Research and Evaluation
The Florida Institute of Education (FIE) engages in research and evaluation activities in conjunction with FIE-developed interventions designed to improve student outcomes and research that serves to inform decision making of both policy makers and practitioners. The projects are research-based and use evaluation activities to assess effectiveness and to improve the intervention. FIE research activities establish statewide partnerships and bring in national groups with similar interests. Additionally, FIE is a research partner with several community agencies and frequently serves these agencies as the evaluator for their initiatives.
FIE researchers believe in conducting well-designed research to gain further insight into learning and education processes. FIE undertakes research that incorporates the use of newer experimental and quasi-experimental methodologies, that utilizes wide-ranging data including large nationally and locally collected data as well as locally designed data, and that fosters a community of scholars among the FIE-sponsored doctoral student research assistants.
The FIE Research Team, led by Stephanie Wehry, draws upon traditional research methods such as regression, multivariate, and analysis of variance; quasi-experimental methods such as propensity score matching, time series, and regression discontinuity; and more contemporary methods such as hierarchical linear modeling, structural equation modeling, and data mining. The team is proficient in the use of SAS, SPSS, MPlus, and SAS Enterprise Miner.
The FIE Assessment Team, led by Madelaine Cosgrove, can either directly conduct assessments or train others to so. The Assessment Team consists of highly-trained assessors with extensive experience in individually assessing young children’s abilities across school readiness domains. Additionally, FIE assessors are certified to quantify the quality of the learning environments, instruction, and interactions in young children’s classrooms using the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale—Revised Edition, 2003; Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale—Revised Edition, 2003; Early Language & Literacy Classroom Observation, 2002: and Classroom Assessment Scoring System, 2007.
FIE active research partners include the Jacksonville Early Literacy Partnership (JELP), the Early Learning Coalition of Duval, Inc. (ELC of Duval), Jacksonville Urban League Head Start Program (JUL Head Start), United Way of Northeast Florida, the Don Brewer Early Learning and Professional Development Center, and Duval County Public Schools (DCPS).
ELLM Plus (an expansion of ELLM) is a literacy-focused, comprehensive preschool curriculum implemented across Florida and in Duval County jointly by the ELC of Duval, Jacksonville Children’s Commission, and JUL Head Start. The efficacy of ELLM/ELLMPlus was evaluated as part of the USDOE Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER) program. Complimentary data demonstrated prekindergarten children in ELLM/ELLMPlus classes had higher literacy-related outcomes than children in the control classes. Furthermore, as a consequence of the findings from ELLM/ELLMPlus evaluations, FIE developed the Print Concepts Initiative to enhance the print concept knowledge of children served by ELC of Duval and JUL Head Start. The evaluation and positive results of this initiative will be presented at Head Start’s Ninth National Research Conference, June 2008, Washington, D. C.
- FIE developed three initiatives in conjunction with JELP: the Family Engagement and Early Learning Community implemented with support from JELP, DCPS, and the Virtual School Readiness Incubator congressionally directed grant; Family Get-Togethers: Literacy through the Arts part of the HHS Early Learning Opportunities Act (ELOA) grant, Bringing Education and Support to Teachers, Partners and Children(ELOA/BEST); and the Enhancing Leadership and Business Practices (ELBP) implemented with support from JELP and Virtual School Readiness Incubator.
Three UNF College of Education and Human Services dissertations were sponsored by FIE as part of the ongoing family engagement agenda. Research concerning the FIE family engagement agenda will be presented at Head Start’s Ninth National Research Conference.
- ELBP is a professional development series provided to the directors of preschool centers located in Jacksonville’s low-income neighborhoods.
- The Family Engagement and Early Learning Community program was implemented at Smart Pope Livingston Elementary School and at Saint Clair Evans Academy and included participants from neighborhood preschool centers.
- The Family Engagement agenda expanded when the Family Get-Togethers: Literacy through the Arts project was offered under Goal 3 of the ELOA/BEST grant.
- During the 2007-2008 academic year, the FIE PreCollegiate Program became the Jacksonville PreCollegiate Connection: College Reach-Out Program (Jacksonville PreCollegiate: CROP), an intensive after-school program encouraging DCPS sixth graders to chart a path toward post-secondary education. The Jacksonville PreCollegiate Connection: CROP is implemented at both Paxon and Eugene Butler middle schools.
- In conjunction with JELP, ELC, and DCPS, FIE used the fall 2006, Duval County Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener data to investigate patterns of similarities and differences across 15 neighborhoods associated with public libraries in Duval County. Research findings from this study will be presented at the AERA 2008 Annual Meeting, March 2008, New York, NY.
- FIE partnered with United Way of Northeast Florida and ELC of Duval to evaluate the United Way Success By 6 initiative. The project provides 2 years of high-quality preschool to 3-year-old preschool children from 30 local, low-income families.
- FIE researchers in partnership with the Don Brewer Early Learning and Professional Development Center designed and implemented several interventions in the preschool classes at the center.
- Healthy Habits through Literacy, funded by the UNF Foundation, was designed to combine literacy instruction and concept mapping to improve children’s and families’ nutrition, health, and physical development.
- Young Florida Naturalist, funded by the UNF Environmental Center, was designed to improve children’s background knowledge in science by utilizing advanced organizers and concept mapping. The children planted and continually maintain a butterfly garden that provides context for the science knowledge.
- Remember Me Rose Garden, funded by the National Gardening Association, extended the butterfly garden and provides an outdoor classroom.
- Container Vegetable Garden, funded by Home Depot, also extends the butterfly garden and provides children with opportunities to plant vegetable seeds and plants, maintain the plants, and cook and eat the healthy food.
- The efficacy of ELLM/ELLMPlus was evaluated as part of a 3-year study in Collier County, Florida involving a community partnership with Collier County Early Literacy Partnership for Educational Success. ELLM/ELLMPlus was implemented in conjunction with ELLM/SEEDS, an in-class tutoring program utilizing community volunteers.
- FIE, in partnership with Dr. George Farkas of The Pennsylvania State University, modified Dr. Farkas’s in-school tutoring program designed to enhance children’s reading ability. With support from DCPS, FIE conducted a research experiment implementing Reading 1:1 in grades 1-4 at three low-performing elementary schools. The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.(AKA) also implemented the tutoring program across nine US cities. FIE provided the evaluation of the Ivy Reading AKAdemy program.
- For several years prior to the implementation of Jacksonville PreCollegiate Connection: CROP, PreCollegiate worked in partnership with the Florida Institute of Human & Machine Cognition to develop a series of professional development activities for middle school mathematics teachers and field-tested the series in Polk and Duval counties. The professional development series used concept mapping to model a more structured approach to teaching the mathematical content associated with Algebra I.
- Under the leadership of FIE, 10 public universities formed the Florida Network of School Readiness Hubs. The network adapted the successful agricultural cooperative extension model to address newly emerging public needs in the field of education.