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Youth-Nex conference In Between: Middle Schools as Centers for Positive Youth Development October 18 & 19, 2012

“NOW let us see what the present primary schools cost us, on the supposition that all the children of 10. 11. & 12. years old are, as they ought to be, at school: and, if they are not...they will be untaught, and their ignorance & vices will, in future life cost us much dearer in their consequences, than it would

have done, in their correction, by a good education. -Thomas Jefferson (1818)

Prepared by Ellen Daniels and Patrick Tolan with the assistance of the conference presenters.


CONTENTS Introduction 4

Keynote 6

Plenary Address 10

the conference Youth-Nex gathered over 100 scholars, practitioners, and policy professionals to focus on the future of middle schools to promote Positive Youth Development.

Panel 1 12

Panel 2 16

Panel 3 20

What follows are some of the fruits of that meeting: papers from thought leaders around the country, resources, and further jumping off points for future engagement, at this critical time for our youth.

Panel 4 26

Panel 5 32

Wrap-Up Panel 40

Presenters 48

Resources 50

Youth-Nex Youth-Nex is a transdisciplinary, cross-University center promoting effective youth development. The center focuses on the capabilities of young people in connection to schools, health, communities, and relationships. It is our vision that our nation’s youth, a rich, often untapped resource, may flourish.

Credits 51



Youth-Nex conference

In Between: Middle Schools as Centers for Positive Youth Development October 18 & 19, 2012

introduction The purpose of this invitationonly conference was to examine developmental issues of early adolescence, the intersection with educational programming, and best methods to promote effective youth development. The event brought together leaders from across the country including scholars, practitioners, and policy professionals to focus on the future of middle schools in the context of Positive Youth Development. We had Jay Giedd, Chief, Brain Imaging Section, NIMH and Otha Thornton, President, National PTA

unprecedented focus on middle schoolers as capable contributors to their communities and to society, and on middle schools as the center of this development. We engaged in a vigorous and productive discussion as we continue to foster a multidimensional understanding of critical elements promoting Positive Youth Development specifically in middle schools, including physical and mental health, engaged citizenship, and beneficial relationships.



Keynote Address mrs. alma J. powell america’s promise alliance

“ What we are discussing as a conference, and what

Youth-Nex is promoting as a center, is what WE should be doing as a nation. ” - Alma J. Powell, conference keynote.

the connection to middle school • The dropout problems is a symptom of a deeper issue: Many youth don’t have the integrated building blocks that make for positive youth development. • Middle School is the time when young people who are not on track for success begin to think about quitting. Many of them are gone before the end of 9th grade.

why it matters to us Ensuring our young people graduate from high school ready for success in college and the workforce is the issue of our time — because how well we meet this challenge will determine whether we meet the other national challenges we face. Patrick Tolan, Director of Youth-Nex with Mrs. Powell, Chair of America’s Promise Alliance. Youth-Nex was honored to have Mrs. Powell deliver the conference keynote.

60% Percentage of students of color who graduate high school. Middle school has the potential to provide developmental tools to combat this statistic.

xx xx

• The Economy: The dropout crisis has robbed our nation of $3.2 trillion in future wages and spending power. • Jobs: Most future jobs will require post-secondary education or training. Employers report trouble filling the jobs they have because they can’t find enough qualified people. • Crime: High school dropouts are 47 times more likely to wind up in jail than graduates. • Justice: The dropout rate is much higher for students of color.

the five promises America’s Promise Alliance champions these five fundamental resources youth need to succeed: • Caring adults • Safe places • Healthy Start • Effective Education


grad nation America’s Promise Alliance’s goal for this decade is to increase the national graduation rate to 90%, with no school below 80%. • Current national graduation rate: 75.5%.

• Opportunities to Help Others

• Twelve percent of our country’s high schools account for half of all dropouts. By stopping the epidemic there, we can turn the tide nationally.

Dropout crisis

• The roots of the dropout crisis run back to earliest years. So we must:

• Every 26 seconds, a student drops out of school.

- Assure kindergartners are ready to learn, not behind.

• One in four students fails to graduate high school. This means we lose one whole cohort every four years.

- Pay attention to 3rd grade reading scores, since they predict dropout rates.


Keynote Address mrs. alma powell

america’s promise alliance

“ I believe that Youth-Nex and promoting effective youth development

are well aligned with Jefferson’s legacy and with his wishes for this institution.... They are also perfectly aligned with the mission and history of Amercia’s Promise Alliance.

- Alma J. Powell, conference keynote.

summoning the power of community When you visit Monticello, you can see all around you the spirit of progress and optimism. And when you read Jefferson’s writings, you can see his belief in the power of reason and hard work — the power to build our nation if citizens would take the responsibility that comes

the job belongs to all of us The job starts with better schools. But that’s ONLY the start, because schools cannot do it alone. It takes community. As more communities have resolved to make our young people a top priority, we have seen high school graduation rates slowly tick upward. We have seen the number of our lowest-performing high schools — the so-called “dropout factories” — shrink by 25%. And, most of all, in some of the schools that once were thought of as hopeless failures, students are performing as well or better than children in our elite private schools.


with the freedom of self-governance. If you want to see an example of the kind of power I’m talking about, go 200 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico below the mouth of the Mississippi River. Go out there and you can find fresh water. That’s the incredible power of the river. But when you think about it, that power doesn’t come from the Mississippi itself. The river is only a conduit. The real power comes from tiny mountain creeks in Montana and Colorado, and from lake-fed streams in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and from Appalachian springs in Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Those little streams join into larger tributaries that join into rivers like the Missouri and the Arkansas and the Ohio. And when they all bring their energy together into a common channel, they create a force that can push back an ocean.

That is the force we must summon together on behalf of our young people. It is the force by which we will make a common future for our children that is worthy of our common ideals. It is the force that will build a Grad Nation, and ensure our future as a great nation.


jacquelynne S. eccles what defines adolescence?

We blame the adolescent for their choices... Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Ph.D., McKeachie/Pintrich Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Education, University of Michigan

“Adolescence is a constant fluctuation between standing out and fitting in.”

They will gravitate toward environments that make them feel: — Competent — Like they belong — That they have autonomy and self-direction — That they matter and are respected — That they are being given opportunities to both:

Middle School and “Fit”

• Develop their personal identities and goals

Children that attend grades K-6 and 7-9 versus K-8 experience negative effects, such as a decrease in self-esteem for girls, an increase in sense of being victimized for boys, a decline in GPA for both girls and boys, a decrease in extracurricular activities and feelings of anonymity for both girls and boys.

