Education Research Service Projects (ERSP) Overview of Abstracts

2021 Abstracts
2020 Special Call Abstracts
2019 Abstracts
2018 Abstracts

2017 Abstracts
2016 Abstracts
2015 Abstracts
2014 Abstracts
2013 Abstracts

Abstracts for 2021 Awards

Building Community: Latina Engineering Students Focused Mentorship Program
Principal Investigator(s): Hilda Cecilia Contreras Aguirre (New Mexico State University)
Educational Entity: New Mexico State University College of Engineering

The ongoing underrepresentation of Latina college students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and in particular, in engineering, demonstrates the need to develop and implement a strategic high-impact practice, such as a near peer-mentoring program that not only improves students’ academic outcomes but also fosters student development holistically. At New Mexico State University, there is a need to help Latina engineering college students persist and keep interested in their discipline; hence, this funded project aims at exploring the benefits of participating in a new mentorship program whose goal is building community by providing academic, emotional, and sociocultural support. Based on Crisp et al.’s conceptual framework (2017) for undergraduate students who participate in a mentorship program, the model incorporates important aspects such as cultural relevance and discipline-related elements. The mentoring program will be composed of graduate and senior undergraduate college students (mentors) and freshmen /sophomore/junior undergraduate students (mentees) sharing three main aspects: their ethnicity (Latina), gender (women), and discipline (engineering). Through a qualitative approach, two focus groups and a set of individual interviews will be conducted in the fall of 2021 to understand the effects and outcomes of participating in this strategic high-impact practice.

Center for Education Policy Analysis, Research, and Evaluation (CEPARE) Rapid Research Briefs
Principal Investigator(s): Morgaen Donaldson, Professor and Director, Center for Education Policy Analysis, Research, and Evaluation (CEPARE) (University of Connecticut)
Educational Entity:  Connecticut’s 33 Alliance Districts

With Education Research Service Projects funding, the Center for Education Policy Analysis, Research, and Evaluation (CEPARE) will produce short-duration, fast-turnaround Rapid Research Briefs (RRB) that investigate pressing issues in Connecticut’s Alliance Districts, 33 of the lowest performing and lowest resourced school districts in the state. These districts have faced numerous challenges, many of which have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Alliance districts face numerous, urgent questions. What is the impact of COVID-19 on student learning? Attendance? Engagement? Why are special education referrals increasing and how have students with special needs fared during remote learning? As key decisions confront them, superintendents in these districts often lack good information to inform their choices. As a result, superintendents operate largely on their own to make critical decisions, often under mounting pressure. CEPARE RRB will provide fast, high-quality, relevant information to guide superintendents’ decisions. Graduate students will work with CEPARE director Morgaen Donaldson to respond to four RRB requests from Alliance districts, carry out the research, write the briefs, and share findings with the requesting districts before disseminating the briefs more widely. In this way, CEPARE RRB will directly affect learning opportunities for children in Connecticut’s most under-resourced districts.

Immigrant Children as Oral Historians: Creating Space for Transnational and Intergenerational Stories​
Principal Investigator(s): Jungmin Kwon (Michigan State University)
Educational Entity: Hanmaeum Korean Language School

This project supports Hanmaeum Korean Language School, a community-based heritage language (HL) school located in the Greater Lansing area, Michigan. A team of researchers will create and explore a space for elementary-aged Korean immigrant children at the school to (re)connect with their family members in and across countries through storytelling. Using asset-based perspectives, we position the children as oral historians who can document their own and their families' stories by drawing on their full multilingual repertoires, using various tools, and collecting, analyzing, and sharing the oral histories of their family members. Employing an ethnographic case study and a practitioner inquiry approach, we will focus on the following questions: (1) How do Korean immigrant children engage in learning their heritage language and culture in a space where they are positioned as experts of their intergenerational and transnational stories? (2) How do the children utilize their multilingual repertoires and funds of knowledge as they gather, preserve, and interpret the stories, photographs, and artifacts? Throughout the project, we will gather multimodal artifacts and multilingual stories that the young experts create and contribute to redesigning the Korean HL curriculum and creating a virtual museum space to showcase the children’s artifacts.

Boundary Crossing for Praxis in the Pursuit of Special Education Racial Equity in Disciplinary Outcomes​
Principal Investigator(s): Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides (City University of New York)
Educational Entity: Schenectady School District

Racial inequities in disciplinary outcomes are consequential for students. The impacts are especially consequential for students at the intersection of race and disability. There is a plethora of research describing factors that contribute to racial inequity in disciplinary outcomes; however, there is less research that explores how educators and researchers can work together to address long-standing racial inequity in disciplinary outcomes, especially with regard to special education. My project seeks to bridge the boundaries between research and practice in order to assist a school district facing persistent racial inequity in special education disciplinary outcomes. I will collaboratively work with educators in a large urban school district to address racial inequity in special education disciplinary outcomes. I will engage with educators in a critical cycle process and culture circles (Freire, 1974, 1976, 2000), serving as a researcher/facilitator. We will work collaboratively to identify sociocultural, historical, and political areas for transformation to improve practice and address racial inequity in special education disciplinary outcomes. Through the collaboration, we will develop a MultiYear Equity Plan (MYEP) that will capture the collaborative nature of the work, outline long-term equity goals, and provide mechanisms for monitoring progress towards racial equity in special education.

Achieving the Dream in College: Understanding Black Student Experiences in a K–12 Precollege Program
Principal Investigator(s): Brian McGowan (American University)
Educational Entity: An Achievable Dream Academies

Exploring Black student educational experiences is even more important in this contemporary context given the unprecedented and newfound challenges associated with schooling during a global health pandemic (COVID-19) and the prevailing racism facing the country. Although the research on Black students has grown, K–12 and higher education subfields have developed in parallel to one another and rarely examine student experiences across the educational pipeline. There is a clear gap in the literature when it comes to how these students make meaning of formative precollege experiences that helped them enter and successfully matriculate in college. This Education Service Research Project aims to understand the experiences of Black students who are enrolled in college and have successfully matriculated through a K–12 intervention nonprofit organization that is committed to bringing equity to education and offering students intentional opportunities for success. To date, little is known about what happens to graduates of this K–12 program upon completion: their college matriculation experiences across multiple postsecondary contexts and the degree to which the program has prepared them academically and socially. Results from this proposed study will aid the organization in its continued commitments to improving the educational and life experiences of Black students.

Making Hunger Visible: Florida Research-Practitioner Partnership on Food Insecurity​
Principal Investigator(s): Lara Perez-Felkner (Florida State University)
Educational Entity: Second Harvest of the Big Bend and Sustainable Campus (Florida State University)

This research-practitioner partnership focuses on measuring and responding to college student challenges with food, a basic human need we argue is also critically important for student success. The grave assumption that basic needs do not meaningfully impact student success has only been recently called into question. Despite a narrative of expanded opportunity, inequality persistently plagues higher education (Alon, 2009; Stevens et al., 2008; Sumerau et al., 2020). Housing and food insecurity are real problems, whereby students at public colleges may encounter hunger shortages throughout the year (Broton & Goldrick-Rab, 2018). While awareness of food insecurity is rising in higher education, the need remains for systemic institutional and policy solutions. Using a sequential explanatory mixed methods design, this partnership is based in a Florida mid-sized city with high levels of food insecurity. In partnership with Second Harvest of the Big Bend (a community partner) and Florida State University’s Sustainable Campus, our research team will build on pilot work to measure the incidence of food insecurity and interview students using Second Harvest off-campus community food bank. This collaboration is also intended to support and inform local campus service providers such as the FSU Food for Thought Pantry, and train emerging educational researchers. 

How Community Schools Support Transformative Family Engagement​
Principal Investigator(s): Karen Hunter Quartz (University of California, Los Angeles)
Co-Researchers: Olivia Obeso (University of California, Los Angeles); Marcus Van (Mann UCLA Community School)
Educational Entity: Mann UCLA Community School

Family and community engagement is one of the four pillars of community schooling--designed to ensure greater equity in students’ educational opportunities (Oakes, Maier, & Daniel, 2017). Yet opportunities for family involvement in K–12 schools vary, from plug-in involvement to critical engagement (Terriquez, 2015). The latter extends beyond structures that have historically excluded marginalized community populations to engage families in determining the terms of their engagement in ways that collectively transform and improve their children’s schools (Ishimaru & Takahashi, 2017; Pena, 1998; Fine, 1993). In partnership with Mann UCLA Community School in the Los Angeles Unified School District, this Education Research Service Project will study how community schools can support transformative family engagement. This project will inform the work of the school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) and Anti-Racist Committee (ARC), established in 2020 in response to the pandemic and racial justice uprisings. ARC is a community-based initiative that aims to redistribute power to historically marginalized Black and Latinx families to address the pressing concern of low parent engagement. In service to ARC and PTSA, we will conduct surveys and focus groups with parents, produce data reports and a research article, and support data interpretation and use to advance transformative family engagement.

Valuing Bilingualism: Linguistically Responsive Instruction for Latinx Students in Rural Areas​
Principal Investigator(s): Diego Román (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Educational Entity: Algoma School District, Wisconsin

The Latinx population in Wisconsin has increased by 95% during the last two decades, and among students classified as English Learners in rural schools, two thirds speak Spanish at home. While some rural districts in the state have longer established Latinx populations, Algoma School District in northeastern Wisconsin has experienced growth in its Latinx student population primarily in recent years, and around half of these students have English Learner status. With a mostly White and monolingual English-speaking faculty, Algoma teachers have expressed a desire for pedagogical strategies that they can use with their Latinx students that value their home languages and cultures even if not shared by the instructor. Algoma has sought the expertise of UW–Madison educational researchers to design, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of a series of interactive modules around linguistically responsive instruction for middle and high school teachers. The theoretical framework to be used in the design of the modules is translanguaging, a pedagogy that leverages bilingual students’ entire linguistic repertoires and promotes equal academic opportunity and social justice. The efficacy of this training will be evaluated by conducting pre- and post- interviews and surveys to gather teachers’ knowledge and beliefs surrounding multilingual students’ development and language use.

