Category Archives: ZZ Special Use – Achievement Gap

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Minnesota Youth Development Research Group to present 11 times at AERA/NCME

Members of the Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG)

Eleven proposals from students and researchers in the Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) have been accepted as presentations at American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) annual meetings, April 13-17 in New York City. The presentations reflect the group’s aim to explore methodological and substantive challenges in youth development, relying on the tenets of positive psychology, ecological perspectives of youth development, and the translation of research to practice.

MYDRG presentations accepted for AERA/NCME 2018

  1. Mental distress: Risk and protective factors among American Indian youth. [AERA SIG – Indigenous Peoples of the Americas] Paper Session: Place, Pathways, Persistence, and Protection in Schooling. (Ozge Ersan, Youngsoon Kang, Michael Rodriguez, Tai Do, Rik Lamm)
  2. School and community sports participation and positive youth developmental: A multilevel analysis. [AERA SIG- Research Focus on Education and Sports.] Paper Session: Youth Development through Sport in a K-12 Context. (Kyle Nickodem, Martin Van Boekel, Youngsoon Kang, Rik Lamm, Michael Rodriguez)
  3. Social capital, self-control, and academic achievement in adolescence: A structural equation modeling approach. [AERA SIG – Social and Emotional Learning] Paper Session: Social and Emotional Learning and Academic Achievement. (Wei Song, Kory Vue, Tai Do, Michael Rodriguez)
  4. The role of out-of-school-time positive experiences on risky behaviors. [AERA Division G – Section 1: Micro-analyses of the social context of teaching and learning] Roundtable: Qualitative Research Perspectives on the Roles of Students and Teachers in the Social Contexts of U.S. Public Schools. (Rik Lamm, Kory Vue, Kyle Nickodem, Tai Do, Michael Rodriguez, Martin Van Boekel)
  5. Do LGB students feel safe and why does it matter? [AERA SIG – Research Focus on Education and Sports] Paper Session: Youth Development through Sport in a K-12 Context. (Rik Lamm, Kory Vue, Tai Do, Kyle Nickodem, Michael Rodriguez)
  6. In what ways do health behaviors impact academic performance, educational aspirations, and commitment to learning? [AERA Division H – Section 1: Applied Research in Schools] Paper Session: Examining Non-Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes. (Julio Cabrera, Michael Rodriguez, Stacy Karl, Carlos Chavez)
  7. A pathway to resilience for students who experience trauma: A structural equation modeling approach. [AERA SIG – Adolescence and Youth Development] Paper Session: Leadership & Social Relationships in Adolescent Development. (Youngsoon Kang, Mireya Smith, Ozge Ersan, Michael Rodriguez)
  8. Investigating socioeconomic status proxies: is one proxy enough? [AERA SIG – Survey Research in Education] Paper Session: Latent Analyses with Surveys in Education Research. (Julio Cabrera, Stacy Karl, Carlos Chavez, Michael Rodriguez)
  9. Response processes in noncognitive measures: Validity evidence from explanatory item response modeling. [NCME]. (Michael Rodriguez, Okan Bulut, Julio Cabrera, Kory Vue)
  10. Measurement invariance in noncognitive measures: Validity approach using explanatory item response modeling. [NCME]. (José Palma, Okan Bulut, Julio Cabrera, Youngsoon Kang)
  11. Comprehensive partitioning of student achievement variance to inform equitable policy design. [NCME]. (Kyle Nickodem, Michael Rodriguez)

About the MYDRG

MYDRG was founded by Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development Michael Rodriguez in 2007 and is made up of researchers and Department of Educational Psychology quantitative methods in education and psychological foundations of education students and alumni.

U of M TRIO programs and CEHD Student Services celebrate first-generation students

Pictured are some of the TRIO programs and CEHD Student Services staff who were first-generation college students.

