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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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Draft Version: This profile has not yet received feedback from evaluators or program staff.

Program Description

Overview Project EMERGE, an early-morning program designed to increase the learning time of at-risk students, was developed for students in Crisp County, Georgia. The program was a comprehensive effort by school personnel, community volunteers, parents, and students to improve achievement and attendance and reduce disciplinary referrals. Project EMERGE provided basic skills tutoring and enrichment activities, development of critical thinking skills, conflict resolution/violence prevention techniques, and counseling support for students, in an effort to improve basic skills and positively impact students’ self-concept and attitude toward school.
Start Date unknown (the project is no longer running)
Scope local
Type before school
Location rural
Setting public schools
Participants elementary school students (grades 4–6)
Number of Sites/Grantees one
Number Served unknown
Components EMERGE participants reported to school 45 minutes prior to the beginning of each school day to participate in a variety of activities. Students were divided into four groups and rotated through four centers on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The four centers included: (1) group guidance focused on building self-esteem, improving socialization skills, and combating negative peer influence; (2) individual and small-group counseling; (3) math and reading remediation through computer-based instruction and individual tutoring; and (4) instruction in higher-order thinking skills through computer use and small group instructional strategies. On Wednesdays, students alternated between music and art while project teachers had planning time. Project teachers were school-day teachers who volunteered their time to teach before the school day began.

In addition to the early morning program, the counselors and project teachers developed bonds with students that carried through the school day; project teachers were viewed as special advocates for the children. The parent component included monthly parent workshops, computer training, parent/child breakfasts, and regular visits to the early morning program. Community leaders volunteered to serve as role models for students. Excursions and field trips to high interest places rewarded students for success and provided them with new cultural experiences.
Funding Level unknown
Funding Sources Georgia Department of Education


Overview The 1992–1994 Project EMERGE evaluation addressed success in reaching program objectives.
Evaluators Judy Monsaas, Emory University
Evaluations Profiled Evaluation Report – Final Validation: Project EMERGE, Crisp County
Evaluations Planned None – program is completed.
Report Availability Monsaas, J. (1994). Evaluation report – final validation: Project EMERGE, Crisp County. Atlanta, GA: Emory University.


Evaluation Judy Monsaas
Coordinator of P-16 Assessment & Evaluation
University System of Georgia
270 Washington Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone: 404-657-1732
Fax: 404-657-0336
Program Not available
Profile Updated January 28, 2004

Evaluation: Evaluation Report – Final Validation: Project EMERGE, Crisp County

Evaluation Description

Evaluation Purpose To examine whether Project EMERGE improved students’ learning in reading and math and their behavior. The evaluation also examined perceptions of and satisfaction with the program.
Evaluation Design Quasi-Experimental and Non-Experimental: The evaluation compared Project EMERGE students during the 1992–1993 and 1993–1994 school years to their non-program peers. All fourth through sixth graders at Southwestern Elementary School were rated for program eligibility using a weighted “at-risk” scale that included the following risk factors: eligibility for free or reduced price lunch, single parent family, family on public assistance, frequent disciplinary referrals, sibling school dropout, poor academic history, and parent not having completed high school. Students with the highest scores on the "at-risk" scale were enrolled in the experimental group of Project EMERGE. Of the at-risk students not selected for the program, the evaluator randomly selected some of these youth to be used as the control group. This control group was matched with program students based on grade, gender, race, and the number of at-risk characteristics. Because students were selected for the program based on having several at-risk characteristics, the control group students tended to have fewer risk factors. Prior to program participation, EMERGE students had significantly lower reading grades than control group students and more discipline referrals (p<.001). Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from project and non-project teachers, project participants, and participants' parents.
Data Collection Methods Interviews/Focus Groups: Interviews were conducted in spring 1993 with all six project teachers and a sample of 11 program students and three program dropouts. In addition, six parents of program participants were interviewed at a parent meeting in spring 1994. The major focus of the program student and parent interviews was to determine the extent to which they felt the program influenced them, their perceptions of the program, and which parts of the program they liked most and felt were most effective.

Secondary Source/Data Review: Reading and math grades, school attendance records, and frequency of referrals for disciplinary action were reviewed for 55 EMERGE students (31 fourth graders and 24 fifth and sixth graders), and 73 control group students (41 fourth graders and 32 fifth and sixth graders). Pretest data were collected from the 1992–1993 academic year for fourth graders and from 1991–1992 for fifth and sixth graders. Posttest data were collected for all students from the 1993–1994 school year.

Surveys/Questionnaires: A survey was sent to all Southwestern teachers in April 1994 to obtain their perceptions about the program and how effective they felt the program was in helping students. Three project and 17 non-project teachers completed the survey. In addition, during spring 1994, 25 EMERGE students completed an open-ended survey about their perceptions of the program. Questions asked what they liked best and least about the program, what they would change, and what their favorite activity was.

Tests/Assessments: Three standardized tests of achievement and self-concept were administered to program and control group students as a pretest and a posttest: the Reading and Mathematics subtests of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS), the School Attitude Measure (SAM), and the Piers-Harris Children’s Self Concept Scale.

The ITBS Reading and Math scales were administered to all fourth through sixth graders annually to assess reading and math achievement. Pretest and posttest ITBS scores were collected from 55 treatment students (31 fourth graders and 24 fifth and sixth graders), and 73 control group students (41 fourth graders and 32 fifth and sixth graders). Spring 1993 scores served as a pretest for fourth graders, while spring 1992 scores served as the pretest for fifth and sixth graders. Spring 1994 scores are the posttest measure.

