Skip to Content

College of Education


Office of Program Evaluation

Projects

Early Learning

Evaluation of the Learning Bridge: Engaged Families, Successful Children

The Learning Bridge is designed to support literacy and school readiness across the Midlands. Richland Library combined two programs, Summer Stride and Here Comes Kindergarten, to support families in being prepared for school and learning to read. Summer Stride offers a four-week intensive reading program to students at Harbison West Elementary, including reading instruction, individual tutoring, and enrichment activities provided by the library. This program bridges into Here Comes Kindergarten, a school readiness program providing parents resources and strategies to enhance their children’s literacy skills, offered throughout the school year. Here Comes Kindergarten is offered at the Harbison Gardens and Allen-Benedict housing communities, as well as in Spanish at Windsor United Methodist Church.

Client: Richland County Public Library, United Way of the Midlands
Funding Source: United Way of the Midlands
Funding Period: 06-01-2014 to 06-30-2017
Lead Evaluator: Dr. Leigh Kale D’Amico, Research Assistant Professor

Evaluation of Literacy 2030

Literacy 2030 is a coalition of community agencies, businesses, and religious organizations brought together by the South Carolina State Library to ensure that every citizen in the Midlands is literate by 2030. The coalition meets quarterly to consciously develop a plan to eliminate illiteracy. The workgroup is following these steps: 1) Identify Needs, 2) Define Goals, 3) Identify Evidence-Based Practices, and 4) Develop Outcomes. This research-based process allows organizations to come together to identify their strengths and areas of focus in their collective effort to eradicate illiteracy.

Client: Richland County Public Library, South Carolina State Library
Funding Source: Central Carolina Community Foundation
Funding Period: 01-01-2014 to 06-30-2017
Lead Evaluator: Dr. Leigh Kale D’Amico, Research Assistant Professo

Evaluation of Quality Counts

Quality Counts is a quality rating and improvement system used to measure and communicate the quality of childcare centers in Greenville, South Carolina. Quality Counts’ results allow for targeted technical assistance and support for programs as they attempt to enter the system or improve or maintain their quality in the following five areas: 1) Learning Environment, 2) Ratio/Group Size, 3) Staff Qualifications, 4) Family Engagement, and 5) Program Administration. This evaluation collects information from childcare centers, parents, and community organizations to measure the support provided by Quality Counts and its effect on improving childcare center quality and children’s school readiness.

Client: Spartanburg First Steps
Funding Source: Mary Black Foundation
Funding Period: 06-01-2014 to 06-30-2017
Principal Investigator: Dr. Leigh Kale D’Amico, Research Assistant Professor

Research to Improve the Quality of Child Care for South Carolina Families

In consultation with staff from the SC Department of Social Services, Office of Program Evaluation staff members design and participate in research studies to inform practices associated with the provision of quality child care services to SC families. Research activities include a validity evidence study for a child care quality instruments and a training study on revised child care quality standards.


Client: South Carolina Department of Social Services
Funding Source: South Carolina Department of Social Services via United States Department of Health and Human Services
Funding Period: 04-25-2015 to 04-24-2017
Project Lead: Dr. Tammiee Dickenson, OPE Director & Research Professor

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education

Evaluation of the Standards Based Integrated Instruction: The Next Step (SBII) Program

The Standards Based Integrated Instruction: The Next Step (SBII) project is a joint venture among high-need elementary and middle schools within Lexington Two and Richland One School Districts, two private schools located in Columbia, South Carolina (Heathwood Hall & St. Joseph), the Power Cooperatives of South Carolina, the South Carolina Solar Council, and two colleges at the University of South Carolina: (a) College of Engineering and Computing, and (b) College of Education. The mission of the project is to improve teacher understanding of STEM content and instructional strategies to positively impact subsequent student learning.


