A Formative Evaluation of Franklin School

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Virginia Tech

This formative evaluation of Franklin School was shaped around the implicit and explicit goals of the school and those school practices that are recognized as being effective in schools for students at-risk of dropping out of school. The study served four purposes: (1) to determine how the teachers, parents, and students viewed the school and their experiences with it, (2) to determine what program improvements were needed, (3) to provide a baseline for future evaluations, and (4) to activate the collection of data needed for future evaluations.

The participants in the study included the six teachers, 52 students, and the parents or guardians of the students who attended Franklin School during the 1996-97 school year, the year which was the focus of the study. I collected data from the participants through surveys, interviews with teachers and a carefully drawn sample of students and parents, and meetings with teachers and students. Additionally, I analyzed student records pertaining to referrals, attendance, academic achievement, disciplinary infractions, and dropouts.

Data from the study indicated that some school goals were being met adequately, and some were not. Teachers, students, and parents agreed that goals related to self-esteem efforts, sense of community, and safe environment were being met. However, the findings from the study indicated that improvement was needed in the areas of career education, counseling, discipline, staff development, parent involvement, and use of instructional technology.

Also, the study yielded three important findings in addition to findings related to school goals that need to be addressed. First, there is a leadership problem at Franklin School that needs to be resolved. Second, limited data available on attendance and academic achievement suggested that over time student performance declines at the school.

Finally, the data on the referrals to Franklin School revealed an exceedingly high rejection rate with no written notices of admission decisions and no follow-up of students rejected.

The findings from the study strongly suggest the need for continued evaluation of the school and for putting mechanisms in place to collect the data needed for such evaluations.

At-Risk Students, Dropout Prevention, Alternative Education