(Almost) Free SLLA Test Prep Session Returns to WKU

EALR associate professor Dr. Mike Putnam will be reprising his hugely popular test prep session for the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA), required of all aspiring school principals in Kentucky and many other states.  The session will be held on Friday, February 27, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. Central time, continuing on Sunday, February 28, from Noon to 5:00 p.m. Central time in Gary Ransdell Hall Room 3076 on WKU’s main campus.

The session is $20 for WKU students and alumni, and $40 for non-WKU-affiliated participants.  Payment should be in cash at the beginning of the Friday session; receipts will be provided.  Please bring a 1 1/2 – 2 inch three ring binder for materials.

Dr. Putnam developed this test review with Dr. Dennis Bunch of the University of Mississippi.  Kentucky currently has a passing cut score of 160 on the SLLA.  Previous prep sessions at WKU have resulted in a 100 percent pass rate for participants graduating from WKU administrator preparation programs and 97 percent for non-WKU graduates.

The session will include a review of the six ISLLC standards upon which the SLLA is based, and feature timed test prep exercises and hands-on activities and discussions.  The Kentucky Principal Test will also be briefly addressed.

Participants must agree to confidentially share their SLLA test score results with Dr. Putnam as he uses this data to continue refining the test prep process and may publish an analysis of results in the future.

Contact Dr. Putnam at michael.putnam@wku.edu by end of the day on Tuesday, February 17, to register.  Please include your name, phone number, current school and district, and professional role in your  message.

EALR welcomes Kelly Foster, Wayne Young as adjunct instructors

WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research is delighted to welcome two well-known and highly-regarded Kentucky education leaders as adjunct instructors for the Spring 2015 semester.

Dr. Kelly Foster

Dr. Kelly Foster, Associate Commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Education, will teach EDFN 576, Issues and Trends in Education.  Dr. Foster is a former English teacher who served as an administrator in the Nicholas and Montgomery County Schools before joing KDE in 2013 as Associate Commissioner for Next Generation Schools and Districts.  Dr. Foster oversees KDE’s comprehensive efforts to support and lead school improvement across the Commonwealth.

“I’m looking forward to teaching at WKU next semester,” Dr. Foster said.  “I believe my experiences in education across the state will inform some great discussion about current issues and trends in the field.”  EDFN 567, which is taught fully online, is a required course for certifications such as Director of Pupil Personnel and Supervisor of Instruction.

Mr. Wayne YoungEALR will also welcome Mr. Wayne Young, Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, to the faculty team.  Mr. Young will teach EDAD 677, School Law.  A graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law, Mr. Young joined the staff of KASA in 1983 as legal counsel and lobbyist, becoming executive director in 1989.  He is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on school law in the Commonwealth.  EDAD 677 is a co-requisite course in the WKU principal certification program and required for all administrative certificates.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with WKU and with students who are at the beginning of their journeys as school leaders,” Mr. Young said.  “Having a solid grasp of legal concepts that impact schools is a foundational element in their future success, and I am honored to be able to share my experiences with them.”

EALR Department Head Dr. Marguerita DeSander said WKU is fortunate to have educators with the statewide profile and successful reputation of Dr. Foster and Mr. Young as a part of the faculty.  “Kelly and Wayne are regarded as key leaders in K-12 education in Kentucky,” she said.  “Our students will be greatly enriched by learning from their expertise.”

 

EALR professor Jim Berger honored for COABE work

Berger COABE AwardDr. Jim Berger, professor of adult education in WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research, was recently recognized for his years of service to the Commission of Adult Basic Education.  Dr. Berger received an award of appreciation celebrating his past service as a member of the COABE board, and as editor of the COABE’s Journal of Research and Practice for Adult Literacy, Secondary, and Basic Education.

COABE provides research, professional development, and technical support for practitioners and scholars in a variety of adult education disciplines.

The COABE award adds to the crowded shelf of recognitions Dr. Berger has accumulated, including a recent President’s Appreciation Award from the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education.

EALR congratulates Dr. Berger on his well-deserved honors.  To learn more about WKU’s Masters of Arts in Education in Adult Education, which Dr. Berger coordinates, visit the program website.