As part of the national First-Generation College Celebration on Nov. 8, U of M TRIO programs and CEHD Student Services staff and students shared their stories, and invited CEHD first-generation students to also share their story and celebrate being the first in their families to attend college. Approximately 39% of CEHD first-year students are first-generation students.

The inaugural event was founded by the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1965. COE is  a nonprofit organization dedicated to the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the United States. The council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies that host federal TRIO programs.

America Reads helps students make an impact in local communities

literacy mentor america reads“I really like the idea of doing work that is important and impactful and being able to get outside of the college bubble, to see and be a part of the surrounding community,” explains sophomore marketing major Mackenzie Kerry, who found a job that let her do just that as a literacy mentor with CEHD America Reads. The program trains college students of any major in reading and literacy skills to equip them to tutor K-8 students in schools and after-school programs. The CEHD America Reads program, housed in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s Minnesota Center for Reading Research, partners with local schools and community organizations to improve literacy. The program employs 100 university students as literacy mentors during the school year.

“It’s an amazing job,” says Logan Haen, a sophomore biology major who has been a literacy mentor since coming to the U last year. Haen appreciates the different perspectives he has gained working with students of diverse backgrounds. “I’ve gained tons of knowledge about other cultures and the program has allowed me to explore different parts of Minneapolis.”

M.Ed. and Initial License in Elementary Education candidate, Jessica Rifley, agrees that working with America Reads was eye-opening. Coming from a small town, Rifley was eager to find a job that “allowed me to leave campus and really immerse myself in various Minneapolis communities and begin networking with nonprofit and community organizations.”  Rifley, like many other literacy mentors, found a calling through the program. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I wanted to do when I graduated (I believe the total major count was five before settling on elementary education) but I knew that I wanted to work with young people in whatever capacity allowed me to make the most positive impact possible.”

“Elementary education students talk about how this is a double dose of teaching practicum. It builds on teaching experience,” says program coordinator, Megan Pieters. The program offers literacy mentors the chance to work with students in multiple settings for 6-10 hours per week and find out if education or youth work might be their career path.

For any student with a work-study award, this program has the potential to be transformative—not just for the mentees, but the mentors, as well.  “America Reads has definitely impacted my understanding of what the true definition of service is,” Rifley explains. “[I learned that] it is necessary to build connections with a community and understand the resources they have to offer, rather than focus on what needs to be “fixed” or changed.”

Junior youth studies major, Choua Lee, feels the program has helped her understand the complicated factors that can affect a child’s ability to be successful in the classroom. “I have learned that every individual is going through something, and that may impact their learning.” She adds that the program has helped her to be “more patient and understanding” when working with youth.

Partner site coordinator, Sister Sharon White of the East Side Learning Center notes that the “America Reads mentors are passionate and enthusiastic about making a difference. Staff often comment on the poise of the mentors and how seriously they take the responsibility. We appreciate our ten-year partnership with America Reads!”

For students who are interested in becoming a literacy mentor, America Reads is accepting applications. Students must have a work-study award, but do not need their own transportation. Starting rates are $10.50/hour.

Contact Jennifer Kohler with questions, or send a resume to Megan Pieters.

 

 

 

Study on pre-kindergarten program shows strategies for reducing the achievement gap

A new study shows that successful implementation of preschool-to-third-grade programs yields benefits in increasing school readiness, improving attendance, and strengthening parental involvement in school education—strategies that can close the achievement gap for children at risk.

“Scaling and sustaining effective early childhood programs through school–family–university collaboration” was published in the September/October 2017 issue of Child Development by Arthur Reynolds, professor of child development, and colleagues in the Human Capital Research Collaborative (HCRC).

The Child–Parent Center Preschool to Third Grade program (CPC P–3) is a collaborative school reform model designed to improve school achievement and family engagement from ages three to nine. The program provides small classes, intensive learning experiences, menu-based parent involvement, and professional development in co-located sites. In the study, investigators evaluated evidence from two longitudinal studies, the Chicago Longitudinal Study, begun in the 1980s, and Midwest CPC, which started in Minnesota and Illinois in 2012.

