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SERVE Center - The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Capacity for Applying Project Evaluation (CAPE)

Developing Schools' Capacity for Evaluating Technology Projects: Lessons Learned from the North Carolina IMPACT Schools


In 2002, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) initiated an innovative and ambitious program for improving student learning through the effective use of instructional technology. Until that point, most technology projects in schools were geared toward integrating technology into the curriculum, and they tended to focus on professional development for teachers and the acquisition of equipment. Evidence that technology integration was making a difference in student learning was limited. In the belief that technology can be a catalyst for improving student outcomes, and armed with a sound understanding of the research on school improvement, DPI developed the IMPACT model for schools. The model goes beyond traditional approaches to technology integration by encompassing all of the elements that research suggests are components of an effective school-based technology and media program: leadership, collaboration, professional development, a media coordinator, a technology facilitator, flexible scheduling, infrastructure, resources, evaluation, and an adequate budget. To pilot the model, DPI took the bold step of using their funding from the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) component of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to award IMPACT grants to eleven resource poor schools across the state. Each of the eleven grants was for three-years and 1.5 million dollars, which provided the IMPACT schools the time and resources they would need in order to fully implement the model.

With such a heavy commitment of resources to individual schools, educators and policymakers in North Carolina - and across the nation - were interested in finding out whether the IMPACT model does indeed improve student learning. Thus, in 2003, DPI sought and was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to study the implementation and impact of the model. Looking at North Carolina Educational Technology (LANCET) was one of ten research projects supported by the Evaluating State Educational Technology Programs (ESETP) initiative. DPI’s partners in the LANCET study were the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the SERVE Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (SERVE). Researchers at NCSU conducted experimental and quasi-experimental research on several aspects of the IMPACT model, including the effect of the model on student achievement. SERVE’s role in LANCET was to help the IMPACT schools develop the internal capacity for conducting formative evaluation of their individual projects, focusing on uses of data to make decisions for improving the implementation of their projects.

pdf Read about the insights into and lessons learned from SERVE’s work with the IMPACT schools as they implemented and evaluated their projects. Download the full document.