Utilizing Propensity Score Methods to Provide Measures of School Quality for the Baltimore City Public Schools System​
Principal Investigator(s): Laura Stapleton (University of Maryland) and Yi Feng (University of Maryland)
Educational Entity: Baltimore City Public Schools

Equity in public education is an important issue, and efforts have been made to evaluate school quality while promoting equity. However, current methods used for rating K–12 schools in the State of Maryland and in Baltimore City may fail to properly account for differences in the student population and for structural inequalities across schools. Partnered with Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools), the proposed study develops a framework utilizing propensity score methods to enhance the fairness and interpretability of school evaluation metrics. The proposed method focuses on weighting-by-the-odds (WBO), aiming to assess how well a target school educates its students relative to the education they would have received had these students attended another school. The specific aims of the study are to demonstrate the application of WBO for estimating an individual school’s “treatment effect,” determine whether the use of WBO for school performance evaluation is considered useful among key stakeholders, and assist City Schools in developing and implementing a standard operating procedure for school and program evaluations based on the research findings. Ultimately the goal is to better inform stakeholders’ decisions regarding the performance of City Schools and school-related programs and thus how resources can be better allocated.

Fostering Scholar Identities among Latina/o/x Community College Students Via Undergraduate Research
Principal Investigator(s): Marissa Vasquez (San Diego State University)
Educational Entity: Imperial Valley College

Although high-impact activities are positively associated with students’ desired learning outcomes, community college transfer students are less likely to participate in these activities when compared to non-transfer students (Ishitani & McKitrick, 2010; McCormick et al., 2009; Zilvinskis & Dumford, 2018). As community colleges remain primary access points to higher education, community college students should receive the same level of support and opportunities as their 4-year peers (Boggs & McPhail, 2016; Schudde & Grodsky, 2018). This project aims to expand our knowledge of undergraduate research (UR) programs while centering Latina/o/x students’ experiences and identities. The SEMILLAS Research Fellowship Program will be a free, six-week program that introduces Latina/o/x community college students to social science research before they transfer to a four-year university. The goals of this pilot undergraduate summer research program are threefold: (1) to demystify research for community college students by engaging them in social science research that focuses on the experiences of Latina/o/x college students; (2) to help foster a scholar identity among participants through research activities and mentorship; and (3) to strengthen the pipeline of Latina/o/x students engaging in research and creative activities at Imperial Valley College, MiraCosta College, Fresno City College, and Southwestern College.

Abstracts for 2019 Awards

Meeting Students Where They Are: Addressing Diverse Experiences of Childhood Adversity In Rural Schools And Communities
Principal Investigator: Catharine Biddle (University of Maine)
Educational Entity: Cobscook Community Learning Center’s Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE)

There are few models for supporting trauma-informed wraparound service models in rural schools. Building service networks centered on schools in rural communities requires attention to distance and remoteness in service provision, small faculties and limited institutional capacity, dense rural social networks, and close, but often ambivalent school-community relationships. The Cobscook Community Learning Center has pioneered an approach to trauma-informed wraparound services to support student learning designed in partnership with three rural schools and communities. This study proposes to conduct eight in-depth case studies of students and caregivers receiving varying levels of services from the TREE program, including families with intensive, medium and light levels of engagement with services at each site. These case studies will lay the groundwork for a more extensive program evaluation that focuses on whole school effects. By understanding how diverse families and students interact with the program over time, the organization can better leverage services to meet families’ needs and work to overcome barriers that families experience in accessing their services.

Culturally Relevant Texts for English Learners with Refugee Backgrounds
Principal Investigators: Hyonsuk Cho (University of North Dakota) and Tanya Christ (Oakland University)
Educational Entity: Global Friends Coalition

In the past decade, the number of refugees in Grand Forks, North Dakota has increased exponentially (New American Economy, 2017). Global Friends Coalition is a community-based non-profit organization that helps refugees settle in Grand Forks. This ERSP project is designed to address Global Friends Coalition’s need for a cohesive curriculum to support adult refugee English Learners (ELs) English language learning. Framed by culturally sustaining pedagogy, which seeks to foster and sustain linguistic and cultural pluralism and to enrich students’ strengths (Alim & Paris, 2017), this project will design a curriculum comprised of 24 lessons aligned with English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education using eight culturally relevant picture books. Further, adult ELs will share and discuss these books at home with their children to provide additional English language practice. Based on data collected during lesson implementation, and analysis, the lesson plans will be revised to make improvements. At the end of the project, Global Friends Coalition will continue to use the revised lessons, and also post the resources on their website to share via open access with other EL education organizations and researchers who partner with ELs with refugee backgrounds.

Cross-Cultural Communication in Healthcare: Training, Education, and Integration
Principal Investigators: Tasha Posid (The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center), Cheryl T. Lee (The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center), and Michael W. Sourial (The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center)
Educational Entity: Physician CareConnection (PCC)

Cross-cultural communication, diversity training, and education have been explored across a limited number of medical domains; in fact, training and education focused on improving cross-cultural communication for the purposes of better addressing critical health needs of populations who have been historically marginalized and underserved is uncommon and understudied. The fundamental justification of a global health education curriculum in the form of a cross-cultural experience is to inspire medical trainees to understand culturally-based patient perceptions, address inequities in underserved populations, and improve patient care through heightened provider communication, cultural sensitivity, and directed patient education. Cross-cultural education and training initiatives as part of medical residency programs are increasing throughout the United States, with approximately one-half of accredited MD-granting medical schools in the United States having established global health initiatives through their institutions. These programs have arisen in part due to increased demand and enthusiasm by residents to participate in such programs, yet little research has evaluated their efficacy in a systematic exploration of patient and provider perceptions and interactions. The Department of Urology at The Ohio State University seeks to extend and evaluate a Global Health Education Program for its medical trainees. The proposed project will (1) extend and evaluate the impact of a pilot “local global health” curriculum for medical trainees working with a community free clinic via novel platforms of patient-provider communication (previously established face-to-face/live encounters + proposed teleheath and mobile patient portal follow-up encounters) and (2) use the data gathered in Aim 1 to specifically develop and assess novel cross-cultural healthcare simulations for the purposes of medical trainee cross-cultural communication curriculum.

Posing Math Problems about our Community: Investigating the WalkSTEM Club
Principal Investigator: Candace Walkington (Southern Methodist University)
Co-Principal Investigators: Min Wang (Southern Methodist University) and Koshi Dhingra (TalkSTEM)
Educational Entity: TalkSTEM

WalkSTEM is an initiative in Dallas, Texas, that was launched and is run by the non-profit organization TalkSTEM. In walkSTEM after-school clubs, students meet weekly to create their own mathematical "stops" for a walk around their school or community. Students then lead an audience (other students, parents, teachers) on their walk, acting as docents who explain how mathematics is integrated into the surroundings. The goal of the club is to promote students’ interest in mathematics and mathematical learning, as well as to connect families and communities around the pursuit of mathematical literacy. In this project, we will record a walkSTEM after-school club’s activities, and utilize interviews and surveys with participants to explore students’ problem posing activities. Through this research, we seek to inform the non-profit’s future implementation of both the walkSTEM afterschool club and the walkSTEM model more generally, including identifying important supports for success, key characteristics of the model, and persistent issues that must be considered and addressed. We also seek to document the impact of the model and the kind of work students do as they engage with the club. Finally, we seek to contribute to research on problem-posing and urban education.

Abstracts for 2018 Awards

Exploring Food Insecurity: Engaging Alternative School Students in Youth Participatory Action Research
Principal Investigators: Hannah Baggett (Auburn University) and Sean Forbes (Auburn University)
Educational Entity: Opelika Learning Center

Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) engages students as researchers as they problematize and generate actions to address sociopolitical issues (McIntyre, 2000). Students who engage in YPAR projects may experience positive academic outcomes, such as increased test scores, graduation rates, and school engagement (Cabrera et al., 2014), and these projects may support thedevelopment of students’ community-based intergenerational networks (Mitra, 2005), networks among diverse groups (Flores, 2007), and professional networks (Rubin & Jones, 2007).  The objective for this service project is to support the OGrows partnership, comprised of Opelika City Schools, the city of Opelika, and Auburn University as we extend the implementation of YPAR at an alternative school in Opelika, Alabama.  Students will choose topics and conduct research around food insecurity, to include problematizing and investigating the effects of food scarcity and hunger, access to food and transportation, and the 'impact' of local and regional resources on the community’s food security. 

Racial Equity In Independent Schools: Examining the Relationships between School Climate, Student Engagement, & Achievement
Principal Investigator: Kelly Harris (Washington University School of Medicine
Educational Entity: Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School

Research on independent schools is surprisingly sparse, given their cultural position in the American educational landscape. Research shows that independent schools often positively add to students’ academic achievement but can be contentious sites for Black students and other traditionally marginalized students. Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS) is an independent school, serving students from preschool through 12th grade in St. Louis, Missouri.  Our study partners local researchers with MICDS to address the school’s questions of racial disparities in student achievement and school engagement, as well as the social and cultural processes that enable those disparities. We will employ a QUAN-qual multi-method approach for the outlined research questions. The school will supply the quantitative data for initial analysis, including assessment scores, course grades, and prior survey results. Researchers will gather qualitative data via 6-8 strategic focus groups with students and staff. The project will produce a report for school leaders and a presentation for the school community. Findings will also inform the development of future professional development opportunities for school personnel. This project seeks to encourage all independent schools to engage in practices examining faculty cultural competency, student engagement, and school climate to improve achievement for all students.

Supporting Quality Individual Education Program Development and Implementation in Rural East Texas
Principal Investigator: Brittany Hott (Texas A&M University-Commerce
Educational Entity: Lamar County Shared Service Arrangement

Students eligible to receive special education and related services are entitled to a free and appropriate education (FAPE).  Districts are responsible for creating an Individual Education Program (IEP) to ensure that students have access to, and make measurable progress in, the general curriculum to the greatest extent possible.  The purpose of this project is to assist Lamar County Shared Service Arrangement (LCSSA) with completing a review of IEPs and subsequent recommendations for developing a comprehensive professional development plan. Quantitative results from a descriptive review of IEP plans will provide an overview of the research problem and qualitative results from focus groups will assist with explaining professional development needs. Data will be collected in two phases: (1) a descriptive review of de-identified IEP plans and (2) focus groups including a sample of educators to expand on findings from the descriptive reviewand to contextualize participants’ responses. Qualitative and quantitative data will be triangulated to reinforce the validity of the constructs. After reviewing findings, the research team will create a comprehensive professional development plan and locate or develop tools for measuring the success of the professional development program. This work has the potential to better articulate the needs of rural school divisions’ IEP design, implementation, and progress monitoring procedures.

