Student Research Abstracts
Andersen, Lindsey. Do Mentoring Programs Really Help New Teachers?
Education is an interesting and exciting world to be a part of. New teachers enter
the profession and the school year with great enthusiasm, energy, zest and excitement.
However, for these new teachers life can become quite overwhelming very quickly by
the curriculum, lesson planning, classroom management, individual student needs and
their own anticipated evaluations. Early successes or failures can often determine
the likelihood of a successful career as an educator. Research shows that between
40%-50% of new teachers leave teaching within five years of entering the profession
(Ingersoll, 2012). This may be due to an inadequate college experience, high pressure
demands they face early on and/or the limited amount of support they receive. Within
the Northport-East Northport School District, beginning teachers are all assigned
a mentor and participate in the district mentoring program as mandated by New York
State’s Commissioner’s Regulations. Is the mentoring program effective? Is it improving
teacher effectiveness, quality of instruction and enhancing student growth? I speculate
that in and of itself, the answer would be no.
Bally, Debbie. The Purpose and Power of a Professional Learning Community
What role do Professional Learning Communities play in both teacher development and
student learning? Research shows a direct correlation between creating Professional
Learning Communities and increased student achievement and meaningful teacher development.
Professional Learning Communities move the focus from teaching to learning, which
has profound implications for schools. According to Richard DuFour, a Professional
Learning Community is a simple paradigm shift. A Professional Learning Community
consists of a group of educators that focus on ensuring that all students learn the
required curriculum and hold themselves accountable for the results. Professional
Learning Communities work diligently to create common assessments and common grading.
They use data to drive instruction, ultimately improving student achievement. They
review and clarify learning goals and use formative assessments to monitor student
progress. They also discuss intervention plans for struggling students.
The findings show that when the students’ achievement improves, so does the collaborative culture. They also show that Professional Learning Communities provide an ideal organizational structure. Successful Professional Learning Communities consist of hard work and dedication. The staff needs to hold themselves accountable and work collaboratively instead of in isolation. Professional Learning Communities are a powerful form of professional development. They allow the teachers to build on one another’s strengths by sharing methods, ideas and materials. The findings clearly emphasize the importance of Professional Learning Communities in education today. It is imperative that educators realize and understand the power and purpose of Professional Learning Communities as they relate to 21st century learning.
DePrima, David. How can Creating a Successful Life Skills Program on the Secondary Level Benefit a School District and the Students Involved?
When parents of children who have Autism, Downs Syndrome and other moderate to severe
disabilities first hear their child’s diagnosis, many thoughts begin racing through
their heads. What will my child do once we are gone? How will they fend for themselves
if I am not around? And, how do I insure they receive the right services so they can
achieve their highest potential? That is a just a couple of the questions that parents
of these children think about every minute of every day. For many students with special
needs, having practical life skills is essential to have a productive life. As these
students enter their middle and high school years, parents and teachers begin to plan
for adult living, making sure that what these children learn will help them in the
adult phase of life. The need for an effective and successful life skills program
is a topic that school districts across the country are paying close attention to.
Evaluating the Effects of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
Hayes, Robert. Chronic Student Absenteeism; Causes and Intervention Strategies
Chronic absenteeism, commonly defined as missing 10% or more of school, is a problem
faced by many public schools across the nation. Chronic absenteeism among public school
students is a cause for concern and seems to be on the rise. Although once commonly
thought of as a secondary school problem, chronic absenteeism of often first manifests
in the elementary grades and can often go unnoticed. Frequently poor attendance patterns
that are established in the primary grades will follow a student throughout their
school career and even into adulthood. The increase in attendance problems has been
associated with poor scores on achievement tests, particularly in math and English,
as well as affecting high school dropout rates. Understanding the cause(s) of chronic
absenteeism is necessary in order to develop strategies to correct it.
Jannotte , KerriAnn. Helping Students Start Over: Best Practices in Alternative Education.