Client: Dr. Bridget Miller, Assistant Professor of Instruction and Teacher Education at USC
Funding Source: Math Science Partnership Grant, South Carolina Department of Education via United States Department of Education
Funding Period: 09-01-2015 to 08-31-2018
Lead Evaluator: Dr. Ashlee Lewis, Research Assistant Professor

Evaluation of the South Carolina Science and Mathematics Teacher Leader (SC-SMTL) Program

The University of South Carolina (U of SC) Noyce Fellows is a South Carolina Science and Mathematics Teacher Leader (SC-SMTL) program. This five-year leadership program is for secondary science and mathematics teachers in rural South Carolina communities. Participants of the Noyce Fellows program receive a stipend to participate in professional development activities, such as Summer Instructional Leadership Academies, National Board Completion, and Coach Training. Noyce Fellows will also host student teaching interns from U of SC.

The overall goal of the Noyce Fellows program is to support 20 teachers from across the state as they develop into professional leaders. Each fellow will foster deep commitments to improving student achievement within their rural community that will result in improved science and mathematics instruction across the state. The result is enhanced knowledge-based, sustainable communities throughout all of South Carolina.

Client: Dr. Jan Yow, University of South Carolina
Funding Source: National Science Foundation-Noyce Scholars Program
Funding Period: 08-15-2014 to 07-31-2019
Lead Evaluator: Dr. Leigh Kale D'Amico, Research Assistant Professor

University of South Carolina Science and Mathematics Teachers Initiative (USC-SMTI)

This project seeks to increase the number of teachers working in high-needs school districts who are certified in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Clients:  Dr. Jan Yow, Dr. Christine Lotter, and Kathy Henson, University of South Carolina
Funding Source: National Science Foundation-Noyce Scholars Program
Funding Period: 09-15-2010 to 08-31-2017
Lead Evaluator: Dr. Leigh Kale D'Amico, Research Assistant Professor

Arts Education

South Carolina Arts Assessment Program (SCAAP)

The South Carolina Arts Assessment Program (SCAAP) began in 2001 and represents a collaborative effort between the South Carolina Department of Education, the Office of Program Evaluation, and South Carolina arts educators. The long-term goal of the project is to develop and implement standards-based assessments in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts across all grade levels throughout South Carolina. Since 2004, SCAAP has implemented web-based assessments in music and visual arts for 4th grade students throughout the state. Web-based dance and theatre assessments for entry-level students were field tested in 2006 and pilot-tested in 2007. In 2007, OPE began working with middle-level arts educators throughout the state to develop SCAAP assessments for 7th grade students, and those assessments were field tested in 2008. Currently, the SCAAP 4th grade music and visual arts assessments are administered across South Carolina in schools and districts that received Distinguished Arts Program grants from the South Carolina Department of Education.

Client: South Carolina Department of Education
Funding Source: South Carolina Department of Education
Funding Comments: Ongoing since 2001.
Program Director: Dr. Ashlee Lewis, Research Assistant Professor
Program Coordinator: Xiaofang Zhang, Research Associate

School Choice

Evaluation of Project ACCESS – Magnet Schools Assistance Program

School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties, northwest of Columbia, South Carolina, is using its MSAP funds to implement new magnet programs in five schools to reduce the minority group isolation of African-American students through Project ACCESS (Academics + Choice + Careers + Environment = Student Success). The diverse themes of the schools are designed to appeal to a variety of student interest to attract a more diverse student population at each school. The evaluation of Project ACCESS is a collaborative effort between the South Carolina Educational Policy Center and the Office of Program Evaluation at the University of South Carolina.

Client: School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties
Funding Source: Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP), United States Department of Education
Funding Period: 10-01-2013 to 09-30-2017
Lead Evaluator: Dr. Diane Monrad, SCEPC Director
Co-Evaluators: Dr. Tammiee Dickenson, OPE Director; Dr. Robert Johnson, Professor of Educational Studies at USC

Evaluation of Full STEAM Ahead! – Magnet Schools Assistance Program

Richland School District Two, located in Columbia, South Carolina, received MSAP funds to significantly revise two magnet programs into school-wide magnet schools and create one magnet school that are within close proximity to each other in the neediest area of the district. These schools form a “continuum” of learning at the elementary, middle, and high school with a common theme of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). The curricula and project activities at the lower grades are designed to align with curricula at the high school. More importantly, the plan is to recruit students at an early age to the schools in this lower part of the school district and to provide the programs and resources to keep them at these magnet schools. Staff members from the South Carolina Educational Policy Center and the Office of Program Evaluation at the University of South Carolina assist with the evaluation of Full STEAM Ahead!

