Middle School

A Researcher-Practitioner Partnership to Assess the Impact of COVID-19 Recession on NGSS Implementation

This project will investigate how NGSS has been implemented in California schools during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Through a state-wide survey, analysis of administrative data, interviews and case studies, this project will assess the impact of COVID-19 on NGSS implementation on a large scale, and more importantly, the extent to which high minority, high-poverty districts are disproportionately affected. It will also identify policy options available to state and school districts.

Award Number: 
2128789
Funding Period: 
Tue, 06/01/2021 to Tue, 05/31/2022
Full Description: 

Today 44 states serving 71 percent of U.S. students have education standards influenced by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Local implementation is the key to the success of NGSS, yet little is known about the extent to which NGSS have been implemented in K-12 schools during COVID-19. Policymakers, educational leaders, and researchers urgently need data to know whether and how NGSS implementation is taking hold in their schools in light of changes due to COVID-19 so that they may design better supports for implementation in anticipation for school reopening for in-person learning in September 2021. This project will investigate how NGSS has been implemented in California schools during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Through a state-wide survey, analysis of administrative data, interviews and case studies, this project will assess the impact of COVID-19 on NGSS implementation on a large scale, and more importantly, the extent to which high minority, high-poverty districts are disproportionately affected. It will also identify policy options available to state and school districts. By collecting critical and timely data, this project will contribute new knowledge to understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on NGSS implementation. This knowledge is a necessary step towards policy and practice solutions that support schools and teachers in continuing implementation of NGSS and expanding educational opportunities to underrepresented minorities, English learners, and students with disabilities in post-COVID-19.

The goals of the project are to (1) assess the impacts of COVID-19 on NGSS implementation in California; (2) examine whether and how high-minority, high-poverty districts are impacted more acutely than other districts; and (3) identify policies and programs state and local districts could prioritize to mitigate the impacts. A mixed methods approach will be used to answer research questions related to the above goals. Specifically, a survey of all school districts in California will be conducted. Text mining of school district administrative data will also be performed. Qualitative methods will include interviews and case studies. Extensive outreach efforts, including one-on-one briefings with the members of the legislative and executive branches, will also take place throughout the year. A researcher-practitioner partnership will be formed through engaging the California State Department of Education in allocating resources for NGSS implementation and local school districts in developing guidelines to support teachers in NGSS-aligned instruction. Project findings will be widely disseminated through online resources and digital libraries to school districts, science teachers, and curriculum developers. Project findings will inform state policymaking and increase the partnerships between research institutions and state government.

Mapping, Clarifying, and Communicating Key Ideas about Collaborative Learning

This project will synthesize research on computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). The science of CSCL achieved advances in the past decade, including producing a research handbook—however, practitioners do not have easy access to research journals, nor time to sift through the latest findings to guide their practice. Further, conventional forms of research synthesis, such as research handbooks or long synthesis papers, serve narrow audiences and are rarely read by practitioners.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
2101341
Funding Period: 
Tue, 06/01/2021 to Fri, 05/31/2024
Full Description: 

This project will synthesize research on computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). Collaborative learning occurs often in preK-12 STEM teaching—yet most teachers are unaware of research findings on how to organize collaboration among students to increase learning. These research findings can support key STEM teaching practices such as argumentation, project-based learning, peer instruction, equitable participation, and inquiry-based learning. The science of CSCL achieved advances in the past decade, including producing a research handbook—however, practitioners do not have easy access to research journals, nor time to sift through the latest findings to guide their practice. Further, conventional forms of research synthesis, such as research handbooks or long synthesis papers, serve narrow audiences and are rarely read by practitioners. Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization that connects researchers, educators, and developers—with a team of external researcher and practitioner advisors and partner organizations—will investigate and develop a novel synthesis approach to provide educators and researchers with a novel form of synthesis organized around an interactive map of topics and subtopics. By working with national practitioner organizations, the project will achieve broad and deep dissemination.

To develop the synthesis, a multidisciplinary team of both researchers and educators will use a visual, interactive bibliometric approach to understand the research literature landscape. Key novel elements of the innovative synthesis approach are: (1) involving practitioners and researchers in each stage of the work—mapping, clarifying, and communicating; (2) using visual maps as a tool for organizing and navigating interconnected ideas; (3) involving both expert review and bibliometric techniques to identify topics and connections for the map; (4) using a qualitative process inspired by the Delphi method to iteratively develop a consensus map that both respects the scientific literature and addresses practitioners’ needs; (5) writing a short, concise primer for each topic within the map, to enable multiple entry points, accessibility, greater reader-navigability, and easier readability; and (6) during dissemination, involving multiple practitioner organizations and approaches for learning which dissemination channels and methods achieve broad and deep reach. The project will establish a new mode of synthesis that, if successful, could be applied to other high-interest topic areas, yielding additional research maps and concept primers to serve the needs of STEM researchers and practitioners. Finally, this process will also strengthen the large field of research that studies CSCL by increasing awareness of the gaps in knowledge between what researchers have established and what practitioners want to know.