A Toolkit for the Authentic Implementation of Restorative Justice
Principal Investigator: Olivia Marcucci (Washington University in St. Louis
Educational Entity: Man of Valor, Inc

Most American schools—particularly predominately Black ones—use exclusionary practices to address student behavior. These highly punitive and exclusionary practices have lifelong impacts on students. An alternative to this punitive philosophy—restorative justice—has come to American schools in recent decades. While restorative justice has tremendous potential, it is already being coopted to reinforce schools’ dominant punitive philosophies and/or is implemented without proper training. Man of Valor, Inc., the non-profit agency that runs two of the restorative justice-spaces at University City High School (UCHS) in St. Louis, Missouri, is interested in how to authentically implement restorative justice. This service project strives to augment the productive ways that Man of Valor facilitators and students use restorative justice, as well as to eliminate the unproductive ways that facilitators and students distort restorative justice. The data collected would take four central forms: field notes, interviews, student-researcher focus groups, and video data. These qualitative methods are ideal for the study of cultural processes and organizational change. The collaboration will lead to a tool kit, including a training manual of restorative interactional practices and video examples, that can be used for training new facilitators, future funding searches, and logic model expansions for Man of Valor.

Enhancing Public School Leadership Capacity for Evidence-Based Decision Making Through Education Research Service Project (ERSP)
Principal Investigator: Xiaoxia Newton (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
Educational Entity: The Career Academy

The Full Service Community School Initiative (FSCSI) intends to transform the Career Academy of Lowell Public Schools into a full service community school that provides a range of on-site academic, occupational, social, and health services through collaborative efforts between Lowell Public Schools (LPS) and multiple community partners. Given the complexity and comprehensiveness of the FSCSI, decision-making based on data evidence is an integral component of FSCSI. This Education Research Service Project (ERSP) intends to address three critical needs of the school and community stakeholders who are engaged in FSCSI, including: (1) the need to think about how and what types of data we could use to track the implementation of the initiative and its impact on students, families, and community members, (2) the need to have formative evaluation information on how different partnerships are working together (e.g., indicators of successes, areas that need strengthening among the partnerships, etc.), and (3) the need to build a database infrastructure for tracking and linking different types of data. The goal of the ERSP is to enhance local public school leadership’s capacity for evidence-based decision making by working collaboratively to address the three critical needs that are central to the success of the FSCS.

ctional practices and video examples, that can be used for training new facilitators, future funding searches, and logic model expansions for Man of Valor.

Examining the Effectiveness of Biliterate Reading/Writing Strategies in a Two-Way Bilingual Program
Principal Investigators: Ana Solano-Campos (University of Massachusetts-Boston) and Meg Burns (Lesley University)
Educational Entity: Mario Umana Academy

This study will examine the effectiveness of the “Lotta Lara” and “theDictado” strategies (Escamilla et al., 2014) to develop the biliteracy of students at the Mario Umana Academy, the only dual language school in East Boston. The dual language program at the Umana, which is a Two-Way Immersion program, started its fourth year of implementation in Fall 2017, serving children in K-3. Students at the Umana are predominantly Latinx learners, over 50 percent of whom are classified as English Language Learners. The partners wonder: Are “Lotta Lara” and “theDictado” effective strategies to support our students’ literacy in both Spanish and English? How do we go about successfully implementing these strategies within and across grade levels? How can we determine that the strategies are effective and whether we should implement them school-wide as the program grows? The researchers will help the faculty to collect and analyze data on the implementation of Lotta Lara/theDictado to aid their decision-making. Specifically, the researchers will a) model the strategies and train teachers to implement Lotta Lara and theDictado in their classrooms; b) support lesson planning to integrate strategies with culturally sustaining children’s literature; c)conduct classroom visits to support teachers in improving their execution of the strategies before starting data collection; d) conduct observations, grade level meetings, focus groups and interviews with the participating teachers to identify and addressimplementation challenges; e) conduct one pre and one post-assessment to determine student reading/writing development; f) collect and analyze samples of student work to determine progress over time. The findings from this research will benefit not only the study site; they will also inform the growing literature on the promise of strategies that integrate oracy, reading, and writing skills.

Abstracts for 2017 Awards

Learning Stories from a One-Room Schoolhouse: A Place-Based Research and Service Project
Principal Investigators: Michael Bowman (Iowa State University), Jennifer Gallagher (Iowa State University), and Sarah Pamperin (Iowa State University)
Educational Entity: West Des Moines Historical Society

This project will collect the educational stories (“learning stories”) of the teachers, students, and families of the Bennett School, a one-room schoolhouse in operation from 1926 to 1941 that has been preserved by the West Des Moines Historical Society (WDMHS). Then a sparsely-populated farming community ten miles from Des Moines, the area is now a rapidly-growing suburb, with an increasingly diverse population. As Iowa begins implementation of a new set of social studies standards that places new emphasis on local, state, and regional history, the partners ask: how can we connect the joys and struggles of the Bennett School’s students and families with the joys and struggles of today’s students and families? How can we connect (sub)urban students to this place’s once-rural past? The research team will help WDMHS assess previously-collected data on teachers’ current and prospective use of the Bennett School; engage in archival research to collect ‘learning stories’ from the Bennett School and surrounding communities; create and disseminate two or three place-based and inquiry-based modules to Central Iowa teachers; host a professional development session around these modules; and support the development of surveys of teacher and student learning from these modules.

Closing the Excellence Gap: Understanding How to Promote High Achievement with Students from Underserved Populations
Principal Investigators: Carla B. Brigandi (West Virginia University) and Karen E. Rambo-Hernandez (West Virginia University)
Educational Entity: Health Sciences and Technology Academy

High-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice to drop out of school as likely as their more advantaged peers, more likely to lose ground as they move forward in their schooling, and less likely to attend or graduate from college. The Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) is a non-profit West Virginia-based community/campus partnership that helps vulnerable students become successful in college and STEM professions. Data collected over the past 20 years indicate students who complete the HSTA interventions are more likely to attend and graduate from college, more likely to enter STEM fields, and typically earn a salary considerably higher than that of their parents. Unfortunately, 44% of students who enter the HSTA intervention fail to complete the program. The purpose of this research is to (a) identify risk factors for students who do not complete the intervention and (b) inform the development of interventions to mitigate these risk factors. Extensive existing data collected from HSTA participants will be analyzed to identify potential differences between completers and non-completers and inform interventions to reduce HSTA attrition. These findings will then be used to leverage additional support for HSTA and the continuation of research activity, specifically implementation.

Parental Engagement in a Large, Urban School District for Students with Disabilities, English Language Learners, and Students at Risk for Academic Failure
Principal Investigator: Elizabeth D. Cramer (Florida International University)
Educational Entity: Miami-Dade County Public Schools

In November 2016, Miami-Dade County Public Schools implemented Parents-Helping-Parents (PHP) in 37 targeted schools, focused on students with disabilities, English Language Learners and students at risk for academic failure. The district collected pre-assessment data from principals and family support specialists (FSS) focused predominantly on the types of training that were needed for school staff and parents. The proposed project will extend this research via a satisfaction survey of the implementation of the PHP Project from administrators, FSS, teachers, and parents. These data in conjunction with the data collected by the PHP Project will guide recommendations for district personnel and administrators as to what further supports are necessary for PHP to be successfully implemented. This project will support the district in examining the implementation of PHP from the perspectives of three groups: administrators, FSS, and parents. Through open-ended surveys, the researchers will identify the needs of teachers and administrators and work with the district to design necessary professional developments and make recommendations for PHP implementation. The results will also be used to help shape educator and administrator preparation at the university level.

Raising Voices: Strategies to Understand, Respect, and Make Heard the Experiences and Perspectives of LGBTQA+ Marginalized Youth
Principal Investigators: Barbara Denis (Indiana University, Bloomington) and Suraj Uttamchandani (Indiana University, Bloomington), with Laura Ingram (Prism Youth Community), Spencer Biery (Indiana University, Bloomington), Aubrie Blauvelt (Indiana University, Bloomington), and Piper Lacy (Indiana University, Bloomington).
Educational Entity: Prism Youth Community

The Prism Youth Community, a youth-led organization of/for LGBTQ kids from south central Indiana, engages in cultural competency trainings for educators and other youth-serving professionals. The Education and Training (E&T) Committee of Prism is responsible for preparing, planning and delivering a variety of educational trainings related to the needs and experiences of queer youth. The youth-educators draw on their own experiences and engage in their own reviews of the literature to create the trainings. There is a need for more training and materials relevant to the experiences and needs of marginalized youth within the LGBTQ community, for example, transgender kids in foster care. Prism’s E&T committee will conduct interviews and focus groups with more vulnerable members of the larger LGBTQ community and create materials that the youth educators can share through their educational trainings. The E&T committee has already been working with the PIs to evaluate their trainings. This project will draw on this relationship as it prepares youth to engage in direct research aimed at sharing the un-voiced experiences of marginalized youth with social workers, psychologists, teachers, and others involved with youth. The materials created will be shared at a community-wide education event hosted by Prism E&T.

Impact of DCPS Study Abroad on Student Engagement, Learning, and Civic Identity
Principal Investigator: Laura Engel (The George Washington University)
Educational Entity: District of Columbia Public Schools

In 2016, the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) launched an innovative global education program, sending 380 8th and 11th grade students and 44 educators overseas on fully funded study abroad experiences, with plans underway to send 500 students abroad in the summer 2017. While other U.S. districts and schools have provided some study abroad opportunities, DCPS study abroad is a unique initiative given its scale, provided funding, and focus on enhancing equity by targeting all students to study abroad regardless of socio-economic status, gender, or ethnic background. In support of DCPS goals and needs, the PI serves as the lead researcher conducting annual case studies to determine the impacts of the study abroad experience on student engagement, learning, and civic identity or worldview. This project will provide support for the 2017 case study. Key aspects of this work include: 1) designing, developing and implementing an annual study of the DCPS study abroad program; 2) providing syntheses of research relevant to the DCPS Global Education Advisory Committee; and 3) disseminating results of the research to help inform future DCPS global education initiatives and address a notable gap in studies of global education and study abroad among secondary school students.

Racial Equity and Diversity (READ) Curriculum: Grassroots Collectives for Social Justice
Principal Investigators: Mona M. Jenkins (University of Cincinnati), Brittany Aronson (Miami University), and Rachel Radina (Miami University)
Educational Entity: Black Lives Matter Cincinnati

Black Lives Matter Cincinnati is a community-based grassroots movement organized to fight for Black liberation and to improve local neighborhoods by defending the rights of oppressed populations. In an effort to provide a space where children can engage in discussions about race and racism in their own lives and explore their understanding of social justice, Black Lives Matter Cincinnati developed a K-2 curriculum program called Racial Equity and Diversity (READ). The goal of the six-week reading program is to promote racial equity and to encourage children to initiate an active role in changing their communities. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the implementation of the program and to ensure the curriculum is meeting Ohio State Social Studies Standards. The researchers will analyze field notes, observations, and student work samples to recommend best practice strategies for racial justice and to determine what additional support may be necessary for the program to achieve the desired outcomes of empowerment and racial empathy. The results of the project will not only assist Black Lives Matter Cincinnati with improving the program, it will also aid in identifying specific neighborhood concerns that may require further community engagement and collective action.

