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Topic: "IHEs, MSPs, Rs and Ps: Whats your model? Whats your hope?"

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Topic started by: Brian Drayton on 10/24/14

A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for? – Robert Browning

Long ago, when I was young, Dr. Judith Ramaley described the NSF MSP program as a grand research endeavor. In a way, the program could be seen as a design research effort, based on the proposition that IHE STEM faculty could participate in K-12 STEM education in such a way as to transform it, by transforming the teaching workforce, and the curriculum materials. The Five Key Features emphasized partnerships, rooted in IHE-plus-others collaborations, to increase teacher quality/quantity/diversity, using challenging courses & curricula. Programs interventions were to be based on evidence, and to produce evidence. The evidence among other things would provide a test of the founding proposition, and the embodiment in these Features. It was exciting to imagine so many people working together on such big, open questions. She said, “Ihave no idea, when NSF connects these dots, what the picture will be. I do know that it will be you who decide…” What an invitation!


But how to do it in concrete terms? Well, there have been lots of models tried over the years. I have always been interested in the ways that people have tried to address the essential question: What can a partnership between research scientists (or mathematicians) and schools actually look like? I am not sure how many different models have really been discovered not too many, I think; maybe there’s only so many ways to arrange the players on the board.
The Research+Practice Collaboratory’s blog carries a nice short piece, drawing on a 2012 NRC tome Using Science in as Evidence in Public Policy. The focus of that book is on how to get Research into Practice (and also how to get people to do Research that is important for Practice). The blog post talks about three basic strategies for communication between Rs and Ps:

– Translating. “Translation involves turning [research]findings into programs educators can use.”
— Brokering ” involves thefiltering, synthesizing, summarizing, and disseminating of research findings in user-friendly packages.”
— Partnering “involves long-term collaborations between researchers, practitioners, and often designers, aimed at transforming teaching and learning in complex, multi-layered educational systems.” Such long-term intermingling is also referred to as “cultural exchange.”

When I first read the NRC book, I immediately wondered: How do the scientists (mathematicians) function in the MSPs? What gets translated, brokered, or passed on in partnership? It seems to me that the MSPs exhibit all three of these strategies in varying proportions but some focus on the culture of science (math), some focus on the content, even thoughno one denies that culture and content are intrinsically connected.

Questions can be asked about the data that drove the designs, and the data that haveemerged about the designs. What aspects of science (math) culture have taken hold in MSP schools, because of th? Where has school culture overwhelmed it, or prevented its taking root? Where has school culture transformed scientists’ or mathematicians’ culture? What content has been exchanged in either direction?

But the bottom line questions for me are, What did you hope for, and why? How close have you gotten? What’s just beyond your grasp maybe that you couldn’t have imagined when you started?



Originally posted Oct 24, 2014

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IHEs, MSPs, Rs and Ps--continued

posted by: Sara Silver on 1/2/2015 11:44 am

Hi All,
Joe, thanks for springing into action to resuscitate this one! I've taken the liberty of "noodging" one of your LEA colleagues to contribute.

I'm inspired by everything that Joe has thoughtfully posted about the impacts of ISEP and the unexpected outcomes too. The osmosis is incomplete without knowing the extent to which these interventions shape science instruction in K-12 classrooms. Joe's IHE and community partners have certainly done more than their part to inspire, model, facilitate.

I appreciate Merlino's caution about tempering our expectations in the face of sometimes chronic LEA leadership instability. Even so, a model like ISEP can potentially set into motion certain curricular visions, habits of mind and practice (bottom up) that can be enduring, so that change is not attached to personalities, but precisely to that theory of action (in progress, Joe?). A conceptual model is a necessary driver for change.

Along the same lines, do IHEs and LEAs engage in periodic assessments of progress, asking questions like where are we on this track, what are gaps, does everyone see our status similarly, who do we need to hear from, etc.?
Seems to me that this kind of self-assessment can go a long way.

Let's all try to get some of our LEA partners into this discussion.

Happy New Year,

Sara Silver, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate
Measurement Incorporated

IHEs, MSPs, Rs and Ps: Whats your model? Whats your hope?"

posted by: F. Joseph Merlino on 1/3/2015 8:55 am

Merlino here.

We have an NSF PRIME grant where we are studying loss of STEM teachers across states and the results are rather shocking. For example in the 5 largest cities in Missouri 1/2 of their math and science teachers not only left their schools but were no where to be found in the state after 4 years from the baseline year.

Rather than living with this churn" I am coming to the conclusion that unless school and leadership stability is addressed first at the policy level all else will be like building sand castles at the beach during high tide.

That's why, after 25 years, I am not longer doing teacher PD

That's why, after 25 years, I am not longer doing teacher PD

posted by: Louise Wilson on 1/4/2015 8:58 am

As a teachers who is regularly churned and whose specialty knowledge is ignored by administrators, I can only hope you are instead turning to administrator PD.
I notice there are few administrators in education who understand math and science at any more than an elementary level, and they seem rather proud of it. The attitude is they have managed fine without it, so why do the kids need it? Why are high school math and science teachers so mean, not passing kids along for showing up? Math teachers, spend 15 minutes of your class time teaching reading and writing because that's more important. Your curriculum is not important, nor is your subject knowledge. Oh, and (suddenly, in 11th grade) why are we doing so badly on standardized tests?
After your observation, it would be interesting to see the % of teachers who leave based on subject skills. Is the standard quote not that 50% of teacher leave teaching within the first 5 years?


posted by: Jonathan Steinberg on 1/4/2015 3:35 pm

Dear Mr. Merlino,

I am very interested in your NSF PRIME grant topic area given my work at my organization on teacher diversity, recruitment, and retention (you can look me up on LinkedIn for some reports I have written). STEM is certainly a concern as part of that effort, so I would appreciate an opportunity to share knowledge with you if you feel that would be appropriate.

Jonathan Steinberg
Educational Testing Service