Supporting Science Learning and Teaching in Middle School Classrooms through Automated Analysis of Students' Writing (Collaborative Research: Passonneau and Puntambekar)

Principal Investigator: 
This project will design a sociotechnical system to automatically assess students written scientific explanations during science problem solving. The project will use two complementary mechanisms to provide feedback: automated assessment and feedback to students’ science explanations using using NLP techniques, and feedback to teachers provided through aggregated data about students’ writing generated by the system.
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Target Audience: 

Reasoning Language for Teaching Secondary Algebra

Principal Investigator: 

Reasoning Language for Teaching Secondary Algebra (ReLaTe-SA) is working in partnership with the San Antonio Independent School District to investigate the algebraic reasoning and discourse tools that secondary mathematics teachers use to make algebra concepts accessible for students and orchestrate and respond to student work on mathematics tasks. We are investigating teachers' algebraic discourse through written surveys, interviews, and a year-long professional development program focused on enhancing students' opportunities for algebraic reasoning in the classroom.

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Target Audience: 

PBS News Hour Student Reporting Labs StoryMaker: STEM-Integrated Student Journalism

Principal Investigator: 
Sneak peek at StoryMaker, a video storytelling platform /educator co-learning community supporting students to produce videos about STEM projects.
PI: Leah Clapman, PBS NewsHour
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Target Audience: 

Investigating Productive Use of High-Leverage Student Mathematical Thinking (Collaborative Research: Peterson and Stockero)

Principal Investigator: 

The Building on MOSTs project focuses on improving the teaching of secondary school mathematics by exploring the teaching practice of building on MOSTs (Mathematical Opportunities in Student Thinking). We cyclically work with teachers to enact the practice, analyze those enactments, and refine our understanding of the practice. Building consists of four elements: (1) Establish, (2) Grapple Toss, (3) Conduct, and (4) Make Explicit.
PI: Keith Leatham, Brigham Young University

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Target Audience: 

Improving Grades 6-8 Students' Mathematics Achievement in Modeling and Problem Solving through Effective Sequencing of Instructional Practices

Principal Investigator: 

With operating title Researching Order of Teaching (ROOT), this project brings together 100 middle grades mathematics teachers in a teacher-researcher alliance to articulate effective instructional practices for promoting modeling and problem-solving achievement. Strategies center around Explicit Attention to Concepts and Student Opportunities to Struggle, culminating in a randomized cluster crossover trial. The poster includes results from the first two years, featuring professional development materials, a video observation tool, and findings from classroom studies.

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Target Audience: 

From Access to Sustainability: Investigating Ways to Foster Sustainable Use of Computational Modeling in K-12 Science Classrooms

Principal Investigator: 

Our vision is to make computational modeling a sustained practice in middle school science classrooms. We are working closely with teachers to design a tool and curricula that integrate computational modeling with data practices and enables students to move towards unpacking models and their underlying assumptions. Our research questions involve investigating 1. students modeling trajectories in this environment; 2. how classrooms norms develop over time; and, 3. the interplay between computational modeling and data practices.

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Target Audience: 

Fostering Equitable Groupwork to Promote Conceptual Mathematics Learning

Principal Investigator: 
This project will document how middle grades mathematics students learn equitable collaboration through an ongoing effort to implement groupwork using the model of Complex Instruction. The primary purpose of this study is to describe how 6th-7th grade students learn to collaborate with one another to make sense of mathematics, and how students and their teacher negotiate what constitutes equitable collaboration.
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Target Audience: 

Developing and Validating a Scalable, Classroom-focused Measure of Usable Knowledge for Teaching Mathematics: The Classroom Video Analysis Instrument

Principal Investigator: 
This project focuses on developing a scalable, classroom-focused measure of usable mathematics teaching knowledge in three content areas: (a) fractions (grades 4 and 5), (b) ratio and proportions (grades 6 and 7); and (c) variables, expressions, and equations (grades 6 and 7). The project examines a variety of validity evidence for the new items and the reliability of scores to evaluate the overall construct validity.
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