• Develop the skills and social capital necessary to fulfill these goals and identities

What accounts for an increase in risky behavior for some youth? Rather than biological changes such as hormonal and developmental changes in the brain, we propose it is the kinds of environments we are providing for our youth in order to help them navigate adolescence. “Person Environment Fit” theories suggest that: • People are optimally motivated when there is a good fit between the needs of the individual and the opportunities provided by the environments in which they must work, live, and study. • Bad fits lead to less than optimal motivation and mental health problems. The motivational and behavioral changes seen during this age period may reflect the fact that we force young people to move from a “good fitting” elementary school environment to a relatively more poorly fitting secondary school environment. What is likely to happen if adolescents find themselves in poorly fitting social contexts, particularly given their increasing control over their own behaviors? • Mental well-being will decline • Motivational engagement in the specific social context will decline

If we want adolescents to come to, and then engage in, particular social contexts such as schools or youth centers, we need to make sure these contexts provide an environment that fits their stage of development. If we want adolescents to remain in those contexts rather than shifting to other contexts, we need to make sure that what we want to teach them both fits their needs and is worth learning. If we adopt this approach, we will be less likely to blame the adolescents for their choices. We focus attention, for example on changes in youths’ brains as a primary source of increases in risky behaviors rather than lack of opportunities. Why not look for opportunities to engage youth in health promoting ways, show them they matter and help them explore their identities? We should provide roles and opportunities that promote appropriate contexts in which they can:

Which, in turn, should lead to declines in performance in that setting or social context AND... Youth will gravitate toward social situations that provide a better “fit”, that is the settings they think better meet their personal needs.


... instead of providing them appropriate cont

• Learn the skills, motivations, values, and attitudes necessary for the successful transition into adulthood

• Acquire the social and cultural capitol necessary for a successful transition into adulthood

• Thrive while in their environment

exts in which they can thrive.

- Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Ph.D.



Panel 1

Finnish Lessons by Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg (2011)

education school deans:

How should we instruct future middle school educators and leaders?


Lynn Okagaki, Ph.D., Dean, College of Education and Human Development, University of Delaware

Okagaki shares her experience during a one-week study tour of Finnish schools. “Naturally, in one week, an outsider cannot possibly gain a complete understanding of another culture, and in fact, one probably misinterprets much of what one sees.” With that caveat in mind, she describes a model for education that embraces a more positive and holistic view of development. In recent years, Finland has become recognized as having developed a world-class education system. Although the Finns are doing extremely well in academic subjects, their philosophy of education is not narrowly focused on teaching academic content. In many aspects, the Finnish approach to education embodies a Positive Youth Development (PYD) perspective. • The Finnish education system maximizes opportunities for children to practice taking responsibility, making decisions for themselves, and working collaboratively. • Finns believe that children are responsible for their own learning. In early childhood, teachers meet with the parents of each child to decide on the child’s developmental goals for the year. • In the early grades, teachers, parents and child meet to determine goals for the year. Adults eventually play less and less a role until by the 10th grade, the child chooses their own course of study. • Finns believe that all children can learn, if given sufficient time and appropriate support. • Finns provide individualized support through special education. emphasizing prevention rather than remediation. There was no stigma associated with children needing special support. • In Finland there appears to be a culture of trust in the schools that extends beyond trusting that others will not steal one’s belongings, to trust between family and school, student and teacher, and teachers and school administrators. • Children and youth were typically in the same school for several years and the schools were small. There is a sense that it is the collective responsibility of the faculty and staff to enable each student to succeed. • Students may have the same teacher for multiple years, allowing long-term relationship with their teachers.

FINLAND: A different model.

What Can We Learn from Finnish Schools?

Would our curricula and programs be different if the primary goals of public education included developing responsibility, cooperativeness, perseverance, and other attributes that enable individuals to be contributing members of society? Grounding

education in a PYD framework might enable us to achieve the academic goals that we have emphasized so strongly in recent history, while cultivating other positive attributes in our youth and creating a more positive environment for all who are engaged in education.



Science Finland #2 US #23

Reading Finland #3 US #17

Math Finland #6 US #31


Panel 1

education school deans:

How should we instruct future middle school educators and leaders?

Would middle school be different...

if a positive youth development perspective was the framework for education? Randy Kamphaus, Ph.D., Dean, Distinguished Research Professor, College of Education, Georgia State University

Of the many potential challenges to incorporating positive youth development principles, theories, and scientific findings into teacher training at the middle school level, three come to my mind first, all based on my last five years of service as dean of a large urban college of education. Three Challenges 1. The marginalization of middle school or middle level teacher education in the academy, as exemplified by my own institution. Observations A Google search returns numerous early childhood, elementary, and secondary education departments, but few independent departments of middle level education were found. Our college deactivated our middle level education undergraduate program just prior to my arrival to serve as dean. I cannot imagine a college of education deactivating either their elementary or secondary education programs in favor of retaining middle level education. 2. There is a lack of incorporation of developmental science in teacher education in general, which seems incongruous with the needs of teachers whose job is to foster child and youth development. Positive youth development and developmental science have yet to gain the same stature as existing taxonomies and other sources of language used to design instruction and curricula for teacher training programs. 3. External pressures on working teachers mitigate inclusion of an entirely new domain of ideas, such as positive youth development, at the in-service levels.


Lynn Okagaki, Ph.D., Randy Kamphaus, Ph.D., and Jane Close Conoley, Ph.D.

Recommendations: • Organized efforts at the professional association level (e.g., AACTE) may influence accreditation standards and federal policies to encourage incorporation of these new domains into pre-service teacher education. • College and university faculty and administrators should consider elevating the status of developmental science in the academy. A way to do this: Seek full academic departmental status for faculty working in developmental science more broadly, and positive youth development narrowly. • Faculty curriculum proposals, while initiated at the program level, can be shepherded through the faculty governance system politically by academic departments. Elevating developmental science to departmental status might provide the political structure that is influential for changing teacher education curricula in schools and colleges of education.


Panel 2


It’s less about designing engaging activities ... and more about unleashing the learning potential of young adolescents and their technologies.

middle schools as centers for positive youth development

Vincent Anfara, Jr., Ph.D., Professor and Department Head, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Schools that implement middle grades reform do see the desired results. With the decline of the junior high and the rise of the middle school, we saw a number of professional organizations offer suggestions as to what would characterize an exemplary middle school. A very consistent collection of ideas about what constituted a “good middle school” emerged. This consistency speaks loudly to the fact that we know what needs to be done to create successful middle schools for our young adolescents. We now need to act and to invest the resources into getting these school created. Furthermore, these recommendations for successful middle schools were consistent with a large body of research that already existed (i.e., the effective schools research).

technology and adolescent Development

Penny Bishop, Ed.D., Professor of Middle Level Education, Director, Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education, University of Vermont

• During middle school years technology use skyrockets for youth. • In 2010, 11- to 14-year-olds spent 230% more time on non-school computer use than their 8 to 10-year-old counterparts. • Evidence suggests middle school students connect with graphics before text, learn well through trial and error, process information quickly, and expect relevance in their learning. These learners have grown accustomed to flashy, high definition graphics, constant multi-tasking, and the excitement of gaming.


