Study evaluates impact of Project GRAD on students

Local News
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An internal report about the results of Project GRAD suggests the program has little-to-no impact on graduation rates, but those with the program dispute those results.

The review was conducted by the Knox County Schools Research Evaluation and Assessment panel and presented to the Knox County School Board on Monday. The report found there was little evidence attending a Project GRAD school increased the likelihood of enrollment in a post-secondary program. However, the review also showed that participating in a “Project GRAD Scholars” program increased the likelihood of enrolling in post-secondary education.

The report also found no evidence that attending a Project GRAD high school increased the likelihood of high school graduation. But those in the Project GRAD Scholars program were more likely to enroll in four-year degree programs more often than their peers.

Project Grad’s executive director Ronnie Chandler says a third party evaluator acceptable to both Project GRAD and Knox County Schools was asked to review the report and found that students in the review may not have been well represented.

“One of the concerns that we had about the report that was made was it didn’t fairly represent Project GRAD,” said Ronnie Chandler.

Chandler said there were concerns about the control group that was used and the study’s completion window.

Project GRAD is under a five-year extension to the original 12-year contract. Knox County Schools provides just over $1 million in annual funding to the program, which the group says is about 45 percent of what it needs to serve the highest-need schools in the district. 

No decision has been made on the program’s future.

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