Superintendent Maher provided a candid overview of the state of Providence public schools Continue reading
The Brown Education Department would like to share an interview given to the Brown Graduate School by Branta Lockett, AM ’16, about her experience in the Brown Executive Scholars Training (BEST) program. BEST, established in 2010, is designed to expose doctoral and advanced master’s degree students to careers in higher education administration. Every fall, eight to 10 graduate students are chosen to participate in this 12-week mentored, education and training program, which is sponsored by the Graduate School and the Office of Institutional Diversity.
How did you hear about the BEST program? What made you want to apply?
I initially heard about the BEST program while attending Admit Day in March 2016. During this event Dr. Wong, Chair of the Education department, mentioned that several of the Urban Education Policy students participated in the BEST program and had great experiences. I decided to apply to the BEST program because I wanted to learn more about higher education administration. In particular, I wanted to learn how administrators can use their positions to help create environments that support the success of marginalized students at a university.
How has or how will this program help you in your career or studies after Brown?
This program will help me in my career because it exposed me to different leadership styles. I learned practical skills that I can use in professional settings.
Did you already have a career plan in mind? Has this program influenced you in any way to change/alter it?
Before participating in the BEST program, I considered a career in higher education administration. The BEST program convinced me to continue pursuing my interests in higher education administration and to even start looking for jobs that combine higher education administration with education policy, which is what I studied at Brown.
Who was your administrative sponsor and what did you learn or enjoy about working with him or her?
Dr. Gail Cohee was my administrative sponsor. I enjoyed speaking with her about her position [as Director of the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center and Associate Dean of the College] and how she uses her administrative role to help improve the experiences of students at Brown University. I also enjoyed learning about her career path to becoming a senior administrator.
What piece of advice provided by the speakers resonated most with you?
Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo, Vice President for Academic Development, Diversity and Inclusion, gave us great advice for how to manage encounters with students and faculty who are upset or distressed about a given situation. She explained to us that the person is most likely upset because they are really passionate about the situation. Therefore, it is important to not only listen to their concerns but to really try to understand their perspectives and consider those perspectives as you try to help them resolve their concerns. Administrative work is demanding but it is important to honor how others feel and let them know that you care while also remembering not to take their criticisms personally. This is practical advice that is useful for working with people in any setting.
The Brown Department of Education hosted another installment of its Speaker Series last week, and was proud to feature Dr. Ansley T. Erickson, Assistant Professor of History and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Erickson co-directs the collaborative and digital historical research project Educating Harlem. Dr. Erickson is a graduate of Brown University, class of 1995, with a B.A. in Education Studies and Political Science.
As Dr. Erickson began her talk, she remarked how the classroom where we were assembled coincidentally held special significance for her. The lecture hall was the location of her first Brown University Education class, taught by the legendary education reform leader Ted Sizer, the Founding Director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. We were further honored to have the late Sizer’s wife, Nancy Faust Sizer, present in the audience for Dr. Erickson’s presentation.
American schools today are starkly segregated by race and class. After a few decades of limited attention to this problem, advocates are calling for a new era of desegregation. Dr. Erickson walked the group through her research on the history of desegregation in Nashville, Tennessee, one of the longest-running, broadest, and most statistically successful school desegregation plans in the country, and indicated how her case study could offer important lessons, and at times cautions, for desegregation efforts going forward.
Dr. Erickson pointed out various systemic roadblocks to true integration. For example, despite the new illegality of school segregation in the 1960s, it continued to be unofficially enforced by the state due to federal suburban home financing only being available to white families. Once busing was introduced, a more genuine integration began, however this still raised the moral question of if a black student’s education was “equal” if they were systemically being told that in order to receive a quality education they must be removed from their communities.
Dr. Erickson argued that fostering equality today depends on reckoning with segregation’s deep roots, desegregation’s complex history, and considering these intricate questions.
The Brown Education Department Speaker Series held its second installment last week, and was proud to feature Dr. Douglas Harris, a Professor of Economics, the Schleider Foundation Chair in Public Education, and founder and Director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans (ERA-New Orleans) at Tulane University.
Dr. Harris delivered a presentation to the Department entitled “Taken by Storm: The Post-Katrina New Orleans School Reforms and their Effects on Students“. The school reforms put in place in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina represent the most intensive test-based and market-based school accountability system ever created in the United States. Collective bargaining ended, school choice expanded, and nearly all public schools were taken over by the state. Now ten years later, Harris’s study is providing New Orleans with the first examination of the effects of this package of reforms on student achievement.