“We found that organizing preschool to third grade services through partnerships with schools and families creates a strong learning environment for ensuring that early childhood gains are sustained, thus reducing the achievement gap,” said Reynolds, HCRC co-director.

Implementation in five Saint Paul Public Schools serving high proportions of dual language learners led to gains in literacy of nearly a half a year at the end of preschool. The gains were sustained in kindergarten with further evidence of increased parent involvement and attendance. Small classes and engaged instruction contributed to these gains.

“Thanks to the support of the CPC P-3 program, family rooms at the five Saint Paul Public School sites are vibrant and welcoming environments,” said Kathleen Wilcox-Harris, chief academic officer of the Saint Paul Public School District. “It is not uncommon to see a hub of activity in these spaces promoting the bridge between the home, community, and school environments. The program with guidance from HCRC has led to a menu of family engagement opportunities known as the Families First Menu of Opportunities that is being implemented at other sites. The small classes and preschool to third grade alignment of instruction has also been of substantial benefit.”

In collaboration with Saint Paul Public Schools and other implementation sites, guiding principles of the effectiveness of program expansion are shared ownership, committed resources, and progress monitoring for improvement. The addition of Pay for Success financing in the Chicago Public School District shows the feasibility of scaling CPC P-3 while continuing to improve effectiveness. Each dollar invested in the CPC P-3 program has demonstrated a return of $10 in reduced need for remedial services and improved well-being.

Findings from the study support increased investment during the early grades. As Reynolds documented in a recent Education Week commentary, spending on early childhood development in the first decade of life is a smart investment.

“Since only about half of young children are enrolled in public preK programs, and less than 10 percent participate in P–3 programs that follow the key principles of CPC, increased access to high-quality education and family support services can make a big difference in reducing the achievement gap,” Reynolds said. “Nationally, only one third of fourth graders read proficiently on national assessments, and preschool or school-age programs alone are not enough to raise these rates to acceptable levels, especially for the most vulnerable children. CPC not only helps children be school ready, but improves reading and math proficiency over the school grades, which led to higher rates of graduation and ultimately greater economic well-being.”

Human Capital Research Collaborative, an interdisciplinary research institute in the Institute of Child Development, College of Education and Human Development, offers a multitude of resources for CPC P-3 implementation, including monitoring tools, manuals, and extensive resources on the website CPCP3.org.

Funding for the study is from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, U. S. Department of Education, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Rodriguez appointed chair of Department of Defense Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, was recently appointed chair of the Department of Defense’s Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing. Rodriguez has been a member of the committee since 2012.

The Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing exists within the Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness. The committee’s duties vary over time, but the primary focus is on the design, development, and validation research of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and related tests, including non-cognitive assessments addressing readiness for military life.

According to Rodriguez, “These assessments serve important roles in the identification, selection, and placement of individuals interested in serving in any of the six branches of the military or seeking military careers.”

In addition to its work developing and evaluating tests for the armed services, the committee reviews the efforts of the ASVAB Career Exploration Program used by many high schools across the nation. The program provides free access to many resources for students, parents, and educators—including the aptitude test, interest assessment, and career exploration tools.

 

 

Julie Sweitzer keynotes MCEE annual conference on teaching economics and personal finance

Julie Sweitzer speaks at MCEE annual conference.

On August 1, 2017, Julie Sweitzer, executive director of the College Readiness Consortium in the Department of Educational Psychology was featured as a keynote speaker at Minnesota Council on Economic Education’s (MCEE) annual conference.

As part of the 2017 Claudia Parliament Distinguished Lecture, Sweitzer spoke on what every teacher and student should know about college readiness.

“It is imperative that when we use the word ‘college,’ you understand that it means any sort of post-secondary credential, certificate or degree. It is not just a 4-year liberal arts education, it’s technical schools, community colleges, and 4-year institutions.”