Expanding the Use of Assessment and Evaluation in a Community-Based College Access and Preparation Program
Principal Investigator: Darris R. Means (University of Georgia)
Educational Entity: College Factory

The College Factory is a non-profit organization in Athens, Georgia that has the mission to build upon the existing college-going culture in the community by increasing out-of-school opportunities for youth and their families to prepare for and enroll in higher education. In 2017, The College Factory launched a new program, Go Succeed, that matches eleventh grade students with a postsecondary education coach, a trained volunteer who is a college student and/or local community member, to provide postsecondary education mentoring through regular one-on-one meetings until the student’s high school graduation. Students also participate in year-round postsecondary education workshops. For this project, the principal investigator will: (a) develop formative assessment instruments to provide ongoing feedback for coaches to improve their advising and to provide ongoing feedback to improve the workshops, as well as develop formative assessment instruments that focus on student participants’ postsecondary education knowledge; (b) develop summative assessment instruments to understand the effectiveness of Go Succeed; and (c) design and implement an evaluation study of the newly instituted Go Succeed program, using summative assessment data, focus group interviews with student participants, one-on-one interviews with postsecondary education coaches, and field observations of the postsecondary education workshops.

Interrupting the Internalization of Inequality
Principal Investigator: Leigh Patel (Boston College)
Educational Entity: Youth in Action and Pittsfield Listens

This proposal supports a participatory evaluation process of two social location spaces in Providence, Rhode Island, and Pittsfield, New Hampshire. The social location space is a pedagogical tool for disrupting the internalization of social inequality in youth populations. Through images, quotes, and statistics, the social location space prioritizes a structural and intersectional analysis of social injustices that young people may experience in their communities. The social location space makes plain the structural underpinnings of inequality by providing an alternative reading of the world that accounts for historical and political legacies that create present-day inequalities. Both organizations have begun using participatory approaches to evaluate their work, but additional support is needed to systematically investigate the spaces’ assets and areas for improvement. The researchers will coach and support young people with creating their own evaluation. Through this evaluation, youth researchers from both sites will be coached in answering: what components of the social location space are essential for an intersectional analysis of structural inequality, and what components can be altered to meet a community’s needs? Concomitantly, how do they make meaning across these similarities and differences?

The Fierce Urgency of Now: Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy
Principal Investigators: Alysia D. Roehrig (Florida State University) and Kristal Moore Clemons (Florida State University)
Educational Entity: North Florida Freedom Schools

This project will serve the needs of North Florida Freedom Schools (NFFS) as it implements its summer camps, which provide opportunities for K–8 black students to empower themselves through a culturally relevant reading curriculum and social action project to make a difference in their communities. The project has two goals: (1) build the capacity of NFFS to serve its scholars through program evaluation, and (2) explore black students’ strengths while they interact with a culturally relevant literacy curriculum and develop as social activists. The research will be conducted at NFFS summer camps primarily using qualitative methods, including interviews with students, parents, volunteers, and teachers, as well as observations and document analysis. In the same way that deficit literature seems to breed more of the same, success literature will yield more successes. Thus, the outcomes of this project will include turning the microscope on successes and empowering students, while also providing opportunities for them to shine and further develop their skills. It will help NFFS achieve sustainability by collecting and documenting program evaluation data—including results of reading assessments and surveys—into a report to be shared with donors to and used to secure major grants.

Examining Latino Families' Language Access and Participation in their Children's IEP Meetings
Principal Investigator: Zachary Rossetti (Boston University)
Educational Entity: Federation for Children with Special Needs

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all parents of eligible students with disabilities have the right to collaborate as equal members of educational teams in the development and implementation of their children’s Individualized Education Programs (IEP). However, extant research has consistently shown that the federal mandate is not being met for all families. Additionally, there are significant differences in family engagement in the IEP process by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Parent Training and Information Centers (PTI) are federally funded agencies in each state designed to educate and empower primarily culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families of eligible children with disabilities to advocate for their children. PTIs provide free information and training about disabilities, families’ rights under IDEA and other relevant laws, and local and national resources. The Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN), which houses the PTI in Massachusetts, is implementing an action plan to expand their outreach to underserved and CLD families. In collaboration with the FCSN, this project will document and examine the experiences of Latino families in their children’s IEP meetings. Data will be collected through semi-structured focus group interviews and a formal measure of family-professional partnerships.

Developing Local Literacies with Middle and High School Refugee Youth
Principal Investigator: Dr. Carrie Symons (Michigan State University), with Christina Ponzio (Michigan State University)
Educational Entity: Refugee Development Center

Each year, nearly 600 refugees settle in Lansing, Michigan, which is home to roughly 20,000 refugees of diverse language and ethnic groups. Refugee youth, in particular, are faced with many challenges; to successfully transition into U.S. schools, these students need to learn English while quickly adapting to the local community and culture. Schools alone cannot provide the support needed to ensure refugee youth’s success. Nonprofit organizations, such as the Refugee Development Center (RDC), are vital to refugee youth resettlement. The RDC sponsors many programs, including a five-week summer school, but has not had the time or resources to systematically evaluate the strengths and needs of their summer program, specifically how it supports immigrant youths’ literacy and language development. With this project, the research team will collaborate with the RDC to conduct a needs assessment. This assessment will enable the MSU research team to build their knowledge of the RDC’s summer school program, as well as the broader refugee community, and establish a foundation for a long-term, reciprocal research-practice partnership. This study will also benefit out-of-school programs more generally, which rely upon volunteers to provide out-of-school learning experiences that support immigrant youth in their social-emotional well-being, language development, and academic achievement.

Abstracts for 2016 Awards

Least Restrictive Environments and Achievement for Students with Disabilities in a Large, Urban School District
Principal Investigator: Elizabeth D. Cramer (Florida International University)
Educational Entity: Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Federal laws mandate that students with disabilities have access to the same curriculum and standards-based instruction as their nondisabled peers, but inclusion rates in urban districts lag behind national averages. Research suggests that access to the general education curriculum through inclusive programs has several potential educational and social benefits, yet lower academic achievement among students with disabilities and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds persists. Miami-Dade County Public Schools used an evaluation tool to target 56 schools and provide recommendations for administrators on best practices to increase inclusion and achievement for students with disabilities. However, there has been no systematic follow up to determine if the practices have been implemented and what further supports are necessary. This project will examine the inclusion and achievement rates of these schools in the years following and conduct a needs assessment of what types of supports and trainings are necessary to support teachers and administrators to provide the least restrictive environment. Through surveys, the researchers will identify the needs of teachers and administrators and work with the district to design necessary professional developments and supports. The results will also be used to help shape educator and administrator preparation at the university level.

A Bilingual Kids’ Café: Addressing Nutrition Education, Food Insecurity, and Food Literacies in a North Georgia Community
Principal Investigators: Denise Dávila (The University of Nevada Las Vegas) and Stephanie Jones (The University of Georgia)
Educational Entity: Food Bank of Northeast Georgia

This project supports the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia’s “Kids' Cafe program.” The primary objectives are to understand how to engage youth in productive nutrition and health education learning experiences and to document the impact that food-inclusive programs have on children in a low-income African American and Hispanic/Latino neighborhood. This project will occur at an informal, community-based learning center that Dr. Stephanie Jones, whose academic career has focused on improving the experiences of working-class and poor children, has directed since 2013. It will be facilitated by Dr. Denise Dávila who has been studying the introduction of fruits and vegetables at the center via relevant children’s literature and cooking activities. She will implement an intensive summer bilingual Kids' Cafe program and will collaborate with a research assistant to continue with weekly after-school classes once school resumes. In addition to selecting and preparing foods, children will document their daily eating experiences. Data collection will begin in the summer and continue throughout the year. The anticipated outcomes will have an immediate impact on the local community and will directly inform the outreach efforts of the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and other food banks across the state and nation.

Austin Early Childhood Collaborative
Principal Investigator: Samina Hadi-Tabassum (Northern Illinois University)
Educational Entity: Austin Coming Together

The Austin Early Childhood Collaborative (AECC) is located in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, a lower-income Black community with increasing rates of poverty and crime. The AECC sits under the umbrella of ACT (Austin Coming Together)—a community organization that seeks to build a stronger P-3 pipeline so children in Austin are on grade level by the 3rd grade. This project seeks to answer the following research questions: (1) What needs must be met by preschool children before they enter Kindergarten? (2) How can systems be created to measure that degree of kindergarten readiness across all early childhood centers in Austin.? (3) What do children in Austin need to meet CPS benchmarks in ELA and Math by the third grade? The project will include interviews with instructional leaders in 22 local public and private elementary schools, focus groups and the analysis of official documents in order to answer the research questions. The results of the research will be presented to the Austin community through a town hall meeting in Fall 2017 and at the 2017 AECC Early Childhood Symposium, in which hundreds of educators in Austin convene for professional development.

Creative Corridor Center for Equity’s Focus Project
Principal Investigators: Deanna Hill and Kristine Lewis Grant (Drexel University)
Educational Entities: Creative Corridor Center for Equity (C3E), Iowa City Community School District, Cedar Rapids Community School District, Linn-Mar Community School District, and Waterloo Community School District

This project will support research for the Creative Corridor Center for Equity and four school districts that are partnering on their Focus project. Focus is designed to support the recruitment and retention of teachers of color. The purpose of this study is to better understand how teachers of color in the four districts experience their schools, districts, and communities and how those experiences influence their retention, migration, and attrition. The findings will immediately inform the districts’ strategies for recruiting and retaining teachers of color. While the study is not intended to be generalizable, it will add to a small but growing body of literature on the retention of teachers of color in non-urban contexts.

Identifying the Professional Development Needs of Rural Educators to Enhance School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
Principal Investigator: Brittany L. Hott (Texas A&M-Commerce)
Educational Entity: Lamar County Shared Service Arrangement

School-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) refer to a set of strategies that assist students with meeting social and behavioral expectations. The purpose of this project is to assist Lamar County Shared Service Arrangement (LCSSA) with completing a needs assessment and subsequent recommendations for developing a comprehensive professional development plan at the district and school levels. Quantitative results from the Effective Behavior Support (EBS) will provide an overview of the research problem and qualitative results from open-ended questions and follow-up focus groups will assist with explaining PBIS needs. Data will be collected in two phases: (1) an electronic survey of educators involved with PBIS initiatives, and (2) focus groups including a sample of educators to expand on findings from the survey and to contextualize participants’ responses. Qualitative and quantitative data will be triangulated to reinforce the validity of the constructs. After reviewing the needs assessment results, the research team will create a comprehensive professional development plan and locate or develop tools for measuring the success of the professional development program. This work has the potential to better articulate the needs of rural school divisions’ PBIS design, implementation, and data collection procedures.

