Research and Implementation Teams

Regional researchers, preK-16 educators, and community-based organizers formed interdisciplinary teams to accomplish the six broad research and practice goals outlined on the Principles and Mission page. These interdisciplinary teams are guided by the NRRC’s Advisory Board, and they will convene both face-to-face and via this website to communicate goals, share resources, and disseminate research findings. Teams will include:

  • Faculty across academic disciplines from several IHE partners who are expert in research methodologies and experienced with research in schools;
  • District personnel experienced with using data to drive decisions;
  • Community-based organizers who can contribute data on factors external to school that may have an impact on student learning.

Below are descriptions of each team’s initial goals and efforts:

 

Communities of Practice/New Educator Support

Goals: 
To use the principles and practices of communities of practice to support and retain new teachers and school leaders in the early years of their work.

Why is this of Critical Importance?
In the context of “communities of practice” (COPs), new teachers can engage in collaborative mentoring and reflective practice focused on student learning. The school becomes a site for teacher learning, from a new teacher’s introduction to the school ‘culture’ to his or her ability to assess his/her own practice. Instead of separating teacher induction from mentoring and professional development, school leaders can encourage the development of COPs that introduce and sustain strong cultures of professional learning throughout teachers’ careers.

Initial Actions:
The Communities of Practice Team will:

  • Examine recent research and effective models of mentoring, induction, and retention initiatives within communities of practice.
  • Assist regional schools and districts in forming and maintaining COPs for new teachers guided by the principles of adult learning and development.
  • Help initiate and sustain cross-district COPs for groups of new school leaders (e.g., principals, directors, superintendents), to create a cadre of leaders trained in facilitative mentoring.
  • Offer training to teacher-leaders/mentors identified by partner districts.

Related Resources:

Links:
The School Reform Initiative

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STEM Team

Goals:
To strengthen students’ knowledge and interest in science, technology/engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by improving teachers’ STEM knowledge
base and their ability to teach STEM content in meaningful ways.

Why is this of Critical Importance?
 
Fewer students graduating from Massachusetts high schools express an interest in a college major in a STEM field than high school graduates across the nation, and the number is declining. Jobs that are vacant in Massachusetts now are in management, computer technology, mathematics, engineering, health care, and technology, as well as some community and social services. Today’s workforce requires strong math and science skills; communication, critical thinking, and teamwork abilities; and post-secondary education. Computer skills are now ‘basic’ skills.

We in the Northeast must strengthen students’ knowledge of and interest in STEM fields. This effort includes:

  • Strengthening teachers’ knowledge of the concepts, principles, and modes of inquiry in STEM fields;
  • Strengthening the mathematics- and science-literacy of both new and experienced teachers;
  • Helping teachers’ translate STEM content into instruction that is meaningful and important to students;
  • Broadening STEM teachers’ awareness of how what they teach connects to real-world environments and economic trends.

Initial Actions:
The STEM Team will draw on the resources and initiatives undertaken by the existing K-16 network of the Northeast Region STEM Pipeline led by the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) to extend the network to other districts and organizations and expand the scope of its activities. Initial activities will include:

  • Providing middle and high school teachers with professional development through STEM content workshops, hands-on applications, and information regarding current and future STEM career paths;
  • Identifying “STEM teacher-leaders” in some districts who will offer workshops and demonstrations to teachers in the region;
  • Providing students with STEM enrichment and STEM career programs and engaging them in community projects;
  • Providing a teacher externship program in STEM industries in partnership with Workforce Investment Boards.

Related Resources:

Links:
UMass Lowell STEM Initiatives
NSTA Legislative Update (Jan., 2011)

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College Readiness and Workforce Team

Goals:
To contribute to the development of a workforce possessing the knowledge and skills needed for the 21st century by assisting districts with preparing students for college.

Why is this of Critical Importance?
From the Massachusetts School-to-College Report: A report on the MA high school class of 2005, released in February 2008, (Massachusetts Dept. of Education, 2008), revealed that 37 percent of public high school graduates who attended a public college or university in Massachusetts enrolled in at least one remedial course in their first semester in college. The figure for some high schools reached more than 70 percent. Secondary and postsecondary leaders alike recognize this as a problem that costs everyone money—families, schools, and taxpayers—takes up valuable time, and often prevents students from ever completing a college degree. High schools and colleges need to work together to better understand entry requirements, how curriculum is (or is not) aligned, and which students are in need of additional preparation before they arrive at college.

Initial Actions:
The College Readiness and Workforce Team will: 

  • Address the sequencing of curriculum and alignment of expectations from middle school to college in several important subject/skill areas, including mathematics and writing.
  • Help NRRC partners expand early placement testing, provide regular reports to high schools on the college readiness of their students, and develop a system of intervention strategies that will better prepare students at participating high schools for the transition to college.

