SEDL Staff Present at AERA Annual Meeting

March 31, 2008
Austin, Texas

Laura Shankland
Communications Associate
Phone: 512-391-6556

SEDL staff members Zena Rudo, Sarah Caverly, and Lisa Raphael made presentations at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in New York City on March 24-28, 2008.

Rudo and Caverly presented “Education Renewal Zones: Increasing Partnerships and Sharing Resources for School Improvement” on Wednesday, March 26 in a session titled “Community-School Collaboration: Opportunities and Challenges.”

Rudo and Caverly’s paper is based on SEDL’s evaluation of the Arkansas Education Renewal Zone (ERZ) initiative over a 2-year period. This ongoing state initiative helped identify and implement strategies to improve public school performance and student achievement while coordinating resources of higher education institutions, regional education service cooperatives, and other service providers. Eight ERZs were formed throughout Arkansas, and SEDL surveyed partners involved in each ERZ— including teachers, administrators, and parents—to see what types of progress were made over the 2-year period. Rudo and Caverly report that the ERZs helped strengthen professional development by offering more professional development opportunities, including opportunities to share classroom practices with other schools. They also found that communication and collaboration improved between the schools and partners in the ERZs.

Raphael presented “Balancing Academic and Socioemotional Needs: Lessons Learned from Departmentalizing Middle Grades in an Urban District.” Her paper was part of a session titled “Investigations of Middle Grade Students,” also held on March 26.

Raphael’s presentation is a result of her work as a researcher at the University of Illinois where she conducted research and evaluation projects in Chicago Public Schools. Upon evaluating a middle grades initiative, Raphael’s team found that participating educators and administrators wanted supports to address students’ socioemotional issues such as mental health needs. The educators felt that the students’ socioemotional needs affected the implementation of the initiative and often dominated key aspects of the implementation.

About AERA
AERA is a national research society with approximately 25,000 members. It has more than 160 special interest groups and publishes six peer-reviewed journals.

About SEDL

SEDL (formerly Southwest Educational Development Laboratory) is a nonprofit corporation based in Austin, Texas. SEDL is dedicated to solving significant education problems and improving teaching and learning through research, research-based resources, and professional development. SEDL has field offices in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. For more information, visit