First Presenter's Institution

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Second Presenter's Institution

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Location

Ballroom F

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Family & Community

Relevance

The proposed presentation describes the outcomes of a partnership between a youth and community development program and a teacher education program at a regional university in the Midwest. Once a federally funded program for low-income, youth ages 16-24, this agency provides General Equivalency Diploma (GED) preparation, job skills training, and community service opportunities for high school dropouts (Cohen & Piquero, 2008; Kapp, 2009), and faculty and pre-service teachers from a university supported the GED preparation and transition components of the program. Therefore, the proposal for this session most closely aligns with the “HEAD”: Academic Achievement & Leadership strand of the conference, as results of the partnership indicate improved academic outcomes for program participants (increases in scores on standardized tests, GED pass rates, community colleges and technical institute enrollment, and full-time employment). In addition, the partnership simultaneously provided pre-service teachers a chance to apply teaching strategies in authentic and diverse learning environments that improved both teaching strategies and cultural responsiveness.

Brief Program Description

This session provides community and university staff results of a study examining the partnership between a community development program targeting low income, high school dropouts and a teacher preparation program. Presenters will describe methods for maintaining partnerships and discuss outcomes of the program in the areas of GED preparation, job skills training, health and wellness programming, and community service opportunities.

Summary

Originally federally funded, a youth and community development program was designed to provide low-income youth, ages 16 – 24, General Equivalency Diploma (GED) preparation, job skills training, and community service opportunities for high school dropouts (Cohen & Piquero, 2008; Kapp, 2009). When federal support was cut, administrators from a Housing Authority sought creative ways to fund and continue the life-changing program. Consequently, faculty at a local university were approached to assist in supporting the GED component initiating what became a mutually beneficial partnership that improved the academic outcomes for youth participants while also developing more effective and culturally responsive secondary, special education teachers.

While developing the partnership, a two-year formative experiment was conducted to systematically study the most effective practices for establishing such a relationship as well as to examine the outcomes for all of the participants. Overall, the results indicated positive academic and affective outcomes for both youth participants and university students. Pre-service teachers benefitted from improvements in planning and delivering instruction. Participants also reported a reduction in fear and an increased confidence both with teaching the secondary curriculum, and working with older students from culturally diverse backgrounds. In addition, youth participants enjoyed higher pass rates on the GED, improved academic skill scores on standardized assessments, and improved post-secondary outcomes. In addition, unexpected results emerged such as a breakdown in stereotypes, respect for cultural and ethnic differences, and role reversal in the teaching and learning process. During this session, outcomes will be shared in addition to lessons learned about establishing meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships.

The session will provide both quantitative and qualitative results of a two-year formative experiment examining the collaborative partnership between a community development program and a local university's teacher preparation program. Presenters will provide a brief history and description of the youth development program, discuss key components for establishing and maintaining partnerships, describe potential barriers for implementation, and examine solutions for overcoming obstacles. Participants will be invited into the discussion and provided with an opportunity to ask questions.

Evidence

This session is based on a two-year study examining the effectiveness of the program and the partnership. In addition, the study is grounded in empirical evidence and theory for both best practice in teacher preparation programs and educating students who are at-risk. According to multiple researchers, ‘professional development experiences linked to real-world, field-based practices’ are paramount to quality teacher education programs (Brouwer, 2007; Darling-Hammond & Bansford, 2005; Lasley, Bainbridge, & Berry, 2000). Furthermore, while numbers of students of color are increasing in public schools and numbers of minority teachers are decreasing, teacher preparation programs generally lack culturally responsive pedagogy and practice (White-Clark, 2005). Therefore, this study was designed through the theoretical lens of culturally responsive teaching, defined as using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse learners to make learning more appropriate and effective (Gay, 2000). It is a holistic approach to teaching that encompasses the following characteristics: (a) it acknowledges the legitimacy of the cultural heritages of different ethnic groups, both as legacies that affect students' dispositions, attitudes, and approaches to learning and as worthy content to be taught in the formal curriculum; (b) it builds bridges of meaningfulness between home and school experiences as well as between academic abstractions and lived sociocultural realities; (c) it uses a wide variety of instructional strategies that are connected to different learning styles; (d) it teaches students to know and praise their own and each other’s cultural heritages; and (e) it incorporates multicultural information, resources, and materials in all the subjects and skills routinely taught in schools (Gay, 2000, p. 29).

The GED program was restructured by creating a package of empirically validated strategies for teaching secondary students who are at-risk. For example, the intervention incorporated a structured, proactive and tiered approach to classroom management (Colvin, Kame’enui, & Sugai, 1993; Emmer & Evertson, 2013). The intervention package also included differentiated and explicit instruction in deficit areas and research-validated interventions in strategy instruction such as (a) Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) (Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathes, & Simmons, 1997; Mastropieri, Scruggs, Spencer, & Fontana, 2003); (b) self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) (Lane, Harris, Graham, Weisenebach, Brindle, & Morphy, 2008; Reid & Lienemann, 2006); and (c) keyword mnemonics (DeWitt & Callihan, 2010; Scruggs, Mastropieri, & Berkeley, 2010).

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Katherine Robbins-Hunt is an assistant professor and assistant chair of the Department of Counseling, School Psychology, and Special Education at Edinboro University. She has over 17 years’ experience teaching at-risk youth and students with behavioral disorders and learning disabilities in middle, secondary, and post-secondary settings. While completing her doctoral degree, Dr. Hunt served as a learning specialist for at-risk student athletes at Clemson University. Her expertise, research agenda and passion focuses on serving at-risk populations.

Dr. Beth Hatt is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations at Illinois State University. She completed her Ph.D. degree in Culture, Curriculum, and Change at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and serves as an expert in diversity and multicultural education. Dr. Hatt’s research focuses on diversity and equity issues in education, culturally relevant pedagogy, international education, drop-out prevention, and the achievement gap.

Mr. George Flowers is a recently retired director of the Evansville Housing Authority’s YouthBuild Program. Known locally as the first African American Fire Chief in Evansville, Mr. Flowers is a leader in the community and is dedicated to serving at-risk youth. Mr. Flowers served his country in the military, is the patriarch of the YouthBuild Family, and also serves on the Advisory Board for other agencies such as the Boys and Girls Club of Evansville.

Keyword Descriptors

at-risk youth, youth living in poverty, GED program, job skills training, community partnerships, teacher preparation, cultrual responsiveness

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-8-2016 2:45 PM

End Date

3-8-2016 4:00 PM

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Mar 8th, 2:45 PM Mar 8th, 4:00 PM

Powerful Partnerships: A Community Program for Low Income, High School Dropouts and a University

Ballroom F

This session provides community and university staff results of a study examining the partnership between a community development program targeting low income, high school dropouts and a teacher preparation program. Presenters will describe methods for maintaining partnerships and discuss outcomes of the program in the areas of GED preparation, job skills training, health and wellness programming, and community service opportunities.