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Home Publications Early Progress and Outcomes of a Grow Your Own Grant Program for High School Students and Paraprofessionals in Texas

Early Progress and Outcomes of a Grow Your Own Grant Program for High School Students and Paraprofessionals in Texas

by Yinmei Wan, Elizabeth Barkowski, Valeriy Lazarev, Li Lin, Jenna Zacamy, Megha Joshi and Chelsey Nardi
Early Progress and Outcomes of a Grow Your Own Grant Program for High School Students and Paraprofessionals in Texas

The Texas Education Agency launched the Grow Your Own (GYO) grant program in 2018 to encourage districts to develop or expand existing high-quality education and training courses for high school students and to support district-employed paraprofessionals (including instructional aides and long-term substitute teachers) to pursue certifications that would allow them to enter full-time teaching roles. This study aimed to help state education leaders in Texas understand the progress of districts in implementing the GYO program and the early outcomes of participants. The study analyzed data from 2015/16 through 2020/21 for districts that received GYO funding in the first two grant cycles and districts in the same geographic locales within the same regions that did not receive GYO funding (comparison districts).

The study found that the majority of districts awarded a GYO grant were in rural areas and small towns. GYO districts were more likely to have a smaller enrollment and had a higher average percentage of Hispanic students than comparison districts. The findings suggest that the program appeared to meet the Texas Education Agency’s goal of providing opportunities to students and paraprofessionals in rural and small school settings and to students of color to participate in GYO activities. The study also found that the percentage of students completing education and training courses in GYO districts was low (about 10 percent) during the grant years, and the percentage was similar in comparison districts before and after the grant awards. A disproportionate share of students who completed education and training courses in GYO districts were female.

Although it is too soon to tell whether the GYO program will, over time, increase the size and diversity of the state’s teacher pool, leaders at the Texas Education Agency can use these early findings to both understand the progress of districts in achieving the GYO grant program aims and help identify aspects of the program that might need further investigation.

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