports in PDF format]

1993-2003: Middle School Focused Evaluations.  From 1993-2003, with support from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Education Matters studied standards-based reform in the middle schools of San Diego, CA; Long Beach, CA; Corpus Christi, TX; and Jefferson County (Louisville), KY; among other districts.  Out of this work grew a two-year research study funded by the OERI on the role of teacher leaders in scaling up standards-based reform. The study created ten in-depth case studies of recognized teacher leaders that were designed to identify the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that enable teachers to use standards to improve teaching and learning. Reports are grouped by district.
[View reports in PDF format]

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