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CEA has completed more than 100 evaluations for an array of clients. Below, we highlight some of these projects:

PK12 Education Program Evaluations

STEM Council Scale-Up Program Participants' Postsecondary Trajectory

The Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council is interested in designing a sustainable data collection model to evaluate if the programs of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council are significantly influencing the postsecondary pathways of Iowans toward STEM fields. The CEA's role includes offering sustainable model for the data collection, maintenance, and analysis of high school STEM Program impact on participants. These data can be used to inform the Governor's STEM Advisory Council and other stakeholders on the progress toward meeting the target of being a national STEM leader.

21st Century Community Learning Centers

The purpose of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) project is to provide academic enrichment opportunities before and after school and in the summer.The CEA is providing evaluation services to the Iowa City Community School District to determine what strategies are effective and to inform program improvement.

Assistive Technology in Specially-Designed Instruction: Usability Study

The purpose of this study is to improve the capacity of Iowa schools to diagnose, design, and deliver accessibility options to increase learner outcomes for students with disabilities. The CEA is providing evaluation services to the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research (ICATER) to monitor and document the professional development provided to school teams to ensure fidelity of implementation to use assistive technology to enhance student learning.

English Language Learners in Iowa: Data Collection Methodology Development Project

A 2013 Iowa task force on English Language Learners (ELLs) in Iowa schools discovered that there is very little documentation of how the needs of ELLs are being met by Iowa schools. This creates challenges for school districts who are searching for promising practices, and for districts who want to document both their needs and their strengths in meeting the needs of the growing population of ELLs in Iowa. In response to observed need, the CEA is working in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Education and ten Iowa school districts, to develop a methodology to describe how ELL education is happening in the school districts that have the highest densities of ELLs in Iowa. Beginning with on-site, in-depth data collection, the CEA plans to create a methodology for distance data collection, ultimately to be carried out by the districts themselves, resulting in an actionable agenda to provide others with information about their ELL programming and guide improvements in their programs.

Innovation Lab Network Performance Assessment Project

The CEA conducted the evaluation of an Iowa pilot of the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity's Innovation Lab Network (ILN), a bank of performance assessments for use in high school classrooms. The ILN assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, and the Iowa Core. The CEA used primarily a qualitative approach, conducting surveys with students and teachers, and teacher interviews regarding the use of the performance assessments in several different content areas. Despite high attrition among teachers in the study, the CEA was able to provide important, in-depth information about how the assessments worked in the classrooms of participating teachers.

Iowa Teacher Quality Partnership

The Iowa Teacher Quality Partnership project (TQP), funded by the US Department of Education, was a five-year project whose mission was to boost achievement of Iowa PK-12 students by developing and retaining more highly effective teachers. The project sought to define effective teaching across the spectrum from pre-service to career teaching and integrate the attributes of effective teaching into pre-service and professional development programs statewide. The project also was intended to enhance the capacity of pre-service teachers to serve high-needs rural schools and to promote teacher retention in those areas. The evaluation focused on monitoring and examining the effects of programming at the University of Northern Iowa's College of Education and in nine rural school district partners.

Assessment for Learning

This project focused on the implementation of a state-wide school improvement policy. Three Iowa schools piloted the Assessment for Learning training modules developed by the Iowa Department of Education. The project provided inservices, classroom observations, and other support to the participating school districts, as requested by the district administrators. CEA staff gathered data on the effectiveness of the modules and sent updates regularly to the Iowa Department of Education to help modify and evaluate the existing modules.

Iowa Learning Technology Consortium (ILTC)

Over a three year period, the Iowa Department of Education provided one-year awards for six Iowa school districts to purchase educational technology for use in their schools. While awarded projects were diverse in scope, each awarded school aimed to increase student achievement, along with other student outcomes such as increased motivation or a decrease in behavioral incidents. The three Iowa Regents' Universities - The University of Iowa, Iowa State, and University of Northern Iowa - served in a metaevaluative role and supported participating schools by providing feedback on each school's internal evaluation report and conducting site visits.

Grant Wood Inquiry: Geographic Information Systems for Science Teachers

This three-year Math Science Partnership (MSP) provided approximately 50 secondary science teachers at schools in the Grant Wood Area Education Association with teacher professional development and on-site assistance from project leaders and science consultants. The focus included earth science content, inquiry pedagogies, problem-based learning instruction, and technology such as GIS. The CEA external evaluation was conducted in collaboration with a Grant Wood AEA internal evaluator. CEA staff consulted with project staff on appropriate data analysis, particularly on ITBS and other standardized assessment data, conducted annual web-based surveys of program learning and classroom implementation, and facilitated and analyzed the findings of annual focus groups.

