1160 Staff from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University (AISR), a national leader in education reform, will serve as featured speakers and will present research on a variety of topics at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation's largest professional organization devoted to scientific study of education.

Senior fellow and former executive director Warren Simmons will deliver the Wallace Foundation Distinguished Lecture, one of the conference’s major addresses; senior AISR staff Jaime Del Razo and Ruth López have also been invited to speak in Presidential Sessions focusing on public scholarship, and other presentations will span the work of AISR and its staff across multiple projects, with a focus on equity and social justice.

Presidential & Invited Speaker Sessions

Warren Simmons to give Wallace Foundation Distinguished Lecture

Warren Simmons, senior fellow and former executive director of AISR, will give the Wallace Foundation Distinguished Lecture, one of the major addresses at the conference.


Topic

Increasing the Relevance of Education Research: Building a Place-Based Agenda for Obtaining Equity and Excellence 


Schedule Information

April 11, 11:45 am – 1:15 pm; Convention Center, Level Three, Ballroom C


Online viewing

The Wallace Lecture will be available for online viewing sometime after the meeting. Session Hashtag: #AERAWallace

Ruth López and Jaime Del Razo to Chair Presidential Session on Public Scholarship and Immigration

Public Scholarship and Immigrant Students and Families: Leveraging Community and Research Partnerships

Focusing on the education of undocumented students and students from mixed-status families, this panel of educators, immigrant advocates, journalists and researchers discussed the potential of public scholarship to advance equitable, research-informed immigration and education policies and practices.

Read more at #AERAImmigrantRights [Storify Summary]

 
Schedule Information

April 10, 10:35 am – 12:05 pm; Convention Center, Level Two, Room 201

 
Background

Ruth López, senior research associate, and Jaime Del Razo, principal associate, along with Harvard University’s Jaein Lee, will co-chair the AERA Presidential Session “Public Scholarship and Immigrant Students and Families: Leveraging Community Research Partnerships.” Participants include Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco of the University of California – Los Angeles, Roberto G. Gonzales of Harvard University, Laura M. Bohórquez García from United We Dream, Apolonio Morales from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Sandra Lucia Osorio of Illinois State University, and Samuel Orozco from Radio Billingüe.

Focusing on the education of undocumented students and students from mixed-status families, this panel of educators, immigrant advocates, journalists, lawyers, and researchers examines the potential of public scholarship to advance equitable, research-informed immigration and education policies. Undocumented students and their families, and increasingly the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, face enormous risks in the U.S. Moreover, our nation’s legacy of failed immigration policies creates barriers for undocumented students’ pathways toward higher education and authorized immigration status. This policy failure is compounded by challenges researchers face to inform public debate and policy deliberations about more constructive approaches through the use of empirical evidence. Public scholarship, developed and disseminated in the context of research-public sector partnerships, is greatly needed to understand and address the complex conditions of undocumented students.

Ruth López to Participate in Presidential Session on Public Scholarship and Community Organizing

Schedule Information

April 9, 12:25 – 1:55 pm; Convention Center, Level Two, Room 202 A

Ruth López will participate in the Presidential Session “Researchers Meet Community Organizers: Can Public Scholarship Contribute to Struggles for Immigration Rights, Community Schools, and Public Institutions in Neoliberal Times?” The session will be chaired by Ben R. Kirshner and Michelle Reneé Valladares, both from the University of Colorado Boulder; other participants include Tina M. Trujillo of the University of California – Berkeley, Pauline Lipman of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dmitri Holtzman from Equal Education, Fahd Ahmed from DRUM South Asian Organizing Center, and Zakiyah Ansari from the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice.

How can researchers and scholars better meet the knowledge needs of education justice movements? In this session we will flip the script by asking community organizers working on topics such as immigration rights and public community schools to suggest to scholars how their work can better meet the needs of the education justice movements. The community organizer presentations will be followed with interactive facilitated discussions led by scholars, in which session attendees and organizers will discuss existing research and identify new public scholarship projects that could both meet the needs of the community organizers and advance education research. Discussion leaders and session chairs will synthesize the discussions and suggest next steps at the conclusion of the session.

