Behavioral Research and Teaching is comprised of a small group of researchers conducting research and development in student academic assessment. The shop is funded from federal grants and state contracts and is comprised of faculty, staff, and students committed to the development of effective educational programs for all students.
Areas of Research
IES Post Doctoral Research Fellowships Opportunities at BRT
Post doctoral fellows participate in the following three activity areas:
- Benchmarking and Progress Monitoring – This center focuses on response to intervention and incorporates three important decisions: (a) screening, (b) diagnosis, and (c) progress monitoring.
- Standards and Technology Reform – Curriculum-based measures are used to assist teachers in writing Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) and providing students access to accommodations on large-scale tests.
- Alternate Assessments – We focus on scaling and outcome evaluation for students with significant cognitive disabilities. In these activity areas, the focus is on: (a) sampling various populations of students, (b) designing various types of research designs to be used in field-based settings, (c) developing various types of measures and scales using both classical and item response theory, (d) analyzing data using a variety of advanced statistical techniques (hierarchical linear modeling, structural equation modeling, regression discontinuity analysis, and growth curve modeling), and finally (e) networking opportunities through AERA, NCME, CEC, NASP, and the Large-scale Assessment Conference.
Goal Setting and Instruction
BRT works with individual teachers, schools, and districts to create and sustain effective instructional programs. This focus begins with setting high expectations for student learning and establishing appropriate goals for those with Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs). Another important component of this focus includes selecting appropriate curricular materials, adapting them to fit individual student needs, and helping teachers work within teams to coordinate various instructional programs. Finally, we consider a variety of interventions (from core to strategic and intensive) that includes a variety of presentation systems.
This site provides a very dynamic review of effective practices, reflecting the latest research on teaching and learning to provide optimal programs that are individualized for student needs. We base our selection and adaption of practice in relation to long range goals, providing teachers a chance to preview and review what students are learning.
Effective leadership and decision-making are instrumental to the success of school improvement projects. BRT works to improve teacher decision making in testing programs. Decision-making needs to be referenced to add value and we provide expertise in three particular areas. From a norm-referenced view, we help teachers understand how students fit in groups. From a criterion-referenced view, we assist teachers in connecting learning with specific skills. And with an individual-referenced perspective, we provide teachers analytic skills for monitoring student progress over time. These three perspectives are incorporated into a complementary model for decision-making that provides dynamic feedback to educators in a ‘just in time’ model supported within a learning community.
Student Learning Assessments
Statewide Assessments (often called “high stakes tests”). These accountability assessments are administered to students statewide. These tests are permanently recorded in the student record and serve as a key input in educational decision-making. BRT works with state departments to extend statewide test and ensure proper training of administration. We consider the use of accommodations in the standard test, the reduction of complexity for students taking alternate assessments judged against modified achievement standards (2%), and the reduction of breadth and depth for students taking the alternate assessment judged against alternate achievement standards (1%).
Curriculum-Based Measurements (often used within a ‘response-to-intervention’ model). While many educators are highly focused on state tests, it is important to consider that over the course of a year, teachers can build in many opportunities to assess how students are learning and then use this information to make beneficial changes in instruction. These curriculum-based measures can lead to both diagnostic insights for identifying student needs as well as provide feedback loops for teachers to determine the effects from making instructional changes. An experimental model of instructional evaluation is the basis for decision-making.