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School-Level Reform Projects and Publications

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Evaluating Philadelphia’s Community Schools Initiative

RFA was selected as the external evaluator for Philadelphia's Community Schools initiative, a hallmark of Mayor Jim Kenney's education agenda. The initiative provides a comprehensive set of social services and supports for schoolchildren and communities.…

Evaluating the Reimagine Learning Initiative for New Profit, Inc.

RFA is conducting a formative evaluation of New Profit’s Reimagine Learning initiative, which was developed to support schools and communities in creating learning environments that serve the needs of all students by providing supports for…

Evaluating the Philadelphia Academies’ All-Academy High School Model

Research for Action partnered with Philadelphia Academies, Inc. (PAI) to evaluate the All-Academy model in two Philadelphia public high schools. PAI has served as a high school, postsecondary, and career readiness resource for nearly 50…

Evaluating Project L.I.F.T.: A Cross-Sector Effort to Close the Achievement Gap

In 2012, RFA began a five-year, mixed methods study of Project L.I.F.T. (Leadership and Investment for Transformation), a philanthropic initiative designed to close the achievement gap in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS). Focusing on the…

Revisiting RFA’s Theory of Change and Indicators Framework for Communities for Public Education Reform

Ten years ago, RFA worked with CPER to develop a Theory of Change and Indicators Framework that community organizing groups could use to assess their effectiveness in organizing for school reform. Much has changed over…

Renaissance Schools in Philadelphia: Examining Early Implementation of a Turnaround School Model

This study, commissioned by the Accountability Review Council of the School District of Philadelphia, focused on the early months of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman's Renaissance Schools Initiative, designed to turn around chronically low-performing schools. Thirteen schools…

A Study of Effective Organizational Practices

The Accountability Review Council (ARC) of the School District of Philadelphia commissioned Research for Action to conduct a qualitative study designed to shed light on the practices of relatively successful Philadelphia schools serving middle and…

City Year Miami: An Implementation Evaluation

RFA was contracted by City Year Miami and the Knight Foundation to conduct a two-year mixed-method evaluation study of City Year's Whole School Whole Child (WSWC) model. The program components of the WSWC model focus…

School Choice in a City of Neighborhoods: Philadelphia’s Approach to High School Reform

RFA's study on high school choice builds on the "Learning from Philadelphia's School Reform" study and turns RFA's attention to the improvement of Philadelphia's high schools--a focus that was not part of the previous study…

Youth Civic Engagement in Urban School Reform

RFA is analyzing the campaigns of two Philadelphia youth organizing groups, the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) and Youth United for Change (YUC), to transform their neighborhood high schools into small schools. RFA's study investigates how…

A Formative Evaluation of Reform Initiatives in Trenton Public Schools: Trenton School District

RFA conducted a 4-year evaluation of the Trenton School District's Leadership for Education Achievement (LEAD) initiative. LEAD is a program supported by the DeWitt Wallace Foundation which builds school and district leadership capacity for the…

Learning from Philadelphia’s School Reform

RFA is leading "Learning from Philadelphia's School Reform," a comprehensive, multi-year study of Philadelphia's complex and radical school reform effort. RFA researchers worked with colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania, Montclair State University, Swarthmore College,…

An Evaluation of Talent Development, a Whole-School Reform: The Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF)

The Talent Development High School is a national high school comprehensive reform model developed at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (CRESPAR). PEF, a regional partner for…

A Review of Seven Parent Engagement Initiatives: The Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation commissioned RFA to produce the booklet Strong Images and Practical Ideas: A Guide to Parent Engagement in School Reform. This guide reviews seven different but complementary programs, supported by the…

An Evaluation of the Reduced Class Size/Early Balanced Literacy Initiative (RCS/EBL): Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF)

RFA evaluated the RCS/EBL initiative designed and implemented by a partnership of PEF and the School District of Philadelphia. Full-time Literacy Intern Teachers in the early grades work alongside senior teachers. RFA examined the impact…

An Evaluation of MicroSociety, an Experiential Whole-School Reform Model: MicroSociety, Inc.

RFA conducted a three-year evaluation of MicroSociety and examined the impact of the project as a comprehensive school reform model. MicroSociety is a whole school reform model in which teachers, students, parents, and community partners…

A Study of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA): The Logan Square Neighborhood Association and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The Logan Square Neighborhood Association in Chicago was guided by its Holistic Plan which includes improving local public schools, developing youth leadership, enhancing neighborhood safety, maintaining affordable housing and revitalizing the local economy. RFA was…

An Evaluation of Family Literacy Initiatives

From 1997-2000, RFA conducted an evaluation of two projects sponsored by PNC Bank to create educational partnerships between four elementary schools in Philadelphia's Norris Square neighborhood and parents/community members. The PNC supported programs were the…

A Study of Middle School Girls: American Association of University Women (AAUW)

AAUW commissioned RFA to investigate how girls from a variety of racial and ethnic groups negotiate their school lives. RFA conducted qualitative research at six school sites across the country, and authored an AAUW report,…

An Evaluation of Philadelphia’s Annenberg Challenge, Children Achieving: School District of Philadelphia and The Annenberg Foundation

RFA and the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) conducted a five-year multi-method evaluation of Children Achieving, Philadelphia's systemic school reform effort from 1995-2000. The program, one of the urban reform initiatives funded through…

The Philadelphia Community Schools Initiative: Year 1 Evaluation

Patching the Leaky Pipeline: Recruiting and Retaining Teachers of Color in Pennsylvania

Research shows that exposure to teachers of color has a positive impact on students of all races, and particularly on students of color. Despite these positive effects, only 4% of Pennsylvania's teachers are people of…

Community Schools Progress Report Toolkit: Indicators of Engagement, Planning and Early Successes

There are more than three dozen systemic community schools initiatives currently underway nationwide, with even more communities considering the reform. Yet few tools exist to help school districts, government agencies, and communities at large track…

Community Schools in Practice: Research on Implementation and Impact

Community schools are receiving increased attention in Pennsylvania and across the country as policymakers and practitioners strive to address the effects of poverty on academic performance, and provide more comprehensive supports for traditionally-underserved populations. While…

Enacting Common Core Instruction: A Comparative Study of the Use of LDC Literacy Tools in Three Sites

As of the writing of this report, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are being implemented in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Approaches to implementing the standards, however, are highly varied. For the…

Going Small: Progress and Challenges of Philadelphia’s Small High Schools

Between 2003 and 2007, and without significant outside funding, the School District of Philadelphia created 25 new small high schools. This study, begun by Research for Action in 2006, follows the start-up and early implementation…