Beyond sponsoring research studies, MEP also serves as a channel for researchers and practitioners at MMSD and UW to address problems of practice related to equity and other fundamentally important education issues.
Memos grounded in the research literature are written by collaborating staff and researchers within MMSD and UW in response to MEP-Directed work and published research briefs. MEP Memos must address a problem of practice related to equity and topics raised by the partnership. The purpose of such Memos is to inform conversations within the district and research community.
Elementary-to-Middle School Engagement Indicators
Authors: Jaymes Pyne and Bo McCready
Expected release: Fall 2019
Every year, MEP invites researchers whose interests align with MEP’s topical agenda to apply for grants up to $50,000 to conduct complementary, in-depth studies of high-priority practice and policy issues. In addition to funding, Sponsored Researchers gain expedited access to MMSD data, schools and additional administrative support—to assure that research studies and results are efficiently conducted and disseminated.
All University faculty and graduate students supported by a Principal Investigator are invited to submit proposals for funding via annually released Requests for Proposals (RFPs). RFPs are announced on this site, as well as through UW channels and MEP social media.
Topics for Sponsored grants change from year-to-year, in accord with Directed research topics. During the grant competition, applications are reviewed by MEP leadership and the Steering Committee. To date, three cycles of grants have been awarded—Fall 2016, Spring 2017, and Fall 2018. The next funding cycle for Fall 2019 is currently open.
The Madison Education Partnership requests proposals for research on questions related to school climate in MMSD. The proposed study could use school climate as a predictor or outcome.
The partnership takes a broad view of the role of school climate in proposed projects and seeks to foster creative research from university colleagues on problems of practice in MMSD. MMSD seeks to better understand the processes that shape school climate and the impact of school climate on student academic, behavioral, social emotional, and health outcomes. An overarching goal is to identify actions the district could take to improve school climate.
Some areas of interest may include:
Researchers: David Plante and Elizabeth Blair
To what extent do sleep and circadian factors influence middle school students’ attendance? Through exploratory qualitative analysis of open-ended survey responses, Plante and Blaire are investigating why and how these factors affect students’ and families’ everyday activities and school attendance. They are also investigating whether sleep duration and circadian preference are significantly associated with the outcome of school attendance in MMSD, using a quantitative approach.
This research team is more deeply investigating the perceptions and decision-making of multilingual families in MMSD early care and education programs. They are (a) examining the reliability and validity of a survey designed for parents of young multilingual children and (b) using parent interviews to further explore parents’ perceptions about language learning and their decision-making about their children’s program attendance.
Family Decision Making about 4K Enrollment in MMSD (Executive Summary)
Researcher: Beth Graue
Graue analyzed MMSD administrative data, as well as surveyed and interviewed kindergarten families to more deeply understand how families make decisions about their child’s 4K experience. Integrating data sources, Graue explored factors that shape decision-making with a focus on program structures, family needs and resources, cultural norms, and personal preferences.
Researchers: Maribeth Gettinger and Kaitlyn Ostrander
Gettinger and Ostrander used a mixed methods approach to: 1) assess the overall quality of instruction in MMSD 4K classrooms and 2) descriptively summarize the beliefs and perspectives of 4K teachers regarding 4K programming. They also explored variance between sites, teacher characteristics, and student demographics.
Researcher: Alejandra Pilarz
With a goal of identifying the most promising strategies to increase family engagement in 4K and improve student readiness for the transition to Kindergarten, Pilarz documented 4K family engagement strategies and parents’ perceptions of those strategies. Employing surveys with 4K principals/directors and teachers, and focus groups with parents, Pilarz explored the relationship between engagement strategies and 4K students’ attendance and school readiness.
Researcher: Travis Wright
Aiming to identify the best strategies to improve supports for students experiencing homelessness during the first critical years of school, Wright conducted classroom observations, interviews, and focus groups with 4K staff and families—to expand understanding of the experiences of homeless families in 4K.
The goal of Shutts’ and Kalish’s research was to develop high-quality measurement instruments to help teachers effectively assess students' interpersonal skills. They conducted interviews with 4K administrators and teachers to identify priorities and interests for assessing students' interpersonal skills; they also pilot tested assessments with students in 4K programs.