Ruth López and Jaime Del Razo to Speak at Graduate Student Council Session on Public Scholarship

Schedule Information

April 11, 10:00 – 11:30am; Convention Center, Level One, Room 140 AB

Ruth López and Jaime Del Razo are invited speakers at the Graduate Student Council Fireside Chat “Fundamentals of Public Scholarship.” The session will also feature Julian Vasquez Heilig of California State University – Sacramento, and will be chaired by Gabriel Joey Merrin of the University of Illinois and Matthew King of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

A central goal of education research is to use scientific knowledge to strengthen and improve education for all. While at times a daunting task that all educational researchers pursue, we have learned that the general public and policy makers also drive changes and improvements in education. As a result, it is essential that the knowledge educational researchers discover be used in shaping public knowledge and the political environment with which educational policies are made. In the spirit of the conference theme, this session will present strategies, techniques, and skills related to public speaking and improvisation as well as how to tell your research “story” in ways that people outside of academia will care.

AISR Staff Presentations

Roundtable Session 6: Access, Aspirations, and Capital: How Tracking Shapes Trajectories

Schedule Information

April 8, 12:00 – 1:30pm; Convention Center, Level Three, Ballroom A

 
Annenberg Institute Presenters/Authors

Jaime Del Razo, “High School Internships as Forms of College and Career-Going Capital for Low-Income, Urban Youth”

 
Other Participants

Chair: Carole R. Collins Ayanlaja

 
Abstract

As part of the growing movement to prepare all students for college and careers, the latest wave of internships seeks to engage youth in rigorous project-based learning within a “real-world” 21st Century learning context. Unlike the job-training placements of prior reform generations, today’s high school interns are not consigned to a vocational track that steers them away from college. This paper investigates the experience of 220 urban youth who participated in an innovative high school internship program between 2011 and 2014. Using mixed methods, our aim was to understand the types of knowledge, information, and supports these students acquired as interns and relate these forms of capital to the college-going process. Findings include students’ career exploration, self-regulation, and expanded networks.

Roundtable Session 6: Principles for Transformative Latino Parent Leadership: Lessons from Three Investing in Innovation (i3) Grants

Schedule Information

April 8, 12:00 – 1:30pm; Convention Center, Level Three, Ballroom A

 
Annenberg Institute Presenters/Authors

Joanna Geller (presenting author) and Sara McAlister, “The Family Leadership Self-Assessment Rubric: An Indicator Tool for School Systems”

 
Other Participants

Chairs: Soo Hong, Wellesley College; Anne T. Henderson

 
Abstract

Objectives/Purposes: Many factors facilitate transformative parent leadership, including opportunities for parents to develop their leadership skills and knowledge about educational systems; intentionality about building trust and respect among parent leaders and between parent leaders and school staff; and the presence of cultural brokers to coordinate parent leadership activities and bridge parents and schools (Bolívar & Chrispeels, 2011; Hong, 2011; Lawson & Alameda Lawson, 2012; Martinez-Cosio & Martinez Iannacone, 2007). The purpose of this rubric is to translate research to practice by offering school and district officials and parent leaders clear indicators to assess their progress and set goals. The research questions guiding the development of this indicator tool were: 1) What are the conditions, practices and strategies that foster sustainable and authentic family engagement at the school system level? and 2) How can these conditions, practices and strategies be represented in a system of actionable indicators?

Perspective(s)/Theoretical Framework: The indicator framework was informed by the literature on parent leadership, which draws from theories on empowerment (Fine, 1993; Rappaport, 1981), social and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1979; Coleman, 1988; Yosso, 2005), and critical pedagogy (Darder, 2011; Friere, 2000). We initially organized lessons from this body of literature into four domains that are pertinent to democratic representation in community change efforts: 1) values and commitments; 2) capacity; 3) communication; and 4) inclusivity and influence (Wilson & Wilde, 2003).

Methods and Data Sources: The rubric was developed through a combination of literature review and case study methods. We used our draft conceptual framework of conditions for family leadership in system-level change initiatives to generate semi-structured interview and focus group protocols. We collected data in one school district with particularly strong parent leadership efforts. This district serves approximately 3,000 students, three-quarters of whom are Latino. Protocols focused on inquiry about the conditions that facilitate transformative leadership. We conducted one-on-one interviews with the superintendent and family engagement director and five focus groups with parent leaders, four of which were conducted in Spanish. Following data collection, we used qualitative software to code each transcript, using a combination of closed and open coding. After identifying and discussing emergent themes, we created a draft rubric that we revised after piloting with district and parent leaders.

