CSBA-Drexel partnership yielding practical guidance for school boards

by Julie Maxwell-Jolly, Ph.D., Policy & Programs Officer

The CSBA/Drexel University Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program, launched in the spring of 2013, provides CSBA members with valuable information from the research work of the post-doctoral fellows and for the fellows, in turn, to have the opportunity to share their research with a key audience of school board members. Working with Policy and Programs staff, the fellows edited their extensive dissertation research into user-friendly governance briefs and succinct presentations at this year’s Annual Education Conference and Trade Show.

During a Friday morning session, the four fellows shared their expertise on topics related to improving student outcomes. The wide-ranging information that these four talented and experienced scholars and practitioners shared with CSBA members demonstrated the many facets of student need and the multiple ways that educators can think about addressing these. The kind of reliable, timely and diverse information they provided is particularly important right now as districts seek to respond to the flexibility that the Local Control Funding Formula offers and to meet the accountability requirements it establishes.

Dr. Mohammad Warrad is a vice principal at Valley High School in the Elk Grove Unified School District, where he has focused on promoting best practices for teacher support and the prevention of teacher burnout. In his presentation he explained the definition and causes of teacher burnout, its financial and other costs to school districts, its negative effects on student achievement, and strategies to avoid it.

Dr. Addie Ellis is a consultant focusing on educating youth living in poverty and homeless situations. She has spent her career working on issues of access and equity for underserved and underperforming populations. Her presentation explored “the new face of homelessness,” noting that many homeless are young families and school-age youth. She discussed the conditions of these students’ lives, some of the contributors to their homelessness, and how school districts can help alleviate some of the challenges these young people face.

Dr. Michael Agostini is the director of operations at the Charter Schools Development Center. He is interested in how schools can operate most efficiently and how they can best leverage technology. He presented his research on blended learning beginning with a definition of what the approach entails. He also explained various blended learning classroom models and explored both the advantages and challenges of using technology to expand instructional opportunities.

Dr. Robert Martinez is the director of human resources for the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, where he has focused on enhancing students’ personal resiliency. He shared his findings related to his research on teacher attitudes and approaches that can promote resiliency, responsibility, and relationships for students who lead challenging academic and personal lives. He shared information from his review of the literature that supports how these personal skills and strengths can contribute to students’ preserving and can expand their opportunities to achieve personal and academic success.

In all of their presentations and table talks, the fellows addressed how school board members can continue to build their understanding of each of these key topics, and how boards might contribute to solutions.

More information on each of these issues will be available to CSBA members in the near future. See sample policies, policy briefs and other resources related to homeless and foster youth on the CSBA website.

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