From Thursday’s inbox…
:: In the News
A First Look at Local Control Funding in California
A new study by SRI and a team of researchers from across California offers the first independent look at the implementation of the state’s Local Control Funding Formula legislation. The research found strong support from education officials but made clear they are concerned about the future of the effort and challenged by its requirements. Learn more about the study, Toward a Grand Vision: Early Implementation of California’s Local Control Funding Formula.
WGBH Launches First 8 Studios
SRI Education is part of new effort to research and develop digital and tablet material for early learners. In October, WGBH Boston announced the formation of First 8 Studios, a new digital-first production team developing digital and tablet-based content and off-screen supplemental materials for preschoolers and early learners. It has launched its first product, an app—Early Math with Gracie & Friends. The app is based on findings from the National Science Foundation-funded Next Generation Preschool Math(NGPM) research project studying the integration of digital content in preschool classrooms. WGBH partnered with SRI and Education Development Center (EDC) on the NGPM project. WGBH, SRI, and EDC have created a set of supplemental curricular materials that integrate technology-based activities with 46 original hands-on and traditional classroom activities, and a digital Teacher’s Guide that will be released in early 2015.
DaSy Center’s “Improving Data, Improving Outcomes” Conference
In September, SRI’s Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy) Center hosted its second “Improving Data, Improving Outcomes” conference in New Orleans. The meeting provided information on development and enhancement of early childhood data systems and improvement of data quality. The conference also provided information on the measurement and use of child and family outcomes data to make informed decisions. Check out the agenda and information about national frameworks, products, and states’ experiences and resources for improving policy and practice. The conference was held in partnership with the IDEA Data Center (IDC) and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center.
SRI Presents at Fall 2014 Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE) Conference in Washington D.C.
- H. Alix Gallagher, Katrina Woodworth, CJ Park, Teresa McCaffrey and Haiwen Wang:Impact Evaluation of National Writing Project Professional Development Program
- Barbara Means and Jessica Mislevy: Creating Means to Measure Improvements in K-12 STEM Education: A Multi-Stakeholder Collaborative Effort
- Andrew Krumm: Using Data from Digital Environments to Better Understand Learning
- H. Alix Gallagher, Jeremy Roschelle and Mingyu Feng: Recruiting Participants for Randomized Controlled Trials
SRI Education is tackling the most complex issues in education to help students succeed. We work with federal and state agencies, school districts, major foundations, nonprofit organizations, and international and commercial clients to address risk factors that impede learning, assess learning gains, and use technology for educational innovation. Visit sri.com/education.
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Influencing the Future
At SRI Education, our work is really about influencing the future. We study the past and the present, to find answers to the challenges of today and, using solid evidence, illuminate the paths to tomorrow. In the midst of battles over teacher evaluation and tenure, the implementation of ambitious education standards, the use of technology in the classroom, new methods of school funding and other issues, we strive to provide knowledge and ideas that help educators and other stakeholders find effective ways forward. In this latest version of SRI Education Notes, we share some of our current efforts and highlight important new projects.
Denise Glyn Borders, Ed.D.
Vice President, SRI Education
Building Human Capital to Strengthen Education
SRI Study of New System of Educator Evaluation in Massachusetts Offers Lessons for Many States
The evaluation of teachers is one of the most controversial issues in education today. A range of corporate, philanthropic, and political interests are pushing for the development of evaluation systems that incorporate measurements of student performance and use those data to inform high-stakes decisions on teacher pay, tenure, and future employment. Teachers and other educators are pushing back, saying such systems are inaccurate, ineffective and unfair and do little to inform and support the development of quality teaching.
In this highly charged situation, an SRI research team is working to provide insight, information, and ideas on how educators might move forward in ways that change the national debate on evaluation and strengthen student learning. Working with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, SRI researchers have undertaken an examination of an interrelated series of human capital initiatives that aim to move beyond evaluation based exclusively on testing, accountability, and control to a collaborative system focused on the continual growth and development of educators.
“The effort in Massachusetts represents an important shift in how educators are evaluated,” said Roneeta Guha, the director of the project for SRI. “This system is not about firing teachers. It’s about finding ways to support and develop educators in ways that enhance their abilities to help students learn. We think it offers important lessons for education systems across the nation.” Read more.
A New Vision for Afterschool Science Education
A new SRI study offers insights into science learning in California’s Afterschool Education and Safety (AES) programs and is helping to establish a new vision to expand and strengthen learning opportunities and interest in science for elementary school students.
“Afterschool programs have the potential to engage students in quality science learning experiences that may not fit into the regular school day,” said Ann House, Ph.D., senior researcher in SRI Education’s Center for Technology in Learning and project director for the study. “Until now, little data have been available about how much science is offered in afterschool settings. We now have a more complete picture of best practices for informal science learning and recommendations for improving and extending science offerings for children across California and nationwide.”
Conducted over five years with funding from the National Science Foundation, the study found that while most afterschool programs were interested in and trying to include science in their regular offerings, other activities such as arts, sports, or tutoring were far more common. In many afterschool programs studied, science learning opportunities were limited. Staff were not trained in how to lead science activities, and had limited opportunities for professional development and little access to quality curriculum materials or science activities. Read more.
Curriculum Materials Make a Difference for Next-Generation Science Teaching and Learning
Do curriculum materials matter for helping students achieve new science standards? A recent study by SRI showed that project-based curriculum materials that explicitly support the features and practices called for within the new science standards have a positive effect on teaching and learning.
The study found that implementing project-based curriculum materials that help teachers engage students in authentic science practices can impact teaching practice and increase student learning. Students who participated in a project-based science curriculum outperformed students in a standard textbook curriculum on measures aligned with important core science ideas and science practices outlined in the new Next Generation Science Standards.
“Curriculum materials matter because they guide what teachers do in the classroom,” said SRI Senior Researcher Christopher Harris. “Our findings suggest that investments in well-designed materials and new assessments can make a real difference for achieving next-generation science learning outcomes.”
Read the full report.
New Projects at SRI Education
From teaching quality to technology, from early learning to evaluation, our team at SRI is deeply engaged in critical education research and projects that will inform and shape the future of education policy and practice. Here are a few new projects:
- In Texas, as part of a charter school expansion grant with IDEA Public Schools, we are examining district capacity and the challenges of scaling up established high-performing school models.
- Also in Texas, with funding from the Department of Justice/National Institute for Justice, we are investigating safe schools strategies in Pharr San Juan Alamo Independent School District.
- We’re working with several campuses in the California State University system in support of their New Teacher Quality Partnership Grants. Our work developing indicators and measuring progress will help CSU campuses create new models for preparing STEM teachers and increase participation of underrepresented groups in teaching STEM subjects.
- With funding from an Institute of Education Sciences researcher-practitioner partnership grant, we’re working with the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, to examine and support English language learners’ science learning in the elementary grades.
- With funding from the National Science Foundation, we’re taking on new projects on big data, learning analytics, and computer science instruction.
- We are partnering with our colleagues at WestEd on the Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services recently awarded National Center for Systemic Improvement.
These are just a handful of the new engagements we are excited about!