The goal of the quantitative analyses for this report was to look back on the first eight years of the Tauck Family Foundation’s investment in Bridgeport and examine trends in student and organizational outcomes over this period for Horizons at Greens Farms Academy (HGFA), New Beginnings Family Academy (NBFA), and Bridgeport Public Schools SEL Initiative, the three investees that have partnered with TFF since 2013. Given the burdens that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to place on investees and the challenges of sharing student-level data, these analyses focused on school- and district-level data that investees had provided to TFF over the years, in combination with publicly available school- and district- data from the Connecticut State Department of Education and aggregated data from the EASEL Lab at Harvard Graduate School of Education. The quantitative analyses focused on outcomes that the case study team could examine over multiple years, which was challenging when different measures were used at different points in time. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic affected student experiences and outcomes, as well as the availability of data.
In active partnership, TFF has challenged investees to establish clear objectives and track progress across a range of domains, including service delivery, student outcomes (academic, social and emotional, and behavioral), and organizational outcomes. Each organization’s approach to SEL has evolved over the course of the investment period, as has its approach to measuring student outcomes. Compiling the data for this case study has revealed increasing maturity in defining objectives and measuring progress. At the same time, changing objectives and outcome measures means that comparisons over time are difficult to make.
It is also crucial to note that even when measures remain consistent over time, it is impossible to make causal claims about the impact of TFF’s investment. Education systems and organizations are inherently complex, and TFF’s investment was only one of many factors that affected investees over the past eight years. Investees have experienced many changes over the investment period: personnel changes at the classroom and leadership level; revisions in state policies (for example, related to academic standards, assessment, discipline, and attendance); shifts in overall funding levels; the emergence of new national, state, and local initiatives related to social and emotional learning and student well-being; evolving discourse and action related to race and racism; the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic; and much more. The absence of a causal research design that can isolate the effects of TFF’s efforts from the aforementioned efforts, make it impossible to draw a straight line from TFF’s investments to student and organizational outcomes.