She continues her lecture on the importance on the shift from college for some to college for all.

“We used to hear terms like ‘that kid is college material’ as if it was some how encoded in his/her DNA, and limited to a certain number of students, often preselected by demographics.”

The annual conference provides secondary and elementary teachers the opportunity for two days of sharing, learning, and networking. The goal of MCEE is to equip Minnesotans with the economic and personal financial understanding needed to succeed in today’s complex economy. View more information on the conference.

 

 

 

McConnell participates in Small Talk on closing the word gap in Minnesota

McConnell participates in panel discussion with members of the Think Small team (photo courtesy of Think Small)

Scott McConnell, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program and program coordinator for the counseling and student personnel psychology program, recently joined a group of early childhood experts from Think Small, an organization which provides service, resources, and advocacy for early childhood education in Minnesota, to discuss the impact that early conversations have on a child’s life.

During the “Small Talk” led by Think Small president and CEO, Barbara Yates, McConnell defined the word gap. He shared that research around the word gap began in the early 90s with a study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley. The two University of Kansas researchers wanted to find out why students from low-income families continued to lag behind students from wealthy families later in school despite best efforts to make preschool more accessible for all children.  Hart and Risley, McConnell explained, found  a significant difference in the total number of words spoken to children of rich and poor families by the age of three. In fact by age four, children in professional families had heard almost 45 million words on average, while children in families who were on welfare had heard an average of only 13 million words.

McConnell went on to discuss how Hart and Risley’s work is continuing through new technologies. He described one technology he is helping implement and evaluate—LENA Start, a parent education program for parents and family child care providers in the Twin Cities. Families using the LENA system, have their children wear vests which, according to McConnell, act as “word pedometers.” These vests automatically monitor the quantity of words and conversations in a young children’s language environment. Parents and childcare providers regularly review the vests’ measurements, encouraging parents to talk to their children more.

Think Small panelists, Dianne Haulcy, senior vice president for family engagement, and Gerri Fisher, parent engagement coordinator, shared Think Small’s focus on helping childcare providers increase parent engagement which led them to work with McConnell and LENA Start. Finally, both women shared their positive experiences using the LENA system to work with parents and students and close the word gap.

For more information on the word gap, visit MNTalks! or the Bridging the Word Gap Research Network. 

Rodriguez quoted by MPR on Minnesota math, reading scores

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center, and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, was recently quoted in the Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) article, “Minnesota math performance slipping; reading up slightly.”

The article discusses reading and math results from the Minnesota Comprehensive Reading Assessment tests. Students in grades three through eight and high schoolers take the reading and math version of these tests each year.

“The schools are limited because at the end of the year — like now — they get their test scores. And the community gets the test scores. But there’s no information in those test scores as to, How did we get there?” Rodriguez told MPR.

Read the full article. 

 

 

Minnesota gathers to address social emotional learning at Educational Equity in Action II

Attendees visit in between sessions at Educational Equity in Action.

On June 20 and 21, roughly 500 of Minnesota’s education leaders, researchers, policy makers, and nonprofit organizations gathered at Educational Equity in Action II. This was the second convening hosted by the University of Minnesota. Its focus: improving educational equity by “Working across schools and communities to enhance social emotional learning.”

Opening keynote

Brokenleg leads a small group discussion following his keynote.

Dr. Martin Brokenleg, Co-author of the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future and co-developer of the Circle of Courage model, explained that trauma from oppression, like that experienced by the American Indian community, can span generations.

“Our culture is plagued by intergenerational trauma,” said Brokenleg, whose mother’s family was among those imprisoned at Fort Snelling. He cited the incredibly high suicide rate among Native people, especially in the 18-30 age group, and among people in Ireland and Scotland after generations of oppression by the British, whose methods not coincidentally were adopted by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. “We’ve had a normal human reaction to an abnormal history.”

