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Blue Valley Schools and Empirical Education Explain Local Program Evaluations

Dr. Bo Yan, Program Evaluator for the Blue Valley Schools in Kansas, and Dr. Denis Newman, president of Empirical Education, co-presented at the Northwest Evaluation Association’s annual Members Seminar in Portland OR. The topic was how school districts can use their own testing such as that administered by the NWEA member districts to conduct their own local program evaluations. Dr. Yan, who is expecting to conduct seven such evaluations in his district this coming year, used an evaluation of READ 180 as an illustration of a comparison group design using primarily statistical controls. Dr. Newman presented the randomized control work Empirical Education has done with the Maui school system to evaluate math software and curriculum from Carnegie Learning (Cognitive Tutor: Year 1 and Year 2). Both emphasized the importance of local evaluations to estimate the impact of the programs for the specific populations and resources available to the district. They also made clear the need for a comparison group from the local district since the improvement a district can expect is anchored in its own students’ current level of achievement. While the presentation focused mainly on the use of NWEA’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) in the quantitative estimation of the program’s impact, the presenters also emphasized the importance of gathering information on implementation and of the conversations that must go on to integrate evaluation findings into the district’s decision-making. NWEA will be providing this presentation, along with the PowerPoint slides, as a podcast.