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Promoting the Fundamentals for Success Among Diverse Learners
At SRI Education, we know that incremental improvement is not going to be enough to help our society succeed in the 21st century. That’s why all our research aims to tackle accelerated learning and foundations for success, including writing, coding, and personal success skills. And we aim to provide these foundations to all learners, including children, adults, and those with autism or other special needs. Below, four stories share how our recently completed studies are making an impact on fundamentals for success among diverse learners. You’ll also find some mentions of recent awards earned by SRI researchers, as well as links to news on our work on the right.
Denise Glyn Borders
President, SRI Education
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:: In the News
Improving Teacher Evaluation
Our March 2016 report Replacing Teacher Evaluation Systems with Systems of Professional Growth: Lessons from Three California School Districts and Their Teachers’ Unions was the subject of the April 13thEdSource article, Districts, unions innovate to evaluate teachers.
Education Technology That Supports Struggling Students
On April 20, Bill Gates cited our Lessons Learned from Early Implementations of Adaptive Courseware in his keynote address at the Arizona State University Global Silicon Valley Summit. Adaptive learning courseware uses computer algorithms to analyze data collected as students interact with online learning environments.
This project was also featured in an April 18national education news article. SRI Education Researcher Vanessa Peters wrote an opinion piece, How Can Technology Impact Outcomes in Introductory College Courses? for EdSurge.
:: Stay Connected
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 assess learning gains, use technology for educational innovation, and address risk factors that impede learning.
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How Research Can Raise the Bar on Developing Adults’ Skills in 21st Century Careers
In the United States today, millions of people are unemployed and underemployed—making economic stability out of reach for themselves and their families. These numbers are not driven solely by lack of education or technical knowledge, but also by a broad need in the workforce to develop adults’ personal success skills.SRI Education and the Joyce Foundation recently released a report that discusses how evidence-based research provides guidance for promoting personal success skills for adults who are striving to build sustainable 21st century careers.
Personal success skills are the capabilities that enable adults to deal with the challenges, relationships, transitions, and social systems that make up working life. Important abilities include basic job readiness, self-directed learning, self-management, personal responsibility, effective communication, career management, and everyday problem solving. “In our world of rapidly changing technology, workforce needs, and economic conditions, people need well-developed personal success skills to get good jobs and keep them,” said Nikki Shechtman, senior researcher for SRI Education and lead author on the report. Learn more about the report, Empowering Adults to Thrive at Work, from our recent blog post.
Measuring Student Learning About Computing
President Obama’s recent initiative Computer Science for All (CS4All) emphasizes the need to teach computer science as part of the regular K-12 curriculum. An important part of teaching is measuring learning; teachers measure student learning so that they can better help students learn. Likewise, students and parents want schools to document what students know about computational thinking, and what they can do with that knowledge. Whereas tests exist for conventional school subjects like math, there are almost no relevant assessments available for K-12 learning about computer science education – and a lack of assessments could adversely effect the growth of Computer Science for All.
SRI researchers are addressing this pressing need by defining effective assessments of difficult-to-measure concepts in computer science education in ways that are appropriate for K-12 settings. Evidence-based assessment of student learningis at the heart of what researchers in SRI Education’s Center for Technology in Learning have been focused on for decades. Building on this foundation, we’re leading the application of new methods and technologies to design effective assessments of difficult-to-measure problems in computer science education. To learn more about the design of these assessments, see the full blog post from Daisy Rutstein and Shuchi Grover.
Turning Autism Research into Support for Learning
Autism affects people and their ability to function in a variety of ways across the spectrum. For those who have mild to moderate autism and are considered “high functioning,” many do well in high school but fare poorly in postsecondary settings. In fact, the vast majority of students with autism do not go to college and have one of the lowest college enrollment rates across all disability categories and the general population. To learn more about this issue and probe for potential solutions, SRI researchers spent the past four years completing 12 studies on supporting transition-age youth and young adults with autism. These studies relied on data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), which was conducted by SRI for the U.S. Department of Education and collected data from more than 11,000 high school students receiving special education services over 10 years.
The first major finding, which led to many other questions, was that 34 percent of people who have autism and attend college choose science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) majors, which is a significantly higher proportion than any other disability group and much higher than the general population, which is closer to about 20 percent. Read more findings from the 12 studies in Jennifer Yu’s blog post, Turning Autism Research into Support for Learning.
Teacher Professional Development Can Make a Positive Impact on Students’ Writing Skills
Can teacher professional development have a positive impact on students’ writing skills? To explore this question, a research team from SRI’s Center for Education Policy conducted a two-year randomized controlled trial of the National Writing Project’s College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP). CRWP combines professional development, curricular resources, and formative assessment. The program was implemented in 22 districts across 10 states delivered by 12 Writing Project sites. While many studies of professional development programs have been randomized controlled trials, most have found no impact on student academic outcomes. However, this study found a positive, statistically significant effect on the four attributes of student argument writing—content, structure, stance, and conventions—measured by the National Writing Project’s (NWP) Analytic Writing Continuum for Source-Based Argument.
The National Writing Project invited the study’s principal investigator, Alix Gallagher, to join a presentation on Capitol Hill to share the evaluation results with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, as well as other interested policymakers. This unique opportunity allowed SRI researchers to bring important findings directly to the individuals who have the authority to set policy and affect change. To read more about these exciting findings, see Dr. Gallagher’s recent blog post.
SRI Education’s Daniela Torre & Jared Boyce Receive AERA 2016 Dissertation Awards!
AERA Dissertation Awards recognize the exceptional research accomplishments of recent doctoral graduates. This year, Daniela Torre received the Division L (Educational Policy and Politics) Dissertation of the Year award for her dissertation, How Classroom Context Impacts the Academic Achievement of English Learners in a New Immigrant Destination. Dr. Torre earned her Ph.D. in leadership and policy studies in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Vanderbilt Univeristy. She is currently a researcher in our Center for Education Policy, where she works on the Evaluation of IDEA’s Charter School Program grant in Texas funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Evaluation of the New Generation of Educators Initiative in California funded by the Bechtel Foundation, and the Evaluation of the McKnight Foundation’s Education and Learning Program.
Jared Boyce received the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Advanced Studies of National Databases Special Interest Group for his dissertation, Commitment and Leadership: What We Know From the Schools and Staffing Survey. Dr. Boyce earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Teachers College at Columbia University. He is currently a researcher in our Center for Technology in Learning, where he works on a variety of projects, including the Next-Generation Courseware Challenge, the Data-Intensive Exploration of the Links Between SES and STEM Learning, and the Montana Continuous Improvement in Education Research to Improve Secondary School Literacy Outcomes.
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