News & Resources
Bright Spots: Unlocking Evidence
Posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2022 by Lina Eroh
Below are stories of how Overdeck Family Foundation funding has helped two grantees unlock evidence, either by advancing their knowledge in the field or validating program models through comprehensive studies and research. To learn more about our funding efforts and discover additional grantee stories, read the full 2021 Grantmaking & Impact Report.
Due to Covid-related school closures, an estimated 77 percent of eighth graders began fall 2021 below grade level in math, with 62 percent below grade level in reading.
Saga Education is an evidence-based, personalized tutoring model that embeds tutors within the school day to support students struggling with math. Tutors work with small groups of students for a minimum of two hours per week, focusing attention on the areas in which students need the most support.
In 2018, Overdeck Family Foundation and Arnold Ventures co-funded a five-year randomized controlled trial study in partnership with the University of Chicago to measure the impact of Saga tutoring, specifically looking at Saga’s blended-learning or hybrid model, which incorporates an adaptive technology platform into a small-group tutoring platform.
Interim data from the study show statistically significant evidence of equivalent efficacy between the blended and traditional models, with a 2.5x growth in math skills during one school year, regardless of the type of model used. The completion of this study in 2023 is anticipated to move Saga’s program from ESSA Tier 2 to Tier 1.
Overdeck Family Foundation played a crucial role in encouraging Saga to think about more cost-effective ways to scale their traditional model, which relied heavily on having enough tutors to meet the demand. This led to the blended approach of combining small-group tutoring with technology, as well as funding for the study on the “half-dosage” hybrid model.
The early evidence from the study is promising, suggesting that a blended tutoring model could be as impactful as traditional small-group tutoring, while saving districts on cost and allowing them to provide support for more students. In addition to validating the model, the study has also helped build momentum for in-school tutoring as a way for districts to address learning loss during the school day.
School systems spend on average $6,000 a teacher on professional learning each year, amounting to $18-20 billion per year. Yet only 29 percent of teachers are satisfied with their professional development.
Teaching Lab offers a low cost (<$1,000/teacher/year), high-impact teacher professional learning program that integrates curriculum implementation, professional learning, and teacher leadership skills, empowering teacher leaders to lead professional learning on their own in three to five years.
When Teaching Lab introduced their virtual learning management system in 2020, they believed it would allow them to deliver professional learning more cost-effectively and scalably. To test their hypothesis, they engaged Dr. David Blazar of the University of Maryland to conduct an external evaluation of a six-week virtual professional learning program, which was provided to 50+ math educators across New Mexico in spring 2021.
The study found that the Teaching Lab virtual learning management system significantly decreased the cost of delivering professional learning without sacrificing impact.
Specifically, teachers showed significantly meaningful improvement in knowledge of math pedagogy, self-efficacy at delivering high-quality instruction, and self-reported practices related to high expectations for student learning, with changes equal to or larger than the differences between novice and veteran teachers. This suggests that, after six weeks, teachers advanced as much as a novice educator would after years of teaching.
Teaching Lab now reaches over 5,000 educators serving over 400,000 students per year with their virtual professional learning model.
Overdeck Family Foundation supported the launch of Teaching Lab’s virtual learning management system with a Covid relief grant, allowing Teaching Lab to meet the immediate need for virtual professional learning. Our funding also allowed Teaching Lab to evaluate and further innovate on their virtual program, increasing reach and cost-effectiveness.
Header image courtesy of Saga Education