Exploring Individual Impacts and Documenting Collective Voice at the Youth Bike Summit
Principal Investigator: Allison H. Mattheis (California State University, Los Angeles)
Educational Entity: Recycle-A-Bicycle

Recycle-A-Bicycle (RAB) seeks to develop young people’s leadership capacities and creative energies to advocate for themselves and their communities in policy conversations about transportation access, street safety for pedestrians and cyclists, and city planning. RAB sponsors the Youth Bike Summit, an annual three‐day national conference that brings together stakeholders – including educators, students, and policymakers – to engage around youth, bicycles, education, and advocacy. Attendees are involved in activities in their local communities year‐round that promote equitable transit options, encourage youth academic success and teach bicycle construction and repair. This project will explore the impact of participation in the Youth Bike Summit and related local activities through an ethnographic research project led by youth and informed by transformative critical approaches. A team of youth researchers from ten organizations around the country will be identified and trained in ethnographic research methods. They will collect data locally in their communities and collaborate at the national meeting of the Youth Bike Summit to conduct additional observations and focus groups. Findings from this study will be published by youth in an online blog, in a formal report to the organization’s steering committee, and in an outreach brief for transportation advocacy organizations.

An Analysis of Teachers' Career Paths in Arizona: Retention, Mobility and Attrition
Principal Investigators: Jeanne M. Powers and Margarita Pivovarova (Arizona State University)
Educational Entity: Arizona Department of Education

To address increasing public concern about the high turnover rate of teachers in Arizona schools and districts and the challenges this lack of stability creates for schools, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) created the Educator Recruitment and Retention Task Force. In its initial report, the task force identified a need for additional, high-quality research on this issue. This project will help ADE better understand teachers’ career paths and the factors affecting teachers’ decision to continue teaching or leave the profession. The research team will conduct a systematic analysis of teacher retention and attrition patterns using longitudinal data collected by ADE over the last five years, build a model of teacher retention based on that analysis, and provide policy-relevant recommendations. The research team will also create a usable database that can be updated annually to allow ADE, the research team, and partner researchers to track changes in patterns of teacher retention and attrition over time and to evaluate programs aimed at increasing teacher retention. Overall, this project will build the capacity of the ADE to monitor and react to changes in the teacher labor force, and implement strategies aimed at reducing the current low retention rates in Arizona’s public schools.

Effective Screening in Kindergarten: Partnering to Assess Behavioral and Academic Readiness to Learn Principal Investigators: Maria Rogers (University of Ottawa) and Robert Volpe (Northeastern University)
Educational Entity: Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Class-wide screening of academic and behavioral readiness in kindergarten is a critical first step in planning effective early intervention and prevention efforts in schools. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is dedicated to the early identification of at-risk learners to avoid the “wait-to-fail” approach that is all too common. In an attempt to employ evidence-based kindergarten screening practices that are both rigorous and acceptable by those stakeholders involved, the OCDSB is partnering with Dr. Maria Rogers and Dr. Robert Volpe in a two part screening project. Part I involves the use of advanced statistical techniques (longitudinal path analyses) to assess if current OCDSB practices are effective in identifying learning practices are effective in identifying learning problems from school entry to the end of Senior Kindergarten. This will involve the analysis of existing data on over 500 children from 17 elementary schools. Part II involves taking the findings from these analyses, together with a critical and current review of the literature, and providing evidence-based and sustainable recommendations for the OCDSB Early Learning Team. The goal of this partnership is to facilitate targeted prevention and intervention programs by effectively identifying students at risk for learning and behavioral problems.

A S.E.L.F. Evaluation
Principal Investigators: Anita M. Wells and Amber B. Hodges (Morgan State University)
Educational Entity: Sisters Empowered to be Leaders for the Future (S.E.L.F.) Program

The purpose of this ERSP is to evaluate the efficacy and delivery of the Sisters Empowered to be Leaders for the Future (S.E.L.F.) Program, which serves predominantly African American and Latina fifth to eight grade girls of low SES in Anne Arundel County Maryland. The aims of the project are to increase awareness of S.E.L.F. and the need for this type of programming for girls among educators in the county public schools and the state Title I office, collect data for use in expanding the program, and enhance the standardization of the program for replication in other schools and counties. The collaborative research team will develop measures to collect pre-, mid-way, and post-data from 20 girls participating in the program during the academic year, their teachers and their parents; will conduct focus groups with up to 10 and collect follow-up survey data from up to 40 graduates of the program; and the university researchers will conduct formative and summative assessments of the program practices. Data will be disseminated through reports and presentations to administrators and service providers in the target schools, Title I administrators, parents and the larger education and social science community.

Professional Development Needs of Black, Christian Teachers in the Service of LGBTQIA Youth
Principal Investigator: Ashley N. Woodson (University of Pittsburgh)
Educational Entity: Saginaw MAX Systems of Care

Saginaw MAX Systems of Care (MAX), a community-based mental health initiative for high school aged youth, is seeking to increase services and supports provided to LGBTQIA students. The staff are currently assessing community needs in relation to LGBTQIA students and recommending evidence-based practices for serving this population. While these efforts have been broadly successful, MAX staff hope to enhance their work with local Black, Christian teachers. The proposed partnership will assess how teachers’ social identities influence responsiveness to LGBTQIA-specific content and draw on these data to produce an evidence-based practice guide for teaching LGBTQIA youth. These aims will be pursued through a district wide survey; focus groups and individual interviews with Black, Christian teachers; and a review of existing literature on school-based supports for LGBTQIA youth. Data and the guide will be used to directly inform MAX services and interventions, and will be made accessible through various platforms to other community and research agencies.

Developing Professional Development for K-12 Teachers and School Leaders in Response to the Growing Suburban Diversity
Principal Investigator: Judy W. Yu (REACH)
Educational Entity: ERASE Racism

Today, minority students make up 51% of the student enrollment in America’s K-12 public schools. Yet, there has been a dearth of educational research that has examined the increase of the racial and ethnic diversity in America’s K-12 suburban schools and its impact on students’ academic and social future. Teacher education research illustrates that the outcome of student success is dependent on the quality of teachers and its response to minority students’ need for culturally relevant curriculum and pedagogy. The purpose of this study is to assess two Long Island school districts’ current professional development for their K-12 teachers and administrators to examine student diversity and to explore ways that school districts can develop culturally responsive curriculum and pedagogy for their student population. The goals of this research are as follows: 1) Assess the strengths and the challenges of professional development in student diversity for K-12 teachers and administrators in Long Island public schools, 2) Provide key recommendations on the best practices of professional development for teachers and administrators to develop culturally responsive curriculum and pedagogy for all K-12 students.

Abstracts for 2015 Awards

Professional Development Needs of Special Educators to Fully Implement the Mathematics and Language Arts Florida Standards for Students with Disabilities
Principal Investigator: Elizabeth D. Cramer (Florida International University)
Educational Entity: Miami-Dade County Public Schools

School districts around the nation are currently engaging in planning and implementing the new Common Core State Standards. In Florida, districts were required to begin implementation of the new Mathematics Florida Standards and Language Arts Florida Standards in August 2014; however, preparing teachers for this implementation did not necessarily occur. Currently, there is a lack of information and research on effective implementation of these standards, particularly for students with disabilities. The results of a recent survey in the largest school district in Florida show that special educators have not received adequate training to implement these standards, nor do they feel that their students will be able to effectively meet the new standards. This project will support that large, diverse urban school district in conducting a needs assessment of what types of supports and trainings are necessary to effectively prepare teachers to implement the Florida Standards for students with disabilities. Through the use of focus groups throughout the county, the researchers will identify the needs of teachers and then work with the district to design necessary professional developments and supports. The results will also be used to help shape educator preparation at the university level to prepare teachers for standards-based instruction.



Refugee Teens as Successful Agents: Leveraging Refugees’ Agentive Choices to Improve Academic Support in After-school ProgramsPrincipal Investigator: Shannon M. Daniel (Vanderbilt University)
Educational Entity: Journey


Most research on refugee teens emphasizes their struggles and needs, particularly regarding their marginalization in school and society. In turn, after-school programs designed to support refugee teens have focused on supporting students emotionally through storytelling from their home countries and community building within the programs. Two gaps remain in the research: (1) how recently resettled refugee teens navigate their first years in the U.S. to achieve academically, and (2) how after-school programs can support students academically, not just emotionally. Through interviews and observations of refugee teens, this project will highlight refugee teens’ agentive practices for success in their first years in the United States. Data analysis will be used to responsively design game-like activities that will engage students in practicing academic skills during their time in Journey, an after-school refugee youth services program. Design of academically supportive activities will be co-constructed with Journey leaders over the summer, and these new activities will be implemented in fall. Further data collection and analysis will identify areas for refinement, and Journey coordinators will implement with less researcher support in spring. Identifying refugee teens’ promising practices and dispositions is a first step in developing academic support activities that leverage their strengths and interests.



Portraits of Prison-Connected Youth: Analyzing the Impact of Support Programs for Children of Incarcerated ParentsPrincipal Investigator: Alyssa Hadley Dunn (Michigan State University)
Educational Entity: Foreverfamily, Inc.


Each year, nearly 2.5 million U.S. children have a parent imprisoned, for a total of 10 million youth who have experienced parental incarceration at some point during their childhood. Few initiatives exist to support these children and their families, and little is known about if and how programs can be designed to improve educational outcomes for such youth. Foreverfamily, Inc. (Ff) supports children of incarcerated parents through family prison visitation, youth leadership programs, and after-school tutoring, with the aim of improving personal and educational outcomes, but has had limited opportunity to gather and utilize data about their impact on current youth and alumni. The research team will work with Ff staff to collect, analyze, and make use of youth’s stories. This project will: (1) use portraiture methodology to collect portraits of Ff alumni and current participants to document Foreverfamily’s impact on youth’s educational outcomes and sense of empowerment; (2) compare this qualitative data to existing quantitative data to create improved evaluation measures and programming for Foreverfamily; and (3) support development of a digital portrait archive that combines narrative and visual portraits, peer-reviewed manuscripts, and applications for larger grants to fund long-term organizational objectives.



