The study was conducted in rural high-poverty middle schools in Missouri with 7th and 8th grade students. To qualify to apply for participation, schools had to meet requirements under Title I (schoolwide or targeted) or Missouri's historical requirements for Title II.D (50% of students in poverty) and be part of the Small Rural School Achievement program or the Rural and Low-Income School program in the state.
Target students were in the 7th or 8th grade. 4.5% of the intervention students were nonwhite vs. 6.6% of the control students; 4.2% and 4.6%, respectively, were English-language learners. Over half of the students in both schools were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Of the 60 schools, 30 serve Grades PK–8 or Grades K–8, 8 serve Grades 6–8 or Grades 7–8, and the remaining 22 serve Grades 6–12 or Grades 7–12. Enrollment in both groups was less than 200 students, reflecting the small and rural aspects of the sample schools. eMINTS schools, however, enrolled 50 more students than control schools did, and the between-group difference in enrollment was statistically significant. Across both groups, about 5 percent of students were minorities, 58 percent qualified for free or reduced-priced lunch, less than 2 percent were English language learners, and between 12 and 13 percent had an identified disability. Teachers in eMINTS schools averaged almost one year more of experience than their control counterparts (11.9 versus 11.0), but 2 percent more teachers in control schools had a master’s degree.
The overall goal of eMINTS Comprehensive is to help teachers develop student-centered, purposeful instruction fostered by technology utilization. The program includes a specific set of school and classroom technology equipment, intensive on-site professional development, online and face-to-face professional learning communities, and job-embedded coaching to enhance teachers’ classroom practices. Program classrooms must have minimum software and hardware equipment, including an interactive whiteboard, computers for the teacher and each student, internet connectivity, printer/scanner, and a camera. During the traditional 2 years of professional development, teachers receive 214 hours of formal professional development in 46 sessions that are held throughout both school years. Sessions typically take place in an eMINTS classroom or computer lab in a central location and last between 4 and 6.5 hours each. During these two years teachers learn to design high-quality inquiry-based lesson plans, implement inquiry-based learning strategies, build community among teachers and students, and integrate technology into classroom instruction. At the end of the first year, teachers spend up to 12 additional hours developing a classroom website with the help of the instructional specialist. In addition, teachers received up to 10 coaching visits and had online access to the curriculum and PD materials. The addition of the third year for some teachers included additional professional development with the Intel Teach course and online tools to further enhance teachers' technology integration skills. Additionally, these teachers received a specific set of online resources to support the four eMINTS components as instructed in the first two years.
The comparison schools were placed on a wait-list to receive the program after the evaluation study was completed. During the evaluation study, comparison schools were presumably implementing typical middle school curricula and professional development activities for their students and faculty.
Support for implementation
A thorough implementation study was conducted as part of the evaluation and found that implementation was successful. The essential resources, professional development, and guidance needed to support the eMINTS program at the district, school, and classroom levels were provided by eMINTS staff. Implementing high levels of teacher professional development and technology use appeared to be the biggest hurdles during the study. eMINTS staff conducted technology audits in all treatment schools to identify areas of equipment need. They also followed up with the necessary resources and support to ensure that all schools met minimum infrastructure and equipment requirements within the expected timeframe. Teacher, administrator, and technology coordinator professional development, which included formal professional development sessions, school visits, and coaching sessions, were offered to all eligible participants in all treatment schools. eMINTS professional development was scheduled and conducted in a timely fashion.