Compass Early-Stage Evaluation


About the Project

Our UVA research team has partnered with Valor Collegiate Academies, a charter management organization (CMO) in Nashville, TN, and its R&D partner, Transcend, to provide early-stage evaluation support for Valor’s unique model of comprehensive human development, called Compass.  Both faculty and scholars engage in this model by completing Badge Work (a curriculum of activities designed to foster growth in the different disciplines of the Compass) and participating in the practice of Circle.

Valor has also started to train other schools to implement the Compass model through Compass Camp, a cohort-based training program through which Valor provides codified resources, training sessions, and ongoing coaching for other schools.  As a third-party evaluator, UVA seeks to expand the evaluation capacity for Compass and Compass Camp to inform continual improvement of both the Compass model and how it’s spread to other schools.


Our Study

Our work is guided by three major aims:

  1. Develop and refine the Compass model theory of change

  2. Test the mechanisms of change in the Compass model

  3. Examine variability in implementation of the Compass model (at partner schools).

The UVA research team (PI: Sara Rimm-Kaufman; co-PI: Shereen El Mallah; research assistant: Grace Kegley) will be conducting a two-year mixed methods study to investigate the impacts of Compass on teachers and scholars, as well as strengthen the definition of “strong implementation” at partner schools. 


A little more about our partners…

Valor Collegiate Academies is a network of free, public college preparatory charter schools in South Nashville that serves a diverse population. Lower income Valor scholars have outperformed middle- and high-income peers in a variety of schools, inverting the “achievement gap.” 

Transcend is a national nonprofit dedicated to accelerating innovation in the core design of “school.”  Working with a diverse network of cutting-edge schools, Transcend researchers and design talent amplify the R&D capacity to build, learn from, and spread innovative learning models for the 21st century. 


Key Research Questions

  1. What is the theory of change for Compass / Compass Camp?

  2. What short-term and long-term outcomes are expected for students, faculty, relationships, and school climate/culture, and how can we best measure them?

  3. When implemented successfully, what are the effects /outcomes achieved? What variation do we see in outcomes by key subgroups?

The Funding

This work is funded by the Overdeck Family Foundation and a training grant from the Institute of Educational Sciences.