Closing The Gap Pilot Project Overview

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A brief overview of a new pilot project to address significant attendance barriers faced by high-school students by offering virtual access via laptops.

A brief overview of a new pilot project to address significant attendance barriers faced by high-school students by offering virtual access via laptops.

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  • 1. Closing the Gap Pilot Project<br />The Advantages of Using Distance Learning to Address Classroom Attendance Barriers Faced by High School Dropouts<br />Project Narrative<br />The Closing the Gap Pilot Project will address one of the main pillars of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of working to close the achievement gap by offering high-school students with significant classroom attendance barriers the option of distance learning via remote access from laptop computers to the Education 2020 (E2020) curriculum to participate in the learning environment. <br />Central to the design of the Project is an asset-based community development strategy predicated on utilizing comprehensive and crosscutting approaches that facilitate the fostering of linkages with other community stakeholders to ensure that students are able to access resources needed to achieve higher levels of student performance. The link between classroom attendance and student performance is well established. According to a recent research article, “attendance is statistically significant in explaining class grade and overall performance of students.” As one can imagine, the impact of frequently missing class for the high school dropout population is acute due to the influence of already high odds of academic underachievement.<br />A fundamental element of the Project is an innovative approach to addressing significant classroom attendance barriers by making use of computer technology. The E2020 curriculum combines best-practice pedagogy with next-generation technology that enables Covenant House Academies to use a computer aided instructional (CAI) design to customize academic content and user settings while providing an opportunity for students to learn at their own pace and make meaningful academic gains. All Covenant House Academy students will be using the E2020 curriculum in the classroom setting, as of July 1, 2010. The grant request is to support a test of the value of allowing a subset of students to access E2020 remotely in an effort to improve their attendance and academic performance. The E2020 courseware is aligned to state of Michigan and national standards and has helped students recover and accrue credits for graduation and prepare for state, end-of-course, and key standardized tests since 1998. <br />Target Population<br />The target population for the proposed project is 9th through 11th grade high-school students who are currently enrolled at Covenant House Academies. Unique characteristics of the population include household incomes that are below 100% of the federal poverty level for a family average size of four and a history of previous high school attendance without completion.<br />A total of 10 students will be selected from each of the 3 academies. These students will come from those with the lowest attendance rate who have significant barriers to attendance including: transportation, child-care affordability, financial resources, and relative care.<br />Project Process Objectives and Key Activities<br />Process Objective 1<br />Complete initial outreach with identified 30 students, who fall into the lowest 25% school year attendance rate, and their parents.<br /> <br />Key Activities: <br />
    • Conduct a project orientation for identified students and parents
    • 2. Conduct initial assessments for each program participant
    • 3. Distribute laptops and log-in instructions
    Process Objective 2<br />Conduct a project status meeting to collect interim assessments, address any project issues, and make milestone adjustments if necessary.<br /> <br />Key Activities: <br />
    • Conduct a project status meeting for identified students and parents
    • 4. Conduct interim assessments for each program participant
    • 5. Solicit anecdotal feedback from project participants
    Evaluation Plan<br />To evaluate the Project, Covenant House Academies will work with SPEC Associates, a national non-profit evaluation and process improvement organization based in downtown Detroit. We will work with SPEC to design a detailed logic model defining the specific activities and outcomes expected to be achieved. <br />The primary evaluation questions to be answered through this pilot are:<br />To what extent does pre-planned remote access to coursework improve a student’s attendance and academic performance, for high school students that face significant classroom attendance barriers?<br />In what situations, and how often, should high school students be allowed to supplement their classroom experience with the virtual learning environment?<br />The primary outcomes that are anticipated through this pilot project are:<br />Students will increase their attendance (as they will be participating remotely) and<br />Students will improve their academic performance (as they will not be missing school, when they physically cannot be in the classroom).<br />To measure outcomes, SPEC will design a measurement plan and guide Covenant House staff to collecting the appropriate data about the participating students. SPEC will analyze the student data in a way that assesses the evaluation questions. This information will help Covenant House Academies decide if and how the program can be scaled-up to include a broader group of students. <br />