Belonging / Affiliation

We already know what makes a good middle school, now we now need to act. For middle schools to truly function we need to:

Competence / Mastery

• Invest the resources (time, money, personnel) that are needed to effectively implement the reform; Autonomy / Responsibility

• Invest in the appropriate preparation of pre-service teachers and administrators;

• Ensure that middle grades schools are not ignored in the educational policy arena at the local, state, and federal levels; and


• We need to remember that the most critical objective of this effort is the education of young adolescents, students between the ages of 10 and 15, and that we must start thinking about what is best for them.

Social networking Online collaboration tools

Immediate and autonomous access to information

We can choose to use technology to replicate the same features of schooling that currently fail to motivate and engage many students;

• Invest in the professional development of both in-service middle grades teachers and administrators;

• Be faithful about implementing the reform and not selecting one or two items from the list of recommendations as if they were part of a smorgasbord;


Why are young adolescents so attracted to these technologies? When the novelty wears off, many young adolescents continue to identify technology as a motivator in their learning. We posit that this affinity stems from the fact that these tools meet many adolescent — and for that matter every human’s — needs.


Interaction with worldwide audience Oversight of expensive hardware


We can take our cue from the young adolescents themselves and consider the powerful intersections between their developmental needs and what these digital tools have to offer.


Panel 2


the teen brain: New views from neuroimaging

Jay Giedd, M.D., Chief, Brain Imaging Section, Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Remarkable advances in technologies have dramatically changed our way of life. Adolescents, old enough to master the technologies

The teen brain is not defective or broken.

It is exquisitely forged by the forces of our evolutionary history to have different features compared to children or adults.

and young enough to welcome their novelty, are at the forefront of this “digital revolution.” Underlying the adolescent's eager embracement of these sweeping changes is a neurobiology forged by the fires of evolution to be extremely adept at adaptation. The consequences of the brain's adaptation to the demands and opportunities of the digital age have enormous implications.... — “The Digital Revolution and Adolescent Brain Evolution,” Journal of Adolescent Health, Jay Giedd, M.D. The teen brain is different than the adult or child’s brain and this has served our species well. There are 3 major behavioral changes occurring in adolescence:

1) increased risk behaviors 2) increased sensation seeking 3) a move away from parents toward peers

Brain plasticity, or adaptability, is the most robust in adolescence. > The benefit: It allows their brains to stay flexible to changing demands. It was particularly useful for adolescents since the hallmarks of this period, surviving independently and reproducing, relied on the ability to adapt. The human brain changed the most, increasing in volume, over one million years ago—during the greatest change in the earth’s climate. This increase in braincase volume was due to the fact that there was change—not that the change had to do with the climate. The brain adapted to the change. Five - seven thousand years ago, humans began staying under the protective care of adults longer, as compared to other species. This afforded teens more brain plasticity, or adaptability, to their environment. The way we learn, play, and interact has changed more in the last 15 years than it has since the invention of the printing press 570 years ago—as a result of advances in technology. Adolescents are young enough to embrace this change and old enough to master the technology. The plasticity of the adolescent brain is a double edged sword. On one side it affords opportunity— physical prowess—but it also allows for vulnerability. Morbidity is higher because of poor decision-making and emotional issues. After puberty, the brain does not mature by growing larger; it matures by growing more specialized, growing extra connections. It specializes in what we ask of it, what we provide in the youths’ environment. We can leverage this plasticity and affect the way teens’ brains develop. How can we do this in our educational system?

> 18

The middle school brain is incredibly adaptable and will specialize in what we ask of it. This is an opportunity for us to specialize these brains for the rest of their lives.

Resources: Journal of Adolescent Health -,; “Development of the Young Brain” -


Panel 3

the importance of peer groups positive influences

Philip Brown, Ph.D., Fellow, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University

Youth do better when they have an environment that allows them to utilize their strengths. Resource: SoundOut - an expert assistance program focused on promoting “student voice” and “meaningful student involvement” throughout education. Establishing trust and collaboration can be facilitated by: • Empowered professional learning communities that focus on the whole child • Collaborative processes such as forming codes of conduct for adults as well as students • Shared decision-making /distributive leadership that allows for individual initiative and collective action as well as timely and purposeful organizational feedback; and • Facilitating caring, supportive staff relationships that encourage modeling agreed upon core values. Students can and should participate actively in creating and sustaining a positive school climate. (In fact they do so either implicitly or explicitly whether or not by design.)

A positive school climate helps students become happier and more productive.

To make their participation more intentional: • Support student involvement in the school climate assessment and improvement process. • Involve them in interpreting school climate findings & presenting them to other students and staff. • Help them identify a focus that is meaningful to them, and develop projects to improve the school. Service-learning is one proven way to provide these kind of opportunities for student involvement in contributing to school climate, culture and personal growth.

A positive, prosocial school climate: - Fosters youth development and the learning necessary for a productive, contributing, and satisfying life in a democratic society. - Supports people feeling socially, emotionally, and physically safe. - Engages and respects all members of the school community. - Expects and supports educators to model and nurture agreed upon values and behaviors. (National School Climate Council, 2007) There are two dimensions that shape best practices designed to affect school climate: - A focus on climate as part of continuous school improvement efforts See see School Climate Improvement Process: National School Climate Center: - Assessing the status of the climate annually with a valid instrument that measures factors including, Relationships, Safety (physical and emotional), Teaching and Learning, and, External (physical/facility) environment (Cohen, 2012).


Service-learning is a unique pedagogical approach that: • Enriches learning and strengthens communities • Connects students to the world outside the classroom • Builds community and benefits others • Promotes social emotional development in ways that can make students more aware of the impact that they can have on society • Teaches through applying knowledge to solve problems • Provides multiple opportunities for students to develop prosocial behaviors alongside academic learning If student participation in service-learning is significant (> @20 hours) and program quality is high, findings demonstrate increased or improved: • Prosocial behaviors • Acceptance of diversity and understanding of others • Connection to cultural heritage • Development of ethics • Strengthening of protective factors related to resilience • Development of caring, altruism & other social emotional learning skills • Academic achievement • Self-efficacy • Reduced risky behaviors, and • Enhanced civic engagement



Panel 3

the importance of peer groups positive influences

The Complexity of Peer Relationships

Clea McNeely, DrPH, Associate Professor, Department of Public Health and the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Violence, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Peer relationships and peer influence are complex. It would be difficult to isolate the positive or negative influences of socialization to focus on just one or the other. Young people are simultaneously involved in multiple peer contexts. They may have a best friend, a romantic interest, be members of a clique, or belong to a crowd of people who may not even be friends with each other, such as “jocks,” “preppies,” or “goths.” Young people are also in peer groups created by adults, such as classrooms or youth groups, and they have peers on social media. Finally, youth are part of a broader youth culture.

