Newly Funded Curry School Research to Evaluate Education Innovations

July 09, 2014

Initiatives aimed at improving education for students ranging from preschoolers to high-school seniors will undergo rigorous examination beginning this fall, as faculty members from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education launch new federally funded research projects.

Curry School faculty members will lead studies of preschool readiness, elementary teacher development, middle-school violence prevention and teacher performance, supported by $5.97 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. A fifth grant will extend a decade-long program to prepare new scientists in education research.

“The success of Curry’s faculty in securing these highly competitive grants to support their research is truly a credit to the importance of their ideas and the rigor of their work,” said Robert C. Pianta, dean of the Curry School. “This funding strengthens the school’s capacity to be a leader, to make a difference not only in the generation of new knowledge, but perhaps more importantly, in the implementation of new solutions to the challenges facing educators, students and communities.

“Each of these projects, individually and collectively, positions the school and its faculty member as leaders in advancing the knowledge base serving a critical sector of society,” he said.

Louisiana’s Kindergarten Readiness System

Louisiana is developing a unique early childhood accountability system aimed at improving the quality of all public preschool programs serving children from birth to age 5.  More than 1,000 4-year-olds and their parents will participate in a $1.6 million exploration study that seeks to validate the state’s approach to measuring preschool quality  and better understand how parents factor quality into their preschool decisions.

Daphna Bassok, assistant professor of education policy and associate director of U.Va.’s EdPolicyWorks research center, will lead the study, along with Amanda Williford, research assistant professor at U.Va.’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning.

The 4Rs - MyTeaching Partner Combo

The 4Rs (Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution) social-emotional learning program, supported by a trademarked video-based consultation model called MyTeachingPartner, will undergo a rigorous round of testing to examine its impact on teacher-student interactions and students’ social, behavioral and academic skills in upper elementary grades.

Jason Downer, research associate professor and director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, is co-principal investigator, heading up a $478,000 subcontract for work to be conducted at U.Va. The primary grantee of this $3.4 million efficacy and replication study is Fordham University.

Coping Power for Middle Schoolers

A middle school version of the Coping Power program, which was originally developed for children in late elementary school, will be tested in a $3.5 million efficacy and replication study.

Catherine Bradshaw, associate dean for research and faculty development and principal investigator of the project, will examine a range of Coping Power outcomes, including whether it decreases aggressive behavior problems such as bullying and increases academic performance.

IMPACT Evaluation

District of Columbia Public Schools will collaborate with James Wyckoff, professor of education policy and director of the EdPolicyWorks research center, and Thomas Dee of Stanford University to assess and improve the school division’s teacher evaluation system introduced in 2008.

Known as IMPACT, the high-stakes teacher evaluation system is designed to drive improvements in teacher quality and student achievement. The work will be funded by a $400,000 Institute of Education Sciences’ Researcher-Practitioner Partnership grant.

Virginia Education Science Training

The Curry School will also extend its leadership in developing future education scientists, thanks to a third round of funding for its Virginia Education Science Training fellowships for doctoral students.

The multi-disciplinary program established in 2004 provides advanced training in state-of the art quantitative methods and in conducting scientifically rigorous and policy-relevant education research that can improve outcomes for students in preschool through grade 12. The $3.9 million, five-year renewal grant was awarded to principal investigators Pianta, Wyckoff and Sara Rimm-Kaufman, professor of educational psychology-applied developmental science.

Media Contact

Audrey Breen

Curry School of Education