Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) Education

Math Matters: Transition from K–12 to Postsecondary Education

The Math Matters project seeks to explain why students who were proficient in high school math courses go on to be enrolled in remedial math classes in college.


Partners: Olathe School District and Johnson County Community College

Principal investigators and Executive Committee members Jackie Spears (K-State), Tamera Murdock (UMKC), and Carolyn Barber (UMKC) are exploring factors influencing students who were proficient in high school math courses being enrolled in remedial college math classes. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation, employs Kansas statewide databases and a case study of the Olathe Unified School District and Johnson County Community College, both in the suburbs of Kansas City, Kansas.


Scholarship-STEM Evaluation

KC-AERC is evaluating the implementation and impact of an initiative at Johnson County Community College to help prepare students for entrance into a STEM degree program at a four-year university.


Partners: Johnson County Community College, Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City

This National Science Foundation-funded project examines students pursuing an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree at Johnson County Community College in Kansas.

Selected students who enroll into an A.S. degree program between 2016 and 2020 are provided a scholarship and will be given additional mentoring and counseling throughout their time at JCCC. The goal of the Scholarship-STEM project is to prepare its participating students for entrance into a four-year university as a STEM major.

KC-AERC’s evaluation study utilizes both quantitative and qualitative data to monitor project implementation and assess progress toward goals and objectives, including outcomes for students, faculty, and partner four-year institutions.


KC HealthTracks Evaluation

KC-AERC is studying how the activities of the KC HealthTracks program are impacting student knowledge and interest in college degrees and careers in health sciences.


Partner: University of Missouri-Kansas City

The goal of KC HealthTracks is to increase the number of local high school students matriculating into health science degree programs in higher education in order to grow a skilled, diverse workforce that is prepared to positively impact the healthcare and biosecurity industries. KC-AERC is working with KC HealthTracks to judge how the program activities are impacting student knowledge and interest in college degrees and careers in health sciences.


Teachers and Students for Community-Oriented Research & Education (T-SCORE) Evaluation

KC-AERC researchers are evaluating the T-SCORE program in order to understand if it is helpful to teachers.


Partners: Kansas City Public School District, Wichita Public School District, and University of Kansas Medical Center

T-SCORE develops innovative education opportunities to help engage and recruit underrepresented and minority students to pursue careers in health sciences. T-SCORE engages a network of health science teachers through professional development. KC-AERC researchers are evaluating the T-SCORE program in order to determine if its professional development is helpful to teachers for engaging minority students.


Technology and Educators Advancing Missouri (TEAM) Science Evaluation

KC-AERC researchers are evaluating the high-quality professional development that is offered to selected teachers through the TEAM initiative.


Partner: Grandview Elementary

The goal of this project is to provide high-quality professional development to selected teachers. KC-AERC evaluates the project’s various professional development activities and their impact on teachers’ pedagogical skills, content knowledge, and confidence to become leaders, mentors, and serve as valuable resources to students and other teachers in their respective schools.


College Access and Readiness

GEAR UP Evaluations

KC-AERC’s evaluation of GEAR UP programs at high schools in Wichita, Topeka, and Kansas City is designed to provide program staff continuous feedback on students’ outcomes and the impact of GEAR UP services.


Partner: Wichita GEAR UP, Topeka GEAR UP, and Kansas City GEAR UP

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal grant from the US Department of Education that has been awarded to a number of school districts in Kansas.

GEAR UP is a comprehensive college access program that provides services to students, families, and educators. The GEAR UP teams at each of its respective high schools provide services to a cohort of students and follow them as they progress from middle school to high school.

KC-AERC researchers are using a mixed-methods approach to provide GEAR UP staff at each partner location continuous feedback on their students’ outcomes and the impact of their services.


College Access Migrant Program Evaluation

KC-AERC is lending its expertise in data management and evaluation to assist Heartland CAMP in its mission to ease migrant students’ transition to college.


Partner: Heartland CAMP

Heartland CAMP is a college recruitment and retention program funded by the US Department of Education. The program serves 35 college freshmen from migrant and seasonal farm-work backgrounds annually at four colleges across Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska with the goal of empowering those students to make a successful transition into college through a comprehensive package of academic, social, and financial supports.

KC-AERC researchers aid Heartland CAMP in the development of data management systems. KC-AERC also evaluates the program’s impact on student success by using a mixed-methods approach to gain insight into the experiences of students and stakeholders at the four partner institutions.


GEAR UP Data Utilization Study

KC-AERC is helping KC GEAR UP learn the long-term impacts of its initiative.


Partner: Kansas City GEAR UP

The GEAR UP data utilization study is designed to examine the long-term impacts of the Kansas City chapter of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative. Specifically, this study seeks to understand the specific program components that contribute to students’ success after they leave the program and enter postsecondary education.