Students who had a greater sense of social belonging at school reported being less depressed. However, students with a greater sense of social belonging at school were more likely, one year later, to have initiated alcohol and marijuana use. WHY?

It may be that students who are more social have more exposure to social influence processes that, in early adolescence, generally promote experimentation with alcohol and marijuana.

We typically think of peer pressure as direct and as risk promoting, like skipping school or smoking. But direct

peer pressure can be positive, such as encouraging friends to study or to get good grades.

Not surprisingly, given this complexity, the same peer socialization process that can increase the risk of negative outcomes can also increase the likelihood of positive outcomes. Social Belonging and Having Many Friends are two examples: Example of the Complexity of Peer Socialization: Social Belonging at School Social belonging is what it sounds like: the feeling of being part of a social group. Intuitively, we think of social belonging as desirable because it promotes well-being. However, when it comes to social belonging at school, we find that both prosocial development and increased risk is present for adolescents.


Example of the Complexity of Peer Socialization: Is Having Lots of Friends a Good Thing? In adolescent culture, having lots of friends is thought to be a good thing. In our research, however, we find that having more friends is not always better. It can depend on how socially cohesive the network structure is. Implications for Middle School Interventions There are a significant number of interventions that have had unintended negative consequences when they directly tried to change peer relationships. For example, grouping together students who are already engaging in risky behavior appears to result in an acceleration of that behavior. Therefore, we caution against interventions designed to directly manipulate peer relationships in the middle school years. However, this does not mean that we should do nothing. There are many youth-development interventions that have been shown to improve the health and academic success of middle-school students. These should be implemented as fully as possible, while we research the complexity of peer relationships. Further Reading: McNeely, C.A. and C. Falci (2004) School Connectedness and the Transition Into and Out of Health Risk Behavior among Adolescents: A Comparison of Social Belonging and Teacher Support. Journal of School Health 74(7):284-292. The Teen Years Explained; A Guide to Healthy Adolescent Development, by Clea McNeely, Jayne Blanchard


Panel 3

the importance of peer groups positive influences

”Someone’s got to be crazy about the kid” Michael Karcher, Ph.D., Professor of Counseling, University of Texas at San Antonio

Upon retirement, the ecological systems psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner—who spent his career describing and underscoring the important ways in which the different social settings in children’s lives interact to support human development—was asked something to the effect of: “Dr. Bronfenbrenner, after all we have learned about the way your work over the past 40 years has influenced others, shaped policies and informed the field, we hope you will share with us what you find most important in your work about the ingredients of successful youth development.” Bronfenbrenner walked to the podium, said “Someone’s got to be crazy about the kid,” and he sat back down.

Promoting Adolescent Connectedness Through Peer Mentoring Relationships are critical to successful development, but the contexts in which relationships take place may either cultivate or cripple the efforts of an adult or older peer to express that, indeed, they are crazy about the kid.

The psychoanalyst, Kohut, explains that without the experience of receiving empathy, praise, and attention (which must occur with a relationship with important others) individuals lack the motivation, desire and drive to achieve each new developmental strength. What are the important qualities of effective peer mentoring programs? • Infrastructure. Programs should include key best practices, such as mentor training, careful matching of mentor and mentee, structured activities for the pairs, parental involvement, and other forms of structure and support. • Age matters. Peer mentors should be at least two years older than their mentees (e.g., a high school Junior mentoring a sixth grade student). • Curriculum. There should be a structured curriculum to guide the interactions between mentors and mentees. • Appropriate Training. Mentors should receive two or more hours of training—at the very least. In most peer programs with demonstrated effectiveness far more training is provided.


It is critical that peer mentoring programs meet two basic conditions: • Peer mentoring programs require a high degree of structure and supervision. • In order to further preclude misbehavior from being modeled and rewarded, and to ensure the program itself does not get stigmatized, only a few high-risk youth should be congregated at any given time.


Panel 4


What is Family Engagement and is it Important? Otha Thornton, President, National PTA

There are three components of effective, sustained, and systemic family and community engagement: • A Shared Responsibility • Cradle to Career • Integrated Across Context Students with involved parents are more likely to: • Have better social skills • Pass their classes • Attend school regularly • Earn higher grades and test scores • Graduate and go on to postsecondary education Resource: Henderson, A., & Mapp, K. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

Effective family engagement improves achievement The National PTA: • Welcomes all families


• Supports effective communication among school, students, and family

• Supports student success • Empowers families to advocate for their children • Supports the family’s voice in school decision-making • Collaborates with the community to strengthen families and support student success Resources:,


Panel 4


Debunking 3 myths about parental involvement that undermine achievement

Nancy Hill, Ph.D., Professor, Harvard University

Every parent of a teen can recount times when their mere presence embarrassed their teen. Not surprisingly, youth say that they don’t want their parents to come to school, chaperone school events, or meddle in their friendships and personal lives. Despite emerging autonomy and independence, parents remain the most important source of support for career information and are central to the development of educational aspirations — and teens know this and want their support.

Contrary to popular belief, teens want their parents involved in their education.

Study: following teens across middle and high school. For college-educated parents, parental involvement in 7th grade was related to: 1) better school behavior in 8th grade 2) better grades and test scores in 9th grade 3) higher occupational and educational aspirations in 11th grade (just as they are getting ready to apply to college).

For parents who did not have a college degree, parental involvement in 7th grade: 1) was less effective in relation to school behavior or achievement 2) there was strong relation to higher goals and aspirations in 11th grade

Parents want to be involved, they just don’t know how to do it and the middle school context is daunting.

Assumptions vs Facts 1. Parents know what to do but are uninterested or don’t want to be involved. Fact: Parents need guidance.

It wasn’t the case that these parents weren’t involved—they were involved— but their involvement did not have the same benefit. Rather than being disinterested, we find that some parents, especially parents who lack a college degree, simply don’t know how to be effectively involved in their children’s education. And, more importantly, when they are involved, it is less effective than the involvement of their counterparts who have a college degree.

2. Autonomy and independence during adolescence means teens don’t want their parents to be involved. Fact: Parents need reminders that staying involved is important. 3. “Partnerships” are feasible and desirable goals for family-school relationships. Fact: Partnerships privilege those who fit seamlessly into the school culture and marginalizes those who do not. Those parents who are of like culture and economic standing have an advantage.


