Building the Foundation for Improved Student Performance

The Pre-Curricular Phase of Project GRAD Newark

| Sandra Ham, Fred Doolittle, Glee Ivory Holton

Conceived and first implemented in Houston, Texas, Project GRAD is a relatively new education initiative, but one that has already generated strong interest and been expanded to five other cities: Atlanta, Columbus, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Newark. This first report from MDRC’s ongoing evaluation of Project GRAD Newark, the initial expansion site, is focused on early implementation of the initiative — its pre-curricular phase. The evaluation affords a view of Project GRAD’s components, principles, and implementation period as they are being adapted to a new context and offers policymakers important insight into the process of introducing a major education reform into a school system. The findings from the evaluation thus far suggest that the implementation of Project GRAD in Newark is off to a strong start, and there are promising signs of progress. Upcoming reports on Project GRAD Newark will focus on the initiative’s curricular components and their effects on student achievement outcomes.