 

Client: Richland County School District Two
Funding Source: Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP), United States Department of Education
Funding Period: 10-01-2013 to 09-30-2017
Lead Evaluator: Dr. Robert Johnson, Professor of Educational Studies at USC
Co-Evaluators: Dr. Ashlee Lewis, OPE Research Assistant Professor; Dr. Diane Monrad, SCEPC Director

Special Education

Evaluation of South Carolina’s State Systemic Improvement Plan (SC SSIP)

The South Carolina Department of Education, Office of Special Education Services, and First Steps/BabyNet are working together to produce a State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP). The SSIP is a comprehensive 6-year plan developed to improve results for children with disabilities.  The SSIP is divided into three phases. The actual State plan is developed in Phases I and II with implementation taking place in Phase III.  The goal is to increase the capacity of local education agencies and early intervention service programs to implement and sustain evidence-based practices that can produce improved outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and their families.

South Carolina has chosen to focus on reading in early elementary grades for the school-age population under SSIP. The goal of the SSIP initiative is to improve reading achievement for students with disabilities by third grade in participant schools. The Office of Program Evaluation serves as the external evaluator for South Carolina’s SSIP.

Client: South Carolina Department of Education
Funding Period: 07-1-2016 to 09-30-2019
Lead Evaluator: Dr. Tammiee Dickenson, OPE Director & Research Professor
Co-Evaluator: Dr. Ashlee Lewis, Research Assistant Professor; Dr. Artie Maharaj , Research Associate

School Transformation

Evaluation of Carolina Consortium for Enterprise Learning (CCEL) – Race to the Top District Grant

Carolina Consortium for Enterprise Learning (CCEL) is a consortium of four high-needs school districts in South Carolina, to transform public education in 17 schools across these districts. The CCEL project aims to provide students with academic, technological, and life skills necessary for success in college, careers, and citizenship. Educators in CCEL schools engage in job-embedded professional learning opportunities facilitated through coaching, mentoring, and teaming focused on instruction.  CCEL strategies include structured Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), instructional and technology coaching, mentor teachers, and a digital platform (MasteryConnect) to enable collaboration.  CCEL coaches train and support teachers on technology/digital resources, life skills curriculum, effective practices of PLCs, Project Based Learning (PBL), using data and assessment, and instructional effectiveness. Evaluation methods for the CCEL project include the following elements:

  • Implementation assessment tools

  • School site visits

  • Focus groups

  • Stakeholder surveys

  • Data preparation for federal reporting

Client: Consortium of four South Carolina school districts (Clarendon County School District Two, Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five, Richland County School District Two, and Williamsburg County School District)
Funding Source: Race to the Top District Grant, United States Department of Education
Funding Period: 01-01-2015 to 12-27-2017
Lead Evaluator: Dr. Tammiee Dickenson, OPE Director & Research Professor
Co-Evaluators: Dr. Ashlee Lewis, Research Assistant Professor; Dr. Constance Shepard, Research Associate

School Improvement Grant (SIG)

School Improvement Grants (SIGs), authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), are provided by the US Department of Education to state educational agencies (SEAs). SEAs use this funding to make competitive sub grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) that demonstrate the greatest need and the strongest commitment to use the funds to provide adequate resources aimed to improve student achievement in their lowest-performing schools. The current evaluation focuses on 13 South Carolina schools that received funding to reform their schools over a 5-year period Year 1 is dedicated to planning, Years 2-4 are for implementation, and Year 5 is focused on sustainability. Based on a needs assessment, schools selected a reform model and strategies that they would implement.  Among the 13 schools, there are four reform models: turnaround, transformation, early learning, and evidenced-based whole school reform. The evaluation includes an in-depth exploration of the implementation process for each of the schools as well as an examination of the student, school, family, and community outcomes.

Client:  South Carolina Department of Education
Funding Source:  United States Department of Education
Funding Period: 11/01/2016 to 12/31/2021
Lead Evaluator: Dr. Leigh Kale D’Amico, Research Assistant Professor
Co-Evaluator:  Dr. J. Montana Cain, Research Associate