A team of professors representing several different departments at Western Kentucky University are serving as external evaluators on the $42 million Race to the Top grant being administered by the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (GRREC) and the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (OVEC).
Calling themselves the Rock Solid Evaluation Team, this collaborative of WKU scholars and their supporting team of graduate assistants conducts on-going research assessing implementation of the Race to the Top grant and its impact on students in 122 participating schools. The team includes Drs. Jie Zhang, Gary Houchens, and transitional retiree Steve Miller from the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research; Dr. Jenni Redifer from the Department of Psychology; and Dr. Amber Schroeder from the Department of Psychological Sciences. Dr. Tony Norman, director of WKU’s Doctor of Educational Leadership program is the project director and principal investigator. Office associate Courtney Kepple provides administrative support and helps oversee the work of graduate assistants from the EdD and educational psychology programs.
The GRREC/OVEC grant, administered as the kid-FRIENDLy (kid-Focused, Responsible, Imaginative, Engaged, and Determined to Learn) project, includes five major components: 1) promoting students as leaders (primarily through implementation of Franklin-Covey program Leader in Me); 2) encouraging the growth and development of teacher and school leaders; 3) implementing competency-based instruction, and 4) promoting personalized learning. The Rock Solid team works closely with kid-FRIENDLy to monitor program implementation and assess results. The team will present several papers summarizing the first full year of the grant’s implementation at the upcoming Mid-South Educational Research Association annual conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, November 5-7.
The Rock Solid team is also carrying out research on a new teacher perception survey based on Kentucky’s Standards and Indicators for School Improvement and the Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning (TELL Kentucky) teacher survey of working conditions. To learn more about Rock Solid and the full scope of its evaluation services, visit their website here.