Sample Research

SPI Research: Changing Lives, Raising Scores

SPI is committed to ensuring its work in schools is innovative, sustainable and cost-effective. One way of achieving this goal is through implementation of strong and objective research to advise our practice. As gratifying as student and teacher anecdotal evidence is, measures of SPI’s effectiveness against baseline levels and empirical measures of short-term and long-term attitude change are more reliable for statistical comparison. In addition to looking at city and state standardized test scores, we launched an extensive research project measuring students’ and teachers’ attitude changes toward literacy and associated psychological traits (including motivation and self-efficacy). In the future, this research will be used to provide schools and the public with clear data about SPI’s success, as well as generate valuable feedback for the SPI program design and implementation.

So far, our research efforts have produced powerful results. For example, the graphics below show the SPI’s impact on the reading and writing skill development of 9th and 10th grade classrooms in NYC high schools. Students’ reading and writing skills are assessed three times per school year and then transformed into holistic reading and writing scores. Test scores are based on a 1-4 scale (1=insufficient, 4=skillful). The trajectory for SPI classrooms shows a steep incline in skills. To assess whether this trajectory was a result of SPI or normal adolescent development, we drew scores from control classrooms that did not participate in SPI projects, but were similar in all other aspects.

The graphs clearly illustrate the students in the SPI classrooms finished the school year with significantly higher reading and writing scores than the control classrooms.

The growth in writing performance of students who participated in SPI's project-based reading and writing curriculum significantly exceeded that of students who did not participate in an SPI project.

Reading performance of students who participated in SPI's project-based reading and writing curriculum in 9th and 10th grade significantly exceeded that of students who did not participate in SPI projects.