The GYO Community Voices ProjectPrincipal Investigator: Conra D. Gist (University of Arkansas)
Educational Entity: Grow Your Own Teachers Illinois


An often-overlooked approach to increasing the pool of quality teachers is creating professional pipelines for people of color with deeply rooted investments in school communities to enter the teaching profession. Grow Your Own (GYO) Illinois is a nonprofit organization that focuses on the recruitment of teachers of color from these types of communities. One challenge for the program is conveying the value this subset of teachers adds to schools and local communities beyond student achievement gains. This study will address this problem by establishing the GYO Community Voices Project, which will collect a series of written testimonial portraits from GYO teachers serving in communities to develop qualitative maps of unseen resources and strengths being invested in schools and local communities. The research project is centered on lifting the voices of teachers of color to speak the truth about the ways in which they work to be change agents in their communities. Commonly utilized metrics for assessing teacher quality frequently shut out their voices and ignore their contributions to schools and local communities. This research study challenges this silencing by collecting their testimonies to combat deficit perspectives on the value community-based teachers of color add to the teaching profession.



Sustaining Navajo Knowledge for Navajo Youth and CommunitiesPrincipal Investigator: Tiffany S. Lee (University of New Mexico)
Educational Entity: The Navajo Studies Conference, Inc.


The Navajo Nation has a very large population of young people, yet the cultural knowledge and wealth of the Nation is held with the elderly Navajo, many of whom only speak Navajo and maintain traditional Navajo lifestyles. The Navajo Studies Conference, Inc (NSCI) is a non-profit organization, which coordinates symposiums and conferences to share research, knowledge, traditional skills, and perspectives of Navajo people and their allies in an effort to inspire the critical consciousness and awareness of Navajo people toward positive transformative change. Through a phenomenological methodology, this project will 1) collect the stories, research, and perspectives of the lived experiences of Navajo people shared at the 20th Navajo Studies Conference, 2) analyze the material with the NSCI Board to identify themes of knowledge shared, and 3) translate the material thematically organized into a curriculum package of print and digital material for schools and communities across the Navajo Nation. Assessment of the impact of the material will follow. The package provides an original source of Navajo-centered curriculum and material for educators and communities, which is grounded in the current knowledge-base, perspectives, and experiences of Navajo people.


Initiatives Adopted by School Leaders in New York City Public Schools to Promote the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities: A Family Focus
Principal Investigator: Srikala Naraian (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Educational Entity: Parents for Inclusive Education

In 2010, the New York City Department of Education introduced a set of measures directly targeted at the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education environments. While some schools are achieving recognition for their successful approaches to inclusion, others are only weakly meeting the fundamental goal of enabling students with disabilities to become integral members of their school communities. Given this disparity, the experience of students with disabilities and their families remains hugely unpredictable, leaving them with very few options to influence their school communities. Parents for Inclusive Education (PIE) works to ensure that all students with disabilities in New York City public schools have access to meaningful inclusive educational opportunities. For this project, PIE and the researcher will jointly conduct interviews with school leaders, families and teachers from 5-7 schools selected on the basis of collaboratively determined criteria. The aim of this project is to gather and disseminate information about school-wide procedures and practices that are currently being implemented in different schools to promote inclusion. PIE expects that such information will equip and empower families to negotiate with school leaders to ensure that their children with disabilities have access to inclusive educational opportunities.



Developing Strategies for Using Early Warning Indicators to Improve College Readiness in St. Louis Public SchoolsPrincipal Investigator: Takako Nomi (Saint Louis University)
Educational Entity: St. Louis Public Schools Foundation


In the St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS), only 52.6% of students graduated from high school in 2011, compared to the national average of above 80%. To improve high school graduation and increase college and career readiness, an increasing number of districts and states around the country have begun adopting the early warning indicators system. This tool identifies students in 9th grade or earlier who are at high risk of dropping out of high school in later years and allows schools and districts to offer early targeted interventions. SLPS is now considering implementing an early warning indicators system. The goal of this project is to assist the district to develop the early warning indicators system and effectively implement the tool by providing research expertise. The Saint Louis University faculty will work with the district through partnership with the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation. The foundation focuses on educational success of SLPS students and works closely with the district in strategic areas (e.g., college readiness) identified by the district superintendent. The university partnership with the Foundation will facilitate the implementation of research-based programs in the district.



Examination of Do the Write Thing Challenge Program in El Paso, TXPrincipal Investigator: Sarah Peterson (University of Texas at El Paso)
Educational Entity: Do the Write Thing Challenge Program – El Paso


This project will examine Do the Write Thing, a school-based program that provides opportunities for students to discuss and write about their experiences with violence, with the goal of making a personal commitment to help reduce violence in their schools and communities. The head of the Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee of Do the Write Thing in El Paso, TX, has requested a partnership with research faculty at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to conduct the study. Mixed methods will be used to collect and analyze data via surveys and interviews with students and teachers participating in Do the Write Thing in El Paso, which borders Cd. Juarez, Mexico. The goals are to (a) provide the local program with much-needed data by examining the impact of the program on students and teachers and identifying program elements, such as classroom discussions and essay writing, that are most effective, (b) provide results and a research protocol that can be used to inform and evaluate programs in 26 other cities in the U.S. participating in the National Do the Write Thing Program, and (c) provide data that will leverage support for additional funding.



Understanding Social Processes that Foster Authentic Inquiry and Youth Development: An Analysis of the Chicago Metro History FairPrincipal Investigators: Charles Tocci, Leanne Kallemeyn, and Ann Marie Ryan (Loyola University Chicago)
Educational Entity: Chicago Metro History Education Center 


AIYD examines the role networks of student interactions with educators and community members play in generating academic results for high school students taking part in History Fair competitions. Previous analyses have shown that History Fair helps develop capable students and citizens, but these studies have not investigated the types of interactions, resources, and supports that contribute to positive outcomes.  AIYD takes a mixed‐methods approach analyzing the dynamic social interactions occurring through History Fair both in and out of school. To capture the complexity of these student experiences, we match social network analysis with case studies, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews. The results  will be used to directly inform CMHEC’s work as well as History Fair competitions across the country through research reports focused on: social interactions that support success in History Fair; student utilization of outside-of-school resources to support success in History Fair, and; a comparative examination of how demographically different students utilize social interactions and outside-of-school resources.



Serving Emerging Bilingual Elementary Students in a Small Urban Community: An Evaluation of a Literacy-Based After-School ProgramPrincipal Investigator: William T. Trent and Victor H. Perez (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Educational Entity: Champaign Unit #4 School District


This project is an evaluation of the SOAR (Student Opportunities for After-School Resources) Program, which serves emergent bilingual elementary students in grades 2-5. The program focuses on developing the reading and literacy skills of program participants and provides assistance with homework completion. While the program is highly regarded by several stakeholders, there has been no formal evaluation of the program to date. Therefore, administrators from the school have requested an evaluation in order to improve the program. In particular, they want to find out if the program model that is currently being implemented is aligned with research and best practices. The evaluation team will employ multiple methods to obtain information related to the SOAR program including: surveys, collecting student achievement data, observations, focus groups, interviews, and document review. The evaluation findings will help administrators and program staff address areas that can be improved and establish an annual evaluation of the program. Moreover, the evaluation team will present the findings to all identified stakeholders through reports, public presentations, and through academic journals and conferences. The findings will also help education professionals nationwide who work with emerging bilingual students understand the benefits and challenges associated with establishing a literacy-based after-school program.

Abstracts for 2014 Awards

Examining the Effectiveness of a Parent Leadership Support Training (PLST) in Special Education
Principal Investigator: Meghan M. Burke (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Educational Entity: Family Resource Center on Disabilities (FRCD) 

Many parents of children with disabilities want to partner with the school in order for their children to receive appropriate educational services. However, these parents face logistical and attitudinal barriers making it difficult to forge strong family-school partnerships. Such obstacles are exacerbated among minority and urban families. Nationally, agencies are developing training programs so individuals can learn about special education and positive parent-school communication. The Family Resource Center on Disabilities (FRCD) developed the Parent Leadership Support Training (PLST) so graduates from the training (i.e., Parent Leaders) can support families in navigating the school system. This project seeks to understand how Parent Leaders support marginalized families and whether, as a result of working with Parent Leaders, parents are more empowered, knowledgeable, and satisfied with special education services. To identify strategies used by Parent Leaders, 30 interviews will be conducted with the recent graduates of the PLST. Pre/post surveys will be distributed to 120 parents served by Parent Leaders to determine the effectiveness of those Parent Leaders. Formal measures will be used to determine whether Parent Leaders increase parental knowledge, empowerment, and satisfaction with educational services.


Building Data Driven Capacity in OST Programs: NYU and CHCF Research Partnership
Principal Investigators: Edward Fergus and Mellie Torres (New York University)
Educational Entity: Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc.

The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. (CHCF) is dedicated to combining education and advocacy to expand opportunities for children and families and strengthen the voice of the Latino community. Though CHCF maintains a long history of providing Out-of-School Time (OST) services, CHCF has not been able to ascertain research expertise to assist in building the capacity of monitoring OST impact. CHCF, in partnership with Dr. Edward Fergus, will seek to meet two goals: 1) implement new social and emotional survey measures into OST programs and conduct correlations with school outcomes (i.e., achievement and attendance); and 2) build capacity of OST staff and CHCF senior leadership in understanding relationship between social and emotional, and academic outcomes in order to improve programming and seek further funding opportunities. Fergus maintains a database of school based social and emotional survey measures such as academic engagement (i.e., relational, cognitive and behavioral engagement) and sense of safety (i.e., safety and safety avoidance), which will be incorporated into the practice of CHCF OST programs. The research team will support CHCF implementation of these measures and build their capacity to outline the impact model of their OST programs at an elementary school and a middle school in Bronx, NY.


Immigrant Families and Educational Access in a Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Faith Community
Principal Investigators: María Paula Ghiso (Teachers College, Columbia University) and Gerald Campano (University of Pennsylvania)
Educational Entity: Aquinas Center 

In circumstances of social and economic precarity, faith-based organizations and community centers play an anchoring role for many (im)migrant populations, especially those with undocumented status, and provide a space where diverse cultural groups come together. This collaborative research explores how Indonesian and Latino immigrant families, affiliated with a community center in a diverse faith context (Aquinas Center), work across cultural and linguistic boundaries to understand and address educational issues that impact all their children. The project has two broad goals: (1) to assist the Aquinas Center in better understanding the factors that inhibit or support Indonesian and Latino families’ efforts to navigate their children’s education; and (2) to provide opportunities for participatory research that can help families at the Aquinas Center co-inquire into issues affecting each community as well as identify shared experiences, concerns, and possible networks of support. This project will draw on practitioner research and participatory action research methodologies that foreground shared decision making and the perspectives, experiences, and goals of community members themselves. The intercultural inquiry group will design and conduct workshops to disseminate the insights of the collaborative research and facilitate educational access for neighborhood families.