Brokenleg described his Circle of Courage model which supports character building or “teaching the heart” through generosity, belonging, independence, and mastery. Brokenleg finished his talk with practical strategies from Circle of Courage attendees could take back to their schools and communities to help young people—especially those suffering from intergenerational trauma—learn and grow.

Plenary

Members of Rodriguez’s Minnesota Youth Development (MYDRG)

Dr. Michael Rodriguez, professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota, Jim and Carmen Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, and co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center and the covening, led a plenary discussion on the results of the Minnesota Student Survey (MSS).

Rodriguez explained, although  at a high-level the MSS tells a positive story about the developmental skills and supports of Minnesota youth, a closer look at the data demonstrates the reality of the inequities some students experience in Minnesota’s education system. This is particularly apparent for students identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB); students who skip school; students who receive disciplinary action in school; and students who have experienced trauma.

“Ninety-nine percent of our youth say their goal is to graduate from high school—and 65 to 85 percent across demographic groups also want to go to college,” said Rodriguez. “That’s a lot higher than our state’s high school graduation goal for them, which is now about 90 percent by 2020!”

He emphasized that students’ own goals are higher than those we’ve set as a state.

Following the plenary, students in Rodriguez’s Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) led detailed discussions on the MSS results for some of these groups, including: American Indian students, Hmong students, students in special education, LGB students, and students experiencing trauma.

Download presentations from the convening on the MYDRG website.

Breakout sessions

Dr. Clayton Cook leads a discussion on school climate.

Throughout the convening, participants selected from 28 smaller group breakout sessions on social-emotional learning led by University of Minnesota researchers, youth engagement groups, school districts, the Minneapolis Department of Education, and more. Several sessions included youth as presenters and/or  focused on youth participatory action research projects.

Small group discussions

Attendees share their educational equity challenges in small groups.

Before the final keynote, attendees participated in a process called TRIZ. They met in small groups—dividing themselves up based on the different developmental skills and supports students need to be successful (identified in Rodriguez’s work). Participants started with the unusual task of listing actions communities might take to destroy the skill being discussed in youth. Then, they shared opportunities they had to remove some of these destructive activities and developed action plans for their schools, communities, and organizations.

View TRIZ sampling responses for destructive actions and action steps.

Action commitments

At the final session participants responded to the statement “I am committed to” with their commitments to take action on educational equity.

Closing keynote

Khalifa gives the final keynote at Educational Equity in Action.

Dr. Muhammad Khalifa, associate professor in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, closed out the convening by challenging the group to practice culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL). He asked that school leaders promote schooling that addresses the specific cultural and learning needs of students by focusing on the perspectives of parents, students, and community members.

“Change in schools can be promoted and fostered by ‘leaders,’ but culturally responsive school leadership is practiced by all stakeholders,” said Khalifa. “Community-based based knowledge informs good leadership practice.”

In this statement, Khalifa connected his keynote to Rodriguez’ and Brokenleg’s work. Each of the speakers stressed the importance of listening to all members of our community to improve educational equity.

Khalifa ended his talk by sharing strategies to help attendees to achieve CRSL in their own schools, organizations, and communities.

View an artist’s interpretation of Khalifa’s keynote by Jen Mein.

Thank you to our sponsors

The Educational Equity in Action convening was created by the University of Minnesota’s Educational Equity Resource Center. This year’s event was organized in partnership with the University’s Office for Equity and Diversity and made possible by the Minneapolis Foundation, Youthprise, Jim and Carmen Campbell Leadership Chair in Education & Human Development, College of Education and Human Development, Department of Educational Psychology, and the College Readiness Consortium.

