This is a proposal by the University of Michigan?s Institute for Social Research to conduct an evaluation of Ready Now Yuma. The research will describe and examine an initiative designed to prepare all students for post-high school success by providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to have a successful college experience or career.
The goals of Ready Now Yuma are consistent with current high school reform initiatives, but also go beyond them. Ready Now Yuma seeks to increase the rigor of academic standards that have been aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Beyond this, however, Ready Now Yuma serves as a comprehensive model structured to prepare all students to become college and career ready. In particular this model includes: (a) a rigorous and well defined curricula for all of the core high school courses; (b) ongoing professional development for teachers and counselors; (c) instructional supports for students unprepared for or students having difficulty with the coursework; and (d) college and career planning throughout high school.
Our research will describe how this initiative is implemented both at the district level and within the six high schools that make up the district. With support from the Helios Education Foundation, we will gather data on course enrollments and outcomes for students passing through the lower division (i.e., grades 9 and 10) of these high schools. The schools under this study serve students from a wide array of racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and academic backgrounds.
The research we propose will use a variety of qualitative and quantitative data analysis strategies to accomplish three objectives. One objective is to describe how Ready Now Yuma develops at the district level as well as the contexts that influence implementation at the six high schools. A second objective is to describe how the high schools in the district are implementing these programs, paying special attention to students? exposure to the core curriculum, as measured by rates of student enrollment in Cambridge IGCSE courses and their progression into upper grades. Closely connected with student exposure, we are also interested in the types of services that are offered to teachers around the curriculum (i.e. Cambridge tools, resources and PD) and the types and nature of supports that the district or schools create to support implementation. Our final objective is to analyze the academic achievement levels of students in these schools over time.
We expect our work to make contributions to research and practice. Ready Now Yuma is closely connected with state and national policies designed to prepare students to be college and career ready while at the same time transitioning standards toward the Common Core. The K-12 policy and practice community will be interested in our descriptions of this model as well as data relevant to implementation and effectiveness of the innovative model in a challenging setting.