Georgia State Education Researcher Gets $8M Grant for Work In High-Needs Schools

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Stephanie Behm Cross, assistant professor in Georgia State University’s College of Education & Human Development, has received an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement.

The grant will allow Cross to expand and research the Collaboration and Reflection to Enhance Atlanta Teacher Effectiveness program — initially funded by a 2015 U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation grant — designed to recruit, prepare, and support new and veteran teachers in high-needs schools.

Cross and Georgia State faculty members Jake Hackett, Nadia Behizadeh and Rhina Williams will work with grant partners Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, Atlanta Public Schools (APS), the School Reform Initiative, and the Emory-Tibet Partnership to expand the residency program to support teachers in enacting more culturally- sustaining teaching practices and facilitating critical conversations with students and colleagues on race and racism in schools, in order to address the widening opportunity gap stratifying south Atlanta schools.

“As teachers, researchers, and school leaders working together across settings,” Cross said, “we are committed to moving from familiar and safe discourses typical in school reform conversations to much more critical conversations on systemic oppression and racism in K-12 schools and university settings. In response to our engagement in this grant over the last two years, we have strengthened our commitment to developing anti-oppressive and anti-racist practices, and to creating support structures that push all players in the program towards more critically conscious ways of being in schools.”

CREATE’s new funding will recruit 54 new teachers, support an additional 610 educators working with the project, and bring together a group of 14-20 educators from Georgia State and APS to discuss the best ways to promote projects like this one. In addition, an external team (Empirical Education) will evaluate the program, and Cross and colleagues will conduct research to determine CREATE’s effectiveness and its impact on teacher retention and overall satisfaction in the work of teaching.

“Based on results from earlier iterations of CREATE, we have recognized the importance of deep and sustained partnerships among universities, school districts, and community members,” Cross said. “This grant will help us to work together to identify structures within each of the stakeholders’ spaces that restrict social justice educators from honing their craft and to thoughtfully replace those structures with practices of liberation and criticality. We feel certain the connections and shared understandings that develop over these next few years will last well beyond the end of the grant cycle.”