The Success Project: The Implementation and Early Outcomes of a Middle Grade Program

October, 2017
Jennifer R. Cowhy and Marisa de la Torre

The Success Project was a multi-year effort that aimed to better prepare middle grade students for the transition to and success in high school and beyond. Underlying this initiative was a belief that many urban public middle grades students in the United States enter high school without sufficient social supports and academic skills to succeed in high school and college and that many Chicago students would be more successful in high school and beyond if they better utilized their high school choice options. The program addressed these gaps through a course taken by all middle grade students, called 6to16, and the engagement of a Success Coordinator based at each school.

This initiative was launched in September 2014 by the University of Chicago Impact (UChicago Impact) in partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, and the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL). It was implemented in 10 neighborhood elementary (K-8) schools in Chicago Public Schools and 23 AUSL schools.

The UChicago Consortium conducted a formative evaluation of the Success Project, designed to provide information that could inform the program's improvement as it developed. In particular, the evaluation sought to describe how the project was being implemented in the context of the 10 Success Schools, it sought to understand the program’s theory of action, as well as to provide the program with some quantitative evidence to monitor the program’s progress.

In addition to informing the program, this report offers some valuable insights and considerations for community-based organizations and other programs working in schools.

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