Schools’ Roles in Rigorous Education Research: Two Cases from SEDL’s Current Effectiveness Study
Page 1 | 2
From the Teacher's Perspective
When asked about their experiences participating in the study so far, teachers’ responses vary. Some admit that it has been challenging to adapt to a new curriculum, a sentiment many teachers might express even if their school is not participating in an effectiveness study. But after facing some initial challenges, some teachers have reported a growing appreciation for their new curriculum. “You’re going to feel confused when it first starts, and you may think, ‘I don’t know if I like this or not,’ but I think it’s just a matter of getting used to the program and what they expect,” says Jeanne Caudill, a first grade teacher at Mullins.
SEDL’s study marks the first time that many teachers at Pike County Schools have participated in an effectiveness study, and some teachers had questions about what was expected of them. At first, some were concerned they might teach their assigned program in a way that would somehow invalidate the study. Training sessions with McGraw-Hill staff have helped teachers navigate the new curriculum and gain a better understanding of how much latitude they have in implementation. “One of the primary goals of the study is to capture what core curriculum adoption looks like in the real world,” says Geoffrey Borman, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-principal investigator on the study, “which I think has been reassuring to many of our schools and teachers in the study in this regard.”
In informal conversations, some teachers have commented that the new programs have greater depth and rigor and a wider range of resources to help students master content. “I really like that it’s very deep,” says Caudill, whose school is using Imagine It! “I’m very shocked that in first grade I have already taught my children nouns, adjectives, verbs, plurals, and possessive nouns, and it’s just the second week of October. And they’re doing well on the tests.”
Teachers have also found more formative assessment tools with the new programs. Nickie Blackburn, a third grade teacher from Southside Elementary explains that the Everyday Mathematics teacher’s guide “tells you throughout, ‘Use problem 5, page 67 [for example] to know if your kids are on track or not.’ And you just quickly go around the room.” Staton agrees. “It gives you a clearer picture of who needs RtI, who needs to be pulled aside and worked with more,” she says.
During interviews with SEDL researchers, teachers and administrators will have the opportunity to share their observations, both positive and negative, about the McGraw-Hill program they are using. “The interviews offer a way for teachers to give their perspective on the curriculum, to talk about what they think works and doesn’t work,” says Caverly. The researchers can then combine information from interviews with other data they collect to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the programs’ impacts on teachers and students.
The Role of Research in Education
Like their colleagues across the country, meeting the needs of students remains one of the biggest priorities for the teachers and administrators involved in SEDL’s study. “More than anything, teachers want their children to learn,” says Tonia Hopson, an instructional supervisor at Pike County Schools. “They want them to be, when they leave this little rural eastern Kentucky area, . . . successful and [able to] compete with anyone in the United States, or the world even. We have those expectations for our students.”
Beyond the immediate benefit of free instructional materials and professional development, Hopson thinks participating in the study will give Pike County Schools teachers the opportunity to improve and grow professionally. “It’s forced them to dig in deeper as they’ve looked at . . . what works, what doesn’t, and caused some deeper thinking and critical thinking about their practices,” says Hopson. By participating in this effectiveness study, teachers hope to gain resources and knowledge that will help their students achieve to their full potential. And by contributing to a growing base of education research, teachers will be helping colleagues they have never met.
If you would like more information or wish to nominate your district or school, please contact Sarah Caverly.
Learn more about eligibility requirements for participating in the study.
Page 1 | 2