News from WCER

LEAD Evaluation Affirms Lasting Benefits of the Odyssey Project

May 20, 2019   |   By Karen Rivedal

A Madison community program that works to jump-start the college careers of low-income adults through a free six-credit humanities course is yielding more than just academic benefits for many students, according to the first external evaluation in the program’s 16-year history.


A Look Inside Online Learning Settings in High Schools

May 14, 2019   |   By Annalee Good, Emily Cheng, Jennifer Darling-Aduana, Carolyn J. Heinrich

In a Brookings Institution blog post, WCER’s Annalee Good and Emily Cheng join with two Vanderbilt University colleagues to summarize their deep dive into the pros and cons of online coursework in high schools:
“Stepping back, our findings suggest both a need for caution in the rapid expansion of online courses in high schools and a need for stronger scaffolding of support and appropriate targeting of students to realize the benefits of online instruction. While online credit recovery programs potentially provide a cheap technical solution to the problem of low graduation rates, especially for upperclassmen who appear to replace failed courses with credits earned online more quickly, our results suggest this may come at the cost of learning, with longer-term implications that we are currently investigating.”


Puzzling Over “Game of Thrones” Character Motivations?

May 8, 2019   |   By Janet L. Kelly

A new interactive visualization tool created by University of Wisconsin–Madison data scientists helps fans make sense of the motivations of more than 50 main characters in HBO’s hit fantasy series, “Game of Thrones,” based on the books by George R.R. Martin. It is available free for public use at: https://got.epistemicnetwork.org/

But the team’s purpose in creating and expanding the tool goes beyond interest in the Seven Kingdoms. “As much as we are fans of the show and enjoyed working on this project, our primary goal is to help people see the power of ENA and the other tools we’ve developed that allow researchers to work with large sets of both qualitative and quantitative data,” says Andrew Ruis, the lab’s associate director.


RERIC Partners With Rural Wisconsin

May 1, 2019   |   By Lynn Armitage

Last fall, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research launched the Rural Education Research & Implementation Center, or RERIC (rare-ik)—a first-of-its-kind center in Wisconsin dedicated to improving educational outcomes for rural students, families and schools through rigorous, partnership-based research.


WCER Evaluators Find Literacy Program for Low-Income Kids Creates ‘Safe Place’ for Learning

April 25, 2019   |   By Karen Rivedal

Odyssey Junior is wrapping up its third full year offering a literacy and arts enrichment program for low-income children in Madison, with WEC evaluators monitoring its progress every step of the way. The program, a campus-community hybrid, aims for continuous improvement fostered by ongoing evaluation.


Why the Educational Dreams of Refugees Get Put on the Back Burner

April 18, 2019   |   By Matthew Wolfgram and Isabella Vang

In an invited piece for WisContext.org, CCWT researchers Matt Wolfgram and Isabella Vang share key findings and some back story from their recent study of how federal resettlement policy emphasizing immediate employment can work against refugees’ bid for higher education.


First Extensive Study of Long-Term English Learners Finds Significant Differences Across U.S.

April 16, 2019   |   By Lynn Armitage

The broadest study ever undertaken of long-term English learners (LTELs) in U.S. public schools underscores the need to better understand how students receive this classification, and why the size of the LTEL population varies widely across and within states.


6 Reasons You Can’t Design Great Learning Games without Teachers

April 11, 2019   |   By Field Day Lab

In Medium, WCER’s Field Day Lab shares key reasons why great teachers are the “secret ingredient” in all great learning games. Because they understand the pressures of the classroom, know the standards and know their students are just a few of them.


U.S. Educators Will Meet in Madison to Help Close Gaps for Students of Color

April 9, 2019   |   By Karen Rivedal

Teachers, principals and school district leaders from across the United States will meet April 15-16 for the 2019 Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) Institute at the Madison Concourse Hotel to take on one of education’s most critical and persistent problems.


To Chair or Not to Chair?

March 19, 2019   |   By Jerlando F.L. Jackson

In an article he penned for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jerlando F.L. Jackson explores why a faculty member should decide “to chair or not chair” their department. Jackson is a professor of higher education, director and chief research scientist of the Wisconsin Equity and Inclusion Laboratory and currently chairs his department, Leadership and Policy Analysis, at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.


New Online Tools to Instruct and Assess English Learners with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

March 13, 2019   |   By Lynn Armitage

In the world of K-12 English language proficiency assessment, a population of U.S. students is often overlooked, learners with significant cognitive disabilities. Now, groundbreaking instructional materials and guides are available to help educators understand alternate English language development and assessment for students who have diverse needs related to language and disability.


School Districts Getting Free Evaluation Tools Developed by UW-Madison Education Researchers

March 12, 2019   |   By Karen Rivedal

WEC is helping to close a gap in state requirements by providing needed guidance on the crucial step of regularly evaluating the effectiveness of schools’ academic and career planning for students in grades 6-12.


New Study Finds Hmong American Undergraduates Feel ‘Invisible’ on UW-Madison Campus

February 19, 2019   |   By Karen Rivedal

In their own words, Hmong American students at UW-Madison share hopes and concerns surrounding their undergraduate experience on campus.


Introducing CRECE (Cray-Say) at WCER

January 28, 2019   |   By Lynn Armitage

Last year with support from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Beth Graue launched the Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (CRECE). Its missions is focused on equity, supporting cross-disciplinary research, conducting policy analyses and connecting teacher education directly to research. CRECE (pronounced “cray-say”) is quite an appropriate name for the new center. In Spanish, it means, “It grows.”


CIMER to Provide Mentoring Expertise in National STEM Diversity Campaign

January 18, 2019   |   By Karen Rivedal

WCER’s CIMER will contribute to 40 percent of a $57 million National Science Foundation program designed to ramp up successful regional efforts to help diversify the STEM workforce nationally.