Program evaluation and data-informed decision making are hot topics in the public and non-profit sector. Still, many organizations struggle to understand how to evaluate their programs and make use of information they have available. For this project you will use the ideas and principles we’ve discussed in class to build a research plan for Achievement First, a nonprofit Charter Management Organization (CMO).
The project is designed to give you experience working with a real program and the steps involved in building research projects for them. Think of yourself as an employee with Achievement First, or as a consultant they hired. You are trying to help them ask better questions and to use data analytics to support the program's goals.
Read the Achievement First case study and use it to guide your work on this project. You will then complete the “project worksheet.” The worksheet itself can be found in a separate Word document. All of the parts to the worksheet are explained below.
Your project should contain the following parts:
Summarize your proposal. What is AF, what are your research proposals, and why are they valuable? This should be one page or less.
Based on the case study, you should have a decent understanding of AF's goals, strategies, etc. With this in mind, propose two quantitative research projects that you think will help them. You want AF to see real value in your research proposals, and your goal is to help Achievement First be a better organization. Complete the following “proposal worksheet” for each of your research proposals:
-Research Question: clearly state your research question
-Justification for this question: why is this question relevant, interesting, or important for this-organization? What can the organization gain with information on this question?
-Hypothesis: state one hypothesis that you will test to address your research question.
-Dependent Variable: What is your dependent variable?
-Independent Variable: What is your independent variable?
-Key Concepts, Measures: What are the key concepts in your study? How will you operationalize these concepts?
-Data Source: Where will your data come from? Will you conduct an experiment or survey? Will you collect data from the organization or another source?
-Expectations/Theory: What do you expect that the results of your study will be, and why? Build a theory about the relationship that you are studying, and go to the existing literature as appropriate to support your expectations.
Achievement First (AF) is a contracted school management organization. The organization's starting point is the educational inequality among students in the United States. As is well known, in the United States, there are quite a large differences between black and white students' achievement. The reasons for these differences have been the subject of many studies in the literature. Although socio-economic differences are shown to be the most important factors affecting student achievement, Doug McCurry, supervisor and assistant CEO of the AF organization, said: “The teacher is really important and there are excellent teachers in the low-income regions who ensure that the children are successful. If we ensure that a perfect teacher is found, we can have schools where excellent teachers are taught in each class.” Therefore, focusing on the quality of schools and teachers rather than the ethnic or socio-economic and socio-cultural differences that are shown as the reasons for student failures seems to be a more important step for the solution of the problem.
In this project, two research questions are proposed. The first proposal is about the effect of the quality of teachers on student achievement. Whether it is possible to relate student achievement and teacher...
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