Education Analytics, a Madison-based nonprofit organization led by La Follette School faculty member Rob Meyer, received a $7.8 million award from the U.S. Department of Education to expand the SPARK Early Literacy Program.
The four-year grant from the Office of Innovation & Improvement will fund the research-based SPARK program for students in kindergarten through second grade. Piloted by Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee (BGCGM) in 2006, SPARK is one of the few literacy interventions that both work and meet the “strong evidence definitions” laid out in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The SPARK Program integrates one-on-one tutoring, family engagement, and after-school programming in its design. Education Analytics will take SPARK to 15 high-need, low-performing schools in three states – more than half of which are in rural communities.
It will collaborate with BGCGM, four Boys & Girls Club affiliates in Wisconsin and South Carolina, and one local education agency in Alabama to serve 960 students. Six school districts in Wisconsin, one in South Carolina, and one in Alabama will participate.
The research project’s goals are to improve student outcomes by implementing SPARK with fidelity across sites, extend SPARK’s reach through a technology-enabled SPARK Center, and conduct an evaluation to validate the program’s impact in various settings and provide formative results that support continuous improvement.
The SPARK Center’s core functions are stakeholder engagement/communication and dissemination, implementation resources, and online real-time implementation data. Education Analytics expects the SPARK Center to achieve financial stability after four years through a fee-for-service model.
“By the end of the grant, EA’s Spark Center will be self-sustained with the capacity to scale the program beyond participating sites and meet the substantial, unmet demand for a proven effective, holistic, cost-effective literacy program,” Education Analytics’ news release said.
Meyer’s commitment to improving K-12 students’ academic success spans three decades. As an educator and researcher, Meyer has shared his passion with students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and school leaders across the country.
SPARK Center link: