[Assessment 1502] Re: Using Data

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Drucilla Weirauch dcw113 at psu.edu
Wed Dec 10 14:45:00 EST 2008

Thanks for the positive feedback. The Seneca
Highlands project was one of our most successful
and most "researchy," with implications for the
field at large. We encouraged Pennsylvania family
literacy programs to look at the 2007-2008
projects and replicate or adapt a chosen one for
2008-2009 with the intent of building a
foundation of knowledge -- at the LOCAL level. A
WERC program this year is doing a math project,
also using cooperative learning. Unlike the
algebra studentsat Seneca Highlands, these
students have low level math skills (just
learning to tell time, count by fives, etc.).
Yet, due to the interventions, the students are
having high levels of success in terms of math
skills and self-efficacy. As the research shows,
as confidence improves, so do competencies. The
students are PROUD to be part of the research
study --- something that action research
encourages and that experimental studies do not.

I rather like the idea of a national support for such efforts!!

>Drucie and others,


>Earlier in this discussion I asked for specific examples (narratives)

>of teachers systematically using program data to answer their

>questions. In the SEQUEL Monographs that you suggested we look at,

>found at





>I see several good examples in these monographs. Thank you for

>calling them to our attention. I would like to mention one, in

>particular, the Seneca Highlands Intermediate Unit 9—“Cooperative

>Learning in Adult Education to Improve Attitudes and Skills in Math” .


>One of the biggest challenges our field faces is that very, very few

>(I think under 4%) of those in adult secondary education who say they

>want to go to college actually complete a degree. There are many

>reasons for this, but one of the biggest is that they cannot pass

>(usually required) college algebra. This is because they did not get

>(positive) exposure to algebra either in school or in an adult

>literacy education program. It is also because -- even if algebra is

>offered in their ASE program -- many have negative attitudes about,

>or fear of, learning algebra. This study, carried out by program

>practitioners, looks at the use of cooperative learning as a strategy

>to help students overcome negative attitudes and increase knowledge

>of algebra during an eight-week program. The monograph is short, well-

>written, easy to read, and has some findings worth getting excited

>about. It would be great if there were other programs, where teachers

>care about this problem, that could replicate it. I wonder if any

>programs in Pennsylvania have already done that.


>It would be terrific if there were a U.S. national adult literacy

>research institute (such as NCSALL was) that would make funds

>available to support programs replicating important studies such as

>this, to help build a body of professional wisdom on the use of

>cooperative learning in adult numeracy and mathematics. This might

>provide a sufficient base of evidence to see if it is worthwhile

>later to do "gold standard" experimental research.


>Thanks, Drucie, and other leaders at all levels in Pennsylvania, who

>have for many years now supported programs using data for program

>decision-making. It looks like this may be paying off for

>Pennsylvania practitioners, as they learn what does and doesn't work

>for their students, and it is contributing to a literature of

>professional wisdom* so necessary in our field.


>David J. Rosen

>djrosen at theworld.com


>* For a dialogue about professional wisdom (including a definition)

>with John Comings, former Director of the U.S. National Center for

>the Study of Adult learning and Literacy, see: http://






>On Dec 9, 2008, at 11:23 AM, Drucilla Weirauch wrote:


> > In Pennsylvania we have a statewide program improvement initiative

> > that uses a specific Practitioner Action Research (PAR) model. Each

> > program chooses its own area of inquiry, based on its data. These

> > data may be hard data (scores, hours, enrollment numbers, etc.) or

> > other data, based on our Indicators of Program Quality (for example,

> > the quality of the adult education classroom environment or depth of

> > partnerships). Last year, there were 61 projects conducted by PA

> > Family Literacy sites. Topics ranged from increasing enrollment or

> > retention hours, implementing scientifically-based reading research

> > in the adult classroom, improving children's oral receptive

> > vocabulary, to increasing referrals from partners. In the spring we

> > hosted regional poster shows where programs showcased their projects

> > and results. Each program also submitted a monograph that detailed

> > their question and background to it (the data), the interventions,

> > data sources, results, reflections, and implications for the field.

> >

> > Monographs can be found at our website

> > www.pafamilyliteracy.org. Left side, click on SEQUAL project, then

> > Monographs.

> >

> > The website also includes the PAR handbook that helped the programs

> > identify a problem based on data, intervention, choose best data

> > sources, etc.

> >

> > I evaluated the process to ascertain practitioners' perceptions of

> > the inaugural year of the intentional, systematic PAR process. While

> > it added a layer of work, most felt that it empowered them as

> > practitioners and gave their program "teeth." What was also important

> > is that this allowed them to show highlights of their program and

> > program improvement that mere data do not always capture (e.g. data

> > reported to the state and feds.) Programs used data to inform their

> > question and chart their success. Analyzing and reflecting on the

> > data made it more than mere numbers. This evaluation report is also

> > on the website. It includes a summary of the outcomes from the

> > projects and the perceptions of the participants on the research

> > process.

> >

> > Drucie Weirauch

> > Penn State University

> > Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy

> >

> > -------------------------------

> > National Institute for Literacy

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> > Assessment at nifl.gov

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> > Email delivered to djrosen at theworld.com








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