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IES Grant

Title: Project PIMSELA: Partnering to Investigate Math and Science English Learners' Access and Achievement
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Varghese, Manka Awardee: University of Washington
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (9/1/2017-08/31/2019) Award Amount: $397,500
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H170019

Co-Principal Investigators: Min Lee and Elizabeth Sanders; Veronica Gallardo and Eric Anderson (Seattle Public Schools)

Partner: Seattle Public Schools

Education Issue: The PIMSELA partnership is specifically committed to understanding factors that can explain English learner (EL) students' diminished access to, and underachievement in, math and science. The results of our research collaboration will allow PIMSELA partners to generate policy recommendations for improving equitable EL participation in math and science during middle and high school, as well as recommendations for promoting improved high school graduation rates and access to postsecondary education.

Partnership Goals: Project PIMSELA will address four collaboratively targeted efforts: (1) formalize the partnership of researchers and practitioners at the University of Washington and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) by collectively tackling research questions that are meaningful and relevant to SPS needs, (2) generate policy recommendations for SPS that address ELs' underrepresentation and underachievement in math and science, (3) disseminate products and policy recommendations based on the research findings, and (4) develop a future research plan based on our exploratory analyses in understanding the factors related to ELs' achievement and access to math and science.

Partners and Partnership Activities: Project PIMSELA is a policy-oriented partnership between the University of Washington's College of Education, and the SPS District. The structure of the PIMSELA partnership includes a lead team of researchers, educators, and graduate students, all of whom will engage collaboratively in research and development activities of groundwork, theorizing and sense making, dissemination, and policy recommendations. The partnership plans to submit an exploratory grant proposal based on what has been learned during those activities.

Setting: This partnership will collect and use data from SPS, the largest and most linguistically diverse urban school district in Washington State. Thirteen percent of SPS's total student population has been identified as EL, representing over 132 home languages.

Population/Sample: Participants who will be included in this study's analyses include all students (current ELs, former ELs, and non-ELs) enrolled in SPS at the secondary level from the school years of 2008–2016.

Initial Studies and Analyses: The PIMSELA partnership will initially focus on three research questions, which were developed collaboratively with the major stakeholders at SPS and may evolve further over the course of the project period. The first question is: What is the gap between EL (both current and former) versus non-EL (native English-speaking students) access and achievement in middle and high school math and science in SPS? Second, the team will explore the direct and unique factors that explain ELs' access and achievement in middle and high school math and science in SPS. Third, based on data collected and analyzed for the first two research questions, the partners will consider and explore feasible policy recommendationsthat might address inequities in access and achievement of ELs in middle and high school math and science in SPS. Based on available student, classroom, and school data, the partners will perform initial descriptive analysis to understand EL patterns of academic course-taking and EL instructional programs, and then employ multilevel statistical models to test the direct and unique contributions of student and school characteristics to a host of outcome variables. Further, the research team will conduct follow-up qualitative analyses to investigate the findings from the quantitative analyses at the ground level. Together, researchers will use the analytic results to generate policy recommendations and develop plans for future work.