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IES Grant

Title: Developing and Testing Training Modes for Improving Teachers' Race-Related Competencies to Promote Student Learners' Academic Adjustment
Center: NCER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Umaņa-Taylor, Adriana Awardee: Harvard University
Program: Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2020 - 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $1,399,993
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A200278

Purpose: This project will develop and test three modes of delivery for a program designed to prepare educators to implement the Identity Project curriculum, a school-based curriculum that aims to build students ethnic-racial identity (ERI) to improve academic outcomes. Compared to non-Latino White youth, Black and Latino youth are less likely to meet grade-level expectations in math and reading and to graduate from high school. These inequities are explained, in part, by ethnic-racial minority youths' experiences of ethnic-racial discrimination, which can interfere with students' ability to concentrate on and excel in their schoolwork. Existing work, however, suggests that supporting the ERI development of these students could reduce academic inequality. Findings from a randomized controlled trial found that the Identity Project promoted students' ERI and, in turn, increased their academic adjustment. The next step is to identify the most efficient and effective method to prepare educators to engage with students on topics of ethnicity-race and effectively deliver this program in their classrooms.

Project Activities: The researchers will iteratively develop and refine different professional development approaches to support teachers' ability to implement the Identity Project curriculum. They will conduct usability and feasibility tests and run a pilot study that compares the different modes to determine which may be most effective. They will also analyze the cost of the different approaches.

Products: This project will develop modes of professional development and their cost and prepare peer-reviewed publications, presentations, and additional dissemination products (e.g., research briefs) that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The academic settings for the research include high schools in the greater Boston metro area.

Sample: The first qualitative sample includes 10 teachers, and the second qualitative sample includes 45 teachers recruited from 3 high schools. Approximately 1,800 students (half 9th grade, half 10th grade) will be recruited from 3 high schools (same schools as 45 teachers), the majority of students are likely to be racial/ethnic minorities.

Intervention: The Identity Project is a school-based universal intervention program that provides adolescents with tools and strategies for engaging in ERI development. The lessons engage students and teachers in practices that promote ERI development via a curriculum centered around culturally sustaining pedagogical practices (CSP). The Identity Project training program engages teachers in activities and lessons designed to further their learning in four intersecting domains: (a) gaining ERI content knowledge, (b) engaging in self-reflection regarding their own ERI, (c) understanding systemic inequities and how they contribute to ethnic-racial stereotypes and threats faced by members of ethnic-racial minority groups, and (d) learning strengths-based facilitation strategies for discussing issues of race and ethnicity in the classroom. The training currently consists of a 3.5-day intensive summer camp. This project will develop two additional modes of delivery for the training.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use a community-based participatory research approach, including qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis (seven qualitative and quantitative assessments for teachers; four quantitative assessments for students). Phase 1 of the iterative development will focus on gathering data via focus groups to refine the training materials and conducting member checks to confirm or refute the researchers' assumptions. Phase 2 begins the pilot study that utilizes random assignment of condition and examines the impact of the multiple modes of delivery for the professional development intervention on teacher outcomes. In Phase 3 (the following school year), teachers will be implementing the Identity Project curriculum with their students. Researchers will examine the impact of the professional development intervention on student outcomes as well as teacher outcomes such as classroom practice and implementation of the curriculum.

Control Condition: The researchers will compare the three modes of professional development: (1) in-person training spread throughout the school year; (2) remote, self-administered online professional development training; and (3) a 3.5 day, in-person professional development training delivered in one summer week.

Key Measures: Key outcome measures include ethnic-racial identity (teachers and students), teachers' culturally sustaining pedagogy and colorblind racial ideology, students' global identity cohesion and key academic outcomes (i.e., academic efficacy, academic engagement, school belonging, standardized test scores, unweighted grade point average, and absences).

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will use longitudinal growth curve models that are non-linear with respect to time (e.g., quadratic, cubic patterns) and in the parameters (e.g., spline, latent basis) to identify growth trajectories in teachers' ERI and CSP across time. They will use multigroup structural equation models to examine variability in mediational processes for student outcomes as a function of mode of delivery. Following a multi-informant approach, qualitative data and quantitative data from classroom observations and students' reports of teachers' CSP will be used to validate teachers' self-reports, underscoring potential discrepancies and sources of agreement in the process of teachers' change due to the training.

Cost Analysis: The researchers will conduct a detailed cost analysis of each mode of training using a Resource Cost Model approach. They will explore start-up costs versus ongoing maintenance costs and will examine how total costs convert to costs per student, teacher, and school.