Bringing Rigorous Coursework to Rural Schools

Evaluation of Investing in Innovation (i3)-Funded Program in Northeast Tennessee

In 2010, the Niswonger Foundation received a five-year Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education to create the Northeast Tennessee College and Career Ready Consortium, which is composed of 29 high schools and five colleges. The Consortium aimed to improve students’ college and career readiness by scaling up local promising practices to expand access to rigorous courses. These practices included providing distance and online learning; forming college partnerships to increase dual enrollment; offering professional development for teachers; and providing college and career counseling to students.

CNA Education conducted an evaluation of the program, examining its impact on student outcomes each year for up to four full years of exposure. CNA Education also assessed the fidelity of program implementation.

The evaluation found that the Niswonger Foundation i3 grant had statistically significant effects on student outcomes for:

  • College readiness (after three years of exposure).
  • Advanced Placement (AP) participation (after two, three, and four years of exposure).
  • AP performance (after three and four years of exposure).
  • College enrollment (after three years of exposure).
  • College persistence (after two and three years of exposure).

The evaluation also found that the program components that were consistently implemented with fidelity over the four years were in Consortium leadership, resources and services to provide program infrastructure, and collaboration with district partners.

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