The evaluation team at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University has partnered with the SERVE Center at University of North Carolina Greensboro and Carolina Institute of Public Policy at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to evaluate and build evaluation-capacity at the school and district level for the Golden Leaf Foundation’s (Golden LEAF) STEM Initiative.
The Golden LEAF STEM Initiative aims to prepare North Carolina’s youth for careers requiring skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), due to the growing need for these skills in industries across the state. The foundation awarded grants to 14 applicants of varying sizes, from a single school to a 17-district association. In total, the initiative touches over 200 schools across the state.
The Initiative focuses on supporting successful models that improve STEM teaching and learning for 4th-9th grade students in rural, economically distressed and/or tobacco-dependent counties of North Carolina. The 14 projects share several characteristics: they represent collaborative efforts aimed at preparing students to be college and/or career ready in disciplines requiring STEM skills; they have data demonstrating successful outcomes in student enrollment and achievement; they represent collaborative arrangements among educational partners and industries targeting the current and future employment opportunities of a region or local area; and they focus on rural, Tier I and Tier II, and/or tobacco-dependent counties that have low concentrations of STEM programs.
The evaluation team provides resources and formative feedback to schools and districts awarded initiative grants so that the districts can build their capacity to use data to inform program improvement and decision-making. Working in close collaboration, the 14 grantees, Golden LEAF and the evaluation team have developed outcomes and data collection plans for each grantee’s evaluation and for the overall initiative evaluation.