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Early Learning Performance Funding Project (2014-2019)

The Florida Office of Early Learning contacted the Lastinger Center to evaluate a five-year pilot project designed to determine how specific teacher professional learning approaches impact children who attend school readiness programs.

    Mapping Collier County: An Early Learning Systems Landscape Analysis (2019)

    As part of the Future Ready Collier network, the Naples Children & Education Foundation partnered with the Lastinger Center and UF Anita Zucker Center. This collaboration resulted in a systems-wide early learning landscape analysis to better understand the early learning systems and support services available in Collier County, Florida. This work builds on past research underwritten by NCEF, including the studies of Child Well-Being in Collier County.

      A Comprehensive Evaluation of Florida’s Early Childhood Professional Development System

      In 2011, Florida’s Office of Early Learning (now Division of Early Learning) commissioned the Lastinger Center to listen to the voices of stakeholders in the state’s early childhood professional development system and complete an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses. The Office of Early Learning sought to identify actionable steps to improve the quality, availability, affordability, and accessibility of professional development.

        Statewide Needs Assessment on the Demand, Supply and Quality of Early Learning Programs in Florida

        In 2013, Florida’s State Advisory Council on Early Education and Care Florida Division of Early Learning commissioned the Lastinger Center in partnership with the UF Family Health Center to conduct a needs assessment to determine the supply, demand, and quality of early learning programs in Florida.

          Creating a Formula for Success: Recommendations from an Evaluation of Florida’s Mathematics Professional Development Landscape

          In 2021, a team from the Lastinger Center surveyed and interviewed secondary math educators from across Florida to better understand the current state of available professional learning opportunities available. Several themes emerged: educators experience varying levels of access to ongoing, frequent professional development opportunities that are considered high quality and desire more collaborative opportunities to engage with peers and coaches.

            Measure to Learn and Improve Study (2018)

            The Measure to Learn and Improve study was a comprehensive research effort supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that assessed the impact of investments in education improvement. The Lastinger Center served as the Florida partner in analyzing and disseminating data collected from RAND Corporation’s American Teacher Panel (ATP) and American School Leader Panel (ASLP) in May 2017. The study examined the perceptions of teachers and administrators across the country regarding preparedness programs for their roles, professional learning opportunities and teacher leadership structures. Results from the study were shared with various stakeholders across Florida with the intent to inform decision making and system development to improve teacher and leadership effectiveness.

              COVID-19 Virtual Listening Tour

              In May 2020, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the Lastinger Center to conduct a virtual listening tour to understand how coronavirus impacted various aspects of education. Our research team interviewed more than 4,600 students, parents, teachers, early childhood and K-12 educators and administrators across Florida. Through this process, we identified key themes and innovations that emerged from the pandemic.

              School districts and early learning coalitions found creative ways to assist students during the closures. From urban to rural areas, there was no end to the resilience of teachers and caregivers.

                “All Over the Map” Trauma-Informed Care Report

                In 2019, the Lastinger Center developed an interactive map to geographically visualize trauma-informed programs and adverse childhood experiences in Florida.

                  Lastinger 2018 Listening Tour Report

                  Innovation demands maintaining a deep understanding of our contextplus our stakeholders’ realities, challenges and needs. In 2018, Director Phil Poekert and leadership embarked on a 6-week Listening Tour of the birth through 12th grade education systems across Florida. The tour spanned nearly 3,000 miles and 20 Florida counties. It included more than 100 educational stakeholders ranging from preschoolers to high schoolers, from teachers to district administrators, from parents to agency and organization leaders to elected officials, and from rural areas to urban centers. We use the data gathered to inform broader efforts for educational advancement in Florida and beyond.

                    Virtual Learning Lab

                    The Virtual Learning Lab (VLL) was a research collaboration between the University of Florida, University of Colorado-Boulder and Arizona State University to explore the potential for precision education in Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) to revolutionize teaching and learning.  With $8.9M of funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, the team approached personalized learning for VLEs in new and innovative ways. The ultimate goal was to improve student engagement with mathematics content through automated personalized learning environments to accelerate achievement for all students. Through a partnership with the online learning platform Math Nation, the VLL mined the records of over 200,000 students who used the platform. Using these records, they explored the integration of learner effect in personalized recommendations and leveraged Natural Language Processing to enhance the learner experience.

                      DIsability Anti-buLlying Training (DIAL)

                      Students with or at-risk for disabilities are disproportionately affected by bullying in school. Through a partnership with Dorothy Espelage, Ph.D., at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Chad Rose, Ph.D., at the University of Missouri, our team developed a unique professional development program targeting K-5 educators’ roles in bullying prevention as a way to support increased academic achievement. With funding from an Institute of Education Sciences Goal 2 award, we built a professional development intervention that aims to close the research-to-practice gap by educating teachers regarding the requisite background knowledge and concrete behavior management strategies that are evidence-based and actionable. With this training, teachers will be empowered to foster improved learning environments that promote healthy social skills, attitudes and behaviors that support learning and result in increased academic achievement for all students.  This training guides school-based staff to integrate effective anti-bullying strategies in the school’s unique multi-tier system of supports (MTSS) for sustained change.

