Annalee Good, VARC to Study Milwaukee Tutoring Program

APRIL 2014

Annalee GoodThe Value-Added Research Center and VARC Researcher Annalee Good, an expert on tutoring programs, have received a grant from Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and the U.S. Department of Education to study how a district after-school tutoring program is helping its students learn. This current grant is an extension of the IES-funded, mixed-method Multisite Evaluation of Supplemental Educational Services (SESIQ2), conducted by Good and her colleagues, including VARC’s Rob Meyer and Emily Cheng, as well as Carolyn Heinrich at the University of Texas and Patricia Burch at the University of Southern California.

Milwaukee Public Schools’ Tutoring for You (T4U) program is a federally-funded after-school tutoring program created by MPS in 2012 after Wisconsin received a waiver from certain requirements under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), specifically the supplemental educational services (SES) provision.  Given increased flexibility in how its federal funds were used for after-school tutoring programs, MPS drew heavily upon the findings and recommendations of the SESIQ2 project to redesign the SES program into T4U. The school district receives about $5 million annually from the federal government to fund T4U, which provides thousands of public school students in Milwaukee with supplemental educational services designed to improve their learning in several core subject areas.

Good’s research will focus on whether those changes have helped achieve district goals around increased student learning. Relying on T4U enrollment, attendance and test score data, the study will use value-added modeling to compare data to past performance data in Milwaukee Public Schools. They also will compare these impact data to previous findings in the SESIQ2 work. VARC’s work will also include a qualitative component, with researchers making observations of tutoring sessions and hosting focus groups of parents of students eligible for the T4U program.

VARC’s aim is to supply Milwaukee Public Schools with useful information on effectiveness of the T4U program. If the district sees proof that T4U is increasing student achievement, one potential outcome is the scaling up of the program to include more students. VARC and Good will use parent focus groups to home in on why certain parts of the program are working and how they can be improved.
Good’s work on the T4U study will add to the body of research she and the SESI2 project have authored on tutoring programs funded as a result of No Child Left Behind, both in Milwaukee and around the country.

A former classroom teacher, Good earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in Educational Policy Studies from UW-Madison. She has written extensively on the nature of the instructional landscape in such programs and on the role of tutoring in school reform, including the forthcoming “Equal Scrutiny: Privatization and Accountability in Digital Education,” a book Good coauthored with University of Southern California Associate Professor Patricia Burch, which examines implications of the rapid expansion of digital education contracts in school districts across the country.

The grant runs through June of 2014, at which time VARC and Good hope to present their results to Milwaukee education officials and the public.