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Center begins second phase of work in Broward County

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Lora Cohen-Vogel

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The National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools, which School of Education Professor Lora Cohen-Vogel helps lead, has launched its newest phase of work with high schools in the nation’s sixth largest school district, Broward County Public Schools.

The center, a $13.6 million, five-year research and development study funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute on Education Sciences, is seeking to identify what makes some large, urban high schools, such as those in Broward County, particularly effective at reaching racial minorities, low-income students, and English Language Learners.

Cohen-Vogel, the School of Education’s Robena and Walter E. Hussman Jr. Professor of Policy and Education Reform, is associate director of the center and co-principal investigator. She has led the research in Broward County, which comprises Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and other municipalities.  

The research has identified one major theme – personalization for academic and social learning – which will be the focus of subsequent work there.  Researchers found that higher performing schools in the district made deliberate efforts through systematic structures to promote strong relationships between adults and students as well as personalize the learning experience. 

“Schools that were making achievement gains with traditionally underperforming students maintained strong and reliable disciplinary systems, encouraged teachers to reach out to kids in danger of failing the state test, and assigned students to a single counselor and assistant principal for the duration of their high school careers, for example,” Cohen-Vogel said.

This next phase of the Broward County work begins a collaborative design process where a district-wide team of researchers, developers, teachers, and district leaders will come together to study the findings and design, test, adapt and implement new practices that promote personalization in different school contexts.

Cohen-Vogel is participating in this work as a member of the district design team. She is also leading a team of researchers and graduate students at Carolina and two of the Center’s partner institutions – Vanderbilt University and the Florida State University – in plans to study the implementation and effectiveness of the innovation designed by the district team.

On Sept. 24, Cohen-Vogel joined the superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, district and school leaders, and other members of the center’s leadership team at a kickoff event in Fort Lauderdale to begin the next phase of the work. 

“In my 30 years working in public schools, I have never seen a project with so much promise, a project that involves teachers so deeply in the district’s improvement efforts,” said Leontine Butler, deputy superintendent and the center’s primary contact in the district, said during the kickoff event.

The partnership with Broward County Public Schools is one of two the center holds. A similar project in the Fort Worth (Texas) Independent School District will also study, document and disseminate the lessons learned about scaling up and sustaining effective practices.

A report describing findings from the first phase of the project, co-authored by Cohen-Vogel, is available here.

More information about the National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools is available at the center’s website.