RESOURCES: (Keywords: Nancy Hill) Child Development “Parent Academic Involvement as Related to School Behavior, Achievement, and Aspirations,” Hill, et al. (2004) Handbook of School-Family Partnerships - (Keywords: Handbook of School-Family Partnerships - Hill, Tolan)


Panel 4


Charles Smith talks with an attendee.

Family Engagement and Middle Grades Transitions: The Role of Afterschool Programs Charles Smith, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Research at The Forum for Youth Investment; Executive Director, David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality CASE STUDY: Charged by the Michigan Department of Education, we built an intervention for 270 afterschool programs to support middle grades transitions through family engagement. Here’s why:

This intervention was designed to provide practical supports to families, students, after-school staff, and schools. It should also improve cooperation and partnership among them and support student motivation and school success. Based on design criteria, we identified three family engagement core processes to be implemented by afterschool programs: 1) school advocacy and alignment, 2) academic socialization, and 3) school & community connections. The graphic below summarizes each core process in terms of staff practices and then describes the direct proximal youth experience that we expect to occur when the staff practices are implemented.

• Afterschool programs have staff dedicated to family engagement and are focused on transitions • Afterschool programs recruit and serve at-risk kids

Core Processes

• Afterschool program models incorporate school performance data, school staff, community based organizations, and families

School Advocacy and Alignment • AS (afterschool) staff support family monitoring/advocacy during school day • AS staff access grades, behavior, and attendance; and monitor/advocate • Curriculum and professional development communication between school-day and AS teachers for expanded learning

As a Result Youth Experience:

Academic Socialization • Build knowledge of careers and education pathways and set short-term goals • 21st Century skills and assessment: youth self-assess; teachers and family identify strengths • Youth-led conferences on plans and performance

As a Result Youth Experience:

Youth Program Quality Assessment

> > > More frequent monitoring and advocacy > > > > Greater family knowledge of school performance > > > > > > > > > > > More time on academic content during AS

> > > Plans for education pathways and careers skill assessment > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > Youth Youth-led conference presentation >> >> > > > >> >

School & Community Connections • AS staff support communication between school staff and families for networking, parent voice, and parent education

>> >>> > • AS staff support communication including school sports, clubs, etc. > > > > >

As a Result Youth Experience: Communication between parents, teachers, and AS staff Networking events for high school activities

CHARLES SMITH, Ph.D. Smith is senior vice president of research at The Forum for Youth Investment, and executive director of the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. The Weikart Center supports quality improvement systems in dozens of states. Smith led the development and validation of one of the field’s most prominent performance improvement tools, the Youth Program Quality Assessment. As vice president for research at the Forum (where the Weikart Center is a division), he is engaged in design and evaluation of the Ready by 21® Comprehensive Community Solution, which helps local leaders improve the effectiveness of community supports and settings on youth readiness for college, work and life.


Evaluating program effects to see if and how they work is critical to see: • How to improve practice • If we should keep using the program or if we should try a different approach



Panel 5


connecting community and school

What Really Affects Parental Engagement?

R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Black Studies Program, City College of New York “Their parents just don’t care.” This statement is commonly touted as rationalization for educational disparities between Black and White as well as rich and poor. The belief that engaged parents can serve as a salve for educational woes is, in part, supported by research that finds parental involvement and participation are associated with positive educational outcomes (test scores, fewer absences, etc.). However, there are limits to the lay theory that suggests engaged parents can offset educational inequalities. The fetishization of parental engagement often misses the complex ways that parental orientation, family background, and institutional reception mix to determine the outcomes that parents desire.

This class-based model of parental engagement overlooks the role of race. Instead, I propose a relational model of parental engagement that considers multiple factors while also allowing schools and their staffs to be influential in the process of parental engagement.

Lewis-McCoy Model of Parental Engagement

Within social science literature there are multiple ways of distinguishing between the forms of parental involvement. Recently Annette Lareau posited two social class-based differences in child rearing strategies: concerted cultivation and natural growth. She said middle class families rear their children using concerted cultivation by enrolling children in activities with adult supervision thus creating positive experiences with structured institutions. These positive experiences serve as fields of learning where children develop cultural capital that proves to be advantageous in school, at the doctor’s office, or any other number of formal spaces. Alternatively, parents who practice a natural growth method of child rearing utilize fewer adult-centered activities. For example, they will allow their children to spend time after school playing pick-up games organized by other youth. As a result, natural growth children have less experience engaging schools, medical facilities, and other institutions and thus have more tense relations with authority figures within institutions.

The relational model of parental engagement considers that differing social identities as well as institutional arrangements influence the results of parental engagement. This is particularly important in the middle grades when educational curriculums become more specialized and home-school relations are often thought to be less influential, yet still remain meaningful.



R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy


Panel 5


connecting community and school

“Every setting counts for positive youth development” “ every age”

Using Data to Advance Community-School Collaboration

Milbrey McLaughlin, Ph.D., David Jacks Professor of Education and Public Policy, Stanford University

Multiple agencies and actors have a role to play in making a broad investment in young people at the community level—not just schools but all youth-serving agencies collaborating to promote good youth outcomes. Understanding how the community as a whole, rather than any one agency or program, meets the developmental needs of children and youth is important for supporting their pathways to productive adulthood. Collaboration between community and school to address system level disconnects is key to comprehensive developmental supports in and out of school, but collaboration among institutions and diverse actors is notoriously difficult to promote, enact and sustain. It has been defined as an “unnatural act between non-consenting adults.”

Schools Schools Family Family

Social Social Services Services

What Matters?

Justice Justice

Relationship building requires intentionality and time, and is never done.


A collaborative stance and philosophy of community youth development requires a fundamental shift from business as usual, and a sole focus on specific institutional domains, to new ways of working and communicating across schools and the community’s youth-serving public and private agencies.

The Gardner Center’s Youth Data Archive (YDA) is a cross-sector tool that promotes community-school collaboration and shared responsibility for youth. ( The YDA operates through a university-community partnership, linking public and private administrative data at the individual level to create a longitudinal record for individual youth as well as a communitylevel view of youth needs, resources, opportunities and shortfalls. The YDA seeks to operate as a resource for community youth development, and does so in two ways. • By acting to strengthen partners’ capacity to generate and use data. • By providing a community or system-level view of youth policies and resources, the YDA increased the coherence of opportunities and resources available to young people.




Faith Faith ReRecreation creation Opps. Opps.

Peer Peer Groups Groups


Collaboration between schools and community around questions of community youth development is multi-faceted, has cross-institutional implications, is relatively unstructured and relentless—that is, never solved.


Panel 5


connecting community and school By Bill Milliken, Founder of Communities In Schools When I was asked to speak at this conference, I was a bit reluctant to accept. I’m not an academic; I’m not an authority on middle schools. But I know that middle school is a vulnerable time for students. I know this from my own experience, because middle school was where I first started to get in trouble and be branded “dumb” and a “failure.”

