SOURCE: SRI International

January 24, 2008 08:30 ET

SRI International Awarded Contract to Evaluate Texas Education Reform Program Aimed at Improving Statewide High School Outcomes

MENLO PARK, CA--(Marketwire - January 24, 2008) - SRI International, an independent nonprofit research and development organization, today announced that it has been awarded an $8 million contract from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to evaluate the Texas High School Project (THSP), a statewide initiative to improve high school education outcomes. The goal of the evaluation program is to provide policymakers, funders and educational practitioners with objective and timely information about the progress of THSP schools. SRI was selected through the agency's competitive bid process.

THSP is a public-private initiative committed to increasing high school graduation and college enrollment rates throughout Texas. Graduation rates in Texas are approximately 80 percent -- ranging from 92 percent for Asian/Pacific Islanders to 72 percent for Latino students. According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, Texas ninth-grade students have a one-third chance of enrolling in college by age 19.

THSP partner organizations include the Texas Education Agency, (through appropriations made by the Texas Legislature), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and the Communities Foundation of Texas. THSP provides funds and technical assistance for schools and school districts to improve student achievement.

"SRI has many years of experience leading, developing and conducting complex studies of schools and reform programs," said Nancy Adelman, Ed.D., associate director of SRI's Center for Education Policy and the principal investigator of the study. "SRI's experienced research team, working with Texas-based partners that are deeply familiar with the education system in the state, will analyze and report on THSP outcomes to inform the project and help it succeed. We are proud to lead the evaluation of one of the country's most ambitious efforts to improve secondary school education on such a large, statewide scale."

Various high school reform efforts will be evaluated as part of the initial four years of what may become a seven-year longitudinal study. These reforms include programs aimed at improving instructional practices, school and district organization and function, and teacher and principal preparation. Evaluation research questions include examining how the programs are implemented, identifying factors that support success and barriers that prevent success of the programs, and analyzing any changes in student outcomes that occur as a result of the programs.

"Addressing these questions will allow us to do more than say whether or not THSP programs were successful in getting all students ready for college," said Robert Scott, Commissioner of Education. "This evaluation will provide data on an ongoing basis that will allow staff at all the THSP-funding organizations to track grant progress and improve programs to meet that goal."

To address these research questions SRI, as the lead research organization, will conduct a variety of data collection and analysis activities including managing and analyzing multiple, large-scale quantitative and qualitative data sets. SRI will also conduct site visits to THSP and comparison schools; survey principals, teachers, and students; and administer daily logs or questionnaires to teachers focused on instructional practice. During the first four years of the study, a subset of THSP schools will be identified for intensive case studies.

The research team includes the following Texas-based organizations:

--  Public Policy Research Institute (PPRI) at Texas A&M University: a
    research organization that provides scientific research and evaluation
    services to public and private sponsors including federal, regional, state
    and community agencies actively engaged in determining public policy
    
--  Copia Consulting: a provider of a broad range of specialized
    consulting and training services particularly in the fields of juvenile
    justice, education, child welfare and mental health
    
--  Texas Schools Project (TSP) at the University of Texas at Dallas:
    repository of data and records from multiple Texas state agencies, school
    districts and other sources that supports independent, high-quality
    academic research to improve academic achievement and to increase
    transitions to and success in postsecondary education
    
--  Triand, Inc.: a provider of online tools for teaching, learning,
    measuring, collecting and reporting
    
--  Texas Christian University: experts in student outcomes analysis and
    extensive experience with large databases of Texas school and student
    information.
    

About SRI International

Silicon Valley-based SRI International (www.sri.com) is one of the world's leading independent research and technology development organizations. Founded as Stanford Research Institute in 1946, SRI has been meeting the strategic needs of clients for more than 60 years. The nonprofit research institute performs client-sponsored research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses, and private foundations. In addition to conducting contract R&D, SRI licenses its technologies, forms strategic partnerships, and creates spin-off companies.

SRI's Center for Education Policy studies reforms that hold promise for improving the K-16 system of schooling and lifelong learning. The Center conducts research and evaluations on the design, implementation and impact of educational programs, especially improvement efforts targeted at disadvantaged students.

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