Our Kids

The Our Kids project provided an annual summer professional development institute for PK12 teachers in the state of Iowa aimed at providing general education teachers with knowledge of how to support learning for English Language Learners. The institute provided coursework that addressed both general language learner pedagogy and content specific pedagogical knowledge. The institutes also addressed the need to increase knowledge of other cultures and foster cultural empathy. The CEA evaluation of the summer institute over its four iterations included participant observations and surveys. Formative evaluation findings provided to Title II AEA leaders and the project director in early years informed planning for subsequent summer institutes.

Elementary Mathematics Partnership Opening Windows to Rigor and Relevance (EMPOWRR)

This three-year Math Science Partnership (MSP) project focused on providing professional development and on-site support to elementary mathematics teachers at high-need schools in Eastern Iowa. The CEA evaluation included participant surveys and focus group interviews on the value of the training, and teachers' experiences using the new pedagogical methods in their teaching. The CEA also conducted surveys concerning the building culture for using the new methodologies in mathematics instruction. The EMPOWRR staff provided CEA with basic assessment data for students in participating teachers' classrooms for change score analyses.

Bringing History Home

The CEA conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the Bringing History Home (BHH) project which was funded by the US Department of Education Teaching American History (TAH) program. The BHH project produced curricular units in American history intended for use in grades K-6, and provided professional development led by pedagogical and content area experts and ongoing in-classroom support to all elementary teachers in the Washington (Iowa) Community School District. Evaluation methodology included classroom observation, surveys and individual and focus group interviews with teachers, student focus groups, analysis of student work products, and written student assessments.CEA staff observed classrooms and maintained frequent communication with the teachers. Project evaluation contributed to project improvements, documentation of activities and procedures, and investigated changes in participating teachers and their implemented curricula.

Bringing History Home II

Bringing History Home II was a continuation of the original Bringing History Home project. Teachers from three additional rural school districts received professional development and ongoing support in using the BHH curricula. The CEA developed written measures to assess students' abilities to learn from historical photos and to create narratives to describe historical topics. In addition, CEA conducted classroom observations to examine implementation fidelity, led focus group interviews, and conducted surveys teachers regarding the perceived value of the project for improving their history instruction. Two additional districts served as comparison districts and completed teacher surveys and student assessments.

Grant Wood History Institute (GWHI)/Bringing History Home III

Also funded by the US Department of Education TAH Program, the Grant Wood History Institute (GWHI) was a professional development initiative to improve high school and middle school history instruction. Following up on the pedagogy presented in the elementary BHH project, the GWHI used two main types of programming to provide teachers with professional development in teaching U.S. history: teacher professional development workshops and on-site support from project staff members. The CEA evaluation of this project was multi-faceted, including pre- and post-tests to assess the history content knowledge and historical thinking of both participating teachers and students. The CEA also conducted classroom observations and evaluated professional development using workshop surveys, participant observations, and implementation surveys.

Bringing History Home IV/ Cedar Rapids

Also funded by the US Department of Education TAH program, Bringing History Home – Cedar Rapids was a professional development initiative that served all elementary school teachers from two public school districts in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, metropolitan area. The project was a scale-up of the Bringing History Home project to a larger urban district, previously unserved by any TAH programs. The CEA evaluation of this project built upon and expanded previous CEA BHH evaluation efforts including providing additional validity evidence for CEA-developed assessments of historical photo analysis and historical narrative construction tests.

Mississippi Bend Area Education Association Early Reading First (ERF)

This three-year ERF project was funded by the US Department of Education and managed by staff at the Mississippi Bend Area Education Association. Six preschool teachers in southeastern Iowa participated in intensive professional development that focused on early literacy research, implemented play plans and other Vygotskian-based instructional strategies, and participated in literacy coaching. Another project component, Parents as Teachers, was aimed at enhancing relationships between families and schools. The CEA developed an assessment to gather information on participating teachers' knowledge of early literacy areas such as phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, and oral language. Teachers completed surveys, participated in focus groups, and participated in classroom observations that used the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation protocol. Parents in the Parents as Teachers component also participated in focus groups.

