Texas Ninth Grade Transition and Intervention (TNGTI) Grant Program: January 2011 Evaluation Report

Lisa Hoogstra, Brenna C. O'Brien, Megan Brown, Kelly Hallberg, and Andrew Swanlund,AIR
Amie Rapaport and Joseph Shield, Gibson Consulting Group, Inc.

Ninth grade often has been described as a make-or-break year in determining whether students will be successful in high school and beyond. To better support students during this critical transition, the Texas Ninth Grade Transition and Intervention (TNGTI) Program was designed provide supports to academically at-risk students as they transition into high school. TNGTI grants provide funding for districts to implement three types of support for identified students: (1) a summer transition program to introduce incoming ninth graders to high school culture and to develop their academic, social, and study skills; (2) an early warning data system to monitor program participants throughout the school year; and (3) fall and spring interventions to provide additional support to struggling students identified through the early warning data system.

The Texas Education Agency contracted AIR and its partner Gibson Consulting Group, Inc., to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the initial year of the TNGTI grant program. The team designed the evaluation to provide formative data on program implementation as well as measure the effect of the program on student outcomes. The team employed a multilevel propensity score matching approach to examine program effectiveness. This analysis found the program significantly increased the English and mathematics assessment scores of participating students compared to similar students who did not participate. Because schools were given a fair amount of discretion in program implementation, the evaluation team used a qualitative case study approach to examine which program characteristics were associated with greater program effectiveness. The case studies revealed that programs that had the largest impact on student outcomes tended to be characterized by coordination between the program and other summer activities occurring in the district, enrichment activities that went beyond regular summer school course work, and dedicated and enthusiastic staff members who were committed to the program goals. The evaluation findings were presented to the Texas Legislature.

Andrew Swanlund
Principal Researcher