Worcester school reform evaluation

December 23, 2002

As part of their ongoing district-wide high school reform efforts, supported by the Carnegie Corporation and the Gates Foundation, the Worcester schools and Clark University have put concerted energy into creating youth-centered learning environments. Two assessment processes have helped them in this work. One, a large-scale, district-wide survey, asked students to identify whether their schools provided them with the basic “inputs” that make for effective learning environments, and what barriers stood in the way of learning – addressing issues related to hunger, safety, connections, health, etc. Second, a cohort of students will be examined more closely as they make the transition into small schools. School climate surveys will be administered on a regular basis, and connected with a broad range of other data. As part of this cohort study, several students from each small school will be recruited to be student researchers. These young people will receive training on qualitative data gathering, and will document the way the school climate changes through a weekly journal of their observations, peer and school staff interviews, and meetings and reports written with student researchers from other schools.