Future Forward, formerly known as SPARK, is a program that received an Investing in Innovations grant to develop and assess its impact in seven Milwaukee Public Schools serving primarily Black and Latinx students. This program uses a school-family-community partnership approach to address the literacy needs of struggling readers and their families. A previous randomized study suggested two years of participation in the program had positive effects on reading achievement, school attendance, and foundational literacy. Jones and colleagues conducted a follow-up study to evaluate whether the benefits were sustained five years after participation ended.
This study assessed student data on attendance, achievement, and demographics within five years after the end of the program, from the spring of 2015 to the winter of 2020. Results showed that students who received Future Forward continued to improve in reading achievement and school attendance, and were much less likely to be placed into special education than students who did not receive the program. In addition, students with greater academic needs when they were in Future Forward benefited more.
This study provides evidence regarding the long-term stability of the effect of Future Forward. The authors indicate that while Future Forward is promising to help the underserved students with low academic performance, there are still large opportunity gaps between Black, Latinx, and White students in the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Source: Jones, C. J., Reeves, M., Li, D., & Gilman, L. (2023). What is the sustained impact of future forward on reading achievement, attendance, and special education placement 5 years after participation? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 01623737231182629. https://doi.org/10.3102/01623737231182629