This report presents an approach to evaluating networked improvement communities (NICs) and describes the tools used to apply the approach to a formative evaluation of the Minnesota Alternative Learning Center Networked Improvement Community (Minnesota ALC NIC).
In fall 2019 leaders at the Minnesota Department of Education requested support from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest to address low high school graduation rates among students in alternative learning centers (ALCs). In partnership with five ALCs, the department and the REL Midwest participated in the Minnesota ALC NIC to raise graduation rates at ALCs by improving their use of competency-based credit recovery practices. REL Midwest researchers then developed an approach for evaluating networked improvement communities (NICs) and applied it to the Minnesota ALC NIC.
This report shares the findings from the evaluation, using them to illustrate the process of analyzing and interpreting the data collected on NIC implementation, and discusses the limitations of the tools. The approach can be adapted to evaluate other NICs in prekindergarten–grade 12 education. The tools require basic quantitative and qualitative analysis skills, and evaluators or facilitators can adapt them to provide formative feedback on whether an NIC is operating as intended.