To bridge the gap between research and practice, NYU Steinhardt regularly engages in mutually beneficial partnerships to help disseminate the work of our renowned faculty and make a real-world difference in classrooms around the world.
One such partnership is with the New York City Department of Education (DOE). From student teaching in the nation’s largest school district, to specialized programs for students with autism, to a dynamic, nonpartisan research center focused on education policy and practice, hundreds of members of the NYU Steinhardt community support the learning and development of the DOE’s 1.1 million students each year.
Working in and for NYC Schools
Steinhardt’s Department of Teaching and Learning works closely with the DOE, largely through extensive partnerships between the School’s campus-based education programs and schools in four of New York’s five boroughs.
“Through these partnerships, Steinhardt is working to strengthen the K-12 communities in which we work,” says Diana Turk, director of teacher education and vice chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning. “It’s not just sending our student teachers there to learn and work in the classrooms; we are focused on professional development around topics that the schools feel would be beneficial to them and supporting the DOE teachers to build their own professional capacities.”
Through the teacher education programs, field mentors enter the classrooms alongside student teachers and DOE teachers to mentor and support both – a process Teaching and Learning refers to as “coaching the dyad.”
“Our data shows that 95.9% of mentor teachers believe that they become better teachers after hosting our emerging teachers and working with Steinhardt,” says Turk.
In summer 2020, the Teacher Education Office of Field Studies also started the NYU Teach@Home Program, which connects families and P-12 learners from the DOE’s District 1 schools with NYU Learning Facilitators to help support students’ at-home learning efforts. The program was a huge success, with 94 NYU Learning Facilitators across seven NYU schools working with more than 150 families with another 130+ on the waitlist. NYU Teach@Home is running again in summer 2021 – this time for 350 families with an astounding 700 more expressing interest in participating.
“The [NYU Teach@Home] learners are enthusiastic and willing to challenge themselves,” says Shamon Lawrence ’23, an English Education student and an NYU Learning Facilitator. “One constant message I receive from the families is that a program like Teach@Home is vital to the academic success of students.”
Helping Create Equitable Educational Spaces
Housed within Steinhardt’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Nest Support Project began in 2003 through a partnership with the DOE to establish inclusive cultures and advance the development and implementation of educational practices for learners with autism.
ASD Nest Program classrooms combine together students with and without autism and can be found at 59 DOE schools as of fall 2021.
“At its core, the ASD Nest Program is about true inclusion, creating a classroom in which everyone belongs,” says Allison Graham Brown, executive director of the program and herself a former ASD Nest teacher in the DOE. “This is an Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classroom designed to meet the needs of autistic learners and their neurotypical peers. The program helps create a safe space for learners of all kinds, celebrates all abilities, and builds a sense of community by helping kids stay in their neighborhood schools.”
The ASD Nest Program has continued to grow over the last decade, with the DOE adding additional schools every year – for example, when students in the middle school program are about to move up to high school, the ASD Nest Program is expanded there to continue their journey.
Steinhardt’s ASD Nest Support Project developed this model in partnership with the NYC DOE and provides training, professional development, and on-site consultation for teachers, therapists, and administrators engaged in this integrative and collaborative teaching model.
“The ASD Nest Support Project works with staff and administrators at the DOE schools, but our training and consultation is always in support of the students and families,” says Graham Brown. “Because we work at schools in all five boroughs, we are responsive to their different missions, cultures, and initiatives. The ASD Program is not one-size-fits-all; the model is responsive so we can partner with each school and create environments in which all students can thrive."
Independent, Impactful Research
The Research Alliance for New York City Schools was founded in 2008 as an independent research center housed at Steinhardt with the goal of providing rigorous evidence about problems facing the City’s schools – and about the effectiveness of reforms aimed at addressing these problems. The Research Alliance works in close partnership with the DOE and benefits from the guidance of key stakeholder groups, including the teacher and administrator unions, the business community, and local nonprofit organizations.
“The Research Alliance works hard to answer the questions that really matter to the City’s schools, and to provide information that helps policymakers, school and district leaders, and educators do their jobs more effectively,” says Chelsea Farley, communications director. “We aim to use data and research to build the capacity of our educational system to work better over time.”
“Data and research are essential components of every decision we make as the nation’s largest school system – decisions that impact 1.1 million students and their families, and that other districts across the country look to,” says Carmen Fariña, former DOE chancellor (2014–2018). “The work of the Research Alliance is critical in understanding and improving our schools.”
One of the Research Alliance’s longest-standing collaborations is with the Student Success Network (SSN), a group of nearly 80 youth development and education organizations united around the goal of measuring and improving New York City students’ social emotional learning (SEL) skills. Through this five-year project, the Research Alliance has built a robust set of SEL measurement tools, practices, and knowledge, which have been used by SSN’s network of nonprofits and schools to refine their program offerings.
The Research Alliance also conducts studies of system-wide conditions and trends and evaluates the impact and implementation of major initiatives, producing important evidence to inform city and district leaders. One example is the ongoing study of NYC’s Computer Science for All (CS4All) initiative, which seeks to ensure that all New York City public school students – particularly female, Black, and Latinx students – learn computer science. This 10-year, $81 million public-private partnership is part of a nationwide push to prepare all students for success in an increasingly tech-driven world.
Explore Steinhardt’s Education Research
To see more impact from Steinhardt’s data-rich partnership with the NYC DOE and other organizations, check out these education research resources.