Early Childhood

Best Place for Working Families and The Miles Foundation

CORE is partnering with the Best Place for Working Parents and The Miles Foundation to gather insights from Tarrant County businesses around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data gathered will support the Future of the Texas Workforce Post-COVID Leadership Report. The aim of the current study is to understand and document how BPWP’s Top 10 Policies are implemented across varied business environments and what effects the policies may have on both employee and business outcomes.

Catch Up & Read

Catch Up and Read (CU&R) is a nonprofit organization focused on equipping at-risk elementary students in Dallas ISD to read on grade level by 3rd grade. CU&R utilizes an innovative and promising model designed to collaboratively equip teachers, principals, and administrators with delivering supplemental instructional tutoring on their own campuses after school hours. In this model, teachers are the first recipient of services from CU&R. Once trained and equipped, teachers provide direct literacy support to students in their school, above and beyond those in the teacher’s classroom during daily instruction. CORE is engaged in a comprehensive evaluation plan, in collaboration with CU&R, to better understand how and why the literacy support services provided through CU&R result in meaningful outcomes for students and teachers, both in the near-term and long-term.

Child Poverty Action Lab

CORE is serving as a formal thought partner and evaluation consultant to the Child Poverty Action Lab as they work to implement a risk terrain modeling project in Dallas aimed at preventing child maltreatment.

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SMU-CORE is collaborating with multiple education agencies and nonprofit organizations throughout Texas to support quality early childhood educational experiences. CLASS© is a multidimensional quality framework focused on relationships and interactions between children and adults in the learning environment. CLASS© observations of early learning (infant – 2nd grade) classrooms are conducted by CORE and rapid feedback of actionable data is allowing instructional coaches and site or campus leadership to provide targeted coaching to teachers. This ongoing data collection also allows CORE to document the longer-term implications of sustained early childhood quality for student outcomes.

As of September 2018, CORE employs 37 certified CLASS© observers certified in levels ranging from infancy through secondary schools. Partner organizations include school districts, regional service centers, Head Start centers and nonprofit organizations.

Parish Episcopal School

CORE has partnered with Parish Episcopal School for more than 5 years to provide evaluation services that range from examining parent opinions, staff diversity and culture, STEM assessments, exit interviews of for Parish Episcopal School families, to alumni experiences and successes in college and beyond. Using a range of quantitative and qualitative evaluation techniques, we have created tools, conducted surveys, focus groups, individual interviews, and strategic planning. Our latest work with Parish includes conducting ten focus groups with different constituent groups to understand issues surrounding diversity, inclusion, and belonging by comparing and contrasting.

Save the Children

Save the Children’s flagship youth employment program, Skills to Succeed (S2S), is designed to equip deprived and at-risk youth, ages 15-24, with the right combination of market-relevant skills, networks and opportunities to get decent jobs or build their own businesses. S2S works on two levels: it supports the transition from school to work and it ensures that out-of-school youth find skilled, safe and secure jobs. Through a competitive process, CORE has been selected to conduct the final performance evaluation with four countries (Bangladesh, Mexico, Vietnam and Indonesia) as well as with the S2S team based in Washington DC.

Teach For America

Teach For America has partnered with CORE to conduct an impact evaluation of Teach for America’s impact in Texas sites. Using student and school level data from multiple Texas districts and comparing them to matched districts, CORE is adding to the existing body of research about TFA. CORE was awarded a grant from TFA to conduct these analyses.

Texas College Access Network

CORE is assisting the Texas College Access Network, an initiative of Educate Texas, in evaluating early impacts of the coalition.

West Dallas STEM School

The Toyota USA Foundation, SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and Dallas ISD have formed a partnership to develop a K-8th grade STEM-focused school in the Pinkston Feeder Pattern in the West Dallas 75212 zipcode area. Renovation of the current Pinkston High School facilities (2200 Dennison Street) will transform the campus into the STEM-focused School, and Pinkston High School will relocate. The partnership will provide professional development, design of a STEM curriculum, coordination of community-based services, and comprehensive research and evaluation. Dallas ISD will support all building, staffing and operational needs of the new School.

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Professional Development

Bishop Scholars

CORE is collaborating with Simmons School of Education and Human Development faculty to evaluate the Bishop Scholars scholarship program. The scholarship program is designed to meet a critical need for bilingual and Special Education certified teachers to Dallas ISD.

Galápagos Conservancy

The Galápagos Conservancy’s Education for Sustainability project is a professional development (PD) program offered to approximately 300 educators in the archipelago. Educators participating in the program include school administrators and teachers from different subject areas and grade levels. The program formally launched in 2016 as a five-year commitment. PD is provided through:

  1. Institute workshops,
  2. Coaching, and
  3. Learning Circles (LCs)

CORE is conducting a 5-year mixed methods evaluation study on this project to understand the adherence to evidence-based best practices and to offer formative feedback for continuous improvement via an interactive Tableau dashboard. Outcomes of this project will be examined through video observations and coach observations.

