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Arkansas Department of Education:
Grant Proposal for Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) Evaluation

In 1997, the Arkansas Department of Education launched the EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) initiative, a student-centered, service-oriented, project-based technology curriculum that aims to prepare students for college and the business world while promoting positive attitudes toward learning. Now operating as a nonprofit organization, EAST aims to advance equity of educational opportunities and raise student achievement through a unique classroom environment in which students are responsible for creating their own lesson plans, guided by a teacher trained in the EAST process. Early qualitative and anecdotal research pointed to the effectiveness of the EAST program, leading to rapid growth in dissemination of the model, which is now being implemented in more than 220 schools in eight states.

In 2003, the Arkansas Department of Education sought to conduct a more scientific evaluation of the program's impact on participating students. It engaged Metis to design a rigorous study that was funded through a three-year, $1.8 million Evaluating State Education Technology Programs grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The proposal to the U.S. Department of Education for this three-year research project included a statewide implementation study focused on the nature, quality, and intensity of program components from a variety of perspectives and an outcome study using an experimental design to examine EAST's impact on teachers' attitudes, classroom practices, and students' attitudes.