Author: Christine S. North

Evaluation of Connecticut’s Prekindergarten Program

Interest in the effects of prekindergarten generally can be traced back to the 1960s, while interest in state-funded prekindergarten programs through rigorous methods has been a more recent policy question of interest. The major goal of the project is to evaluate the impact of Connecticut’s statewide School Readiness Program on prekindergarten students’ academic achievement and social skills.

Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the characteristics of students who have participated in Connecticut’s prekindergarten programming during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic year?
  2. How have these students sorted subsequently into public schools offering kindergarten?
  3. What are the implications for how students sort for evaluation studies employing the use of regression discontinuity designs?

For more information about the Collaborative on Strategic Education Reform (CSER):

Collaborative on Strategic Education Reform (CSER), Montrosse-Moorhead, B., PI. (2014-2016). Evaluation of Connecticut’s Prekindergarten Program using a Regression Discontinuity Design. Funded by Connecticut General Assembly/ Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.

SIWI gets to the Core! Reading and Writing in the Content Areas

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SIWI gets to the Core! Reading and Writing in the Content Areas

SIWI Gets to the Core! provides up to 30 teachers and administrators of the deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) with professional development specific to increasing teacher knowledge in the Grade 6-12 Common Core State Standards in Reading (CCSS-Reading): Literature and Informational Text. Implementation of the CCSS-Reading by teachers of the d/hh, specifically teachers in the content areas, is enacted using Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) pedagogical approaches. Teachers are introduced to a model of SIWI as evidence-based instruction whereby they can effectively integrate the CCSS-Reading along with content area standards to accomplish language, literacy and content area objectives. The program includes a spring online discussion, a one-week workshop, and a fall classroom observation and reflection.

 

Wolbers, K., Dostal, H., Stephenson, B., & Bowden, H. (January 2014-December 2014). SIWI gets to the Core! Reading and Writing in the Content Areas. Improving Teacher Quality grant funded by Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC).

 

For more information contact Hannah Dostal at hannah.dostal@uconn.edu.

Math Literacy in English Across Disciplines (MathLEAD)

Math Literacy in English Across Disciplines: Professional Enhancement for teachers and school professionals.

Findings from studies conducted by practicing educators guided by Neag Faculty (Rojas, PI and Reyes, Co-PI) funded by the U.S. Department of Education for professional development and enhancement support integrating math vocabulary across disciplines.  Research conducted by practitioners reinforces the importance of creating access to high level math classes for ALL students (Rojas 2010).

Group of professionals in a meeting

Rojas, E. (2010) “Using Mathematics as an equalizer for gifted Latino/a adolescent learners. In J. A. Castellanos and A. D. Frazier (Eds.) Special Populations in Gifted Education (pp. 353-382). Waco, TX: Pufrock.

 

Strengthening Connecticut’s STEM Pipeline

Consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), K-12 science programs across Connecticut need to be re-designed to realize a vision for education in the sciences and engineering in which students actively engage in scientific and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core ideas across STEM fields.

Dr. David M. Moss directs this multi-year grant as Principal Investigator Dr. Moss also holds the McLeod Faculty Fellowship during this period.

The project will ultimately disseminate STEM resources across Connecticut to meet the vision for three-dimensional learning as outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). As such, students will experience STEM as a unifying and consistent thread across the years of their K-12 schooling. They will gain perspectives on the role of science, engineering, mathematics, and technology in society, and experience the nature of these disciplines as one that demands creativity and tenacity along with deep understandings of content. This effort is designed to maximize the potential for college and career readiness in a 21st century economy.

Bridging Practices Among Connecticut Mathematics Educators

Bridging Practices Among Connecticut Mathematics Educators (BPCME) is a professional development program for mathematics educators teaching grades 3 – 11 that aims to deepen teachers’ mathematics content knowledge and strengthen their ability to support students’ reasoning, argumentation, and communication in mathematics. Drs. Megan Staples, the Principal Investigator, Dorothea Anagnostopoulos, and Tutita Casa from the Neag School of Education, and Fabiana Cardetti from the Math Department received funding through a Math Science Partnership (MSP) grant from the CT State Department of Education.