Supporting Community Integration in a New Immigrant Destination: A Research and Service Partnership between the Pennsylvania State University and the Hazleton Integration ProjectPrincipal Investigator: Megan Hopkins (The Pennsylvania State University)
Educational Entity: The Hazleton Integration Project 



Demographic shifts across the U.S. have meant that communities with little history of cultural and linguistic diversity are, for the first time, experiencing dramatic increases in their immigrant populations. In one such new immigrant destination in Pennsylvania, the Hazleton One Community Center, operated by the Hazleton Integration Project, works to integrate and build positive relationships between Hazleton’s newcomer population and its long-standing white residents. The center’s afterschool program provides tutoring to children and youth, many of whom are English language learners, while affording opportunities for integration among diverse groups. The goals of this research and service partnership are fourfold: (1) to describe program demographics, (2) to assess how the program benefits participants academically and socially, (3) to examine the degree to which the program is working to achieve the center’s goal of integration, and (4) to use data to inform the development of the afterschool program and the design of collaborative programs that include the local schools, the community center, and the university. Members of the partnership will engage with program participants through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and program observations to understand how the program supports their academic and social needs and affords reciprocal linguistic and cultural learning experiences.


The Role of Mexican Culture and Spanish Language Maintenance in the Educational Needs and Advancement of Mexican 1.5 and Second Generation Youth in the Netherlands
Principal Investigator: Martha Montero-Sieburth (University of Amsterdam)
Educational Entity: Association of Mexicans and Friends of Mexico in the Netherlands 


This project seeks to study and understand the role that Mexican culture and Spanish language maintenance plays in the educational needs and advancement of Mexican 1.5 and 2nd generation youth who have either arrived as children and have been schooled in the Netherlands or were born in the Netherlands. It is not known whether these youth maintain strong ties to their culture or language and whether that helps or hinders their integration and adaption into Dutch society. The proposed one year mixed methods study will: 1) identify who such youth are and what they identify with, 2) what their educational needs are, 3) how they are experiencing being tracked into university, general, or vocational education, 4) what their social and linguistic integration into Dutch society is like, and 5) what the role of Mexican culture and use of Spanish is in their lives. Data would be gathered through an on-line questionnaire and focus groups with Mexican youth. The findings will reflect the types of educational opportunities, obstacles, and challenges faced by these youth will inform the development of Mexican cultural and linguistic maintenance programs and activities.



The Collecting Asian American Refugee Stories (CARS) ProjectPrincipal Investigator: Samuel D. Museus (University of Denver)
Educational Entity: Asian Pacific Development Center 



Refugee youth exhibit relatively low levels of success in education compared to their peers. While refugees from the Asian nations of Burma and Bhutan are among the most rapidly growing refugee communities in the United States, they are virtually invisible and voiceless in education research and discourse. The Collecting Asian American Refugee Stories (CARS) Project is designed to provide research-based support for the Asian Pacific Development Center (APDC) by generating increased understandings of these Asian American refugee communities in the United States and utilizing that knowledge to improve APDC programs and services that are designed to support the youth and families within these communities. This project will incorporate qualitative narrative inquiry research methods and digital media to excavate the voices of 24 Asian American refugee youth and parents from Bhutan and Burma residing in the Denver area, co-construct stories that shed light on their lives, document and disseminate those stories, and utilize those narratives to inform the development of APDC programs and services aimed at supporting these refugee populations. Outcomes include a policy brief on refugees from Burma and Bhutan and a digital library that will house the stories of youth and parents from these communities.



Journey Home: The Influence of an Oral History and Community Assessment Project on the Lived Experience of Vietnamese Youth as Political ActorsPrincipal Investigator: Rand Quinn (University of Pennsylvania)
Educational Entity: Boat People SOS, Delaware Valley Regional Branch



“Journey Home” is BPSOS-Delaware Valley’s bilingual and bicultural youth leadership development and organizing training program for high school students. Among the goals of the program is the development of politically conscious Vietnamese youth and the engagement of youth in practices that build across community, race, language, and cultural lines. A research team from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education will partner with BPSOS-Delaware Valley to train Journey Home participants on youth participatory action research, provide ongoing support and technical assistance to the staff and youth participants in data collection and analysis, and assess how the Journey Home model, particularly its emphasis on oral history and community assessment, influences the lived experience of Vietnamese youth as political actors. Participating high school students will spend approximately 20 hours a week for 6 weeks (1) researching the recent history of migration and race relations in Philadelphia, (2) conducting oral histories with family members, and (3) designing and executing a comprehensive assessment of priorities and issues facing Philadelphia’s Vietnamese community. The project will help researchers develop a deeper understanding of the impact bilingual and bicultural youth leadership development and organizing programs have on youth civic and political engagement and efficacy.


Ensuring Early Literacy Opportunities for At-Risk Preschoolers: Evaluating Multiple Pathways of the Impact in Salt Lake City Public Library’s Outreach Storytime
Principal Investigator: Claire Seung-Hee Son (University of Utah)
Educational Entity: Salt Lake City Public Library (SLCPL) 


This research project will investigate how the Salt Lake City Public Library (SLCPL)’s outreach program of Ensuring Early Literacy in low-income preschools supports literacy development of at-risk preschoolers in Title I schools and Head Start classrooms. Since 2010, SLCPL’s Ensuring Early Literacy program has provided a monthly story time, books, and a parenting workshop, targeting at-risk children’s early literacy skills in an attempt to improve their love of reading, school readiness and future achievement. SLCPL children’s librarians have convincing anecdotal evidence that their programs help young children, parents, and their teachers, but have not had the resources and methods to conduct a rigorous evaluation of their early literacy program.  The research team will design an empirical study of Ensuring Early Literacy, collect and analyze data to assess the impact of the program on low-income preschoolers’ engagement and interest in reading, early literacy and language skills; on parenting practices, and on preschool teachers’ classroom practices. Finally, the research team will work with SLCPL in drafting a program evaluation report to SLCPL stakeholders and publishing a compilation of easily administered assessment tools for early literacy story time programs, thus developing SLCPL’s in-house capacity for ongoing data collection and analysis.



A Guiding Light for Students in the Shadows: A Qualitative Project for Providing College Counseling to Undocumented Students Principal Investigator: Michael J. Trivette (University of Georgia)
Educational Entity: Freedom University 



Recent estimates indicate that approximately 65,000 to 80,000 undocumented students graduate each year from U.S. high schools, but only an estimated five percent of these students enroll in postsecondary education. Freedom University is a non-profit organization in Athens, Georgia that provides college-level coursework to undocumented students while helping them enroll in accredited colleges and universities. Since college access policies for undocumented students vary widely from state to state, this project will assist Freedom University in helping undocumented students plan for and apply to postsecondary institutions. This project will equip Freedom University faculty with the expertise and tools to assist undocumented students as they apply to the appropriately selected colleges and universities. Interviews will be conducted with current students at Freedom University to understand what information undocumented students need in order to be able to successfully navigate the college search. Surveys of admissions deans and counselors will provide information about the admission and financial aid policies for undocumented students at selected postsecondary institutions. Finally, a website will be created to help current high school students and high school counselors find information related to specific colleges that offer friendly admission policies for undocumented students. 

Abstracts for 2013 Awards


Teachers and Parents Advocating for Diversity in Sexual Identity and Gender Expression in Schools: Scholars Supporting Research-Informed ActionPrimary Investigators: Mollie V. Blackburn, Caroline T. Clark, Jill M. Smith (Ohio State University)
Educational Entity: Pink TIGers

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) and non-gender conforming young people continue to suffer daily hostility and limited access to educational attainment and well-being in schools. Research suggests that access to social, curricular, and adult/teacher support and implementation of comprehensive bullying and harassment policies can significantly change this situation and make things better for LGBTQQ students. In spite of this information, many adults in schools insist that they cannot, or will not, make these changes on behalf of young people. This project seeks to understand how and why some adults feel able to do this work and why others do not. Adults and former students will be interviewed to understand what factors interfere in adults’ willingness to provide support to LGBTQQ youth, why some educators intervene while others do not, and how teachers and parents might learn to advocate more actively for diversity in sexual identity and gender expression in schools. Through systematic inquiry and analysis, this project will address these questions and disseminate the results locally, in Central Ohio communities, through presentations in schools, parent-teacher organizations, and teacher education and professional development sessions; and nationally, through the collaborative writing and publication of a book.




A Qualitative Project Investigating Teaching, Learning and Teacher Development for an eLearning Education Program in Rural Zambia
Primary Investigator: Heather Curl (Bryn Mawr/Haverford College)
Educational Entity: Impact Network

Over 400,000 children in Zambia are not enrolled in school and another 500,000 children are enrolled in community schools with uncertified teachers and inadequate resources, limiting their opportunity to a quality education. Impact Network strives to provide high quality education for vulnerable children without access to government schools. The program’s new e-learning initiative uses a hybridized, interactive curriculum that runs on a laptop and projector powered by a solar energy system, providing low-cost, quality instruction that is sustainable and culturally appropriate. The curriculum provides guidance and support to teachers with interactive activities for them to implement in the classroom, but much work still must be done to effectively train teachers to use the technology and engage in pedagogy that is often outside their own experience. Impact Network has conducted teacher training sessions and has employed teacher supervisors who provide support to teachers each week, but more guidance and support is needed to ensure that Impact Network is achieving the goals of the program. This project will qualitatively examine the teacher training involved in this innovative low-cost e-learning education system in rural Zambia through in-depth interview and classroom observation in order to improve the teacher training and development currently conducted.


Understanding the Decline of the Hiring of Black and Latina/o Teachers in New York City: Recommendations for Reversing the Trend
Primary Investigators: Michael Dumas (New York University), Natalie Havlin (La Guardia Community College), Lois Weiner (New Jersey City University)
Educational Entity: Teachers Unite

While there is research on issues associated with the recruitment and retention of teachers of color nationally, as well as research on the ways students benefit from having teachers of color, local factors in New York City leading to a decline in the hiring of teachers of color have not been seriously studied. Teachers Unite (TU), a teacher-led activist organization in New York City, is undertaking a collaborative research project that includes three TU members as research assistants and three area faculty who have recently formed the New York Metropolitan Academics for Democracy and Justice in Education (MADJE) to support the work of Teachers Unite. The group will conduct collaborative research, produce a report, and design an empirical study of the decline in the hiring of Black and Latino/a Teachers in New York City. Faculty will provide pro bono research expertise in reviewing and coding multi-vocal sources and documents. The resulting scholarship will result in a preliminary report on the teacher pipeline and obstacles to the hiring of Black and Latino teachers, as well as a research design for gathering further empirical data.