The SAM, a measure of school-related self-esteem, has five subscales: Motivation for Schooling, Academic Self-Concept - Performance Based, Academic Self-Concept – Reference Based, Student’s Sense of Control over Performance, and Student’s Instructional Mastery. Scores were collected from 37 experimental group students (19 fourth graders and 18 fifth and sixth graders) and 43 control group students (25 fourth graders and 18 fifth and sixth graders). The SAM was given in September 1993 and April 1994 to fourth graders and in fall 1992 and spring 1994 to fifth and sixth graders.

The Piers-Harris assesses general self-esteem in children, and was selected to complement the SAM. It has six subscales: behavior, intellectual and school status, physical appearance and attributes, anxiety, popularity, and happiness and satisfaction. Scores were collected from 42 treatment students (26 fourth graders and 16 fifth and sixth graders) and 57 control group students (30 fourth graders and 27 fifth and sixth graders). The test was administered as a pretest to fourth graders in September 1993 and to fifth and sixth graders in September 1992 and as a posttest to all students in April 1994.

Teachers administering the SAM and the Piers-Harris reported that students had some difficulty reading the instruments and so the teachers read them aloud to all students. The fact that both tests may have included vocabulary and language unfamiliar to the students could have reduced the validity of these data.

College of Education, University of Iowa. Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. Iowa City, IA: Author.

Piers, E. V., Harris, D. B., & Herzberg, D. S. (1984). The Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale (Rev. ed.). Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.

Wick, P. (1990). School Attitude Measure. Chicago: American Testronics.
Data Collection Timeframe Data were collected from 1992–1994.

Formative/Process Findings

Costs/Revenues Non-project teachers felt that teachers should be given a stipend for program participation.
Program Context/Infrastructure One of the three project teachers surveyed cited the “family feeling” that is fostered with students as a project strength.
Program-School Linkages One of the three project teachers surveyed noted the extra academic help for students in a non-graded setting as a project strength.

Of the 12 non-project teachers who responded to a question about how much information they receive about Project EMERGE, six felt the information was adequate, three reported receiving adequate overviews at the beginning of the year, but said they would like more updates, and three felt that the information that they received was “very little” or “none at all.”

Project teachers noted a lack of cooperation from some non-project teachers as a program weakness.
Recruitment/Participation Students reported that negotiating sleep and early morning darkness were the most difficult obstacles to attending daily.

The program weakness most frequently cited by non-project teachers in surveys was that the program did not serve enough students in need. One of the three project teachers surveyed also cited this as a weakness.

Two non-project teachers surveyed cited not enough students from different ethnic backgrounds as a program weakness. Similarly, five non-project teachers recommended that the criteria for selection should be expanded to “include races other than black.” Students in the program also noted this as a program weakness.

A number of students reported being teased and stigmatized due to program participation.
Satisfaction Students’ most disliked program feature was the early morning time.

Overall, nine of the 17 non-project teachers surveyed felt very positively about the program, five teachers’ responses were mixed, and three teachers had negative views.

Overall, participants indicated on the surveys that they felt very positively about Project EMERGE. A large number of students commented that what they liked best about the program was “everything” and what they liked least was “nothing.” They also tended to like field trips the best, but also liked art, computers, and the teachers.

Project students said they would like to participate in the program in the future and would recommend it to their friends.

Students and their parents seemed to be very proud to be selected for participation.
Staffing/Training All three project teachers surveyed reported that they planned to participate in the program the following year.

Project teachers cited the individual attention they were able to provide students through small groups as a project strength.

Project teachers noted a lack of adequate non-project EMERGE staff support as a program weakness.

Non-project teachers felt that more planning time and support should be provided to teachers.

Project teachers cited their reason for participating in the program as wanting to help at-risk students.

Non-project teachers cited the quality of the project teachers as a strength of the program.

Summative/Outcome Findings

Academic Although control group students tended to have slightly higher initial math and reading grades, EMERGE students performed significantly better after the program (p<.001 for both reading and math) than the control group. In addition, while EMERGE students showed gains in grades, control group students’ grades decreased from pretest to posttest.

EMERGE students performed significantly better than control group students on both the reading and math sections of ITBS (p<.001 for math, and p<.01 for reading). Participants started out behind control group students prior to entering the program and ended up with higher posttest means. This effect was especially pronounced at the fourth grade level (scores were not significant when fifth and sixth graders’ scores alone were analyzed).

Results showed a significant program effect on school attendance for fourth graders (p<.05) and for the total group (p<.001), but not for fifth and sixth graders alone; EMERGE students attended more school days than the control group after controlling for the previous year’s attendance.

At the fifth and sixth grade level, EMERGE students improved significantly more than control group students on the School Attitude Measure (p<.05), although there were no significant differences in this area for fourth graders alone or for the sample as a whole.

Project students reported that the program helped them feel better about their performance and behavior in school and helped them with their schoolwork.

Project and non-project teachers reported a number of academic benefits of EMERGE on students, including improvements in: basic skills, schoolwork, grades, desire to work hard and learn, and attitudes toward class work, school, and teachers.
Prevention Even though EMERGE students had significantly more disciplinary referrals prior to entering the program than did control group students (p<.001), posttest scores indicated that EMERGE students had significantly fewer referrals during the program year (p<.001).
Youth Development The Piers-Harris Children’s Self Concept Scale results showed no significant difference between EMERGE and control group students on this measure overall, but EMERGE fourth graders had significantly higher self-esteem than the control group fourth graders after controlling for pretest scores (p<.05).

Project and non-project teachers reported a number of positive youth development outcomes of EMERGE, including students’ improved ability to: “start their day in a positive mind frame,” get along with each other, follow directions, work together, cope with school problems, cope with anger, build self-esteem, and control their behavior.


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Published by Harvard Family Research Project