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CASDA Research Briefs

CASDA Research Briefs offer concise distillations of educational research drawn from our work in the field and peer-reviewed publications. They aim to provide the practitioner with clear, focused material that will help serve the needs of students.

For more than 70 years, CASDA’s mission has been to bring the latest research to practice in the field of education throughout the region. In more recent years, through technical assistance contract work with school districts, CASDA has accumulated a wealth of practical knowledge on a variety of topics important to supporting school districts to meet the needs of all students. Through these Research Briefs, CASDA presents to the practitioner common findings and questions for consideration. Our hope is practitioners will find the information helpful, engaging and user-friendly.

Community-Focused Leadership

Teachers have been frontline workers through another year of pandemic schooling and continue to be called upon to act as first responders and combat medics during school shootings. Elements of “normalcy” such as state testing have returned, but this offers little respite in what for many has felt like another year of perpetual crisis. Students have reported greater mental health struggles and educators have experienced burnout as they struggle to support youth in their classrooms. Increased turnover in building level leadership is a symptom highlighting the complexity and depth of issues facing educators. While this paints a grim portrait of challenges ahead, it also signals a tremendous opportunity. New leaders, and leaders taking new positions have an opportunity to enact community-centered leadership by rethinking the use of time and space, challenging existing hierarchies and power dynamics and focusing on connection rather than control to build sustainable, human-centered school communities.

Centering Youth and Community Perspectives to Support Attendance and Engagement

The return of both educators and students to in-person schooling has not been a story of seamless transition. We hoped the chaos of the pandemic would recede and a sense of normalcy would return, but 18 months of isolation, remote learning, and widespread uncertainty cast a long shadow that has lingered as new challenges have emerged to test both individuals and systems. While many schools have made strong efforts to create welcoming school climates and support social emotional learning, the related issues of student attendance and engagement remain a prominent concern for educators. To develop effective, responsive supports for students, it is essential to move beyond viewpoints that traditionally shape both policy and practice in school systems or our efforts will fail to address the unique needs of the current moment.


Integrating Self-Regulated Learning in Culturally Responsive Practice

Boykin and Noguera include self-regulated learning in their seminal work Creating the Opportunity to Learn: Moving From Research to Practice to Close the Achievement Gap as a promising practice to support historically the learning of historically marginalized students. They do this by connecting self-regulation to the well established literature linking student self-efficacy to improved achievement. This research brief explores the overlap between the self-regulation research of Zimmerman and Schunk and Zaretta Hammond's Ready for Rigor Framework outlined in Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain. 

Improving Achievement with Metacognitive Instruction

Metacognition is an essential skillset that empowers students to direct and regulate their learning while improving achievement. This research brief takes a look at the work of Zemira Mevarech and Brancha Kramarski on the IMPROVE method alongside research reviews led by Dutch Hester de Boer and A.S. Donker. 

What Does Parent Empowerment Look Like? 

Parents, families and community members can be powerful drivers of school improvement, but many districts struggle to meaningfully empower these essential stakeholders. This research brief offers a close reading of a case study that highlights how equitable, sustainable partnerships between districts, families and communities can serve as catalysts for meaningful progress.

Emerging Research Highlights Promise of Student Empowerment

This CASDA Research Brief explores recent studies that aim to identify and measure characteristics of schools that empower students. Their findings suggest that empowerment can be facilitated by rethinking traditional power dynamics, fostering equitable student-teacher relationships and building a strong sense of community. Empowering school environments exhibiting these traits have the potential to support positive academic and social outcomes for all students.

Considerations for Student Graduation Support Systems

Districts convening teams of educators, community partners, students and other stakeholders to identify students who may be exhibiting signs of alterable risk factors (Freeman, Simonsen 2015) and assign interventions must consider a number of factors to ensure that the components of their system are responsive, student centered and equitable. This resource guide encourages educators to consider the importance of universal preventative supports, careful selection and analysis of data, and drawing upon the perspectives and experience of individuals the system failed to support.  

Research and Resources for Equitable and Safe Schools

It is critical that we discuss the role of schools in preventing violence. This piece aims to provide complementary research and resources that explicitly address the school setting and align to the four levels identified by the CDC’s model.

Communication Challenges and Their Impact on Special Education​

Since 2010, CASDA faculty members have conducted special education program reviews for school districts throughout the state. This report is a brief outline of common challenges identified in these reviews. Its purpose is to provide a reference for district and building leaders as they assess the effectiveness of their special education programs.

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