MEP both engages in and supports research

MEP-Supported research

MEP-Supported research is thematically aligned with MEP-Directed research, serving to provide a broader scope of resources and knowledge to the District. In 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 MEP-Supported work is topically focused on MMSD’s 4K program. Topics for MEP research grants can change from year-to-year, dependent on MEP Directed research topics. Two cycles of research grants have been awarded to date—the first in Fall of 2016 and the second in Spring of 2017. A third grants cycle will take place in the Spring of 2018. Details of the research questions and designs from each previous grant cohorts are below.

MEP supports independent UW researchers to engage in research in MMSD through research grants, awarded through a competitive grant process. Calls for proposals are issued annually in Spring semester. All University faculty, research faculty, and graduate students supported by a PI are invited to submit a proposal for funding. Grant awards are up to $50,00 and researchers are further supported through MEP with expedited access to MMSD data, schools and additional administrative support. Applications are reviewed by the MEP Directors and Steering Committee.

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Spring 2017 Awarded Researchers - Focus on MMSD 4K

Beth Graue will analyze MMSD administrative data, as well as survey and interview kindergarten famlies, in an effort to understand how families make decisions about their child’s 4K experience.  Across these retrospective data sources Graue will explore factors that shape decision making with a focus on program structures, family needs and resources, cultural norms, and personal preference.

Maribeth Gettinger and Kaitlyn Ostrander will use 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 will also explore any variance between sites, teacher characteristics, and student demographics.    

Fall 2016 Grant Recipients - Focus on MMSD 4K

Alejandra Pilarz will document 4K family engagement strategies and parents’ perceptions of those strategies, through the administration of surveys to 4K principals/directors and teachers, and focus groups with parents. She will explore the relationship between engagement strategies and 4K students’ attendance and school readiness. The goal of her research is to identify the most promising strategies to increase family engagement in 4K and improve student readiness for the transition to Kindergarten.

Travis Wright will conduct classroom observations, interviews, and focus groups with 4K staff and families in order to expand our understanding of the experiences of homeless families in 4K. Through his research he aims to identify the best strategies to improve support for students experiencing homelessness during the first critical years of school.

Kristin Shutts and Charles Kalish will conduct interviews with 4K administrators and teachers to identify priorities and interests for assessing students' interpersonal skills. They will also be pilot testing assessments with students in 4K programs. Utilizing the experiences and expertise of 4K staff, their goal is to develop high-quality measurement instruments which will help teachers effectively assess students' interpersonal skills.