 

Dr. Jie Zhang presents Spencer Fellowship project to National Academy of Education

WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research is pleased to congratulate and celebrate Dr. Jie Zhang, Assistant Professor, Research Methods, for presenting her postdoctoral fellowship research at the National Academy of Education (NAEd) Annual Meeting and Fellows Retreat, November 14, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Dr. Zhang was one of only twenty postdoctoral fellows selected nationally by NAEd for the 2013-2015 award cycle, receiving grant funding in the amount of $55,000 to support her research focused on English Language Learners (ELL) titled, “Morphological Awareness and Word Learning in First and Second Language.”

“I am extremely honored to be part of the NAEd/Spencer postdoc fellow 2013 cohort,” said Dr. Zhang.  “The research project and professional development activities throughout the fellow retreats have significantly enhanced my capacity and passion in being an educational researcher.”

Dr. Zhang’s research examined how children use morphology (word parts) to infer the meanings of new words while reading or in isolation, and whether morphological awareness facilitates word learning ability, which in turn, contributes to reading comprehension in both their first and second languages.

“Struggling ELLs seem to read texts as fluently and accurately as their native English speaking peers, but they don’t know what the text is all about,” explained Dr. Zhang.  “A big obstacle of reading comprehension difficulties for ELLs is their limited English vocabulary and background knowledge. Given the increasing text complexity in the common core reading era, helping struggling readers to achieve the goal of reading for understanding is important yet challenging.”

About 400 fourth- and fifth- \graders from two school districts in Bowling Green, KY participated in the study.  Major findings from the study include:   1) native English (NE) speaking students and fluent English proficient (FEP) ELLs are better able to use morphological analysis to derive new word meaning than the limited English proficient students; and, 2) word reading fluency mediates the relationship between morphological awareness and reading comprehension for the LEP group, but word meaning inference ability mediates the relationship for the NE and FEP groups.

The findings deepen understanding of how morphological awareness supports reading comprehension in first and second languages and call for attention to the role of English proficiency in investigating the underlying mechanism between morphological awareness and reading comprehension. An educational implication is that instructional programs that link instruction in decoding to word meaning inference strategies while reading are critical for LEP students.

Dr. Zhang’s presentation on her research was well-received by the Fellows during the retreat.  Her research presentation was facilitated by noted scholar Dr. Kenji Hakuta, Lee J. Jacks Professor of Education, Stanford University and expert in the implementation of the common core standards with ELL.  Over the past year while working on her research, Dr. Zhang has been mentored by two of the most prestigious scholars in language and literacy education, Dr. Catherine Snow from Harvard, and Dr. Annemarie Palincsar from the University of Michigan.

“Dr. Zhang is a bright star and emerging scholar in educational research,” said EALR department head Dr. Marguerita DeSander. “The Educational Administration, Leadership and Research department is proud of her accomplishments.”

EALR Office Associate Carolyn Hunt retires

After 16 and a half years as Office Associate for the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research, Carolyn Hunt has announced her retirement, effective December 31, 2014.

Carolyn is well-known to a generation of education administration students whom she supported with advising help, information, support, and friendly service.

“This job has kept me young,” she said.  “I have most enjoyed helping students, and wish them all the very best and encourage them to continue their education and the good work they do with their students.”

Carolyn Hunt worked for 22 years in the insurance industry before coming to WKU, where she first served as office associate in the Department of Education Leadership, the predecessor to WKU’s current Departments of Counseling and Student Affairs and EALR.  She estimates that over the years she worked with thousands of students and close to a hundred faculty members.

“Carolyn has been the glue that has held this department together through many transitions and program developments over the years,” said EALR department chair Dr. Marguerita DeSander.  “She will be missed and we wish her all the best.”

Carolyn looks forward to spending time with her grandsons and volunteering in her church.

EALR students and alumni can send Carolyn congratulations and well wishes to her email address, carolyn.hunt@wku.edu.

EALR professor Dr. Ric Keaster is also retiring effective December 2014.  Read about his accomplishments here.

 

Professor Jim Berger recognized by the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education

Jim Berger award
Dr. Jim Berger

Dr. Jim Berger, professor of adult education in WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research was recently recognized with the President’s Appreciation Award from the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education.

Dr. Berger was recognized for his outstanding service as Treasurer of AAACE the last three years.  “The award is only given periodically,” Dr. Berger said, “so it is a great honor.  I’m pleased and humbled to be nominated and to have received this award.”

