Category Archives: ZZ Special Use – Achievement Gap

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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.

J.B. Mayo wins Josie Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award

mayojr-2011J.B. Mayo, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, received the Josie R. Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award at the University of Minnesota Equity and Diversity Breakfast on Nov. 17.

The Josie R. Johnson Award was established in honor of Dr. Josie R. Johnson in recognition of her lifelong contributions to human rights and social justice, which guided her work with the civil rights movement, years of community service, and tenure at the University. The award honors University faculty, staff, and students who, through their principles and practices, exemplify Dr. Johnson’s standard of excellence in creating respectful and inclusive living, learning, and working environments.

Mayo was recognized for his dedication to equity and social justice in schools. Colleagues noted, in particular, his scholarship and outreach related to LGBTQ youth and teachers and his support for LGBTQ communities of color in school and community settings. Read more about Dr. Mayo.

Learn more about past award recipients.

Rodriguez featured in University’s Driven to Discover campaign

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Dr. Michael Rodriguez

Opportunity gaps among children in our society are growing, and part of the problem is how we assess and educate them. 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’s quantitative methods in education program, is being featured in this year’s Driven to Discover campaign for his work to close  these gaps by helping schools understand how to work with diverse students, families, and communities. View the campaign.

Rodriguez to chair National Board of Professional Teaching Standards’ Technical Advisory Group

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Dr. 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’s quantitative methods in education program, was recently named chair of the Technical Advisory Group for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Also a member of the group’s Certification Council, Rodriguez has worked with NBPTS in a number of technical advisory roles since 2005.

Established in 1987, the mission of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards is to advance the quality of teaching and learning by: (1) maintaining high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do; (2) providing a national voluntary system certifying teachers who meet these standards; and (3) advocating related education reforms to integrate National Board Certification in American education and to capitalize on the expertise of National Board Certified Teachers.

C&I Graduate Triples Elementary Test Scores in One Year, Closes Achievement Gap

Bonnie Laabs
Courtesy of City Pages

Reporter Susan Du of City Pages recently reported that after just one year as the science teacher in struggling Hamline Elementary school, Bonnie Laabs raised the science proficiency rate from 17 percent to 61 percent, meeting the statewide average. According to Jodie Wilson, Hamline’s testing coordinator, this tremendous jump is “extremely unheard of” in St. Paul Schools.

Laabs uses a combination of extra-academic advice and mentoring, along with creative explanations of difficult science terminology with the help of classroom pets to help students overcome hurdles in scientific understanding.

She is also open about her own past in which she struggled with abuse at an early age, spent time in foster care, and got thrown out of school. She uses her redemption through education as an example to her students, allowing them to open up about their own fears and problems. Laabs also tells her story to underscore the importance of completing homework and getting a good education.

Bonnie Laabs graduated with a Ph.D. from the Department of Curriculum & Instruction with a focus on family, youth, and community. To read the entire article visit the CityPages website.

Rodriguez talks with MPR, Pioneer Press about state math, reading scores

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 interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and quoted in the Pioneer Press on the 2016 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs). Students’ performance on these statewide tests— which measure progress toward Minnesota’s academic standards in reading and math— remained largely unchanged over last year. More specifically, Black, Hispanic, and Native American students’ test scores continued to be roughly one-third that of their white counterparts.

Dr. Rodriguez told the Pioneer Press, although the state has made smart policy decisions to try to close achievement gaps, the MCA results don’t reflect that. “We haven’t seen it in the outcomes, and that’s really frustrating,” he said. “This is not just the Minnesota story. We see this nationally.”

“It’s really unfortunate that we expect so much from this single event test score,” Rodriguez said in his interview with MPR. “It’s telling us there’s not much movement. But I’m not convinced that single measure is going to be sensitive enough to pick of the kinds of movements that are occurring.”

When asked (by the Pioneer Press) what schools can do to improve outcomes for low-performing student groups, Dr. Rodriguez suggested communities be brought into the schools, making the instruction more culturally relevant to the students and demonstrating that education leads to greater opportunities.

Read the Pioneer Press article.

Listen to the MPR interview.

2016 Educational Equity in Action: A recap

Over 600 education leaders, researchers, policy maters, and non-profit employees attended our two-day “meeting of the minds.” Attendees left feeling inspired and connected and with the tools they need to improve educational equity in their organizations and communities. See the full recap.

Research reveals Child-Parent Centers’ benefits in closing achievement gap, reducing inequality

Compared with routinely implemented preschool, Child-Parent Center (CPC) participation was linked to greater school readiness skills and parental involvement, according to a study by a research team at the University of Minnesota’s Human Capital Research Collaborative (HCRC) and Institute of Child Development. The research also demonstrated that CPC expansion to new schools and diverse populations is both feasible and effective.

The CPC program is an early childhood intervention model that provides comprehensive educational and family-support services to children starting at ages 3 to 4 in high-poverty neighborhoods, with continuing services up to third grade. Under an Investing in Innovation Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, HCRC co-director Arthur Reynolds and the University team began an expansion of the CPC program in 2012 in four school districts, including St. Paul; Chicago; Evanston, Illinois; and Normal, Illinois.

This is the first study on the Midwest expansion of CPCs and is featured in the July issue of Pediatrics. The research, led by Reynolds, director of the CPC expansion project and professor at the Institute of Child Development, studied full- and part-day preschool programs from a large cohort of low-income children who were enrolled in Midwest CPCs or alternative preschools in the fall of 2012 in 30 Chicago schools. Co-authors were Momoko Hayakawa, Midwest CPC expansion manager, and HCRC researchers Brandt Richardson, Michelle Englund, and Suh-Ruu Ou.

