Researchers from the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk (CRESPAR) at the Johns Hopkins University will be presenting the results of their latest studies at the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting, April 1-5 in New Orleans. With more than 20,000 members, AERA is a prominent international professional organization focusing on the advancement of educational research and its practical application. Johns Hopkins' contributions to the four-day conference include presentations on the following topics:
Evidence-based Education Policies:
As this year's Dewitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Distinguished Lecturer, Johns Hopkins researcher Robert Slavin asserts that educational researchers must seize every opportunity for research and reform.
"The scientific revolution that utterly transformed medicine, agriculture, transportation, technology, and other fields in the early 20th century almost completely bypassed the field of education," Slavin says. "If Rip Van Winkle had been a physician, a farmer, or an engineer, he would be unemployable if he awoke today. If he had been a teacher, he'd have to take a summer course on some of the content he'd missed, but he could still use his 19th century pedagogical skills."
Evidence-based policies have enormous potential to transform the practice of education, Slavin says.
He asserts that such policies could help education catch up to the most successful parts of our economy and society. "With a robust research and development enterprise and government policies demanding solid evidence of effectiveness behind programs and practices in our schools, we could see genuine, generational progress instead of the usual pendulum swings of opinion and fashion," Slavin says. Slavin developed Success For All with Nancy Madden and a team of researchers and curriculum developers at Johns Hopkins in the 1980s and 1990s. The school-wide elementary reform, designed to ensure academic success for every child, now reaches more than 1 million children in 1,600 schools in the United States and five other countries; it is managed by the Success For All Foundation in Towson, Md. Slavin is co-director of CRESPAR, a partnership between Johns Hopkins and Howard University.
The Dewitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Distinguished Lecturer Award is presented annually at AERA's annual meeting to an educational researcher whose work leads to improved learning for low-income at-risk elementary or secondary students. Slavin will speak at 10:35 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2.
Parent and community involvement in schools
Data from more than 500 schools in 13 states were analyzed by the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at CRESPAR to find out how schools are faring as they implement family and community partnerships.
Each year, schools in the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins send information to Hopkins researchers about their progress promoting family and community involvement in the schools. Schools that organized their community partnerships using subcommittees had greater success getting their programs up and running. The study suggests that schools with subcommittees were less disrupted by big changes, such as a principal's retirement.
The reports indicate how research-based approaches contribute to the quality of their work in assisting many schools to create more effective plans and programs of partnership. The symposium is scheduled for 12:25 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3.
Creating a Productive Learning Climate in a Disorderly
The Talent Development "High Five" Climate Program is a school-wide approach that emphasizes and encourages students' positive behavior as a way to address problems in so-called "toxic" middle schools. The hallmarks of the program are the As and Bs Behavior Standards that are used to teach behavior that is appropriate in specific school settings. The program features 10 components: "bully proofing" to address student conflict, dinner with the principal for students of the month and their parents, classroom rewards in the form of a token economy, staff appreciation, anger and grief management, a late room, a chill-out room, an in-school suspension room, behavior intervention plans, and a "caught you doing something good!" initiative.
The program was implemented during the 2000-2001 school year in a Philadelphia middle school. Though the results were favorable, the program was discontinued this year due to funding and administrative difficulties. The symposium is scheduled for 12:25 p.m. on Thursday, April 4.
Comprehensive Reform for Urban High Schools:
Grounded in the authors' experiences while restructuring several urban high schools, Comprehensive Reform for Urban High Schools: A Talent Development Approach (Teachers College Press, March 2002) offers a powerful alternative to current reform efforts. The structured, 176-page text details organizational, curricular and instructional strategies, providing practitioners with a workable blueprint for whole-school reform. Since its inception, the Talent Development Approach has gained national recognition and is currently expanding to about 50 schools across the country. This book is the story of what happened in schools when this model was implemented – what worked and what didn't. The Talent Development Approach holds great promise for transforming large, non-selective high schools into personalized, relevant, and effective communities. The authors will be selling and signing their book at the Teachers College Press Booth on Wednesday, April 3, at 10:30 a.m.
Vital Connections for Students at Risk:
Sociologists Beveridge and Catsambis identify the independent and interactive effects of family,
neighborhood and school on the probability of dropping out by 10th grade. They analyzed data from a restricted-use file of the National Educational Longitudinal Study and U.S. census data according to students' residential ZIP codes.
They discovered that students' educational experiences, family life and neighborhood living conditions have a greater impact on drop-out rates than the quality of their schools. High levels of student absenteeism is the only school-level characteristic that continues to be associated with high chances of dropping out by the 10th grade.
The presence of dropouts in the neighborhood dampens the positive effects of some parental practices, Beveridge and Catsambis say. But higher levels of socioeconomic status and frequent parent-school contacts counteract this negative neighborhood influence on students' chances of dropping out. Beveridge and Catsambis will present their work at 8:15 a.m. on Thursday, April 4.
To arrange an interview, contact Amy Cowles at (410) 516-7160 or Mary Maushard at (410) 802-6112 or (410) 516-8810.
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