When examining alternative education, many programs lack guidance and direction. Roslyn Hilltop Academy opened its doors in September of 2008 with 12 students ranging in age from 13 to 18. They established this program in order to provide their at-risk students with the opportunity to be successful without sending them to out of district placements. Although their program has had success, there is always room for improvement. And while there is excellent guidance on the national level, very little support exists on the local or state level. This means that programs are mostly left to their own devices. Programs across the country are having success and all educators need to improve their understanding of how they are accomplishing that feat. Teachers need to know what practices have demonstrated success with students enrolled in alternative programs. Access to data about successful methods would be a helpful resource to even the most experienced alternative educators. The purpose of this study is to find out what alternative education practices successfully impact student achievement. Questions that this paper will answer include the following: What intervention strategies have proven successful in alternative education programs? What practices are utilized successfully in alternative education? Studies have shown that alternative education has a positive effect on at-risk students. There are practices that educators have used successfully. How that information is shared in order to provide the best educational experience possible without wasting time on strategies that don’t work is extremely important. This study is an examination of articles and information regarding successful practices in alternative education. The expected findings for this study will provide a better understanding of alternative education as well as a list of common characteristics of successful alternative programs, best practices, techniques and strategies that have shown to have success with at-risk students. The research shows that there are many shared characteristics of successful alternative programs including small size, structured environments, effective teachers and high expectations. Most of these strategies can be implemented easily in a variety of different alternative settings.
Matzen, Margaret. Does The Classroom and School Building Environment Affect Student Performance and Achievement?
School districts across our country, as well as my own district, are under pressure
to improve student achievement. In order to accomplish this my school district is
analyzing data gathered from NYS assessments, matching curriculum with the new Common
Core Standards, and monitoring results of intervention services. Two questions arise
from these things: Is studying data and changing curriculum the only way to improve
student performance and achievement? And, are there other things that impact students
that have nothing to do with assessments and curriculum? These two questions spurred
me to look into how the classroom and school building environment impacts students.
The focus of this paper is to do just that.
McGinn, Michael. Structuring a Parental Involvement Program
This study was an examination of the problem of parental involvement at a northeast
suburban middle school, in a diverse community with a high ELL and immigrant population
and low socioeconomic population. Middle schools often strive to increase parent
involvement. The school has been attempting to increase the levels of parent involvement
for over ten years. While some strategies have proven successful at increasing involvement,
the school has hit a plateau and has not yet achieved the levels they would like.
This paper examines factors that have been identified in current literature and that
have been proven to act as barriers to the successful implementation of parental involvement
programs. The paper then seeks to find strategies that have proven effective in other
schools, so the school can examine their effectiveness and modify them to meet the
needs of the local community.
Other schools should be careful to not simply adopt a list of strategies. The research points out many nuanced factors that will vary greatly, even among schools within a district. Each school needs to identify strategies that will be effective for them, using information gleaned from research into all stakeholder groups.
Murphy, Bradley. Do K-12 School Facilities Affect Student Achievement?
With most schools in the United States approaching their golden anniversary, many school buildings are beginning to deteriorate and are not able to facilitate learning in an effective manner congruent with national standards. School districts all over the country spend many hours on professional development for the teachers, the same care and attention provided for these teachers should be provided for the building facility. Through the use of research questions a determination whether school facilities impact learning will be discovered.
In reviewing all of the sources in my paper, it has become overwhelmingly apparent that the research agrees with my hypothesis that better facilities do in fact facilitate learning in a more effective way. The research was framed in such a way to examine the questions above from multiple perspectives. Sources are examined from the perspective of teachers, administrators, students, and various other stakeholders within a school. One of the most significant sources that was used in this paper and that I found the most interesting to read was Earthman's prioritization of 31 criteria for school building adequacy. This paper broke down each individual element of a school building and placed it into an order of priority. Using Earthman's criteria as a guide, secondary sources as well as primary sources were used to identify and explore specified criteria, and their effect on student achievement. Acousticians, HVAC manufacturers, school designers, architects, school administration, and students are represented in the research as well as other stakeholders in a community.
Presti, Patrick. Teacher Effectiveness and the use of Technology to Improve Student Learning Outcomes
“Engineering” activities play an important role in early technology education. In
the Northport-East Northport UFSD, there are several teachers in the middle school
that teach intensively using various computer applications whereas there are several
teachers that use no computer applications at all during their instruction. One particular
unit of focus is the 7th grade Tower/Bridge Unit. The tower unit goes into great
detail about the purpose and different designs incorporated with towers and bridges.