Programs don’t change kids — relationships do.

I understand now that I learn differently from others. My brain doesn’t “imprint” words in the typical way. So when I would read, it just didn’t sink in. I literally couldn’t make sense of it, and wouldn’t remember what I had just read. It felt as if I were constantly covering up a terrible secret, and any minute someone could come along and expose it. Those early, humiliating incidents in school, where I learned to call myself “dumb,” never got any better. I managed to stay in school up until I was 17, bluffing my way through, but the day came when that all changed.

The principal called my mother into school and told her she ought to withdraw me. I was getting into way too much trouble, he said. I was hanging around with a “bad crowd” (if only he knew the half of it!), wasting my time down at Nobbie’s Pool Hall with a gang they called the Green Street Animals. And besides, I couldn’t handle the schoolwork. That was the phrase he used: “Bill can’t handle the work.” I knew exactly what that meant: I was dumb. I was so dumb that I couldn’t even finish high school. Fine, I told my parents. Take me out of school. It was actually a big relief. But one day an older guy named Bob started hanging around at the pool hall, trying to overcome our suspicion and get to know us. It turned out he was a youth worker, and he wanted to start a club for kids in our neighborhood. I wasn’t interested in that, but when he invited me and five of my buddies at the pool hall to spend a week at a camp in Colorado, we signed up. I was learning perhaps the most important lesson of my life – not just my life then, but for the next 50 years as well. Personal relationships are the key to change. No “program” in the world is going to help a young person find his future. I needed a reason to hope. Bob and the other counselors saw exactly who I was – an angry, ignorant, unhappy young man – and they loved me anyway. That was the turning point for me, and I resolved to give back to other young people the same gift I’d been given. So my perspective is based on personal experience. Love, caring, relationships – we have to begin from there. Programs don’t change kids – relationships do. Young people have to be turned on to living before they can be turned on to learning. We need to address the entire system. Over the years, the safety net – woven largely by the extended family and the faith community – slowly unraveled. And the public schools fell into the vacuum that was created. We expect teachers and school administrators to be mother, father, sister, brother, counselor, social worker, good cop, bad cop – and also be great teachers. This is impossible. The needs of millions of students are simply too great and too complicated for educators to handle alone. They need a community of concerned adults to step forward and be their partners. We have to free teachers to do their jobs again. And that means creating safe, responsive learning environments for them, for school administrators, and ultimately for the students and their families.


The key to improving our schools is what I call “the third side of the triangle in education.” We’ve tended to focus on the first two sides: governance and pedagogy. The third side of the triangle is community. Unless the entire community gets involved in bringing the needed services into the schools, kids will continue to drop out.

How we deliver the services is equally important. When Communities In Schools (CIS, had a partnership with Cisco Systems a few years back, I explained it to their leaders this way: Every school needs a human “relational router,” just like the routers you use to organize the flow of data in your computer systems. Every school needs someone whose job it is to find out what students need in order to succeed, locate these resources in the surrounding community, bring them into the school, and see that they are connected with the students who require them. CIS calls this “relational router” the site coordinator.

My book, The Last Dropout ( goes into much more detail about these ideas, and demonstrates how the concept is replicable. CIS has “gone to scale” in hundreds of communities across the U.S. We’ve also emphasized a continuum of services, not just for a single school, but for the entire K – 12 system. A result that occurs when we bring services into the school: Actual community is created and delivered inside the school building. Young people see adults working together, breaking bread together, treating each other with respect. That is a priceless thing to share with our kids. How can we expect them to value a good “school environment” when we adults aren’t able to be community ourselves?


Panel 5


connecting community and school

How can we best keep schools connected to communities during the important middle school years?

M-Cubed was selected as a high-scoring program for innovative best practices, proven and practical solutions, and new ideas by the American School Board Journal’s Magna Awards, 2013.

L. Bernard Hairston, Ph.D., Executive Director of Community Engagement, Albemarle County Public Schools

The Challenge:

32.5% African-American (AA) males vs. 71% white males enrolled in upper level math prior to establishing M-Cubed, Math, Men, and Mission.


“M-Cubed” which stands for “math, men, & mission” was designed to provide African-American young men in grades 5-8, an opportunity to discover new ways to experience success in school through math and mentoring.

M-Cubed: Pages/M-Cubed.aspx

Strategies began with a required two week summer academy designed for AA males to excel through hands-on, project based, and inquiry based teaching and learning approaches through a rigorous pre-algebra curriculum design.

100 Black Men of Central Virginia:

Research components were considered to impact the four goals of the program: • Increase the number of AA males in upper level math classes • Teach a rigorous pre-Algebra curriculum to AA males • Build healthy relationships between the home and school, and • Establish a systemic system for achievement

Honoring the student culture impacted competence and confidence....


Follow A Model: Step 1

Recognition of a Challenge / Problem

Step 2

Research Based

Classroom curriculum incorporated:

Step 3

Community Buy-in / Partnership with Stakeholders

Collaborative learning Storytelling Interaction Hands-on learning Project-Based Learning Active Engagement Movement Collaboration Critical Thinking and Inquiry Based Learning

Step 4

Focus on Results for Students, Schools, and System

The program emphasized high expectations and planned instructional strategies to honor the AA culture of the students enrolled. Movement was welcomed, role play, collaboration and critical thinking were routine activities. You are gifted, you are expected to own-your-on-learning.

Mentors from the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia (BMOCV) ( provided year round mentoring to assist with strengthening relationships with the home and school for the systemic support system. The mentors also serve as daily role models, teachers, and guest speakers during the two week summer academy.


Key Performance Indicators:

> > > >

Achievement data indicates a closing of the gap in enrollment percentages and SOL math assessments. Increase in parental engagement an awareness of quality instruction. There is an increased awareness and attention to the problem at the school level. Average math end of year grades of participants improved from 2.7 to 3.0 while numbers in upper level classes increased.



Wrap-Up Panel

making middle schools centers for pyd directions for research, practice and policy

High-Performing Middle Grades Schools as Centers of Positive Youth Development Deborah Kasak, Ed.D., Executive Director, National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform is an alliance of over 60 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations committed to promoting the academic performance and healthy development of young adolescents. • We need small communities, big families. In successful middle schools, we create small communities for learning and see this as a pivotal element of the school experience. • Someone’s got to be crazy about the kid. • Culture and climate create a “snowball effect” and foster a learning environment that makes all things possible. • Middle grades schools play a crucial role in creating the graduates of the future. We can identify students as early as the sixth grade who exhibit indicators of “falling off the path to graduation,” and we can enact targeted interventions to bring them back on-track. • The National Forum is an alliance of key leaders, researchers, organizations and practitioners committed to making high-performing middle grades schools the norm across the country. • The National Forum has identified the ABC’s of potential dropouts as early as the 6th grade: Attendance below 85-90%; Behavior with an “unsatisfactory mark” in at least one class, and Course performance in math and/or English with a final grade of “F”.

