Center for Educational Research and Evaluation The Center for Educational Research and Evaluation (CERE) is a self-supporting center that
of these other variables, we can use that residual effect to predict the teaching impact.” Western Heights had battled mobility, with students entering and exiting the district throughout the year. This drove the decision to test students at the beginning of the year on all the content that will be covered. It helps teachers know where their students initially stand academically. “Dr. Mwavita has been so critical in helping us understand how to look at this data in a proactive way, to use it in a proactive way,” Kitchens explains. Another element of this model is creating and supporting Professional Learning Communities. The communities meet outside the normal school day and formalize an opportunity to share information among teachers, learn more about students and identify how their needs can be met in the classroom and beyond. Teachers are compensated for their time and work. “[Mwavita] has a great way with teachers,” Kitchens says. “His ability to interact with them in regard to what they see and what action they may take, I think, may be the most important thing of all. He has a unique capacity to put people at ease and to have an open discussion about what the real issues are and what can be done on behalf of students.” Mwavita came to Oklahoma State University from Kenya to pursue a doctorate in educational psychology, specializing in REMS. After completing his Ph.D. in 2005, he accepted a visiting assistant professor position at OSU. He has also served as Western Heights’ director of school improvement and instructional research and continues to support the district while working at OSU. His research interests are focused on mapping student achievement growth and improving student performance and teacher education. His work has been noticed nationally. He communicates regularly with the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and has been asked to present at
provides methodological expertise professional development workin research, evaluation, statistics shops, showcasing the work and psychometrics to support the with Western Heights in terms research, teaching and outreach of growth modeling and changmissions of Oklahoma State University with a major focus on supporting the culture of the school. ing programs and initiatives that “It is not one size fits all, but benefit Oklahoma residents. the principles of the model will CERE supports faculty and student work across school districts,” research on campus by offering Mwavita says. “Each school consultation, tutoring and profesmay have its own unique chalsional development services, lenges, and the model will take and external grant and contract that into account.” evaluation. For instance, if a district has CERE also offers leadership in many high-achieving students, effective evaluation and accountability models for K-12 education, the model can help determine and support through in-service and how best to challenge them to professional development for teachcontinue to accelerate and motiers and school leaders in Oklahoma. vate learning. CERE also works with business, “A beauty of the model is that industry and government sectors to you can see it is more accurate provide evaluation services. and fair for teachers,” Mwavita Mwarumba Mwavita serves says. “You can see growth even as the CERE director and all REMS if [students] aren’t achieving at faculty, along with graduate assistants, share in the center’s work. the average. Teachers are not ‘graded’ in the same way for For more information or to request assistance, contact students who only spend two Mwavita at 405-744-8929, months of the year in their class. email@example.com It truly looks at the impact the or at his office at 311 Willard Hall. teacher has on the student in the time they teach them.” The work is a strong example of the university’s land-grant mission being carried out. Currently, Mwavita and his colleagues at OSU have continuing conversations with other school districts in the state as well as Oklahoma’s State Department of Education. “There is passion for making a difference in [the schools] in the state. Our job is to be resourceful to all stakeholders,” Mwavita says. “How can we best serve the citizens of Oklahoma and be efficient in making a difference in our schools?” That’s the question that guides the work.
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Published on May 28, 2014