“SERP field sites are structured as a set of three closely connected, and partially overlapping, groups: The Core Group, The Design Team, and the Research Team.”
SERP Boston Field Site
In the spring and summer of 2005, SERP launched its first field site in collaboration with the Boston Public Schools. The problem identified by the school district as its most urgent problem of practice was middle school literacy across the content areas. The problem was manifest in the inability of high school students to comprehend their subject area text books, which the district believes fuels the high drop-out rate.
Current Research Collaborations
How can discussion and debate improve reading comprehension?
A major U.S. Department of Education initiative to address reading comprehension has provided an opportunity to significantly broaden and deepen the SERP-BPS work on middle school literacy. Over a five-year period, a substantially enlarged research team will work with the Boston, Dennis-Yarmouth, and Baltimore School Disctricts, on "Catalyzing Comprehension through Discussion and Debate." The project will explore students' developmental trajectories in the areas of perspective taking, complex reasoning, and academic language—all areas targeted by Word Generation. Word Generation materials will be further developed to provide extensive treatment of two topics each year – one in science and one in social studies – and will be extended down to 4th and 5th grades. Development of the STARI reading course designed to address the needs of struggling readers will be completed for 8th grade and extended to 6th and 7th. go to website: Catalyzing Comprehension through Discussion and Debate (CCDD)
How can schools build organizational capacity to implement and sustain reform?
The Internal Coherence Assessment and Protocol is a school-level assessment designed to provide school leadership teams and their system-level supervisors with a structured body of information to use in tailoring the system's broad improvement strategy to the particular demands of a specific school. The protocol includes a teacher survey, a series of interviews and focus groups, and a sample of classroom observations. go to website: Building Coherence Within Schools
How can we provide comprehensive reading support while allowing students to stay on track with credit accumulation?
A multi-year collaboration between SERP, BPS, the Boston Plan for Excellence, and faculty from Wheelock College and Harvard University is producing the Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention (STARI), aimed at accelerating reading fluency; learning to decode words with challenging spelling patterns; and developing comprehension strategies, all the while delivering core content that meets state and district standards. go to website: STARI
How do we address the urgent problem of students entering high school unable to comprehend their textbooks?
Researchers at Harvard University and SERP, in collaboration with the Boston Public Schools, are developing a program named Word Generation for building the academic language middle school students need to comprehend subject area texts, develop and support arguments, and write persuasive essays. The program is now undergoing a controlled field study in three sites across the country. go to website: Word Generation - Join the National Conversation!
What tools can we use to better understand the prevalence and nature of middle school students' literacy problems?
Development of the Reading Inventory and Scholastic Evaluation (RISE) assessment on six key components: word recognition and decoding; vocabulary; morphology (word formation); sentence processing; reading efficiency; and reading comprehension is underway by a SERP R&D team consisting of researches from the Educational Testing Service, educators from BPS and scholars from Harvard and Boston Universities. Results are broken down into proficiency levels and tailored to the needs of different users. go to website: RISE - Reading Inventory and Scholastic Evaluation
How do middle school students and teachers explain students' reading challenges, and what role do they believe they should play in addressing them?
Team members from the SERP field sites in San Francisco and Boston were joined by collaborators from the University of Michigan for this three city project to construct and pilot a set of instruments for eliciting teacher and student perceptions of literacy roles, attitudes, and practices in and out of school.go to website: The Carnegie Content Literacy Survey
Additional SERP-BPS Collaborations
Catalyzing Comprehension Through Discussion and Debate details