RoundTable Proposal: From 30 Minutes to 3 Years

Phase 1- 30-minute RoundTable demos to acquaint prospective users
Phase 2- Contract to implement Regular RoundTables (e.g., weekly)
Phase 3- Contract for a 3-YEAR STUDY (below)

RATIONALE: California schools need “systemic solutions” which “would require huge sums of money,” according to a Rand Corporation report (January 4, 2005, Los Angeles Times). A successful systemic solution, also called schoolwide or continuous whole school improvement, is marked by three results: It is emancipatory (accelerating positive learning); sustained, (a regular activity, e.g., weekly) and comprehensive (including all school stakeholders). In practice, current systemic change efforts are user-unfriendly and not achievable, as they require all system members to be at the same level of readiness for change. What is needed is a systemic solution that is also cost-effective and user-friendly. The RoundTable is proposed to fill this need.

STUDY SITES: The RoundTable will be investigated with educators recruited from Los Angeles County schools and school districts. Primary sites will be selected classrooms from Grades 3-12. This study will evaluate the effectiveness of the RoundTable program when made available to the whole school community as an additional activity in their existing groups: classrooms, faculty meetings, PTA, district meetings. Research activities will document outcomes for the users (students, educators, parents) compared to control groups’ outcomes. Study participants will include over 100 educator/ RoundTable facilitators, and over 2000 participants: 2000 students, 120 faculty, and 50 parents. Educators will self-select to be assigned to either an experimental or control group. Those in the experimental group will implement a 30-minute co-operated RoundTable in one or more of their classes or meetings as a regular activity (e.g., weekly in classrooms, monthly in faculty and other meetings). The experimental groups who join the study the first or the second year, will have ten months of on-site training and ten months of on-site support. Those who join the study the third year will have ten months of on-site training and a method of on-site support to be developed. Teachers who choose to leave the control group and join the experiment, or vice versa, will be offered the opportunity to do so. Neutral researchers will be used to gather and analyze the data.

STUDY QUESTION Over 3 years, in what ways and to what degree are the RoundTable applications systemic, cost-effective, and user-friendly…

…Systemic: emancipatory?

  • CRITERIA 1: Improved student test scores, attendance, promptness, behavior, & other indicators.
  • MEASURES: Analysis and comparison of data from school records: including test scores, attendance, behavior, dropouts, transfers, etc.
  • CRITERIA 2: Users report unexpected positive learning.
  • MEASURES: Analysis of data from user reports, interviews.

…Systemic: sustained?

  • CRITERIA: a regular activity–daily, weekly, or monthly.
  • MEASURES: counts of RoundTable frequency in user groups over the length of the study.

…Systemic: comprehensive?

  • CRITERIA 1: Increasing in scope–spreading throughout the school (i.e., more and more school groups use it in their classrooms, staff meetings, PTA meetings, etc.).
  • MEASURES: Counts of groups using a regular RoundTable (i.e., daily, weekly, or monthly, as appropriate); Comparison of group counts at the beginning, middle, and end of 3 years.
  • CRITERIA 2: Including all group members democratically. In other words, participants have abundant and equal access to participation roles and events, and that they perceive participation as equitable.
  • MEASURES: Counts of participation roles and events (e.g., reading, leading, speaking, etc.) Users views.

…Cost-Effective:

  • CRITERIA: Cost of RoundTable fees, salaries, and supplies.
  • MEASURES: Comparison with other innovations, mandates.

…User-Friendly

  • CRITERIA: Time teachers spent in RoundTable preparation, implementation; User reports.
  • MEASURES: Calculation of time spent; analysis of data from user reports, interviews.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES: It is expected that students will have improved outcomes (i.e., scores, attendance, promptness, behavior) when compared to students in the control group. It is also anticipated that all RoundTable users will exhibit significantly more interest, mutual respect, and community-centered behaviors, and further, that the use of co-operated RoundTables will continue and increase.

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