IPEI Grant Programs Continue to Engage Students

February 10, 2016

IPEI Student Engagement 2012-2015A recent report confirms what educators and community members have long believed: Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) grants programs positively impact the engagement of students in the Ithaca City School District (ICSD).



In 2014-15, ICSD teachers who received an IPEI Teacher Grant, Red and Gold Grant, or Community Collaboration Grant reported that their students’ engagement levels increased after participating in grant-funded activities. The growth in engagement was particularly significant among students identified by teachers as performing below grade-level expectations. These findings are consistent with data collected by grant recipients during the previous two school years.

“Teachers have often told us that initiatives funded through our grants programs enriched their students’ learning and awakened their imaginations,” said IPEI Executive Director Christine Sanchirico. “We developed a method to quantify these successes and report them back to the community.”

For three years, IPEI has asked teachers who funded their innovative project ideas and activities with IPEI grants to measure engagement by observing and recording students’ body language, verbal participation, physical participation, independence, and excitement before and after the grant-funded activities. Last year, in 2014-15, the average level of engagement increased from a 3 on a 5-point scale to a 4.5 for all students, and from a 2.44 to a 4.22 for students performing below grade-level. Similar growth in engagement was reported in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

“Our findings show that student engagement with learning does indeed increase after they participate in these innovative activities,” Sanchirico said. “We are very pleased to share these positive results.”

“These data confirm the importance of our grants programs as a powerful tool to increase overall student engagement, said Pat Tempesta, a retired Ithaca College professor of education and former IPEI board member who, along with retired ICSD teacher Janie Clark, helped develop the study. “They also offer us specific examples of the impact our grants can have on individual students. After multiple years of collecting this information, we feel confident we are moving in the right direction in supporting the efforts of ICSD teachers to encourage engagement for student learning.”

In 2014-15, IPEI awarded 82 grants totaling $93,319. Lists of grant titles, grant recipients and their schools, and participating community partners are found on IPEI’s recently revamped website found at www.ipei.org.

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