BPCME began with a 5-day Summer Workshop in 2014 and continuing through summer, 2015. In the summer, teacher participants were challenged to deepen their own mathematical understanding of proportional and algebraic reasoning. They also formed Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to support each other in the classroom implementation of the CT Core Standards Mathematical Practice #3, which focuses on constructing and critiquing arguments in mathematics. Throughout the year, teachers will continue to meet in school-based PLCs while developing curricular and instructional tools and tasks that support students’ constructing clear and logical arguments. These tasks will be shared electronically as a resource for fellow participants.

Group of teachers

During the summer of 2015, participants will solidify their learning and consider their roles as teacher-leaders who can support their colleagues in practices that encourage mathematical argumentation.

The Collaboratory Project

The Collaboratory Project

Funded by the Town of Windsor, CT

The Collaboratory is an organizing structure for the collaborative discussion of “problems of practice” that are of interest to both K-12 teachers and university researchers. This design of The Collaboratory draws on research from three interrelated fields of inquiry: teacher professional development (e.g. Garet et al., 2001; Darling-Hammond & Richardson, 2009; DuFour, 2004); adult learning (e.g. Sheckley et al., 2009); and university-school partnerships (e.g. Libler, 2010).  We investigate the efficacy of this model by drawing upon principles of design (Reinking & Watkins, 2000) and formative research experiments (Reinking & Bradley, 2008) to investigate the processes and outcomes of Collaboratory sessions in which teachers and researchers discuss areas of mutual interest related to education in high school settings. Our research questions aim to identify factors that contribute to more robust pathways of communication between teachers and researchers that are mutually supportive and self-extending.

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Bio

Rachael Gabriel is an Assistant Professor of Reading Education at the University of Connecticut. A former classroom teacher and literacy specialist, she holds a Ph.D. in Education with a focus on Literacy Studies and graduate certificates in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Rachael is an associate of the Center on Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) and the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability (CPED) at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on the intersections of literacy, disability studies, and teacher quality. Within each she attends to the constitutive use of language and the formation and implementation of related policies. Her current research addresses three areas of focus: teacher development and disciplinary literacy in secondary school settings; teacher evaluation policies and related practices; and the role of language reading comprehension instruction in the middle grades.

Constructions of Comprehension in Middle Grades Classrooms

Constructions of Comprehension in Middle Grades Classrooms

Funded by the International Reading Association

This study investigates the ways teachers use language to mediate student understanding during reading comprehension instruction. Using a variety of data collection strategies, the study details teacher talk during comprehension instruction. There is consensus in the field surrounding the importance of explicit comprehension strategy instruction and teacher modeling. However, there are few research-based guidelines for coaching teachers to provide more effective models or explanations for their students.   Fewer studies examine construction of reading itself and students’ identities in teachers’ everyday talk about what it means to understand. This study seeks to build upon existing research on the role of teacher language in order to identify features of language that effectively support comprehension growth, especially for struggling readers.

Bio

Rachael Gabriel is an Assistant Professor of Reading Education at the University of Connecticut. A former classroom teacher and literacy specialist, she holds a Ph.D. in Education with a focus on Literacy Studies and graduate certificates in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Rachael is an associate of the Center on Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) and the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability (CPED) at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on the intersections of literacy, disability studies, and teacher quality. Within each she attends to the constitutive use of language and the formation and implementation of related policies. Her current research addresses three areas of focus: teacher development and disciplinary literacy in secondary school settings; teacher evaluation policies and related practices; and the role of language reading comprehension instruction in the middle grades.