The George W. Bush Institute

CORE is partnering with the George W. Bush Institute to evaluate their Presidential Leadership Scholars program.

National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity

National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) is providing Micromessaging training to all teachers at West Mesquite High School over a three year roll out. CORE has designed student and faculty surveys, administered throughout the roll out, to monitor how a culture of belonging that ultimately enhances learning may be created through these trainings. Other data collection includes student enrollment, focus groups, and peer observations.

North Texas Cares

CORE is participating in local COVI-19 response by supporting the North Texas Cares team. CORE is reviewing and synthesizing incoming requests for grants related to the coronavirus pandemic to generate actionable knowledge about emerging needs and solutions.

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Out of School Time and Informal Learning 

Big Thought, Dallas City of Learning (DCOL)

The ongoing evaluation seeks to answer questions about each of the three key components: Big Thought supports, DCOL programs, and student outcomes, seeking to understand each of the three components individually, and how they are associated with each other. The Year One (summer 2017) phase of the evaluation established baseline of evidence across the DCOL continuum, with an emphasis on understanding how the processes and outputs of the system support feasible and rich evaluation. This initial phase also focused on short-term student outcomes that included student perceptions of SEL skills, attitudes toward academic and career-related interests, and beginning of school year in-school achievement (as measured by course enrollment, course performance, and attendance in the first six weeks of school). Year 2 (summer 2018) built upon the initial evidence of the processes and outputs of the DCOL system. Year 3 (summer 2019) further examined trends in system processes and outputs explored how student participation in multiple summers of DCOL programming is associated with student achievement.

Caruth Institute of Engineering Education

Caruth Institute of Engineering Education (CIEE) provides a range of educational and outreach opportunities through SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. CORE partners with CIEE to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of a series of summer camps for middle and high school students in a program funded by the Hamon Foundation.

Dallas Afterschool

CORE is evaluating the impacts of quality afterschool programming on students’ academic, social & emotional well-being. Data collection includes: support for & delivery of quality programs, student surveys, staff assessments of student social-emotional skills, academic achievement. Initial results show positive impacts for some grade levels on math, and positive impacts of Dallas Afterschool’s coaching and training on overall afterschool program quality.

Dallas Heritage Village

Dallas Heritage Village and Vogel Alcove received an IMLS Community Anchors grant to provide Vogel’s youngest students access to Dallas Heritage Village grounds and to quality early childhood experiences. CORE, as the evaluation partner, is assisting both organizations in monitoring sustainable increases in the provision of quality early childhood experiences for Dallas Heritage Village visitors and changes to the community that result from this collaboration over time.

Dallas Holocaust Museum

CORE is partnering with the Dallas Holocaust Museum for Education and Tolerance as they redesign educational programming to be provided in their new museum space. Following an evaluation planning period, CORE will work to evaluate the extent to which educational programs achieve the museum’s overarching civil rights aims.

Extended Learning Information System (ELIS)

Download the most recent ELIS Fact Sheet here.

With the support of the Better Together Fund*, Big Thought and Dallas Afterschool are collaborating to create and develop the Extended Learning Information System (ELIS) to streamline and improve the collection and application of accurate and credible measurements for Out-of-School Time (OST) learning programs. CORE is the principal consultant and data partner of this collaboration, and SMU’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) is engineering the back-end databases, frameworks and web-based data dashboard in collaboration with CORE and the ELIS partners. The ultimate goal of ELIS is to identify shared metrics in OST, develop strong processes for collecting this data, provide that data to community partners and stakeholders in a timely and user-friendly platform, and utilize the ELIS system to provide targeted supports to program providers, increase OST data capacity across DFW, advocate for extended learning, and improve the sustainability of critical systems and partnerships.

Jubilee Park and Community Center

Jubilee Park and Community Center serves the Jubilee Park neighborhood of Dallas by providing education, health, safety, housing, and economic support for community residents. CORE partners with Jubilee to evaluate their Specialized Student Support (S3) program, which aims to provide one-on-one literacy interventions to students with learning differences and to help their parents become effective advocates. CORE uses a single-case design study to compare how students improve their literacy skills during the following combinations of intervention: school-based interventions only, Jubilee- based interventions only, and school-based PLUS Jubilee-based interventions. CORE also employs qualitative methods to understand parent perspectives of advocacy and their child’s growth in literacy skills.

Texas Women’s Foundation

The Texas Women’s Foundation, through the Young Women’s Initiative, provides leadership training and opportunities to young women of color ages 16-24 from Dallas’ southern and western sectors. CORE, as the evaluation partner is assisting the Texas Women’s Foundation to design a multi-year evaluation plan that will use a mixed-methods evaluation approach with an emphasis on qualitative methodologies. Over the course of the project, CORE will use developmental, process and outcome evaluations to document the implementation of the Initiative and measure emerging benefits for its participants.