Results: The rubric shows five main indicators that facilitate parent leadership, including that school systems 1) invest in parents’ knowledge and skills; 2) provide resources that allow parents to participate fully; 3) encourage parent power and action; 4) have staff who help parents to feel included and influential; and 5) nurture a sense of community between parent leaders and other parents. Each indicator contains several sub-indicators, and for each indicator, users can check off whether their efforts are “minimal,” “developing,” “established,” or “transformative.”

Significance: Practitioners and parent leaders can use this applied research tool to surface and discuss varying definitions of parent leadership, continuously assess their progress, and set goals. Researchers can also use these data to inform evaluations of parent leadership initiatives

Roundtable Session 6: Principles for Transformative Latino Parent Leadership: Lessons from Three Investing in Innovation (i3) Grants

Schedule Information

April 8, 12:00 – 1:30pm; Convention Center, Level Three, Ballroom A

 
Annenberg Institute Presenters/Authors

Vianna Alcantara (presenting author), Joanna Geller, Ruth López, Keith Catone, and Rosann Tung, “Transformation or Adaptation? Lessons From the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) We Are a Village Grant”

 
Other Participants

Chairs: Soo Hong, Wellesley College; Anne T. Henderson

 
Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study is to explore the opportunities and obstacles presented in a school implementing two models of parent engagement, one primarily focused on student level results and the other on family/community transformation. Our questions include: What happens when parents’ elevated critical consciousness collides with a school-wide definition of parent engagement that favors deference? What opportunities for transformation are available when conflicts between definitions of parent engagement occur?

Study Perspective: These questions emerged from the evaluation of an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant, entitled We Are a Village, issued by the U.S. Department of Education to the Central Falls, Rhode Island School District. The intervention staffed each of the five participating schools with a full-time bilingual cultural broker, termed “Collaborator,” who oversees a team of parent leaders. Hope, as defined by Duncan-Andrade (2015), is the sense of control of destiny and it includes pathways (access to necessary information to navigate challenges) and move towards goals, and more importantly, agency (the self-efficacy to respond to challenges and move towards goals). We seek to understand the role of hope, as defined above, in moments of tension between competing definitions of parent engagement.

Methods and data sources: Our case study of one elementary school draws on qualitative data collected during the 2013/14 and 2014/15 school year. We conducted focus groups with parents and parent leaders, interviews with teachers, staff, the principal, and implementation team members, and observations of i3 activities. Focus groups and interviews included many of the same respondents over various points in time. Our research team systematically coded the transcripts using qualitative data analysis software. We supplement these data with quantitative data tracking parent participation in i3 activities.

Results: Stakeholders in this elementary school operated from two different models of parent engagement. The first model saw parent engagement as a tool to increase student success, offering parents pathways for engagement but failing to recognize their agency. In this model parents were expected to adapt to the school structure as was and not to question or challenge it. Parents were offered skills that would only serve them inside the school/classroom/academic sphere and were not transferable to other areas of their lives. The second model also included pathways but instead of asking parents to adapt to the school structure, parents were tasked with transforming it to make it more parent friendly, increase critical consciousness, and build empathy between parents and teachers. Teachers, the principal, and the home school liaison saw the model of deference as one that maintained harmony and the model of resistance being embraced by parents and the Collaborator as creating conflict within the school. We saw a nexus of possibility and hope for transformative parent engagement.

Significance: Our findings reinforce the significance of the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Home-School Partnerships, released by the Department of Education in 2014 and enhance the framework by highlighting the capacities needed for school stakeholders to embrace transformative parent leadership.

Roundtable Session 53: Critical Questions Between Culture and Learning

Schedule Information

April 12, 10:35am – 12:05pm; Convention Center, Level Three, Ballroom B

 
Annenberg Institute Presenters/Authors

Jaime Del Razo, “Critical Learning Spaces for Latino Male Academic Engagement”

 
Other Participants

Co-author: Melissa Colon, Tufts University

 
Abstract

Utilizing a case study design and drawing from the critical theory tradition, our study focused on outlining the practices, conditions, and policies evident in Bruin HS that likely contributed to the academic engagement of Latino male students. Specifically, we wanted to examine what affect, if any, educators who employed critical pedagogy practices had on Latino student engagement. We found three prevalent themes of practice: (1) A Mission-Driven School Climate and Culture, (2) A Culture of Caring Relationships, and (3) Critical Approach to High Expectations. These themes were particularly evident by those teachers that employed a critical pedagogy that challenged dominant practices and advocated emancipatory teaching frames of liberation.

