DoDEA requires grantees and their evaluators to design, implement, and report monitoring plans that demonstrate outcomes and impact, improve educational programs and increase the likelihood of positive student outcomes. The Synergy-generated ETAC web portal hosts grantee monitoring information, project data, resources, and a technical assistance portal. In order to provide evaluation resources to grantees, Synergy staff reviewed and selected publications on educational program evaluation, maintaining project fidelity, and sustainability planning. Synergy catalogued the publications in a database of articles on DoDEA’s ETAC resources webpage for use by grantee school districts. A grantee message board and social media feeds are monitored and facilitated by a technical assistance specialist. Synergy also worked with DoDEA to design an evaluation matrix and goal/outcome metrics that grantees must use in evaluating their projects. Grantees use web-based data collection instruments designed by Synergy to report the data.
ETAC produces three reports each year, using grantee-reported data via the online reporting system. ETAC also authors two or more publications per year highlighting specific topics or strategies that have proven successful in grant projects. Several of these publications have won national awards for their readability, accessibility, utility, and aesthetic appeal. As part of grantee meetings held each year in locations near military installations across the country, DoDEA and ETAC staff members conduct site visits to local grantee school districts to conduct project monitoring and provide technical assistance. ETAC also meets with each new grantee individually to review monitoring plans, provide feedback, and make recommendations for improvement. In addition to the in-person meetings, the DoDEA team provides conference call and webinar support several times per month to foster communications and learning opportunities among the grantees.
In the original DoDEA contract, Synergy was tasked only with providing logistics support for an annual project directors’ meeting. However, as Synergy demonstrated its capacity to support DoDEA in myriad ways, tasks expanded to include designing and hosting a website, facilitating a grant review process, providing technical assistance, authoring publications, and facilitating multiple grantee meetings each year.