Resources: The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades:; Schools to Watch:


Schools to Watch / Schools to Use as Models The Forum’s Schools to Watch (STW) initiative identifies middle schools that meet the Forum’s criteria for high performance. The standards help inform and educate teachers and leaders on best practices for middle-grades schools. The common threads across all these schools are: 1. Leadership is dynamic and about vision. Decision-making does not rest only with the principal but is shared within the building. There is a culture of commitment and an ever increasing understanding of the nature and needs of young adolescents. 2. Curriculum is challenging for each and every student, not just for some. They want all students to experience first-class learning. The teaching and learning environments are active and engaging. They continually look at the program and make needed adjustments. 3. Decision-making is data-driven that results in increased academic achievement with test scores on continuous upward trajectories. They know they are not perfect places, but they make a strong commitment to continuous growth and improvement. They hold one another mutually responsible for results. 4. The schools work hard to develop small communities for learning through teams where trusting relationships are valued. As a result, the schools have positive happy, involved students with teachers who want to teach in the middle-grades— well for the most part! Anyone who has worked with young adolescents knows there will be daily ups and downs, but the important point is that they don’t give up when they run into a barriers or obstacles. The faculty commitment is high and long-term relationships are valued for the stability these relationships provide to students and their families. Teaching teams matter, and they emphasize cognitive and non-cognitive goals so the whole child can grow and flourish. 5. The schools have extensive family and community involvement. The adults in the school know their students benefit when the entire community works together to make success a reality. The schools have a high level of parental involvement but aren’t ever satisfied. So my message is hopeful. We can have middle grades schools that are centers for positive youth development. Not only can we have such schools, but we already have the exemplars and do know what works. The National Forum’s vision and criteria brought to life through Schools to Watch are strong examples of what can happen when all stakeholders take middle grades education seriously. It is time to step up and spread the good news to others. You can find out more by seeing our STW in action. Check out our website at and see the descriptions of these 324 STW schools. Or better yet, do a “field trip” to one of our STW sites in the 19 states. Look at our STW rating rubric and share it with a school in your community.


Wrap-Up Panel

making middle schools centers for pyd directions for research, practice and policy

After School Programs as Centers of Positive Youth Development

Organized Out-of-school activities is an important predictor of achievement. Joseph Mahoney, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Education, University of California, Irvine

Participating in organized out-of-school (OST) activities (i.e., sports, extracurricular activities, after-school and community-based programs) can help to bolster adolescent academic abilities and test performance, improve social skills, reduce youth crime and violence, lower the rates of child obesity, and increase the likelihood of high school graduation and college attendance. Issues which influence whether or not OST activities create these positive outcomes during middle school are: (1) Training and education for the OST workforce to provide high quality activities; (2) Promoting Positive Youth Development (PYD) through OST activity participation during the summertime. Another important issue is the role of OST in explaining international differences in achievement. Figure 1. Five OST clusters with respect to geographic region


Research on professional development initiatives for credentialed K-12 teachers indicates that the most effective education and training opportunities: 1) are sustained over time 2) emphasize content knowledge that is grounded in theory and stems from empirically-supported practice, and 3) involve regular opportunities for active learning and supervised opportunities to practice new skills. Why not apply this to children’s education?


Although a variety of OST care arrangements have been studied (e.g., parent care, self care, organized activities), nearly all of the research on adolescence has focused on the school year. • For the typical American adolescent, summer represents about 23% of the calendar year and is the largest consecutive period of OST. Existing research suggests summer is a season of risk for many youth. • Summertime appears to widen the achievement gap between poor youth and their more affluent counterparts. • Summertime is a peak season for weight gain that contributes to child obesity. • The lack of structure and supervision presents ideal conditions for young people to engage in deviant behavior and crime. • Expanded learning time (ELT) represents one possible solution. ELT involves a longer school day, week, or year that could extend into the summer months.


• Asian countries, such as Japan and Korea, and European countries, such as Czech Republic and Hungary, score higher than the United States in mathematics and science achievement at the junior high and high school grade levels. • Few researchers have looked beyond the classroom to understand achievement. • Achievement is higher in countries where a large proportion of their total learning time (inside and outside of school) is spent learning these subjects, than in countries where they spend relatively little time learning these subjects. • OST is an important predictor of achievement. Those countries whose profile of time use was highest in technology had the highest achievement scores. > These findings suggest that future research should consider a broader view of education to understand the variability in OST use both within and between nations.


Note: Red=Technology and Leisure. Green=Technology only. Yellow=Active home, inactive technology and leisure. Blue=Moderate in all.

Fewer than 1 in 10,000 published studies on adolescence were concerned with summer in the last half century, despite youth spending 23% of the calendar year then.


Wrap-Up Panel

Michael K. Yudin, from the U.S. Department of Education, speaks on the closing panel.

making middle schools centers for pyd directions for research, practice and policy

Michael K. Yudin

Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department of Education

• High quality middle schools are critical to ensure high-school graduates are college and career ready. They need the proper skills to succeed in the global economy. This is not just a moral imperative, it’s an economic imperative • A generation ago the U.S. ranked number one in the world in college completion—now we rank 14th. • President Obama said the countries that out educate us today, will out compete us out tomorrow. It is our goal, that by 2020, the U.S. will lead the world in college completion. • 7,000 children dropout of school each day and 13 million will do so over the next decade. We can't afford to waste this talent. • There are 90 million American adults who lack literacy and the skills to meet the demands of the workforce. • In large urban schools we can identify 75% of future dropouts before they enter high school (i.e., poor course performance in English, Language Arts, and Math; poor attendance, suspension or behavior problems.) These kids are off track. To combat this, we must institute academic interventions and engage students. To this end, following are several Department of Education (ED) programs and initiatives. • ED has invested 5 billion dollars through school improvement grants (SIG grants). Twenty percent of these funds involve middle schools. As a result, we are seeing improvements in reading and math, and hearing from educators, parents, and kids that they are challenged and feel the difference. ( • ED announced a partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) ( to bring volunteers into low performing schools. Communities are involved to support children so they are engaged and that their learning environments are conducive to achieving. • Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) is a multi-tiered framework for improving classroom behavior. ED has established PBIS supports, shown to improve student engagement, grade retention, achievement, and reduces dropout rates. ( • Physical activity and nutrition are vital to ensure children are healthy, engaged, active, and knowledgeable about good nutrition. The Department of Education has instituted Physical Education Program (PEP) grants to promote youth health. • Civic Engagement is critical for youth. ED is committed to preparing students for citizenship as informed, engaged and responsible members of our society. (



Wrap-Up Panel

making middle schools centers for pyd directions for research, practice and policy

“Adolescents are one of the most underappreciated resources we have...”

