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Neighborhood Bridges is a nationally recognized literacy program using storytelling and creative drama to help children develop their critical literacy skills and to transform them into storytellers of their own lives.In 2012-2013, a total of 640 students in grades three through six from twenty-three classrooms in eleven schools across the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area participated in the Neighborhood Bridges (Bridges) program of The Children's Theatre Company (CTC). This report presents the results of an evaluation of the Bridges program. CTC contracted with the University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) to conduct the study. The purpose of the evaluation was to measure the quality of Bridges implementation and assess student learning in the areas of writing; knowledge and skills in theatre; retelling and dramatization and critical literacy.

In 2009, a Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to the Minnesota Mandarin Immersion Collaborative (MMIC) for the project Global Literacy Through Mandarin Immersion and STEM. The funding was expected to continue for a total of 5 years contingent upon annual renewal approved by Congress. However, in 2011, Congress voted to discontinue all FLAP funding. The 3 years' of funding received by the MMIC supported early elementary immersion instruction in Mandarin Chinese that begins at the kindergarten level and the development of a curriculum that has a content focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The schools in the MMIC have added a grade level each year, with the intent of creating the capacity to continue Chinese immersion to grades 7-12. The MMIC contracted with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota to serve as the external evaluator of the project. This report presents CAREI's evaluation of the third year of the grant-funded project. The report includes enrollment and retention data as well as the results of a parent survey and a survey of English teachers (i.e., instructional staff whose positions were in the regular, non-immersion program).

Truancy has reached epidemic levels in schools in the United States. School truancy is associated with delinquency, substance abuse, educational failure, and school attrition. This paper describes 2010-2011 evaluation results of the be@school truancy intervention program in Hennepin County, Minnesota's most populous county. The program was implemented to increase school attendance through coordinated, progressive early intervention efforts that provide educational and support services to school-age children and their families. Over 6,000 children, grades K-12, and their families were referred to the program. The evaluation compared children's attendance records before and after program interventions. Results showed a significant reduction in unexcused absence rates among students whose families participated in parent group meetings. Moreover, students whose families received community agency support had significantly fewer absences than their counterparts who received no such support. The findings suggest that early school interventions that include community and parental involvement can markedly reduce student truancy rates.

This conference paper was presented at the 2012 Mid-Western Educational Research Association (MWERA) Conference.

Youth Frontiers is a nonprofit organization that partners with schools to build positive communities where students thrive socially, emotionally and academically. In September 2008, Youth Frontiers, Incorporated (YF) contracted with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) to conduct an evaluation of YF programming over three years. The purpose of our evaluation is threefold: to determine the extent that participation in YF programming increases students' social and emotional learning competencies; to determine if participation helps students feel more connected to peers and adults in their school communities; and to determine whether YF retreats have a positive effect on youth participants and the school as a whole.

Youth Frontiers is a nonprofit organization that partners with schools to build positive communities where students thrive socially, emotionally and academically. In September 2008, Youth Frontiers, Incorporated (YF) contracted with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) to conduct an evaluation of YF programming over three years. The purpose of our evaluation is threefold: to determine the extent that participation in YF programming increases students' social and emotional learning competencies; to determine if participation helps students feel more connected to peers and adults in their school communities; and to determine whether YF retreats have a positive effect on youth participants and the school as a whole.

The Minnesota Science Teachers Education Project (MnSTEP) was a series of rigorous, content-focused, summer science institutes offered regionally throughout Minnesota for K-12 teachers of science. Institutes were provided in biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, and scientific inquiry - addressing the Minnesota Science Standards in each area - with at least one K-5 and one 6-12 institute offered in each of five regions each summer. MnSTEP completed the third and final year of summer institutes and school year follow-up for Minnesota K-12 science teachers, including licensure programs in both high school physics and chemistry. Over three years, MnSTEP delivered 47 standards based science content institutes involving 914 teachers, who then taught more than 85,000 students. This report presents information on performance outcomes for year three of the project including results of pre- and post-assessment data for the year two cohort of teacher participants in the summer 2008 institutes. We presented an evaluation of the year one cohort in the 2008 MnSTEP Evaluation Report. We provide performance outcomes for the year one cohort in this report as a supplement to the 2008 report and for comparison purposes to the year two cohort.

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) was awarded a grant by American Honda Foundation to implement observational drawing in 20 elementary classrooms in 2010. Minneapolis Public Schools used observational drawing to teach skills of observation and apply them in the context of scientific investigation. Classroom teachers and the teaching artists had varying levels of experience with observational drawing. Minneapolis Public Schools contracted with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) to assess the impact of implementing this technique in a sample of MPS classrooms.

The be@school Program was implemented to increase school attendance and to improve community connections across Hennepin County through a coordinated early intervention effort that provides educational and support services to school-age children and their families. The program builds on the Minneapolis schools' attendance improvement activities which include making automated calls to parents after the first unexcused absence, sending a Principal's letter to parents after three unexcused absences, and offering helpful resources to the families. This report presents evaluation findings for the 2010-2011 school year of Hennepin County's be@school Program. The program used early intervention strategies with individual families to address children's poor school attendance. Over 6,000 children in grades K-12 and their families were referred to the program during the time frame under study. Referrals came from 21 school districts, charter schools, and independent schools across Hennepin County. The evaluation focused on comparing children's attendance records before and after program intervention. Additionally, analyses were completed between students whose families participated in the program and those who were referred, but did not participate (comparison group). Qualitative data analyses were also carried out to identify impediments to school attendance. Throughout this report, demographic information and program activities are described and related to the findings.

The Partners for Success® (PFS) Program, serving Dakota and Scott counties, provides basic needs assistance (e.g., food, clothing, school supplies) to students and families. In addition, for over 15 years, Family Support Workers (FSW) have collaborated with teachers, principals and school staff in 39 schools to help boost students' educational progress. The two main program goals of PFS are: 1) Establish a standard level of services across districts; and 2) Effectively partner with schools to ensure that all students reach proficiency in reading by third grade. During the 2009-2010 school year, CAREI evaluators focused on the formative aspects of the program. In the second evaluation (2010-2011), CAREI evaluators collaborated with PFS program staff to formulate three specific goals for the evaluation: 1) Determine the extent to which FSWs communicate and collaborate with parents/guardians and teachers to build relationships and improve students' educational performance; 2) Continue to monitor PFS professional development processes and determine how 360 Communities can continue to support and strengthen program activities through capacity building within the organization; and 3) Identify how the program impacts students, families and teachers by focusing on observed changes from the perspectives of teachers, parents/guardians, FSWs, and from analysis of student data. The second year's evaluation was implemented in 10 elementary schools located in six Minnesota cities: Burnsville, Farmington, Hastings, Lakeville, South St. Paul, and West St. Paul. This report summarizes the evaluation data collected from September 2010 through June 2011.

Neighborhood Bridges is a nationally recognized literacy program using storytelling and creative drama to help children develop their critical literacy skills and to transform them into storytellers of their own lives. In 2010-2011, students in twenty-five classrooms from eleven schools in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area participated in The Children's Theatre Company's Neighborhood Bridges (Bridges) program. The Children's Theatre Company contracted with the University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) to evaluate Bridges in these classrooms. The purpose of the evaluation was to measure the quality of Bridges implementation and assess student learning in the areas of writing; knowledge and skills in theatre; retelling and dramatization; and critical literacy. Highlights from the results of the evaluation study are discussed below.