KC-AERC is helping GEAR UP identify these components by analyzing existing GEAR UP data to understand what factors predict positive outcomes for students while they are in the GEAR UP program, and by analyzing program graduates’ experiences in postsecondary education.


KC Degrees Program Evaluation

KC-AERC is helping the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) launch a program designed to increase the number of nontraditional students enrolling in area colleges and universities by helping MARC track its participants.


Partner: Mid-America Regional Council (MARC)

KC Degrees is a Kansas City metropolitan initiative designed to increase the number of adults who return to a postsecondary institution and complete a degree. The initiative is a partnership between the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), 17 two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions, and an array of workforce partners committed to supporting adult learners in the community.

KC-AERC staff are partnering with MARC to develop and monitor an internal participant tracking system for streamlining data collection and analysis. The evaluation plan will look at the process of implementation in year one of the grant using a mixed methods approach.


Academic Cost Performance Management Pilot Study

KC-AERC staff helped staff at a local community college and at the University of California, Riverside, implement systems to help reduce the cost of attaining a degree at their institutions.


Partners: Johnson County Community College and the University of California, Riverside

In May 2015, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a grant to the University of California, Riverside (UCR), and Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in Overland Park, Kansas, to create and implement an academic cost performance management system using activity-based costing (ABC) strategies. The goal of this partnership is to increase the number of students who have access to postsecondary degrees by reducing the cost of attaining a postsecondary degree and increasing the effectiveness of the courses and resources offered by each school.

KC-AERC staff worked with members of the JCCC and UCR internal project management teams to conduct a process analysis by recording milestones, successes, and challenges encountered throughout the design and implementation process. KC-AERC also helped evaluate UCR’s internal project management teams’ collaboration with JCCC and the efficiency of the working partnership between project stakeholders.


Pre-K–12 Education

St. Mark Early Childhood Evaluation

KC-AERC is evaluating St. Mark’s comprehensive early childhood program, which provides learning opportunities for children ages 6-weeks to 5-years and their families.


Partner: St. Mark United Inner City Child Care Center

The St. Mark Child and Family Development Center is part of United Inner City Services, a multi-service community-based agency in downtown Kansas City. The center provides kindergarten readiness services to children ages 0–5 and their families to help ensure those children will be ready to benefit from academic, social, and emotional activities provided in schools.

KC-AERC is conducting an evaluation study to uncover the relationship between the St. Mark programmatic model and their students’ academic achievement. Through analysis of existing data, focus groups, and staff interviews, KC-AERC staff are aiming to explicitly identify the effective components of the center’s model and explore its implementation.


Harvesters Instrument Development & Evaluation

KC-AERC worked with Kansas City Harvesters to evaluate the impact Harvesters’ classes have on its participants’ food choices.


Partner: Kansas City Harvesters – The Community Food Network

Harvesters is the Kansas City area’s largest food bank, serving 26 counties in the KC metro area, as well as another site in the Topeka area.

Harvesters hosts a variety of classes that aim to empower children and adults on low and fixed incomes to make healthy food choices. Classes range from one-time events to 8-week courses.

KC-AERC staff worked with Harvesters to develop valid assessments for each of the organization’s four core classes in order to ascertain children and adults’ understanding of healthy food choices. KC-AERC’s evaluation included scheduled reports on course assessments, as well as database construction, training, and management.


21st Century Program Evaluation

KC-AERC is evaluating the impact of the Y Club after-school program on its students and their parents.


Partners: YMCA of Greater Kansas City, Ridgeview Elementary School, and Rosehill Elementary School

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City currently operates a Y Club after-school program at Ridgeview Elementary in the Olathe School District and at Rosehill Elementary in Shawnee Mission School District. The components of the program include literacy- and STEM-focused activities, tutoring, and family nurturing events. KC-AERC researchers are evaluating the impact the program activities have on students’ academic self-confidence and school behavior, and on parent engagement.


Parental School Choice Study

With the Kauffman Foundation’s support, KC-AERC and Hazley & Associates are studying how parents in KCMO acquire information and make choices about their children’s education given an array of school choices.


Partners: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and Kansas City, Missouri, public, private, and charter schools

Parents in the Kansas City, Missouri, Public School System (KCPSS) have many options, including charter schools, district-operated signature and neighborhood schools, parochial schools, and private schools. For parents of kindergarteners, there are over 30 schools from which to choose, each with distinctly different missions, course and extracurricular offerings, and transportation packages.

Despite its wealth of options, though, KCPSS has no uniform enrollment process for its schools; rather, parents must educate themselves on the school options and navigate the array of application procedures themselves.

KC-AERC researchers are working with KCPSS to understand the actual processes by which parents make choices about their children’s education by learning how parents access information about school options, the factors they consider “important” or “essential” in their children’s school, and the barriers they face in navigating school choice.