To address the first question — the relationship between participation in the BASRC focal strategy and changes in student outcomes over time — MDRC is using a variant of the comparative interrupted time series design used in its other whole-school and systemic reform evaluations. In this design, we examine student achievement outcomes before and after the introduction of the focal strategy in the 12 elementary schools in the five districts initially implementing the strategy:
- Newark Unified School District
- Alameda Unified School District
- Laguna Salada Union School District
- San Rafael City Elementary and High School Districts
- San Bruno Park Elementary School District
We compare the changes in the focal strategy schools with changes over the same time period in other schools in the same districts, as well as in schools in other California districts. School district records and state databases provide measures of student achievement.
To determine how widely reform practices prescribed by the BASRC theory of change have been implemented, MDRC conducted surveys of teachers and principals in 49 elementary schools. These include all the elementary schools in the five focal strategy districts, plus all elementary schools in another district that is a BASRC member district but is not participating in the focal strategy. Field research conducted in two to three schools in each of the five focal districts (some of which are focal schools and others not) further informs our understanding of how the schools are changing over time.