Associate Dean's Message
Associate Dean Beverly Cabello, Michael D. Eisner College of Education
This issue of InnovatED highlights partnerships between the Michael D. Eisner College of Education and PreK-12 schools in Southern California. Collaborating with our public schools as well as with other community partners is integral to the mission, values, and goals of the College. Our mission states that in order to prepare teachers, counselors, administrators, and other professionals to serve the diverse educational needs of the region, we must collaborate with colleagues across the campus and in other professional and community settings. With our partners we provide leadership in teaching, learning, assessment, and professional development for diverse communities both within and outside of California State University, Northridge (CSUN). To this end we have developed collaborative partnerships within the Eisner College of Education, across the university, regionally and nationally with schools, community agencies, other universities, and local, state, and national agencies with common interests. Last year, Mrs. Barbara Charness, Mr. Josh Einhorn, and I collaborated with Dr. Steve Graves of CSUN’s Department of Geography in developing a database to capture all Eisner College involvement in PreK-12 schools from 2005 to the present. The end product is a digital-interactive map designed by Dr. Graves that shows the breadth and depth of our work in Southern California schools. One of the main goals of this venture was to illustrate which schools we are involved with and the nature of that involvement. Geographically our sphere of influence spans from the desert to the sea—Santa Clarita to San Pedro. Our school involvement efforts include professional development, program development, workshops for PreK-12 pupils, research, and evaluation, to name a few. In some schools our presence has spanned a number of years and has included more than one of these efforts.
Often the partnerships stem from grant-based projects, such as Dr. Ivan Cheng’s Student Improvement through Teacher Empowerment (SITTE). In this partnership teachers collaborate in preparing lessons, examining students’ learning needs, and adjusting instruction to meet those needs. Additionally, many of our College’s centers have a long history of collaborative partnerships. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is involved in numerous partnerships, each with a different focus, including neurodevelopment, co-teaching, and instructional intelligence strategies (spearheaded by Dr. Wendy Murawski and Mr. Rick Goldman) and strengths-based learning professional development (provided by Dr. Gregory Jackson). Along with the CTL, the Teachers for a New Era (TNE) grant has been one of the most impactful projects in the history of the Eisner College. In the interview to follow, Barbara Charness provides a brief history of some of the TNE partnerships and describes how initial TNE efforts have evolved into the School Partnership Liaison position, housed in the Dean’s Office, and how new partnerships have developed from public school requests for professional development.
In learning about the Eisner College’s partnerships, we also wanted to track the types of research and evaluation that occur during the partnership activities by posing questions: What evidence was gathered to determine the effectiveness of our partnerships? What was the impact on pupils, teachers, administrators, parents, and other school and district stakeholders? What research topics have been addressed and where are the gaps? In looking at the broad expanse of our involvement in schools, what conclusions can we draw? Over the years, grants have increased the emphasis on evidence showing direct and indirect impact on pupil learning by measuring the impact of professional development on their teachers or other PreK-12 professionals. Grant funders are less interested in satisfaction questionnaires and more interested in performance-based measures that show the impact on pupil learning. We are moving in this direction, as the partnerships described in this issue illustrate. Also note that a common thread in the evidence gathered combines multiple assessments (periodic assessments, CST scores) with qualitative data, such as student-work samples or interviews and observations revealing thinking or behavioral patterns that improve teaching and learning. I hope you will learn from as well as appreciate reading about our work with schools.