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Arthur Reynolds

“Our findings show that a strongly evidence-based program, which sets CPCs apart from many early education programs, can be effectively scaled in a contemporary context and within a preschool to third grade system of continuity,” Reynolds said.

The study involved end-of-preschool follow-up of a matched-group cohort of 2,630 predominantly low-income, ethnic minority children. The study, which assessed the preschool component, included 1,724 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds enrolled in 16 CPC programs. The comparison group included 906 children of the same age who participated in the usual school-based preschool services in 14 matched schools.

Compared with the children enrolled in the usual state pre-kindergarten and Head Start services, CPC participants had higher mean scores on all performance-based assessments of literacy, socio-emotional development, and physical health. Seventy percent of CPC participants were at or above the national average on six domains of learning, compared with 52 percent for the comparison group. Additionally, the scores were equivalent to more than a half-year gain in proficiency skills and a 33 percent increase over the comparison group in meeting the national norm.

Seventy-five percent of CPC full-day preschool participants met national performance norms compared to sixty-eight percent for CPC part-day participants, but both groups showed significantly greater performance than the comparison group. Compared to the CPC part-day group, full-day participants had significantly lower rates of chronic absence.

CPC participants also had higher ratings of parental involvement as 59 percent of the program group exhibited high involvement in school compared to 20 percent for the comparison group. For example, as described by one CPC parent, “I came to the workshops [at the center], and movie day, or game night. Stuff like that has helped me be more involved with my son, and learn how to create different activities for him to do.” Another parent reported “being able to see what he was doing in the classroom, I could relate to school more. I felt like this was a tool for me at home as a parent to make it a more seamless transition.”

Because of their demonstrated impact on well-being, early childhood programs are at the forefront of prevention for improving educational success and health. Life-course studies indicate that participation in high-quality, center-based programs at ages 3 and 4 links to higher levels of school readiness and achievement, higher rates of educational attainment and socioeconomic status as adults, and lower rates of crime, substance use, and mental health problems.

The study provides support for increasing access to effective preschool as a strategy for closing the achievement gap and addressing health disparities. It demonstrates that preschool appears to be a particularly effective approach for strengthening school readiness, and it supports the positive effects of full-day preschool over part-day as key factor in increasing access to early childhood programs.

Although publicly-funded preschool programs such as Head Start and state prekindergarten serve an estimated 42 percent of U.S. 4-year-olds, most provide only part-day services and only 15 percent of 3-year-olds are enrolled. These rates, plus differences in quality, intensity, and comprehensiveness, may account for the finding that only about half of entering kindergartners have mastered the cognitive skills needed for school success.

Federal initiatives such as Healthy People 2020 and the President Obama’s Preschool for All plan prioritize improving children’s school readiness skills. The results of this study show that gains are possible with effective programs that provide comprehensive services.

The study noted that “because CPC provides more intensive and comprehensive services than most other programs, larger and more sustained effects have been found on educational, economic, and social well-being.” In CPC, class sizes are small, family services are extensive, and curriculum is focused on child engagement in all aspects of learning.

“Closing the achievement gap requires not only highly effective early education, but a strong system of continuity into the elementary grades,” Reynolds said. “A major reason why CPC has sustained effects leading to high economic returns is that it is high in quality but also includes comprehensive services over many years.”

A description of the CPC program and manual is available here.

The Midwest Expansion of the Child-Parent Center Education Program, Preschool to Third Grade, is an intervention project of the Human Capital Research Collaborative (HCRC) at the University of Minnesota and eight school districts and educational partners. HCRC is a unique partnership between the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota to advance multidisciplinary research on child development and social policy.

Noguera, Duncan-Andrade’s keynotes summarized by MinnCan

Karen Shapiro, technology instructor at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park in South Minneapolis and blogger for MinnCan, recently attended Educational Equity in Action and wrote a short summary of Pedro Noguero and Jeff Duncan-Andrade’s keynote speeches.

Read the summary of Dr. Noguero’s speech.
Read the summary of Dr. Duncan-Andrade’s speech.

The Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now (MinnCan) works to ensure that every child in Minnesota has access to a great public school. Through communications, research and advocacy, they partner with teachers, school leaders, parents, community members and policymakers to advance practices and policies that will help all Minnesota kids succeed.

Jeff Duncan-Andrade: Equality has failed

Headshot of Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade
Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade

Last week, I was honored to be a keynote speaker at Educational Equity in Action, a first of its kind event held at the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). I have spent my career blurring the lines between academic, teacher, and school leader while advocating that our country shift toward an equity-based educational system. I was encouraged that the event attracted more than 670 education professionals from across the country and the state of Minnesota. It gives me hope that the concept of educational equity – as opposed to educational equality – is gaining momentum in America today.

Making this shift in our thinking and educational policy is vital if we are serious about fulfilling America’s promise of a pluralistic, multi-racial democracy. Read more.

Rodriguez, Sweitzer partner on MinnPost op-ed addressing educational equity in Minnesota

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s Quantitative Methods in Education program and co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center, and Julie Sweitzer, director of the College Readiness Consortium and co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center, recently wrote a commentary featured in MinnPost,Educational Equity is Minnesota’s most important challenge.”

Julie Sweitzer headshot
Julie Sweitzer

In the article, Rodriguez and Sweitzer argue that if we fail to replace the state’s aging “baby boomer” workforce by helping our increasingly diverse student body graduate, “the state economic forecast is grim.”

The co-directors told MinnPost readers that there is no one way to bring about educational equity.  The key, they say, is to “focus on what works for whom, in what context and conditions, and develop a culture of continuous improvement that adjusts and tailors effective practices to each setting.”

Rodriguez and Sweitzer invited community members from across the state to be part of the solution by attending the first Educational Equity in Action convening hosted by the University of Minnesota.

Read the full article.

Register for Educational Equity in Action.