With most technology education units, there is usually a theory section as well as
a hands-on project section. Within the theory section, students will learn of the
forces and loads that bridges/towers encounter, materials used for the construction,
different types of towers/bridges, and what purposes towers/bridges serve. My research
questions were: Does technology used in the classroom for a 7th grade Tower Construction
unit significantly improve a students’ learning outcome and improve teacher effectiveness?
Do Microsoft PowerPoint presentations increase the students’ learning outcome of the
course material presented to them?
Seebach, Christine. Guided Reading Best Practices in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
What are Guided Reading best practices in Teaching English to speakers of other languages? This research paper synthesizes sources of Guided Reading (GR) best practices in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). The literature on GR in TESOL is limited. It is possible that teachers of English as a Second Language do not have a background in teaching reading. While researching the topic one can see that TESOL, or Second Language Acquisition (SLA techniques must be interwoven with GR methods. In reading articles on GR and TESOL, and related instructional practices we gather GR can be quiet effective in the instruction of Limited English Proficient (LEP)/ English Language Learners (ELLs) when it is modified to suit an ELL’s English proficiency level, and more specifically his or her reading level. Research shows best practices under the GR subtopics of: Teacher Preparation, Choosing Materials, Learning Environment, Pre Guided Reading, During Guided Reading, and Post Guided Reading. The learning environment a teacher creates for GR must be a structured, comfortable community that encourages dialogue about texts. Making students believe they are academically able are common motifs in research on GR with ELLs. Literature on Pre-reading in TESOL stresses building on students’ background knowledge, and introducing new vocabulary and language structures. The main focus is on comprehension strategies during reading. Using images to connect meaning and make connections to the text is a valuable practice as well. (Bouchereau Bauer & Arazi, 2011)Post-reading best practices for ELLs involve retelling, Cloze activities, and open-ended comprehension questions. Explicit instruction is crucial in modified GR for ELLs. Modified Guided Reading (MGR) practices in TESOL enhance the SLA process and manifest all four traditional modes of language; speaking, listening, reading, and writing. (Avalos, Plasencia, Chavez, & Rascon, 2007)We are told that teachers must demonstrate meaningful reading habits such as immediate feedback, and explicitly highlighting content-area vocabulary and text style. Through modified GR for ELLs, teachers’ best practices will easily align with the newer New York State Teaching Standards. Several studies and professional observations have been examined to gain insight in creating a menu of GR best practices for TESOL. SLA studies site Vygotsky’s theory of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Literature on GR best practices gives mention of Vygotsky’s ZPD as well. Those in the SLA field have made parallel connections to Krashen’s Input Hypothesis. Krashen’s Input Hypothesis (i+1) and Vygotsky’s ZPD both describe a learner will acquire language/ information when they are exposed to input a level above their current skills set. ZPD and i+1 connect to the idea of scaffolding during TESOL lessons. (Shabani, Khatib, & Ebadi, 2010) Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) is another effective instructional best practice that overlaps in GR and SLA findings. (Echevarria, Short, & Powers, School Reform and Standars-Based Education: A Model for English Language Learners, 2006) I have organized a menu of Guided Reading Instructional Best Practices in Teaching English to Students of Other Languages.
Weil, Hallie. The Benefits and Drawbacks of Middle School Advisory Programs
Middle School R is a suburban middle school, located in Suffolk County, Long Island,
which houses approximately 750 students in grades 6-8. In recent years, Middle School
R has experienced heightened suspension rates, particularly among male students in
grades 7 and 8. Middle School R needs to develop a program, such as advisory, that
will reach at risk students and improve their overall connection to school, thereby
decreasing the frequency of disciplinary referrals and subsequent suspensions. Research
Questions: What is an advisory program and what purpose does it serve? What are the
social, emotional, and academic benefits of advisory, and what are the drawbacks of
attempting to implement such a program? What are some possible models for advisory?
For program information contact:
For application procedure questions contact:
Certification and Licensing Workshops
Chapter 544 of New York State Law (1988) requires many licensed professionals, teachers and school administrators applying for the renewal of a license, registration, certificate or limited permit to complete coursework regarding child abuse, substance abuse and school violence. Effective July 1, 2001, fingerprinting is also required. To satisfy these requirements, SPD offers three workshops and one fingerprinting session.