Wackerle-Hollman, McConnell partner with SPPS on $400,000 grant to develop language measures for Hmong preschool students

Two researchers in the Department of Educational Psychology, Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, senior research associate in school psychology, and Scott McConnell, professor of special educationalong with Lori Erickson, assistant director in St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) Office of Early Learning, and colleagues—recently received a $400,000, two-year grant from the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). Their grant, “Addressing the Growing Diversity of Preschool Populations through Low Incidence Language Barriers: Hmong Language Development to Improve Assessment Approaches,” aims to explore, understand, and document Hmong language development.

“Our IGDILab team is pleased to partner with SPPS on such an important venture. We jointly recognize the importance of Hmong language development to the local community and look forward to learning how early language development affects young Hmong-English bilingual students’ language and literacy development,” said McConnell.

Wackerle-Hollman and Erickson will co-lead the project, focusing on the community’s expertise in Hmong language to understand how the language develops. St Paul is home to the largest urban Hmong population in the nation and nearly a quarter of enrolled SPPS students are Hmong. They’ll use these findings to develop a Hmong language version of the Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs)brief, easy to use measures of early language and literacy designed for use with preschool children. The new measures will be used by educators to assess Hmong preschool children’s early language and literacy skills.

“IGDILab continues to pursue the development of  meaningful measures for communities that are underserved, including bilingual students,” said Wackerle-Hollman. “This began with early language and literacy measures for Spanish-speaking students and continues through our partnership with St. Paul public schools to develop high quality measures for Hmong students.”

IGDILab is a research lab at the University of Minnesota led by Wackerle-Hollman and McConnell. The lab researches, designs, and tests IGDI measures to support data-based decision making by teachers, early childhood professionals, parents, and others to help improve early childhood outcomes. IGDILab has secured over $5 million in funding in the past decade to pursue complementary research including the assessment of English and Spanish language and early literacy development for children three, four, and five years of age as well as supporting resources to facilitate data-based decisions using scores derived from IGDIs.

CEHD embeds educational equity skills in teacher education curriculum

The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) created the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative (TERI) in 2010 to better prepare teachers for the challenges they face in a 21st century classroom. In the seven years since TERI began, CEHD has made important changes to the teacher preparation curriculum. One of these changes is a new emphasis on teaching “dispositions,” which describe the relational skills that teachers need to connect with their students, families, and communities.

By teaching relational skills, helping teachers understand the impact of their own racial identity on their students, CEHD helps teacher candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and mindsets they need to foster educational equity in their classrooms.

Learn more in this blog post from Misty Sato, associate professor and Campbell Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development.

Elsevier Connect features students’ article on effects of school sport participation on academic, social functioning

Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) members. Top (L-R): Carlos Chavez, Wei Song, Jose Palma, Kory Vue, and Rik Lamm. Bottom (L-R): Mireya Smith, Michael Rodriguez, Youngsoon Kang and Özge Erşan

Recently, Elsevier Connect highlighted research conducted by students in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. The article, “The effects of participation in school sports on academic and social functioning,” was one of three featured in the piece, “Thriving or surviving? Taking a wide angle on mental health.”1 According to the Elsevier Connect, this free article collection explored what’s behind good mental health for Mental Health Awareness Week.

The study

The students examined 2010 Minnesota Student Survey data and found 12th graders who participated in sports had higher GPAs, more favorable perceptions of school safety, and increased perceptions of family and teacher/community support. Psychological foundations of education student (now alumni), Martin Van Boekel, led the project. Quantitative methods in education students, Luke Stanke, Jose R. Palma Zamora, Yoojeong Jang, Youngsoon Kang, and Kyle Nickodem collaborated with Van Boekel on the study. Okan Bulut, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and member of the Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation (CRAME) at the University of Alberta, helped guide the students’ work. 

The Minnesota Youth Development Research Group

The researchers met and began work on the project through the Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) which is led by Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. MYDRG explores methodological and substantive challenges in youth development through positive psychology, ecological perspectives of youth development, and the translation of research to practice.

More information

Read the Elsevier Connect piece.

Read the full study, “The effects of participation in school sports on academic and social functioning.”