Related Resources:

Links:

www.collegesuccess.salemcyberspace.org   (parent, student and educator resource page with wonderful student materials on college admissions process. 2012)
Amesbury and Northern Essex Community Colleage (NECC) Collaboration

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Early Childhood Education

Goals:
To improve the quality of early education by strengthening the preparation and support of providers, articulating career pathways for those committed to young children’s education and care.

Why is this of Critical Importance?
The responsibility for student learning rests not only with K-12 schools but also with the institutions and organizations that care for children before they enter school and during out-of-school time. Extra-school organizations have had important influences on children’s knowledge and visions for the future. Many offer ‘wrap-around services’ to children and their families in need of support.

  • The NRRC recognizes the need to showcase, replicate, and connect excellent early childhood programs
  • Through collaboration, the NRRC team will work to establish professional development opportunities that link certificate, associates and bachelor degree options.

Initial Actions:
The Early Childhood Team will share successful regional models and generate ideas for new programs to reach more students. Specifically, the team will:

  • Examine current regional offerings and suggest ways to replicate successful models and expand services, as well as tackle the long-standing problem of articulation and transfer within Massachusetts’ institutions of higher education.
  • Ensure that the EEC ‘Core Competencies’ and ‘Preschool Standards and Guidelines,’ DESE’s ‘Curriculum Frameworks,’ the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards, and the National Afterschool Association (NAA) standards are infused into college coursework and understood within the workforce.
  • Work closely with community providers to offer education and training to family and center-based providers.

Related Resources:

Activities:
Early Childhood Workers May Benefit From State Grant

The EEC office has new publications available: Physical Health and Well Being Brochure, Cognitive Development Brochure, Social Emotional Development Brochure and Approaches to Learning Brochure (10/11)

Links:

Career Pathways

R3P - Professional Development Initiative for Early Educators (10/11)
Massachusetts Deptartment of Early Education and Care: Professional Development Calendar
Wellesley College & NIOST

 

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Out-of-School Time Services

Goals:
To improve the quality of out-of-school time services by strengthening the preparation and support of providers of services to youth outside of the traditional school environment.

Why is this of Critical Importance?
There are too few out-of-school-time programs for teens. In the northeast region, organizations provide teens, including English language learners, with safe, interesting learning activities after school; however, these programs serve a very small percentage of all who could benefit from academic enrichment, personal development, and college/career assistance.

  • The NRRC recognizes the need to showcase, replicate, and connect excellent out-of-school time programs with school districts, postsecondary institutions and peer programs.
  • Through collaboration, NRRC will expand opportunities for professional development for out-of-school time program staff .

Initial Actions:
The out-of-school time Team will share successful regional models and generate ideas for new programs to reach more students. Specifically, the team will:

  • Help to expand out-of-school programs for older children and teens, disseminating models and information on funding sources, and working with districts, agencies, and other NRRC Teams who might assist in providing programs.
  • Disiminate information to educational instutions regarding opportunities for youth, families and educators through our out-of-school time partners.

Individual Reports:
Building Community Partnerships: Tips for Out-of-School Time Programs
Helping Youth Succeed Through Out-of-School Time Programs
IES Practice Guide: Structuring Out-of-School Time to Improve Academic Achievement
Strengthening Partnerships and Building Public Will for Out-of-School Time Programs
Thinking about Summer Learning: Three Perspectives

Links:

National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST)
Wallace Foundation: Out-of-School Time Reports

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Pk-12 Curriculum Instruction (including preservice teacher educator programs)

Goals:
To support the development and implementation of proven instructional practices geared at improving student learning across the continuum.

Why is this of Critical Importance?
Massachusetts, as part of the national Race to the Top effort, has implemented new curriculum frameworks for mathematics and ELA understanding the need to continue our efforts to improve academic acheivements and college and career readiness for all students in the commonwealth. The new frameworks will roll out in 2011-2012 with assessments linked to the standards in all areas by 2014.

  • The NRRC recognizes the need to provide quality professional development on the curriculum frameworks at the regional level.
  • NRRC also understands the importance of teacher preparation programs encorporating the frameworks and related materials into our higher education delivery system.
  • NRRC notes that collaboration on multiple aspects of curriculum and instruction can provide the regional districts with economical and effective ways to support professional development.

Initial Actions:

  • Provide workshops and collaborative events for higher education faculty and staff to promote the inclusion of curriculum framework materials in college level course work for future educators.
  • Disseminate information to educational materials regarding implementing the 2011 curriculum frameworks.
  • Provide workshops, seminars and/or courses that will engage educators in quality activities incorporating new standards, as well as other proven strategies for teaching across the discipline areas.