RU Connected? A Collaborative Project between University Literacy Researchers and an Urban Afterschool Program (Racquet Up Detroit) to Investigate the Effects of a Summer Technology Camp for Middle School Youth
Primary Investigators: Susan Florio-Ruane, Paul Morsink, Maryl Randel (Michigan State University)
Educational Entity: Racquet Up Detroit

This collaborative project partners Michigan State University literacy researchers with an established afterschool program, Racquet Up Detroit (RUD), to investigate the effects of a summer technology camp (“RU Connected”) for middle school students enrolled in RUD. Its purpose is to inform RUD’s future integration of its technology and new literacies curriculum into its year-round programming, which weaves together sports, literacy, mentoring, and community service. RU Connected, piloted in July 2012, uses free web-based tools and resources to develop online research skills, and encourages students to think creatively and use higher-order thinking. RUD is planning to repeat and expand the summer camp in July 2013, this year documenting and evaluating it with an eye toward infusing new literacies activities into its regular afterschool programming. Through this project, RUD will develop a plan for quantitative and qualitative assessment of the impact of the 2013 summer camp on students’ literacy skills and their general motivation to read and write, work with staff to implement this plan, draft a report for RUD stakeholders, and develop RUD’s in-house capacity for ongoing data collection and analysis as it moves new literacies into the school-year literacy component of its afterschool program.


Engaging Urban Youth to Catalyze Cultural Change in Their Communities: Evaluative Inquiry into Creative Possibilities and Pathways to STEM in Boston’s Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn
Primary Investigator: Jae-Eun Joo (University of Connecticut)
Educational Entity: Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn

This project will design and conduct a participatory evaluation inquiry to systemically document and analyze the unique STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education contributions of the Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn (L2TT2L) program to Boston’s urban youth and their communities. L2TT2L program leaders have convincing anecdotal evidence that their model works over the last decade, but have not had the resources to conduct a rigorous evaluation of the unique aspects of L2TT2L’s innovative approach that goes beyond STEM content mastery. An evaluation research team will collect and analyze data on the critical factors that seem essential to support the particular needs of urban youth in developing and sustaining a pathway to STEM studies and careers. More specifically, this research aims to investigate ways in which L2TT2L promotes urban youth’s self-efficacy, productive relationship to frustration and failure in the STEM learning process, and the impact of using STEM to make positive contributions to their communities to catalyze cultural change. Research findings and insights will be shared publicly through an online wiki and e-portfolio.


Strengthening Supplemental Literacy Supports for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse English Language Learners
Primary Investigator: Michelle Knight (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Educational Entity: Sauti Yetu Girls Educational and Leadership Initiative

This research study will address how the Sauti Yetu’s Girl’s Educational and Leadership Initiative (GELI) supports the literacy development of African immigrant girls who are identified as English Language Learners (ELLs) in New York City Schools, and a subpopulation of ELLs identified as having interrupted formal education (SIFE). Through written documentation, individual and group interviews, and program observation, as well as the literature on literacy and culturally relevant pedagogy, members of the research partnership will examine three approaches that GELI has implemented to address academic and social supports for the literacy development of African immigrant girls. The overarching goals are to identify the best supplemental literacy practices for African immigrant girls identified as ELLs and/or SIFE and to strengthen the capacity of small culturally and linguistically specific community-based organizations to support the literacy development of English Language Learners and SIFE in schools. The findings will be disseminated within Sauti Yetu and to existing coalitions of community-based organizations and their school partners. Ensuing reports and workshops may also draw greater attention to the literacy needs of smaller but growing culturally and linguistically diverse language communities which speak languages that do not meet demographic thresholds for bilingual services in schools.

Initiating and Sustaining Educational Change: Implementing the FAIR Education Act and Seth’s Law
Primary Investigator: Elizabeth Meyer (California Polytechnic State University)
Educational Entity: San Luis Obispo County Office of Education


This research project will identify and address the barriers and supports related to the implementation of two new laws requiring reforms to curriculum and school policy in San Luis Obispo County schools. In 2011, the California legislature passed two laws, the FAIR Education Act (SB 48) and Seth’s Law (AB 9), which address important issues related to creating safe and inclusive school environments. The FAIR Education Act amends the state education code to require the inclusion of LGBT people, Pacific Islanders, and people with disabilities in the K‐12 social sciences curriculum. Seth’s Law requires that schools update their bullying policies to include explicit protections from bullying and harassment based on race, ethnicity, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression, as well as requiring reporting and swift responses to reported incidents. These related laws touch on emotional and controversial topics in many school communities. Since these are unfunded mandates, teachers and administrators need support to revise their policies and curricula to conform to the new state laws. This research project is designed to work with educators to identify and address the barriers and supports related to these new laws in order to provide better support for their implementation.

The Effect of Research Experience-Based Professional Development on Teacher Efficacy, Motivation, Knowledge Calibration, and Perception of Inquiry Teaching
Primary Investigator: Erin E. Peters-Burton (George Mason University)
Educational Entity: Loudon County Public Schools


Science education reform documents have highlighted the need for more inquiry-based teaching for over 20 years, but little has changed in the majority of classrooms in the United States. This project will measure the effect of research experience-based professional development (PD) in Loudon County Public Schools and examine multiple measures across time of teacher efficacy, motivation, calibration of content knowledge, and perception of inquiry teaching. The multi-year PD program provided teachers research experience with the support of a scientist, aided teachers in an independent research project in their content area, and required teachers to develop curriculum related to their research experience for secondary students. The study will use a longitudinal, parallel mixed methods approach to examine efficacy, motivation, content knowledge calibration, perception of inquiry, and student achievement. Prior research indicated that teachers reported high motivation and task value and changed their cognitive strategies due to the PD. The current project has the potential to better articulate the effect of PD on critical components involved in teacher acquisition of science content and pedagogical content knowledge and to inform research experience-based PD programs in the future.



Evaluation and Assessment of the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program
Primary Investigator: Rick Sperling (St. Mary’s University)
Educational Entity: AVANCE


AVANCE provides educational and health services to low-income and predominately racial/ethnic minority families nationwide. This research service project will focus on improving AVANCE’s internal assessment of its Parent-Child Education (PCEP) Program. Researchers will assist AVANCE staff in determining whether the theory guiding their services and the curricula used within the PCEP program are aligned with the instruments they use to assess its effectiveness. The research team will evaluate the instruments for technical limitations, flaws in the response option format, and other issues that obscure interpretations of their data. They will also develop new instruments to measure cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioral changes that have not been measured thus far. The final set of instruments will then be translated into Spanish to make them more accessible to a larger population. Program staff will be instructed on how to administer the instruments to improve the internal validity of their data. Once post-intervention data have been collected, a report will be prepared summarizing the changes that occurred within PCEP families as a result of their participation in the program. Researchers will also assess the psychometric properties of the instruments and make recommendations for future implementation so that the assessment plan can continue to evolve.


The Role of Mentoring in Broward County Public Schools Initiative to Foster Black Male Success
Primary Investigator: Gerene K. Starratt (Barry University)
Educational Entity: Broward County Public Schools 

The academic challenges that minority students encounter have been well documented, attributed to various causes, and associated with academic, behavioral, social, and political obstacles to success. In support of the 2012 White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, Broward County Public Schools, a highly diverse urban district and the sixth largest in the U.S., implemented a comprehensive academic and support services initiative to facilitate systemic improvements in educational outcomes for Black males. Broward’s Initiative to Foster Black Male Success adopts a collaborative model that leverages the resources of community partners, including local education researchers, in support of student success. In this project, data related to adult and peer mentoring programs that are components of the overall initiative will be gathered and analyzed. The project will examine the scope of the adult and peer mentoring programs related to the Black Male Success Initiative, the fidelity of implementation of the adult and peer mentoring programs in the Black Male Success Initiative, and the relationship between mentoring interventions and Black male success. Deliverables include quantitative and qualitative data capture, analysis, interpretation, and reports to the district, as well as submission of findings for presentation and publication in peer-reviewed venues.


Power of Words: Exploring Storytelling Practices of Refugee Families
Primary Investigators: Ekaterina Strekalova-Hughes, X. Christine Wang (State University of New York at Buffalo)
Educational Entity: Journey’s End Refugee Services

New York is one of the five most popular resettling states for incoming refugees in the United States, with the city of Buffalo taking in 1,035 refugees from 30 different countries in 2011 alone. Given the tremendous diversity of refugee students (67 different languages) enrolling in local public schools, refugee service organizations in Buffalo are facing the daunting challenge of bridging the cultural and linguistic gap between refugee families and the schools. To meet the challenge, the research team will partner with Journey’s End Refugee Services, a community-based organization serving 3,000 refugees in Western New York annually. This project will survey stories told at refugee homes, investigate storytelling practices at home, and create teacher guides to help refugee children’s school learning, in order to promote refugee children’s appreciation for their native languages and cultures, empower refugee parents, and improve collaboration between refugee parents and schools. The main product of the project will be an interactive website designed to share compiled refugee stories in English and the language of origin within the local community and beyond. The website will also offer strategies and activities for community organizations and schools to integrate multicultural refugee stories and adapt refugee families’ storytelling practices.



My Brother My Sister: College Access and Retention through Peer Mentoring and Leadership Development
Primary Investigator: V. Thandi Sulé (Oakland University)
Educational Entity: My Brother My Sister

My Brother My Sister (MBMS) is a volunteer-based, after-school program founded by a concerned father and son who witnessed Black students at Copley High School (Copley, Ohio) floundering academically and socially. In 2008, Black students comprised 90% of the school suspensions (though only 17% of the student population), trailed behind their peers in college enrollment, and lacked a sense of belonging at school. The focus of MBMS is on facilitating college access and retention through leadership development and peer mentoring. The founders of MBMS have requested assistance with documenting the accomplishments of the program in order to (a) understand how the school climate has changed, (b) document changes in student academic performance, and (c) explore how participants incorporate the teachings of MBMS into their everyday lives. Using a case study approach, data from student journal entries and social media posts will be examined, and interviews will be conducted with 12-15 current and previous program participants. Disciplinary and achievement data from school records will also be collected and tabulated. The organization will use the findings from the research project to identify gaps in service, enhance intervention efforts, and support its capital campaign.