blog posts and news stories

Presenting Research-Based Tools and Resources for Family & Community Engagement at the NIEA Convention

On October 8, 2016, Jenna Zacamy, Erica Plut, and Haidee Williams (AIR) presented a workshop at the National Indian Education Association convention in Reno, Nevada. The workshop, Research-Based Tools and Resources for Family & Community Engagement, provided approximately 50 attendees with research literature on this topic, examples of promising practices to engage families and communities in various contexts gathered from the literature, and a method for exploring local programs and planning for improvements. Conversations were rich as attendees shared their current strategies and discussed new ideas. Implementing research-based practices for family and community engagement specific to Native Americans can help improve engagement and achievement outcomes in these unique communities.


Upcoming REL-SW Workshop Event

On November 19th, Erica Plut and Jenna Zacamy will join REL Southwest Alliance Liaison Haidee Williams in facilitating a workshop on Identifying Practices to Engage Native American Indian Families in Students’ Academic and Career Aspirations. The workshop is being offered to the Oklahoma Rural School Research Alliance members and their colleagues and will take place in Norman, Oklahoma. The goals of the workshop are:

  1. To increase alliance members’ knowledge and understanding of the research literature addressing promising practices to engage Native American Indian families in students’ academic and career aspirations
  2. To provide an opportunity to use the research literature to inform the refinement or development of family and community engagement programs or initiatives that are focused on students’ academic and career aspirations

You can find more information about this event on the IES website.


Understanding Logic Models Workshop Series

On July 17, Empirical Education facilitated the first of two workshops for practitioners in New Mexico on the development of program logic models, one of the first steps in developing a research agenda. The workshop, entitled “Identifying Essential Logic Model Components, Definitions, and Formats”, introduced the general concepts, purposes, and uses of program logic models to members of the Regional Education Lab (REL) Southwest’s New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance. Throughout the workshop, participants collaborated with facilitators to build a logic model for a program or policy that participants are working on or that is of interest.

Empirical Education is part of the REL Southwest team, which assists Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas in using data and research evidence to address high-priority regional needs, including charter school effectiveness, early childhood education, Hispanic achievement in STEM, rural school performance, and closing the achievement gap, through six research alliances. The logic model workshops aim to strengthen the technical capacity of New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance members to understand and visually represent their programs’ theories of change, identify key program components and outcomes, and use logic models to develop research questions. Both workshops are being held in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Factor Analysis Shows Facets of Teaching

The Empirical team has illustrated quantitatively what a lot of people have suspected. Basic classroom management, keeping things moving along, and the sense that the teacher is in control are most closely associated with achievement gains. We used teacher evaluation data collected by the Measures of Effective Teaching project to develop a three-factor model and found that only one factor was associated with VAM scores. Two other factors—one associated with constructivist pedagogy and the other with positive attitudes—were unrelated to short-term student outcomes. Val Lazarev and Denis Newman presented this work at the Association for Education Finance and Policy Annual Conference on March 13, 2014. And on May 7, Denis Newman and Kristen Koue conducted a workshop on the topic at the CCSSO’s SCEE Summit. The workshop emphasized the way that factors not directly associated with spring test scores can be very important in personnel decisions. The validation of these other factors may require connections to student achievements such as staying in school, getting into college, or pursuing a STEM career in years after the teacher’s direct contact.


IES Holds its First Workshop on How States and Districts Can Evaluate Their Interventions

Empirical Education staff members participated in a workshop held in Washington sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) on April 24. The goal of the event was to encourage “locally initiated impact evaluations.” The primary presenter, Mark Lipsey of Vanderbilt University, called upon his extensive experience in rigorous evaluations to illustrate and explain the how and why of local evaluations. David Holdzkom of Wake County (NC) provided the perspective from a district where the staff has been conducting rigorous research on their own programs. Empirical Education assisted IES in preparing for the workshop by helping to recruit school district participants and presenters. Of the approximately 150 participants, 40% represented state and local education agencies (the other 60% were from universities, colleges, private agencies, R&D groups, and research companies). An underlying rationale for this workshop was the release of an RFP on this topic. Empirical Education expects to be working with a number of school districts on their responses to this solicitation, which is due October 2, 2008.


Empirical Education Pilots Workshop at REL-NEI Regional Meeting

Providence, RI was the site of REL Northeast and Islands’ 2007 Regional Meeting on Teacher Quality. Empirical Education staff headed out to the east coast to pilot the “Becoming Good Consumers of Research” workshop to an audience of about 30 education researchers, school administrators, university professors, and other education professionals interested in using research to inform school decisions. Gloria Miller, the company’s director of evaluation design, facilitated group discussions that touched on identifying different types of research and potential sources of bias. Gloria also provided participants with a Critical Reader’s toolkit designed to help readers evaluate the trustworthiness and relevance of various pieces of research. “Consumers of Research” is the first in a planned series of workshops focused on increasing the understanding and use of research in schools. The next round of workshops, scheduled for March 2008, is currently being developed.