Viewing Youth as Capable Citizens

Patrick Tolan, Ph.D. - Youth-Nex Director, Professor, Curry School of Education, and Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Virginia

• Youth are very active, engaged, and capable individuals. • We should treat them not as children nor as incompetent adults, rather as individuals that need our support and attention. We need to increase youths’ responsibility and give them the experience of frustration and mastery so they can grow. • They are truly, physiologically, experiencing their lives very intensely. • In this time of transition there is great opportunity for positive gains. Since the brain continues to develop through 25 years of age, we can help adolescents develop well during this time. • How can we help youth manage their own lives? • The professionalization of teachers is important. We need to train teachers well, including the important skills of classroom behavior management, particularly in their first year of teaching. • How can we understand students as groups of learners? They are drawn to and learn much through technology, yet they are often bored in school. How can we learn from what they are already engaged in? How can we use this to help them learn. • Parents and youth should collaborate on the child’s education and on setting education goals. It can be helpful for parents and children to talk more about what actually is going on in the classroom. This can create an opportunity to share more.

YOUTH-NEX MISSION • Promote Healthy Youth Development • Reduce Risk & Prevent Problems in Development Through Focused Research, Training and Service For Holistic, Multidimensional Understanding of Youth Development To Facilitate and Enhance the Potential of Youth as Healthy Productive Citizens

• Schools are “a” center of child development, but not “the” child development center, not the only entity involved in helping children grow. • Middle schools are a key to affect the high school dropout rate. While early education is important, middle schools are critical. We can build on the principles they were engaged with in elementary school — the desire to achieve. • Youth want to know what they are doing is useful and makes a difference. We should engage them in what they are interested in, for the promotion of their growth and of society. • How do children and programs do well? We tend to study problem behaviors (e.g., selfishness, etc.) instead of things like generosity, entrepreneurial spirit, commitment. Let’s study these things and model the good programs.


• We need to understand that technology is important to youth, that they interact and relate to technology very differently than we may be aware of.


Conference Presenters

Conference Presenters (continued)

Keynote & Plenary Remarks Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Ph.D.

McKeachie/Pintrich Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Education, University of Michigan

Alma J. Powell

Chair, America’s Promise Alliance

Megan A. Witherspoon

Manager, Corporate Contributions and Community Relations, Altria Client Services

Speakers Vincent A. Anfara, Jr., Ph.D.

Professor and Department Head of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Penny A. Bishop, Ed.D.

Professor of Middle Level Education Director, Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education, University of Vermont

Philip M. Brown, Ph.D.

Fellow, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University

Jane Close Conoley, Ph.D.

L. Bernard Hairston, Ph.D.

Lynn Okagaki, Ph.D.

Executive Director of Community Engagement, Albemarle County Public Schools

Dean, College of Education and Human Development, University of Delaware

Nancy E. Hill, Ph.D.

Sara E. Rimm-Kaufman, Ph.D.

Professor, Harvard University

Noelle M. Hurd, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

Randy W. Kamphaus, Ph.D.

Professor and former Dean of the College of Education, Georgia State University

Michael J. Karcher, Ph.D.

Professional of Counseling, University of Texas, San Antonio

Deborah Kasak, Ed.D.

Executive Director, National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform

R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and the Black Studies Program, City College of New York - CUNY

Joseph L. Mahoney, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Education, University of California, Irvine

Dean, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, Professor of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, University of California Santa Barbara

Milbrey McLaughlin, Ph.D.

Nancy L. Deutsch Ph.D.

Clea McNeely, DrPH

Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Foundations, University of Virginia

Jay Giedd, M.D.

Chief, Brain Imaging Section, Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


David Jacks Professor of Education and Public Policy, Stanford University

Associate Professor, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Linda Scott, Ph.D.

Director of High School Curriculum and Instruction, Chesapeake Public Schools, Chesapeake, Virginia

Charles Smith, Ph.D.

Vice President for Research, The Forum for Youth Investment, Executive Director, David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality

Otha Thornton

President, National PTA

Patrick H. Tolan, Ph.D.

Director, Youth-Nex, Professor, Curry School of Education, and Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Virginia

Stephanie van Hover, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Social Studies Education, University of Virginia

Michael K. Yudin

Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department of Education

Associate Professor, Department of Public Health and the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Violence, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Bill Milliken

Founder and Vice Chairman, Communities in Schools



Photography Credits

Video of All Presentations:

Cover - © Ron Chapple |

Keynote & Plenary Presentations

America’s Promise Alliance:

Pages 2, 3, 4, 6, 11, 14, 26, 29, 31, 32, 45, 51 - Tom Cogill

Jacquelynne Eccles’ “Fit”: American Psychologist: (Keyword Search: Eccles, Fit)

Pages 5, 46 - Dan Addison

Panel 1

Page 8 - © Dmitriy Shironosov | (three youth)

Finland Shows Road to Education Excellence: Finland-shows-road-education-excellence

Page 9 - © Americanspirit |

Panel 2

Page 20 - © Franz Pfluegl |

Book: Finnish Lessons by Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg (2011)

Page 16 - © Arne9001 |

Association for Middle Level Education:

Page 27 - © Wavebreakmedia Ltd |

This We Believe:

Page 39 - © Rmarmion |

Brain Research: (Keyword Search: Giedd, Digital Revolution) “Development of the Young Brain”:

Panel 5

Panel 3

Communities in Schools:

Character Education Partnership:

M Cubed: comengage/comrel/Pages/M-Cubed.aspx

National Youth Leadership Council:

100 Black Men of Central Virginia:


Wrap-up Panel

Velocity on YouTube:

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades:

National School Climate Center:

MENTOR: Research in Action Series: research/research_and_studies/research_in_action/ The Cross-Age Mentoring Program: Big Brothers Big Sisters, High School Mentoring Training:

Panel 4 Nancy E. Hill: Handbook of School-Family Partnerships: (Keywords: Handbook of School-Family Partnerships - Hill, Tolan) Youth Program Quality Intervention Study:

John W. Gardner Center:

Page 49 - © Monkey Business Images |

Schools to Watch: U.S. Department of Education: Building Professional Development Systems for the After School Field: file-attachments/pd_systems.pdf National and Community Service (CNCS):

National PTA:

Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS)

National Standards for Family-School Partnerships:



Page 47 - © Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang) |

Civic Engagement:


This Youth-Nex conference was supported by a grant from Philip Morris USA, an Altria Company. We gratefully acknowledge this important support. The work of Youth-Nex is solely determined by itself and Youth-Nex does not represent the official views of the sponsor.


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