Harris walked Education Department faculty and students through his research step by step, showing that even when controlling the data for other influences, over time the reformed system of schools had clear, statistically significant positive effects on student outcomes. Despite these encouraging initial results, Harris cautioned that this extreme overhaul approach may not be generalizable to other geographic locations, but was only successful in New Orleans due to a specific combination of circumstances, such as population characteristics and the rapid influx of passionate teachers to the area post-Katrina.
Students in the Urban Education Policy Program can apply for travel funding, allowing them to explore education conferences or attend meetings relevant to their internships. Current student Melissa Lovitz (UEP ’16) recently took advantage of this travel program, flying to Washington D.C. to attend ParentCamp USA, an “un-conference” opportunity for parents and teachers to come together and model the four core beliefs highlighted in the book “Beyond the Bakesale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships“.
Melissa was kind enough to share some of her thoughts and reflections on her experience at ParentCamp USA. Read her words below!
“As part of my internship at Achievement First in Rhode Island, I had the opportunity to attend the first ParentCamp USA at the U.S. Department of Education. Not only did I have an incredible time but I also learned a lot. What follows are three lessons I gained from my experience.
- Networking is essential
My first reaction following ParentCamp USA was “there was so much networking!” I quickly realized that relationships and connections are inexplicably valuable in this work. My favorite moments of the day were from the conversations I had and the individuals I met. I loved sharing insights, questions, and concerns. I also really appreciated hearing directly from parents about their experiences and ideas regarding family and community engagement. The ParentCamp USA space was designed so that everyone (researchers, students, nonprofit managers, parents, etc.) was considered important in the discussions and workshops. Therefore, it was easy to engage in meaningful exchanges. Over and over again I experienced moments when it “clicked” and I knew I was in the right field. I knew what I was talking about and felt confident participating. I was motivated by each person I met and by everything I was hearing and learning.
- Talking about parent engagement without parents is irresponsible
One of the most meaningful challenges I left ParentCamp USA grappling with is the question of whether parents are partners or simply puppets. Ideally, schools and families strive to achieve authentic partnerships based on trusting relationships and collaborations. However, in practice this is not always exhibited. More often, parent involvement is driven by the school’s terms rather than the families’. In this way, when parents’ voices and ideas are not aligned with the school’s ideas, parent involvement and participation is not always appreciated. Based on what we are learning in our UEP coursework and what I experienced at ParentCamp USA, effective, genuine family engagement cannot be achieved unless parents have equal status and importance in the school environment and their voices are acknowledged as critical in conversations about family engagement.
- Don’t underestimate the power of your “digital business card”
On the day of the event, #ParentCampUSA was the #2 trending hashtag on Twitter. In Co-Coordinator Dr. Joe Mazza’s opening remarks, Dr. Mazza urged ParentCamp USA attendees to participate in the “un-conference” online. He reminded us that networking is everywhere and explained the utility of each person’s “digital business card”. As we continue to live in a technologically consumed world, connections via social media can propel ideas forward and provide spaces to continue conversations well beyond the scope of a one-day event. While at first I was hesitant, because I was concerned I would be distracted, I did join the Twitter conversations and enjoyed seeing everyone’s thoughts and what they found important or valuable come up on the live feed throughout the day. This feature was especially influential for me during the closing session – a “smack down” designed to allow participants to share what they learned and their overall thoughts from the day.
ParentCamp USA inspired me to continue to learn about how to engage families, and to develop strategies that capitalize on the strengths and voices in each family and community.”
Thank you, Melissa!
Last week, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) announced the recipients of its Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award. The Award is presented annually to recognize the highest quality of academic scholarship published in one of the AERA peer-reviewed research journals.
The UEP Program is proud to announce that the 2015 recipients are none other than Prof. Matthew A. Kraft and Prof. John P. Papay! Their paper “Can Professional Environments in Schools Promote Teacher Development? Explaining Heterogeneity in Returns to Teaching Experience” was published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis in December 2014. Read the entire paper, or check out the abstract below:
Mounting evidence suggests that the school context in which teaching and learning occurs can have important consequences for teachers’ career decisions, teacher effectiveness, and student achievement. Using a rich dataset from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, we investigate how an individual teacher’s effectiveness (as measured by contributions to student achievement) changes as they gain experience on the job. Specifically, we look at how the professional environment of the school influences the degree to which teachers become more effective over time. We construct our measure of the professional environment from teachers’ responses to state-wide surveys.