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Previous Projects

The All Stars Project

The All Stars Project, Inc. transforms the lives of youth in poor communities using the developmental power of performance, in partnership with caring adults. CORE has partnered with ASP to evaluate its Development School for Youth program. CORE has used mixed methods to understand the program’s theory of change, create evaluation tools to test the program model, and eventually work to measure a range of developmental outcomes for participating youth. Currently, the evaluation tools are being pilot tested in six ASP locations to collect validity evidence needed to refine the tools for use in measuring youth outcomes and program impact.

Bachman Lake Together / Zero to Five Funders’ Collaborative

The Zero to Five Funders Collaborative supports a collaborative network of early childhood providers in the Bachman Lake area. CORE helped both funders and program staff look at kindergarten readiness, longitudinal academic impact and how to use data to guide community-wide programming. CORE utilized Brigance assessments and monitoring Dallas ISD academic indicators along with parent survey data in order to monitor program impact and to help guide decisions about program expansion.

Dallas Arboretum

The Dallas Arboretum provides a range of educational opportunities including afterschool programming and field trips to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. CORE used survey data to evaluate students’ gains in science knowledge and changes in students’ attitudes toward science as a result of participation in Arboretum programming.

Family Wellness Dallas! Safe Conversations

SMU CORE partnered with Family Wellness Dallas (FWD!) to conduct an evaluation of Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt’s Safe Conversations workshop. CORE measured the short-, intermediate-, and long-term impacts of Safe Conversations—a one day couples’ pscyhoeducational intervention—on a variety of relationships. Over the course of a year, CORE examined the impacts of the workshop on participants’ relationship satisfaction, family functioning, parental stress, and anxiety.

Good Local Markets

Good Local Markets provides local food and goods in White Rock, Lakeside and Vickery Meadows sites. Through a USDA grant, GLM is a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) partner. CORE and GLM are collaborating to monitor the role of SNAP benefits in local farmers’ markets, the reach of GLM to key zip codes in the Dallas community and to track overall vendor satisfaction.

KERA Website

KERA launched a Learning Media website designed for use by local teachers, librarians, students, and parents alike. The platform has a STEM focus and links to other available PBS web resources such as PBS Learning Media and other sites of local interest. CORE helped to collect planning and evaluation data, including pre and post launch focus groups with potential users and surveys. 

National Council for La Raza

National Council for La Raza supports the provision of Padres Comprometidos parent education program focusing on educational outcomes to dozens of sites nationwide. CORE designed an evaluation plan and related tools to measure PC program fidelity, parent attitude and behavioral change, and student attitudes toward school. CORE collected data and reported on parent and student outcomes.

Project Transformation

Project Transformation provides two key services, leadership development and ministry service opportunities along with community-oriented after-school and summer camp programs focusing on literacy and social & emotional development. CORE evaluated a range of Project Transformation programs being provided in the Greater Dallas area, using student surveys, Dallas ISD literacy indicators, and more.

Safe Haven PALS

Safe Haven of Tarrant County provides a range of violence prevention activities including an in-school bullying prevention campaign, Peer Abuse Learning SafeHaven (PALS). CORE worked with PALS to review curriculum materials, assess best practices, revise a logic model and develop a data collection plan for treatment and comparison schools in third grade at Birdville ISD. Fidelity of implementation, student surveys and focus group were used to understand both process and outcomes of this intervention.

The School Zone

SMU’s The Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education supports The School Zone, a partnership of 29 non-profits in the West Dallas area working to support students and families. The aim is to equip students to exit poverty upon high school graduation. In partnership with Dallas ISD, The School Zone coalition collaborates to provide a range of in and out of school services. CORE worked as a research partner with The Budd Center to help provide regular, formative data about student performance and community needs to School Zone partners, and used a wide range of data to evaluate the long term impact of the coalition’s work in West Dallas. In addition, CORE supported scaling The School Zone model to additional school districts.

Texans CAN Academies

Texans CAN Academies is a charter school network providing an alternative educational pathway for students who have struggled in their traditional school setting. The curriculum includes accelerated coursework, credit recovery and flexible independent study options as well as an approach to literacy development called Marquez Reading. CORE partnered with Texans CAN Academies to assess graduation rate successes, to establish fidelity of implementation of Marquez reading in Pre-K and secondary grades, and determining impact on specific literacy gains.

Uplift Education

CORE is serving as an evaluation and thought partner to the Miles Foundation and Uplift Education on a number of initiatives including an investigation of trends in student outcomes in neighborhoods where charter schools are built and operated.


The W.W. Caruth, Jr. Child Advocacy Clinic and Institute

SMU’s Dedman School of Law hosts a child advocacy clinic to train SMU law students in child advocacy and to increase interest in careers related to child welfare. The institute provides ongoing child advocacy learning opportunities for Dallas area attorneys. CORE partnered with Dedman professors to monitor the impact of students’ participation in the clinic. This included looking at knowledge and career aspirations, surveying clinic alumni, and using formative data to guide clinic and institute programming over time.

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