Levels of Interactional Focus: A study of contrasting protocols for investigating literacy teacher effectiveness

Levels of Interactional Focus: A study of contrasting protocols for investigating literacy teacher effectiveness

Funded by the Spencer Foundation, National Academy of Education, Spencer Foundation, in partnership with the University of Michigan’s Interuniversity Consortium for Political & Social Research

The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between validated measures of teacher effectiveness validated by the Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project and existing research on effective literacy instruction. Research on tools for measuring teacher effectiveness has recently focused on establishing validity and reliability. Yet, practitioners and researchers alike have called for more streamlined versions of commercially available tools, and new, more efficient tools for frequent evaluation in everyday school settings. A range of stakeholders have also called for evaluation instruments that highlight the aspects of instruction that are most intimately linked to student outcomes so that feedback from evaluation ratings can directly and powerfully improve classroom teaching. In this study, researchers generate and validated d protocols that represent alternative approaches to the analysis of classroom instruction. By both ‘zooming out’ to macro-level features of instruction and ‘zooming in’ to micro-interactions, this project will not only highlight aspects of MET project protocols that are most predictive of student outcomes, but will identify which level(s) of interaction are most efficient and productive to observe.

Bio

Rachael Gabriel is an Assistant Professor of Reading Education at the University of Connecticut. A former classroom teacher and literacy specialist, she holds a Ph.D. in Education with a focus on Literacy Studies and graduate certificates in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Rachael is an associate of the Center on Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) and the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability (CPED) at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on the intersections of literacy, disability studies, and teacher quality. Within each she attends to the constitutive use of language and the formation and implementation of related policies. Her current research addresses three areas of focus: teacher development and disciplinary literacy in secondary school settings; teacher evaluation policies and related practices; and the role of language reading comprehension instruction in the middle grades.

The Development of Strategic & Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI)

SIWI logo imageTeacher in front of class

This three-year project seeks to adapt the Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) curriculum that has been implemented primarily in grades 6–8 for expanded use with elementary d/hh students. Given the heterogeneity of the deaf school population, writing intervention must be responsive to students with varying language histories and experiences, and must be sensitive to those with additional disability labels. We anticipate achieving the following objectives by the end of the proposed project:

  1. Fully develop the SIWI intervention for later elementary students in grades 3–5, including curriculum, instructional materials, and teacher resources;
  2. Obtain and analyze data that address the feasibility of implementing the intervention; and
  3. Obtain, analyze, and report data that assess the intervention’s promise for achieving the desired outcomes. A desirable outcome as a result of this program is the development of an instructional approach that is effective in improving the language and literacy outcomes of d/hh elementary students.

For more information about Strategic & Interactive Writing Instruction:

Wolbers, K., Dostal, H., & Graham, S. (August 2012 – July 2015). Development of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) for deaf and hard of hearing students. Funded by Institute of Education Sciences (IES), $1,156,576.

Dostal, H. & Wolbers, K. (2014). Developing language and writing skills of deaf and hard of hearing students: A simultaneous approach. Literacy Research and Instruction, 53(3), 245-268. doi: 10.1080/19388071.2014.907382. Available:  http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/BTMKqhIEYvSinpPnHZYC/full

Research on Supporting Teachers

Supporting the Development of High Quality Secondary Mathematics and Science Teachers and Teacher Leaders is a project supported by the Knowles Foundation for Science Teaching (KSTF), which funds fellowships for beginning teachers to enhance their leadership and teaching skills.  KSTF – an organization committed to the preparation and on-going support of high quality science and mathematics teachers and teacher leaders – is also committed to conducting rigorous, mixed methods research that assesses the effects of its programs on participants, ranging from effects of individual teachers’ knowledge to effects on a national network of science and mathematics teachers who are leading the profession. The project is a collaboration between Suzanne Wilson and a team of research assistants at the University of Connecticut and Jodie Galosy, Director of Research, at the Knowles Foundation. Our goal is to describe and explain the effects of the Knowles’ fellowship program through documenting their participation in Foundation-related activities and their experiences in the classrooms, schools, and districts in which they work. For the next three years, we will be interviewing, observing, and surveying teachers, principals, and program staff in an effort to document the ways in which fellows and their peers who do not have access to KSTF resources find ways to grow and develop as teachers, as well as documenting how their middle and high school students engage in science and mathematics in meaningful ways.