We find that there is large variation in the extent to which teachers improve, both across individual teachers and across schools. Teachers who work in more supportive environments improve at much greater rates than their peers in less supportive schools. On average, teachers working in schools at the 75th percentile of professional environment ratings improved 38 percent more than teachers in schools at the 25th percentile after ten years. These findings highlight the role of the organizational context in promoting or constraining teacher development. Transforming schools into organizations that support the learning of both students and teachers will be central to any successful effort to increase the human capital of the U.S. teaching force.
Congratulations Professors Kraft and Papay!
With Brown’s spring semester officially under way, the Urban Education Policy Program was eager to resume its UEP Speaker Series! Over the past two weeks, we proudly hosted two bright and engaging speakers at our campus – Dr. Andrew Ho and Dr. Maia Cucchiara:
Dr. Andrew Ho is a Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a psychometrician who studies test-based educational accountability metrics, and is also the chair of the HarvardX Research Committee that oversees research in Harvard University’s open online courses. His recent projects described bias in proficiency-based trends, developed robust achievement gap measures, and clarified the outcomes of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Drawing on his research on MOOCs, Dr. Ho delivered a presentation “HarvardX and MITx Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Outcomes from 2 years, 64 courses, and 1.5 million participants” to the UEP cohort. MOOCs, online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web, were the subject of media hype only a few years ago and promised to be “disruptive” to traditional education. Now with several years’ worth of data to look at, researchers such as Dr. Ho are beginning to understand the challenges and complexities that come with trying to measure MOOCs’ actual effects on education and learning.
Dr. Ho’s (only somewhat) tongue-in-cheek rules for analyzing MOOCs “Rule #1: Know your numerator. Rule #2: Know your denominator”, alluded to the fact that when dealing with literally millions of participants, changing your definitions can radically change your outcomes.
Dr. Maia Cucchiara is an Associate Professor of Urban Education at Temple University. She holds a joint Ph.D. in Education and Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and applies a sociological lens to questions of urban education policy and practice. Maia studies school reform and its implications for equity and civic capacity. In particular, she is interested in the intersection between social policies, race, class, and the lived experiences of people targeted by policy initiatives.
Drawing on her ethnographic research of a public school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Cucchiara wrote her Ph.D. dissertation and published a book entitled “Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities: Who Wins and Who Loses When Schools Become Urban Amenities“.
Dr. Cucchiara’s book and presentation to UEP students focused on the Center City Schools Initiative: a marketing and rebranding campaign that took place in the early 2000’s in public, city center schools of Philadelphia. The goal of the initiative was to improve public schools by getting more middle class students to attend Center City Schools, therefore increasing these schools’ tax base. Dr. Cucchiara’s study involved interviewing hundreds of community stakeholders, and attending PTO and community meetings over a number of years. Those interested in exploring the full conclusions of her important work should consider reading her book.
The UEP program is so grateful that Dr. Ho and Dr. Cucchiara were able to visit Brown for our spring installment of the Speaker Series. Thank you both for your insightful and fascinating presentations!
The Urban Education Policy program works to provide each student with valuable technical skills and enhanced perspectives to help advance future careers. As a tight-knit program, we remain closely connected with our alumni and enjoy celebrating their successes! We recently heard from a graduate who is working to accelerate the dialogue around early childhood absenteeism in Washington D.C.:
Mike Katz, UEP ’13, now works for the Urban Institute and helped lead recent research with D.C. Public Schools on pre-kindergarten absenteeism. The study involved two components, both focusing on the Head Start program. Mike’s work explored contributing factors to absenteeism and potential solutions, and culminated with the report Insights into Absenteeism in DCPS Early Childhood Programs: Contributing Factors and Promising Strategies. The work also analyzed attendance data, patterns, and trends for Head Start students in a separate report Title I schools, Absenteeism in DC Public Schools Early Education Program.
The two reports have received considerable media attention, including an NPR radio interview with Mike. The Washington Post and Education Week also ran stories on the work, (one of which was tweeted out by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan)!
Please join us in celebrating the work Mike Katz and his colleagues have accomplished by reading up on this interesting and important topic!
That is the question that Assistant Professor of Education and Economics John Papay set out to answer in a recent article published in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis along with former UEP faculty member Martin R. West. Although the authors found little to no performance differences in the short term, the findings suggested that the teachers in the residency program had a substantial increase in mathematics effectiveness by the fourth or fifth year of teaching. However, the authors concluded that over the long term there would only be moderate gains.
Papay, J. P., West, M. R., Fullerton, J. B., & Kane, T. J. (2012). Does an urban teacher residency increase student achievement? early evidence from Boston. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 34(4) pp. 413-434