                        Preparatory Resource Officer Modules in Support of Educational Success (PROMISES)

                        Students need to be safe and feel safe to succeed in school. Current safety programs and policies rely on the roles of adults in the community, including a range of school safety specialists. With funding from the National Institute of Justice, and a partnership with Dorothy Espelage, Ph.D., we created a four-module professional development series for school staff to increase the effectiveness of resource officers.The modules address trauma informed care, social emotional learning, restorative problem solving and cultural competence.

                          Understanding Trauma and Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

                          School resource officers and other school security professionals (SSPs) have become increasingly common in schools. However, most states do not require that these professionals receive training related to understanding trauma and how it may affect students’ behavior and how to promote social–emotional learning competencies among students. This project evaluated an online professional development program for SSPs that provides education on two topics related to best practices in working with youth in K-12 school settings: trauma-informed care (TIC) and social–emotional learning.

                            Creating Online Professional Development for School Resource Officers

                            While most states do not require youth or school-related training for school resource officers (SROs), their presence is ever-increasing. Under the leadership of Dorothy Espelage, Ph.D., our team created four online professional development modules for SROs. Each module focuses on one of the following: trauma-informed care, social-emotional learning (SEL), restorative problem-solving and cultural competence. These modules were iteratively developed by applying established paradigms of curriculum development. These include systematic and communicative approaches, adult learning theory principles and utilizing the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) Model of Systematic Instructional Design.

                              Trauma Informed Care in Schools: Perspectives from School Resource Officers

                              School resource officers (SROs) and school security professionals (SSPs) have increased presence in schools, yet little is known about how they view the importance of their relationships with students and the broader school climate. Informed by the levels of ecological systems theory, three salient themes were identified by the researchers: how SSPs and SROs describe school climate, how they respond to students with traumatic experiences and how their perspectives may be affected by their differing roles. Findings indicate that SROs and SSPs benefited from our training on trauma-informed care because they expressed learning new strategies and feeling better equipped to serve and support students with known or unknown adverse childhood experiences.

                                Restorative Justice: A Qualitative Analysis of School Security Perspectives

                                Grounded in Restorative Justice theory, this study examines the perspectives of School Resource Officers (SROs) and other School Security Personnel (SSPs) during a professional development training on restorative-problem solving. Specifically, it focuses on how school security staff are currently using restorative justice in their work, how they can use these practices in the future and any variations in perspectives towards restorative justice based on their job title. This study found that SROs and SSPs are aware of restorative practices and use them to some capacity in their roles. However, additional training is needed to ensure that practices are used consistently and effectively across positions and schools.

                                  Gates Foundation Flamingo Nation Data Lagoon

                                  Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we are initially integrating data from the Math Nation online platform and Flamingo Learning online professional development platform, where our flagship programs like Literacy Matrix and Math Matrix systems are housed, to form the Flamingo Nation Data Lagoon. The increased power of having all data together unlocks the innate dependency of reading/literacy and math achievement. With this longitudinal data, we will be able to explore learning patterns that contribute to successful, timely achievement of major learning milestones and identify strategies to bolster achievement for others throughout their educational careers.

                                    Culturally Responsive Math Nation

                                    In 2021, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation selected the Lastinger Center as a Balance the Equation Grand Challenge Grantee. With this grant, the team is building a math curriculum designed to promote student engagement, academic success and the development of positive math learner identities among Black and Latinx students. Culturally Relevant Math Nation is an online math program that enhances the Illustrative Mathematics (IM) Algebra 1 curriculum. It uses the Math Nation platform as the vehicle to deliver culturally aligned algebra content, a social networking wall where students will explore their identities as learners and a space for students to set and track their mathematics learning and performance goals. This approach allows students to see themselves reflected in Mathematics, facilitating the growth of their identity as competent mathematicians. It also supports teacher efficacy incorporating culturally responsive content in the classroom.  

                                      Practice-Driven Professional Development for Algebra Teachers

                                      This National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project led by Zandra de Araujo, Ph.D., seeks to develop a personalized, scalable professional development (PD) approach that centers on and builds from algebra teachers’ practices and individual strengths. The project will focus its PD efforts on instructional actions that are tailored to teachers’ existing practice, can be readily adopted, and are easily accessible, which the team has termed as high-uptake practices. The project will develop and field test PD materials to support algebra teachers at scale via these high-uptake practices.  Follow project updates on their website.