Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

35 Intervention Research That Makes a Difference In the Classroom: Direct, Indirect, and Fidelity Effects of Career Relevant Instruction On Academic Performance

Friday, January 13, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Arlington (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Adolescent and Youth Development
Symposium Organizer:
Michael Woolley, DCSW, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore
Symposium Theme and Importance: Social workers focus on practice, policy, and research activities that make a difference for those who lack the power or resources to effect needed changes themselves. Today, a critical arena in need of such change efforts is public education. A high school diploma is now the minimum requirement to participate in the labor force; a college degree the minimum credential to compete for a middle class wage. Therefore, historic inequitable access to quality public education for students from low resourced families or minority race or ethnicity groups is a vital social justice issue. It is estimated that 68% of all students graduate high school, while for Black (50.2%) and Latino (53.2%) students rates are much lower, with even lower rates for boys (42.8% and 48% respectively). Theoretically informed research-based multidisciplinary research is urgently needed to inform ongoing school reform efforts. A growing body of multidisciplinary research has identified promising factors for informing more effective educational policy and practice. However, synthesizing this research into pragmatic frameworks to inform practice is difficult. One such framework asserts effective schools must provide the new three R'sórigor, relevance, and relationships. Growing bodies of research have been exploring the impact of positive relationships and rigor (academic press and ambitious curricula) on student outcomes. However, relevance has received relatively little attention, but does show promise to advance school success for at-risk students. The four papers in this symposium examine vital aspects of an evaluation investigating CareerStart, a middle grades intervention designed to promote the use of career relevant instruction (CRI).

Research Methods: CareerStart begins with a brief training with teachers on CRI and how career examples embedded in lessons in math, science, social studies, and language arts can advance student engagement and academic achievement. Teachers are provided with fully developed CRI lessons and expected to deliver at least 10 such lessons across the school year. Starting in 2006-2007 CareerStart was randomly implemented and evaluated in 7 of 14 middle schools in sixth-eighth grades in a mixed urban/suburban school district in North Carolina. The evaluation sample of students included 3,401 students who were 31% Black, 16% Hispanic/Latino, 45% White, 2% Asian, and 5% other race or ethnicity, half were female, 47% received free or reduced price lunch, and 10% received special educational services: Evaluation data included test scores for reading and math in third-fifth grades (pre-treatment controls), end-of-grade tests in math and reading in sixth-eight grades, survey data from teachers (lesson use, implementation experiences) and students (CRI, emotional and behavioral engagement) in each of the three intervention years, and most recently high school (9th grade) end-of-course test scores and accrual of credits toward graduation. Analyses reported in this symposium examine: CRI effects on middle school achievement; mediational processes involving CRI, school engagement and academic achievement; CareerStart effects on high school outcomes; and finally fidelity and adaptation. Analytic methods include multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling and mixed methods, representing an integration of qualitative and quantitative methods leading to findings not possible using one paradigm.

* noted as presenting author
The Causal Role of Career Relevant Instruction In Promoting Middle School Academic Achievement
Roderick A. Rose, MS, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Michael Woolley, DCSW, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore; Dennis K. Orthner, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Hinckley Jones-Sanpei, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
CareerStart: Examining the Effects of Career Relevant Instruction Across the Middle Grades On High School Academic Performance
Michael Woolley, DCSW, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore; Roderick A. Rose, MS, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; George Unick, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore; Dennis K. Orthner, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Treatment Fidelity In the CareerStart Random Controlled Trial: A Mixed Methods Implementation Study
Kate L. Phillippo, PhD, LCSW, Loyola University, Chicago; Roderick A. Rose, MS, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Michael Woolley, DCSW, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore
The Mediational Role of Student Engagement In Middle School On the Effect of Career Relevant Instruction On Academic Achievement
Michael Woolley, DCSW, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore; Roderick A. Rose, MS, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dennis K. Orthner, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
See more of: Symposia