AAACE is the field’s premier association for adult and continuing educators and is made up of professionals from around the world. Each year, around 400 members gather at their annual conference. This year, the conference was held in Charleston, SC and hosted members from across North America and internationally.

At the same conference Dr. Berger served as an invited panelist during the opening session of the Commission of Professors of Adult Education.  In the session, titled “Focus on Mission, Money, and Strategy to Strengthen Adult Education Graduation Programs,” Dr. Berger and colleagues discussed pathways for supporting and enhancing the field of adult education at the university level.

Dr. Berger also serves as editor of the Journal of Research and Practice for Adult Literacy, Secondary, and Basic Education, published by the Commission on Adult Basic Education.

EALR congrates Dr. Berger on all of his accomplishments!

Professor Ric Keaster recognized by SRCEA for lifetime contributions

ric_keaster
Dr. Ric Keaster

Dr. Ric Keaster, professor in WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research, was recognized by the Southern Regional Council on Educational Administration (SRCEA) for his long career of contributions to the organization at its 2014 annual meeting in Atlanta.

SRCEA represents professors of educational administration and practicing school leaders from 14 states across the Southeastern U.S. The organization sponors an annual research conference, publishes a peer-reviewed Yearbook, and partners with universities and other professional groups to promote excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service within the discipline.

Dr. Keaster was recognized with the Jack Greer Lifetime Contributions Award for his many years of service to the organization, including serving as a member of the Board for 6 years, and as president of the organization in 2001.

At the same conference Dr. Keaster also participated as an invited panelist on “The Legacy of SRCEA.”  Dr. Keaster joined other long-serving members of the organization to discuss how their participation in SRCEA has contributed to their professional success and how new members might leverage involvement in SRCEA in a similar way.

Dr. Keaster noted:

I think the panel of four had contributed a total of over 80 years of service to the organization and had some interesting perspectives to provide to those who were new to the group and even to those who had been members for awhile.  We independently subtitled the panel as The Hoary-Haired Paleontology Session, as our combined ages were just as impressive as our number of years in the organization.  SRCEA has been critical to me in my career for furthering my research and scholarly activity, in connecting to other individuals across the profession, and in establishing life-long friends and colleagues.  I encourage all faculty to get involved in organizations like these.

Dr. Keaster has recently announced he will retire from WKU in December 2014 to spend time with his new twin grandsons.  Dr. Keaster has been with WKU for 12 years, serving as associate dean for the College of Educational and Behavioral Sciences, coordinator of the Cooperative PhD Program between WKU and the University of Louisville, and as EALR professor where he has taught courses in secondary and post-secondary leadership in the Master’s and doctoral program, advising numerous students, and mentoring other faculty members.

Teaching at the university level is similar to teaching at the elementary or secondary levels; you are provided a chance to make a difference in people’s lives and careers.  This opportunity is both an exciting challeng and a daunting responsibility.  My goal has been to facilitate the growth and success of students I have had in class and those who select me as their primary advisory for the dissertation.  I have tried to make their professional challenges as beneficia, yet as smooth as possible.

EALR congratulates Dr. Keaster on all of his career-long accomplishments.

EALR professors, doctoral students, make presentations at MSERA

Next week’s annual conference of the Mid-South Educational Research Association, held in Knoxville, Tennessee, will feature research presentations co-authored by several professors associated with the WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research, and every paper represents a collaborative project with doctoral students from the WKU doctorate in educational leadership program or graduate research assistants affiliated with the WKU Rock Solid evaluation project.

Paper presentations include the following:

