The mission of the Above the Line Project is to provide opportunities for educational excellence for low-achieving students in the Lower Mississippi Delta Region, beginning with high-poverty areas in Arkansas. The Above the Line Project is based on four major areas:
(1) Culture building
(2) High expectations
(3) Frequent communication and involvement of parents
(4) Periodic assessment of curriculum modules
The purpose of this project is to test the effectiveness of the Above the Line Project instructional strategies in regular classroom settings involving high-poverty, low-performing areas in Arkansas. "The Lower Mississippi Delta region is one of the poorest areas in the United States." Forty-one Arkansas counties exist in this region, most of which are in the eastern, southeastern, or central parts of the state. An experimental-control group research design will be used, and both experimental schools and control schools must (1) have two or more classes at grades 2, 3, and 4, (2) be in the Lower Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas (hereafter referred to as the "Delta"), (3) have a free or reduced lunch rate of at least 66% or higher, and (4) be on the Arkansas School Improvement list for Year 1, Year 2, or Year 3.
Each experimental school will have a site team consisting of a second grade teacher, a third grade teacher, a fourth grade teacher, and the building principal. The experimental school site team will be responsible for training a second team of teachers at that site during the second year of implementation. Stipends will be provided for participation. Efforts will be made to match experimental schools with control schools in the same school district or in close proximity.
This is a three-year research project that will test the effectiveness of five strategies - (1) the design and implementation of bi-monthly curriculum modules based on assessment results; (2) the identification and monitoring of conduct and achievement goals that are linked to rewards; (3) the periodic assessment, through pre- and post-testing, of student performance; (4) instructional/leadership coaching; and (5) frequent communication with and involvement of parents. An assessment design will be developed for each strategy. In addition to testing the effectiveness of these strategies, the project will be designed to monitor and assess its overall impact on classroom and school culture. The actual implementation of the five strategies will occur between August and March of each academic year.Three research questions will be examined. First, to what extent did the five project strategies have an impact on academic achievement, collectively? Second, what were the average gains for subpopulations of students such as African-American, Caucasian, and economically-disadvantaged students? Finally, which project strategies were perceived to be most beneficial by the parents, teachers, and principals? (source: www.hendrix.edu)