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The power of logic models

people discussing at a meeting table

By Angelica Herrera, Jenna Zacamy, and Robin Means | Aug. 07, 2019

REL Southwest, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and other partners in the Southwest School Improvement (SWSI) Research Partnership are collaborating to examine and improve support for district and school improvement in the state. This blog post describes training developed by REL Southwest to teach partners to create and use logic models not only in program design and implementation, but also as a tool to help TEA achieve their broader goals and outcomes.


The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has developed initiatives aimed at reducing the number of low-performing public schools in Texas. As part of Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest’s School Improvement Research Partnership (SWSI) with TEA and Texas districts, researchers from REL Southwest planned a series of logic model training sessions that support TEA’s school improvement programs, such as the System of Great Schools (SGS) Network initiative.

To ensure that programs are successful and on track, program developers often use logic models to deepen their understanding of the relationships among program components (that is, resources, activities, outputs, and outcomes) and how these interact over time (Lawton, Brandon, Cicchinelli, & Kekahio, 2014). A logic model is a graphical depiction of the logical relationship among the resources, activities, and intended outcomes of a program, with a series of if-then statements connecting the components. The value of using a logic model to undergird programs is that it helps individuals and groups implementing an initiative to articulate the common goals of the effort. Additionally, it helps to ensure that the strategies, resources, and supports provided to key stakeholders are aligned with the articulated goals and outcomes, providing a roadmap that creates clear connections across these program components. Finally, over the course of implementation, logic models can facilitate decisionmaking about how to adjust implementation and make changes to the program that can be tested to ensure they align with overall goals and outcomes identified in the logic model.

The logic model training is designed to provide TEA with a hands-on experience to develop logic models for the state’s school improvement strategy. Another overarching goal is to build TEA’s capacity to support local stakeholders with the development of logic models for their school improvement initiatives aligned with Texas’s strategy and local context.

The first training session, titled “School Improvement Research Partnership: Using Logic Modeling for Statewide School Improvement Efforts,” was held earlier this year. SWSI partners focused on developing a logic model for the SGS initiative. It was an in-person gathering aimed at teaching participants how to create logic models by addressing the following:

  • Increasing knowledge of general concepts, purposes, and uses of logic models
  • Increasing knowledge and understanding of the components that make up a logic model
  • Building capacity in understanding links between components of school improvement initiatives
  • Providing hands-on opportunities to develop logic models for local school improvement initiatives

The timing of the logic model workshop was helpful because it allowed the district-focused SGS leaders at TEA to organize the developed SGS framework into a logic model that enables TEA to plan and guide implementation, lay the foundation for the development of an implementation rubric, and serve as a resource to continuously improve the strategy. TEA also plans to use the logic model to communicate with districts and other stakeholders about the sequence of the program and intended outcomes.

REL Southwest will continue to provide TEA with training and technical support and will engage local stakeholders as the logic models are finalized. These sessions will focus on refining the logic models and ensure that TEA staff will be equipped with the ability to develop logic models on their own for current and future initiatives and programs.

References

Lawton, B., Brandon, P. R., Cicchinelli, L., & Kekahio, W. (2014). Logic models: A tool for designing and monitoring program evaluations (REL 2014–007). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Pacific. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED544752