18th International Roundtable on School, Family, and Community Partnerships (AERA pre-conference)

Schedule information

April 8, 10:15-11:30; Marriot Marquis, Level 1, Catholic University Room

 
Annenberg Institute Presenters/Authors

Joanna Geller and Vianna Alcantara, “Findings and Lessons Learned from the i3 We Are A Village Evaluation”

 
Abstract

Introduction: We will present findings and lessons learned from our evaluation of an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant, entitled We Are a Village, issued by the U.S. Department of Education to the Central Falls, Rhode Island School District. Central Falls is culturally and linguistically diverse, with 73% of the population speaking a language aside from English in the home and 43% having been born outside of the U.S., the majority of whom emigrated from Latin America. The school district partnered with two local community organizations, including a social service agency and a children’s hospital. The intervention staffed each of the five participating schools with a full-time bilingual “cultural broker,” individuals who helped families navigate the language, customs, and norms of the school and school system while simultaneously affirming parents’ own culture and rights (López & Stack, 2001; Martinez-Cosio & Martinez Iannacone, 2007). Each cultural broker oversaw a team of parent leaders, who were paid small stipends for leadership within the school and district. The grant also funded parent rooms in each school; routine parent coffee hours, workshops, and transition support groups; and the Incredible Years (IY) program, an evidence-based program for parents and teachers on nurturing children’s socioemotional skills. Frameworks guiding our evaluation included the Head Start Parent Family and Community Engagement framework, Transformative Family Engagement (Ochoa, Olivos, & Jiménez-Castellanos 2011), Community Cultural Wealth (Yosso, 2005), and the Quality Implementation framework (Meyers, Durlak, and Wandersman, 2012).

Evaluation Questions: Our evaluation questions included: 1) To what extent was the i3 grant implemented as intended? 2) Do families feel more welcome, valued, and respected at their children’s schools; have improved connections and involvement with their peers and community; and are they more capable of supporting children socially and academically? 3) Are teachers/staff more capable of supporting children socially and academically? 4) Do students have improved behavior and attendance? For each of the questions, we also examined what conditions facilitated or hindered improvement.

Sample: For the qualitative component of the evaluation, our six-person team conducted bi-annual focus groups, in English and Spanish, over a two-year period with 100 parents in the five schools. We also conducted bi-annual focus groups and interviews with parent leaders, teachers, school staff, and implementation team staff. In order to assess change over time, we interviewed the same participants at multiple time points. Additionally, we conducted observations of school events and document analysis meetings notes, photos, and brochures. For the quantitative component, we recorded parents’ and teachers’ attendance and participation in all i3 activities; conducted a pre-post survey with 25 teachers about their classroom management strategies and family engagement outreach; and collected student-level behavior and attendance data for Kindergarteners from 2013-15.

Findings: Intended outcomes for families improved over the course of the grant. As a result of strong participation in the i3 activities, the culture of the district began to change, whereby families asked more questions of teachers and school and district leaders and requested more information about academics. Additionally, teachers reported using more positive classroom management strategies and reaching out to families more after the IY training, although in many instances, teachers continued to view families through a deficit-based lens. Kindergarten student behavior and attendance improved significantly from 2013 to 2015. The i3 partners overcame many initial implementation challenges regarding capacity, fit, buy-in, and establishing a common vision, although implementation success depended greatly on staff capacity (e.g. time, language skills, decision-making power), school leader commitment, and the extent to which all of the partners were aligned toward a common goal.

Implications: This evaluation offers practical lessons for implementing multi-component family engagement initiatives through district-community partnerships. For example:

Partners should spend ample time planning, including establishing a shared definition of family engagement, imagining how the system and participating schools will change as a result of the initiative, and identifying how to develop capacity, buy-in, and fit with existing initiatives.

Dedicated cultural brokers who trust and respect families are critical for promoting family well-being, connectedness, and empowerment. Cultural brokers benefit greatly from being part of a community of practice and having supportive leadership.

For school-based family engagement initiatives to be maximally effective, teachers should receive professional development that explicitly challenges deficit-based attitudes toward families, such as the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project (Sheldon, 2015) and exposes them to asset-based frameworks, such as Community Cultural Wealth (Yosso, 2005).