  • “Catholic School Faculty Meetings: A Case Study Linking Catholic Identity, School Improvement, and Teacher Engagement” by WKU EDD alumnus Dr. Daryl C. Hagan (superintendent of schools for the Evansville, IN, Catholic diocese)  and EALR professor Dr. Gary Houchens (advisor).
  • “Enhancing Instructional Leadership Through Collaborative Coaching: A Multi-Case Study,” by Gary Houchens, WKU EDD alumnus Dr. Tom Stewart (Kentucky Department of Education), and current WKU doctoral candidate Sara Jennings (teacher, Bowling Green Independent Schools).
  • “Risk Factors for High School Drop-outs in Kentucky,” presented by WKU EDD program director Dr. Tony Norman.  Co-authors include WKU EDD alumna Dr. Chunling Niu, graduate research assistants Candace Elliot and J.P. Clark, and EALR professors Drs. Jie Zhang, Steve Miller, and Gary Houchens.
  • “Personalized Learning: A Theoretical Review and Implications for Assessing kid-FRIENDLy Student Outcomes,” presented by Dr. Gary Houchens and WKU EDD doctoral student Trudy-Ann Crossbourne.  Co-authors include professors Jie Zhang and Tony Norman and graduate research assistants Laura Fisher and Morgan Schraeder.
  • “A Synthesis of Competency-Based Instruction: Implications for Developing Classroom Observation Protocols for Race to the Top-District kid-FRIENDLy Schools,” presented by WKU EDD doctoral student J.P. Clark.  Co authors include professors Tony Norman, Jie Zhang, Gary Houchens, and Steve Miller, as well as EDD alumna Dr. Chunling Niu.

Conferences such as MSERA allow professors and graduate students to share and discuss their latest research, generate new ideas for future studies, and further prepare their work for publication.  Congratulations to all of this year’s MSERA participants.

WKU profs provide “Rock Solid” program evaluation services

Rock Solid logoA team of professors representing several different departments at Western Kentucky University are serving as external evaluators on the $42 million Race to the Top grant being administered by the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (GRREC) and the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (OVEC).

Calling themselves the Rock Solid Evaluation Team, this collaborative of WKU scholars and their supporting team of graduate assistants conducts on-going research assessing implementation of the Race to the Top grant and its impact on students in 122 participating schools.  The team includes Drs. Jie ZhangGary Houchens, and transitional retiree Steve Miller from the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research; Dr. Jenni Redifer from the Department of Psychology; and Dr. Amber Schroeder from the Department of Psychological Sciences.  Dr. Tony Norman, director of WKU’s Doctor of Educational Leadership program is the project director and principal investigator.  Office associate Courtney Kepple provides administrative support and helps oversee the work of graduate assistants from the EdD and educational psychology programs.

The GRREC/OVEC grant, administered as the kid-FRIENDLy (kid-Focused, Responsible, Imaginative, Engaged, and Determined to Learn) project, includes five major components: 1) promoting students as leaders (primarily through implementation of Franklin-Covey program Leader in Me); 2) encouraging the growth and development of teacher and school leaders; 3) implementing competency-based instruction, and 4) promoting personalized learning.  The Rock Solid team works closely with kid-FRIENDLy to monitor program implementation and assess results.  The team will present several papers summarizing the first full year of the grant’s implementation at the upcoming Mid-South Educational Research Association annual conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, November 5-7.

The Rock Solid team is also carrying out research on a new teacher perception survey based on Kentucky’s Standards and Indicators for School Improvement and the Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning (TELL Kentucky) teacher survey of working conditions.  To learn more about Rock Solid and the full scope of its evaluation services, visit their website here.

EALR Welcomes Dr. Amy Shutt as Co-Instructor

Amy Shutt
Dr. Amy Shutt, Principal of Burns Elementary School

The WKU Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research is happy to welcome Dr. Amy Shutt, principal of Burns Elementary School (Daviess County Public Schools) to the EALR family.  This semester Dr. Shutt is serving as co-instructor for EDAD 640 (Introduction to School Leadership) and EDAD 641 (Building School Culture & Community) for Cohort II of the WKU Principal Certification Program.

Dr. Shutt is herself an alumna of WKU’s EALR program and holds a PhD in Educational Leadership from the University of Louisville.  Her dissertation research focused on school culture and she has worked closely with Dr. Chris Wagner, EALR transitional retiree and national expert on improving school culture.

Amy continues her duties as principal at Burns Elementary, where she has served for 11 years, while teaching at WKU.  She said the experience so far has been “like coming home.”

“As I came through the principal certification classes at WKU myself, the faculty there created a foundation for my leadership in schools,” she said.  “I hope to bring my own professional experiences to our graduate students that will equip them to be successful school leaders and keep their focus on what is best for students every day.”

Dr. Shutt partners with EALR associate professor Dr. Gary Houchens in working with the 37 members of Cohort II of the principal program this semester.