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IES Grant

Title: META Researchers and Practitioners in Partnership (RPP) to Enhance Data Use Practice that Improves Student Learning
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Abrams, Lisa M. Awardee: Virginia Commonwealth University
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years Award Amount: $399,017
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H150088

Co-Principal Investigators: Dozier, Therese, Virginia Commonwealth University; Nancy Hoover, Chesterfield County Public Schools

Partner Institutions: Chesterfield County, Hanover County, Henrico County, and Richmond City Public Schools (Virginia)

Purpose: This researcher-practitioner partnership, the Metropolitan Educational Training Alliance (META), will develop teachers' capacity to use data to inform instruction. Specifically, the partners will (1) document the current status of teachers' data use practice to inform a pilot professional development model and (2) examine the model's influence on teachers' data use practice and association with improved student learning. In response to federally required testing mandates and accountability policies, school districts have increasingly relied on using data to support school improvement efforts and to inform administrative and instructional decisions in an effort to raise student achievement. However, data-use practices are not always effective in leading to improved student outcomes. This partnership will address the need to prepare teachers to use assessment data to improve instruction while determining the specific strategies and support most associated with improved student achievement outcomes.

Partnership Activities: The partnership will focus on conducting research to strategically address the need to build capacity for data use and to determine the specific tools and context in which data use practice has a positive impact on student achievement outcomes. This project will build teachers' data-use capacity using a process tailored to the particular school setting in which the data will be used. META will use focus groups and interviews in 4 districts to document teachers' current data use practices in Year 1. The partners will then develop a professional development program aimed at filling the gaps in teachers' data use skills. The program will be pilot tested in Year 2. META researchers will use the data they collect from this project to examine the associations between specific data use practices and improved student outcomes.

Setting: The initial data collection in Year 1 will take place in the 4 META partner districts around Richmond, VA: Chesterfield County, Hanover County, Henrico County, and Richmond City Public Schools. The pilot study in Year 2 will take place in Chesterfield County, VA

Population/Sample: Richmond City Public Schools is an urban system with 91% minority, (predominately African-American, students), 77% of whom receive free or reduced lunch. Chesterfield and Henrico counties are both suburban systems experiencing rapid growth, including increasing diversity, especially in the English Language Learner (ELL) populations. Both Chesterfield and Henrico serve students from a wide-range of socio-economic backgrounds and have schools whose demographics are similar to those of Richmond City. Henrico is one of the fastest growing districts in Virginia and has an annual student transient rate of 30%. Hanover is a rural district that is dealing with the impact of the rapid expansion of the metro-Richmond area.

The teacher sample in Year 1 will be drawn from a sample of teachers stratified by grade level (e.g., elementary and middle school) from each of the four META school districts (n = 80). The teacher sample in Year 2 will be drawn from a single META school division (Chesterfield County Public Schools) to pilot the professional development program (n = 20). Researchers will target English/reading and mathematics content areas from 2 elementary schools and 2 middle schools.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use mixed-methods case-study design used to study teachers' current data use practices. The qualitative data collection includes the use of focus groups, data-based case studies, inquiry team meeting observations, individual interviews, and reflective logs. The quantitative component includes a survey and student achievement data (e.g., interim assessments, common classroom assessments, and scores on the Virginia Standards of Learning exam). Several different analytic strategies will be used, including: (1) descriptive and correlational analyses of pre-post survey data; (2) content analysis of focus group and interview transcripts; and (3) a longitudinal analysis using an autoregressive model to determine the relationship between data use practice and student learning.

Outcomes: The outcomes of the partnership project include:

  • Increased capacity of META to continue to conduct joint research.
  • An IES Development and Innovation (Goal 2) research proposal to continue to refine the professional development program.
  • A strategic dissemination and publication plan to communicate the results of the research to practitioner and education research audiences.