K-State-developed software selected as national reporting system for SNAP-Ed

Hays Daily News

MANHATTAN — A web-based data management system built and maintained by the College of Education at Kansas State University has been selected as the national reporting system for SNAP-Ed, a key federal supplemental nutrition education program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service recently announced that it has licensed K-State's Program Evaluation and Reporting System, or PEARS, tool for national data collection and reporting in its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Nutrition Education, or SNAP-Ed.

"I applaud K-State's work in producing a quality reporting system for SNAP Education programs and congratulate them on its nationwide adoption," said U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas. "Effective data collection for federally supported programs and their outcomes are critical to making certain legislators can provide essential oversight of federal resources."

PEARS was developed through a collaboration between the Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation in the K-State College of Education and K-State Research and Extension as a way to help nutrition education professionals and extension administrators manage program data and demonstrate impact. Since that time, 37 states and more than 6,000 users have adopted PEARS to track their SNAP-Ed efforts.

"A better management system will undoubtedly lead to better health for many who participate in SNAP-Ed across the country," said Ernie Minton, dean of the K-State College of Agriculture and director, K-State Research and Extension. "We're proud this K-State innovation was selected for this critical function and excited that its use will improve lives."

Program evaluation data is entered into PEARS in real time, which allows for data-based decision making related to program progress, implementation and impact. PEARS provides extension and nutrition educators the ability to accurately evaluate and report on a program's impact, make improvements and assess progress. This data helps program staff to better understand what works and why, which ultimately allows for better allocation of time and funding to maximize impact as well as to meet the needs of communities.

"The mission of the College of Education's Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation is to provide evaluation services through technological innovations that work for and with the people," said Debbie Mercer, dean of the college. "PEARS is an example of the outstanding work that comes from their expertise. We are proud to partner across campus to establish this solution that will now impact the entire nation."

Since its creation, PEARS has been recognized for its value in reporting and demonstrating impact and received the Excellence in Extension Program Evaluation Award from the American Evaluation Association's Extension Education Evaluation Topical Interest Group in 2019.

"The ability to take a platform that was originally developed by K-State for use by Kansas extension staff and work collaboratively with K-State Innovation Partners to develop a novel commercialization model and become the national reporting tool for SNAP-Ed within a five-year period is truly remarkable," said Kent Glasscock, Innovation Partners CEO. "This is a prime example of the world-class technical talent that exists at K-State and the uniquely collaborative environment that university leadership and staff have cultivated to make opportunities like this possible."