Academic Youth Development: Building Next Generation Tools and Services

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Wisconsin–Madison are cooperating in research and evaluation studies of the Academic Youth Development Program.

The Academic Youth Development (AYD) Initiative is an algebra readiness program with the goal of supporting the successful transition of students from middle school to high school mathematics. The AYD program aims to change the culture of classrooms through changes in teachers’ practices and beliefs, and changes in students’ beliefs and their performance in mathematics in Algebra I.

AYD aims to help students better understand content through multiple perspectives and with real-life applications. AYD also concentrates on teaching students’ persistence and giving them the power to be in charge of their own learning. AYD gives students information about the changing nature of intelligence and encourages them not to see failure as a sign that they cannot learn, but to see it as a signal to change strategy.

WCER is conducting an evaluation study of the current AYD program implementation. The purpose of the evaluation study is to design and field-test a Fidelity of Implementation (FOI) Framework (a model of critical program components, activities and outcomes) and related sets of program implementation measures for use by program developers and sponsors. The program evaluation will coordinate with the existing UT-Austin AYD research methods and data collected through surveys, school-level data, and interviews. WCER evaluators will gather AYD program implementation data at four school sites nationwide and field-test the FOI model and measurement tools with teachers and administrators at school sites implementing AYD in classroom settings.

The evaluation will focus on how the AYD program is implemented at each school in order to learn which features contribute to program success, how AYD programs are adapted, and to identify ways to measure important context and outcome variables.

Analysis will assess the association between fidelity of implementation, different components of fidelity of implementation, important context variables, and outcome variables collected during the 2011-12 school year, such as algebra achievement and student behavior, participation and progress. The evaluation will produce a finalized FOI model and related measures for the AYD program, and an FOI profile of the AYD program at each site based on AYD program variations and adaptations at each school site. Evaluation products will include internal reports, an AYD program model and measurement instruments, and site profiles.

Participating districts and schools, including individual teachers and administrators, will benefit from knowledge gained in the study and will have a better understanding of the AYD program and learn about how to measure the quality of their AYD program as enacted at each school and potential ways to expand or improve their AYD program implementation. AYD developers and sponsors will have a better understanding of AYD program implementation, adaptation, and variation. The FOI model and measures will allow them to monitor program implementation and provide targeted support, design appropriate program modifications, and measure AYD program impact more accurately.

Improved AYD program design, implementation, and measurement will result in improved teaching and learning in Algebra and contribute to the knowledge about learning behaviors that facilitate student learning in general.


Gates Foundation and University of Texas- Austin


Completed on December 31, 2012

Contact Information

Sarah Mason
Phone: (608) 265-5642