  1. Van Boekel, Martin, Bulut, Okan, Stanke, Luke, Palma Zamora, Jose R., Jang, Yoojeong, Kang, Youngsoon, Nickodem, Kyle. (2017). The effects of participation in school sports on academic and social functioning. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Volume 46, September–October 2016, 31–40. doi: /10.1016/j.appdev.2016.05.002

HSCL members share hands-on science with students and families at Hmong International Academy

Jessica Holst-Wolf and Arash Mahnan

Members of the Human Sensorimotor Control Lab (HSCL) in the School of Kinesiology attended the Hmong International Academy for a community outreach event last Thursday evening, March 30. The Academy, a culturally specific school for children Pre-K through Grade 8, asked several departments at the U of M to attend Family Fun Night to share information about their work and research for families and their children who attend the school.

Kinesiology doctoral students Jessica Holst-Wolf, Arash Mahnan and I-Ling Yeh set up three mini-stations demonstrating EMG (electromyography) technology, postural control, and how to measure haptic sensitivity, or sense of touch, and provided general information about kinesiology and movement science. HSCL lab director is Kinesiology professor Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D.

CEHD experts quoted in MinnPost on use of student data

Theodore J. Christ, professor (Educational Psychology) and director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement; Michael Rodriguez, professor (Educational Psychology) and Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development; and Mistilina Sato, associate professor (Curriculum & Instruction) and Campbell Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development were recently featured in the MinnPost article, “Minnesota is really good at collecting student data, but not the best at using it.”

The article discusses a recent report released by the Minnesota State Office of the Legislative Auditor which found “significant time and resources” were used to administer the tests but more than half of the principals and teachers surveyed said they felt “unprepared to interpret key test score data.”

“I mean, they’re just drowning in [data],” Christ told MinnPost. “It’s all over the place. And if they don’t have the capacity to use it, they just turn away from it.”

“Schools that get useful information from those MCAs are the ones that do the deeper dives,” Rodriguez explained in the article. “They look at the variability. They look at the group differences. They look at: How are students with these kinds of experiences doing versus students who don’t have those experiences, and which kinds of experiences are we giving a kid that helps them perform better? And that requires someone who can go in and breakdown those numbers and do some analysis. Not many schools have staff that can do that.”

“Every school seems to have its own assessment culture,” Sato explained to MinnPost. “Once you enter into the school, you have to first learn about how that school is using [data].”

The article mentions a class Rodriguez and Sato are developing for all students in Curriculum & Instruction’s teacher prep program. The course will help teacher candidates interpret the data available to them to better educate their students.

MinnPost ends the piece with an important question from Christ.

“We need to make a decision: Are we going to be a state who simply has decided data is not important? And then let’s stop collecting it, because we’re spending tens of millions of dollars collecting it, but we don’t know how to use it,” Christ told MinnPost. “Or are we going to be a state who values data and research? And [then] we’re both going to collect that data and support the use of it.”

Read the full article.

Sullivan helps MAP Equity Assistance Center provide schools with professional development, technical assistance

Amanda Sullivan

Amanda Sullivan, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, is one of several Equity Fellows assisting the new Midwest and Plans (MAP) Equity Assistance Center in providing professional development and technical assistance to regional school systems.

The MAP Center was recently awarded a five year grant by the U.S. Department of Education to assist with desegregation and other civil rights issues in public schools in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Sullivan will contribute to the development of MAP products and services to facilitate implementation of culturally appropriate multitier systems of support for students’ academic, social-emotional, and behavioral development.

“I’m excited to partner with the MAP Center to support schools’ efforts to create equitable systems and support the learning and wellbeing of all learners,” she says. “This is as important now as it’s ever been and with the MAP center, we have a great opportunity to develop tools tailored to our local communities.”

