Excellence For All

Program Evaluation

Led by Brian Rowan, a research team at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research (ISR) has begun a multiyear evaluation of the Excellence for All initiative. The evaluation has three major components:

  • Implementation Analysis – will examine how Cambridge International Examination’s IGCSE program and ACT’s QualityCore program are introduced in the pilot schools. The initial cohorts of 9th grade students will be tracked, including new schools that joined the program in fall 2012. Using state and local data, and principal, teacher and student interviews as well as classroom observations and observations of professional development support programs, ISR will report on the context in which implementation is taking place, the extent of successful implementation, difficulties that may occur and student performance. This will include examining the rationale for school, teacher and student decision-making that influenced implementation, including students’ choice to head off to college or continue in high school if and when they meet the performance criteria for a new alternative high school diploma.
  • Efficacy Analysis – will examine the extent to which the adoption of the Cambridge and ACT programs contributes to improved student performance in the pilot schools. It will analyze what factors contribute to variations in student learning such as they may exist, including variations in the quality of implementation and in students’ prior education.
  • Case Studies – Each year, certain schools will be examined in-depth to better understand how faculty take advantage or not of the new curriculum, instructional materials, professional development and examinations that are offered. ISR will be interested in how obstacles are overcome, how new opportunities are capitalized on, what, if anything, blocks full implementation, and what steps schools take to expand, sustain and strengthen the program so it serves to lift the performance of all students.

Brian Rowan is the Burke A. Hinsdale Collegiate Professor in Education, Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research, and Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan.  A sociologist by training (Ph.D., Stanford, 1978), Rowan’s scholarly interests lie at the intersection of organization theory and school effects research.  For over thirty years, he has written on education as an institution, on the nature of school organization, leadership, and instructional practice, and on the effects of these factors on student achievement.  Since 1998, Rowan has been Study Director for A Study of Instructional Improvement (a large-scale, longitudinal study of the design, implementation, and instructional effectiveness of three of America’s largest comprehensive school reform initiatives) and as a principal investigator of Understanding Teaching Quality (a large study of teaching effectiveness).  In conducting these studies, Rowan has worked with leading researchers on issues related to the measurement of instruction and teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge, on the development of new approaches to causal inference in research on teaching and school evaluation, on the use of large-scale surveys and video observations in the study of school, classroom, and teacher effects on students’ achievement, and on the analysis of trends in the school improvement industry.  In addition, Rowan has extensive experience working in international settings.  In 1997 and 1998 he was a visiting professor of education at the Chinese University in Hong Kong.  From 1999-2004 he participated in the Spencer Foundation-sponsored International Education Policy Roundtable, which included twice annual information exchanges among researchers and policy makers from France, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom.  In 2005 he was part of a delegation of leading U.S. scholars to China, where he worked with Chinese policy makers and education researchers to develop an agenda for collaboration and joint research.  And, for the past two years, Rowan has worked as presenter and participant in Van Leer Foundation’s Directors General Workshop that brings together top education ministry officials for information exchange and policy development, including most recently, ministry officials from Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

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