Science Mathematics Inquiry Learning Enhancement and SMILE II

The Science Mathematics Inquiry Learning Enhancement (SMILE) and SMILE II were Math Science Partnership (MSP) projects that provided teacher professional development focused on science and mathematics content and inquiry learning. CEA evaluation staff created, analyzed and reported the results of teacher surveys, conducted content analysis of teacher notebooks, and observed summer professional development workshops. In addition, CEA staff conducted focus groups with teachers, administrators and project staff.

Science and Mathematics Avenues to Renewed Teachers and Students (SMARTS)

The SMARTS project was a four-year Math Science Partnership (MSP) that provided teacher professional development that was primarily focused on inquiry learning in science and math. The CEA evaluation team conducted data analysis of the participating teachers' pre- and post-test results on the Survey of Enacted Curriculum. This project was a follow up to the SMILE projects.

Twice-Exceptional Project

The Twice-Exceptional Project was managed by staff at the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development (B-BC). The project provided teacher professional development to gifted educators, special education teachers, administrators, and counselors on students who are both academically gifted and who have a special condition, such as autism. The CEA staff consulted with B-BC staff in the development of a needs assessment.

Post-Secondary Education Program Evaluations

Science Communication for the Digital Age

The Science Communication for the Digital Age project is a National Institute for Health (NIH) funded T32 supplement which supports the development and implementation of a graduate level course to teach biomedical research students how to more effectively communicate their research to broader audiences using innovative communication technologies and techniques. The CEA will provide an evaluation compiling information from students and the teaching team to demonstrate the impact of the course to the NIH and inform improvements for future course offerings.

Sustainability Living Learning Community

The University of Iowa College of Engineering received funding from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to create curriculum for a living-learning community (LLC) related to sustainability. The project also developed a new college level sustainability course. The CEA conducted surveys regarding students' interest and self-efficacy about skills related to sustainability issues.

Iowa Biosciences Academy

The Iowa Biosciences Academy (IBA), funded by the National Institute of Health, identified academically talented undergraduate students from underrepresented minority groups and provided mentoring and training with the eventual goal of successful entry into doctoral programs in the areas of biomedical, behavioral, or biophysical sciences. The CEA evaluation of IBA served three primary purposes: (1) to investigate problems, issues, and barriers for formative improvement of the project, (2) to assess the value of the program to students, and (3) to examine students' perceptions of doctoral degree attainment. The CEA designed and implemented a multifaceted evaluation plan responsive to needs of the project directors, staff, sponsors, clients, participants and other stakeholders for information to improve and maintain the project as well as documented project outcomes for accountability purposes and reporting of benchmarks and progress.

Teachers & Leaders Program Evaluations

Massachusetts Performance Assessment for Leaders

The Massachusetts Performance Assessment for Leaders (MA-PAL) was designed as a performance assessment for candidates to demonstrate and apply their leadership knowledge and skills by setting direction, creating a professional learning culture among staff, supporting individual teacher development, and engaging families and community in improving student learning. MA-PAL consisted of four performance assessment tasks that reflected the authentic work of school leaders. The tasks were developed in collaboration with Massachusetts educational leaders, pathway faculty and state officials and were intended to be completed as part of a preparation pathway. CEA worked with the Massachusetts Department of Education, Bank Street College, and the MA-PAL Development Team to design, pilot, and validate the MA-PAL.

Multidimensional Performance Assessment Rubric (MPPR)

Learner-Centered Initiatives, Ltd. identified the need to review the principal evaluation rubric being utilized by school districts in New York. CEA conducted a comprehensive validation study using a multiple-case study method. CEA traveled to two school districts to interview school leaders and gather survey data to determine if the MPPR is a valid tool for measuring principal growth.

Other Project Evaluations

Iowa Watershed Approach

The Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA) is a five-year project funded under the US Department of Housing and Urban Development National Disaster Resilience Competition. From 2016-2021, the State of Iowa will receive approximately $97 million to improve infrastructure related to flood mitigation and to lead organizational and educational efforts related to building increased resilience among communities in nine rural and urban Iowa watersheds. The CEA will conduct evaluation process monitoring for the entire project and serve as a partner in the resilience portion of the project.

Institute for Clinical and Translational Science

The Institute for Clinical & Translational Science (ICTS) is one of over 60 sites funded under the Clinical & Translational Sciences Award (CTSA) Program within the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (formerly the National Center for Research Resources) at the National Institute of Health. Broadly, the CTSA goals are to revolutionize the field of scientific and health related research and broader impacts, and the ICTS implements these goals paying special attention to the health of Iowans. CEA provided support to ICTS administration and service core leadership to provide formative feedback about specific projects and the program as a whole.