Sullivan and Susman-Stillman share research on how subsidy system impacts children with special needs

Amy Susman-Stillman
Amy Susman-Stillman
Amanda Sullivan

Amanda Sullivan, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, and Amy Susman-Stillman, Ph.D., research associate at the Center for Early Education and Development, recently hosted a research-to-policy briefing to discuss whether the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) equally benefits children with and without special needs.

The CCDBG is a $5.3 billion block grant program that provides funding to states, territories, and tribes in an effort to increase access to quality care for low-income families with young children. In 2014, Congress reauthorized the CCDBG and identified low-income children with special needs as a priority target population.

The briefing shared findings from a research project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research, Planning and Evaluation. For the project, Sullivan and Susman-Stillman analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of young children with and without special needs to determine whether children with special needs equally access child care subsidies and how child care subsidies affect use of various care types and quality.

Sullivan and Susman-Stillman’s analysis found that throughout early childhood, children with special needs are less likely to access subsidized child care and that subsidy use increased the likelihood that a family would use home- or center-based care. The analysis also found that subsidized children with special needs spend more hours in care than non-subsidized children with special needs, and that subsidy use does not ensure access to quality care.

According to Sullivan and Susman-Stillman, based on the study’s findings, stakeholders should address inequities in accessing subsidized care for children with special needs and reduce barriers parents and providers face in finding and supplying high-quality care.

Thurlow speaks at White House convening on education

Martha Thurlow, director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the college’s Institute on Community Integration, participated in the White House Convening on Better, Fairer, and Fewer Assessments in Washington, D.c., on Dec. 7.

The convening brought together about 100 representatives from states, districts, and schools, as well as researchers, and assessment developers. The purpose was to discuss how to improve assessments and reduce the burden of redundant assessments, consistent with the Obama Testing Action Plan released in October 2015.

Thurlow (pictured here, center) participated in a panel discussion on better, fairer, and fewer assessments. Representing the “fairer” aspect of the convening, she responded to questions from Gene Wilhoit, director of the National Center for Innovation in Education, and the audience. Thurlow also collaborated with Jose Blackorby of CAST in a breakout session focused on increasing accessibility.

“It was a great opportunity to ensure that the development of innovative assessments and efforts to reduce the number of assessments continue to ensure that the results are fair to all students, including those with disabilities and those who are English learners,” noted Thurlow.

NCEO provides national leadership in designing and building educational assessments and accountability systems that appropriately monitor educational results for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are English Language Learners. NCEO receives funding from the federal government, states, and other organizations.

Muñoz featured in MPR news story on challenges Hispanic students face in graduating from college

Munoz photoMinerva Muñoz, director of TRIO Student Support Services, was recently featured in an MPR news piece on the barriers Hispanic students face in obtaining college degrees.

Read the full article. 

Varma promotes positive math mindsets, parent involvement for minority and immigrant families

Keisha Varma, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, is working with Anne Sullivan Middle School, as part of the project GopherMath to design programs to increase parent involvement for minority and immigrant families. Her work is a collaboration with faculty from the Department of Educational Psychology, Institute of Child Development, and Department of Curriculum and Instruction and is funded by the University of Minnesota’s Office of the President and Generation Next.

Currently, Varma is designing programming promoting positive mathematical mindsets, including dealing with math anxiety and supporting math learning in 3rd – 6th grade students. Parents attend monthly meetings that include presentations and small group discussions. Next semester, her work is expanding to include text messaging to support interactions between parents and teachers and encourage curriculum-informed math activities at home.

McConnell, LENA Start recognized by Mayor Hodges

Scott McConnell headshot
Scott McConnell

The University of Minnesota and College of Education and Human Development, with leadership from Scott McConnell, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, were recognized recently by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Kara Dukakis from Too Small to Fail for contributions to the launch and evaluation of LENA Start, a promising intervention to promote parent-child interaction and early language development—and, as a result, reduce disparities—for families of young children. Part of this work will help support Mayor Hodges’s Talking is Teaching campaign.