This is the second year the Stanford University Graduate School of Education (GSE) supported an Incentive Fund for Projects in San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). The fund supports faculty research that is conducted in the context of a sustained and deep collaboration with SFUSD. Because the district identifies the problems of practice being researched, the research has a high likelihood of having an effect on policies and practice. The collaboration and funding give Stanford’s GSE an opportunity to make a measureable difference in the quality of education experienced by a very diverse population of students.


Here is a list of the five projects funded for the 2015-2016 school year by the Stanford GSE Incentive Fund for Projects in SFUSD:


Weaving Social-Psychological Research Into the Fabric of a School, Year 2

Stanford : Professor Geoff Cohen

SFUSD : Principal Demetrius Hobson, Director of Special Projects Joya Balk

Problem of Practice: How can we weave the principles from social psychological research into the everyday practices and policies of a school?

Overview: In its second year, the overarching goal of the project is to enhance the sense of belonging, trust, self-efficacy, self-integrity, and growth mindset in staff and students.  This can be thought of on three levels: institution-wide policies and practices, teachers and staff, and students. Ideally, this will evolve into a model for “wise” institutional development that can be used to inform school design and management. This project will accomplish these goals by: first, implementing a set of “tried and true” social-psychological interventions; and, second, by engaging teachers in a cycle of inquiry around the research to find new ways to incorporate principles from social psychology into everyday practices in the school. A combination of a randomized control trial and other analytic methods will be used to examine the effects of the project over time.


Developing System Capacity for Instructional Leadership, Year 2

Stanford: Professor Linda Darling Hammond, Associate Director Ann Jaquith, and Research and Policy Fellow Elizabeth Stosich

SFUSD: Supervisor Eve Arbogast and the central administrative team supporting elementary schools; Directors Han Phung and Pablo Villavicencio of the central administrative team supporting high schools

Problem of Practice: How can SFUSD’s elementary and high school district teams support site-based   instructional leadership teams '   work together to focus on improving instructional leadership   practices, school culture, classroom instruction?

Overview : The study is designed to understand and explain how district leaders can enhance instructional leadership in schools through their work with principals and their Instructional Leadership Teams (ILTs) comprised of administrators and teachers. At the elementary level, the project focuses on three goals: 1) documenting administrators efforts to develop principals’ capacity to improve instruction in their schools, and strengthening their efforts through our role as thought-partners; and 2) To empirically examine how a district develops instructional coherence across the nested but distinct contexts of a school system to improve teaching and learning. At the high school level, the administrative team will use the Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning (CALL), a school-wide leadership assessment and feedback system developed and validated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to assess school conditions for instructional improvement and identify actions principals and ILTs can take to improve these conditions.



Building Capacity for Professional Learning of English Language Development

Stanford : Professor Kenji Hakuta, Researcher Jeff Zwiers

SFUSD : Special Assistant to the Superintendent Christina Wong, Supervisor Angie Estonina

Problem of Practice : What are features of an effective professional development model that emphasizes communication-focused teaching of English Language Development in various instructional settings?

Overview: The goal of this research project is to build district and site capacity to improve the practices that teachers use to develop English (especially academic English) during instruction with English learners. The main purpose of the research is to understand the most effective ways to foster teachers' abilities to design lessons and to teach with authentic and engaging communication activities in order to maximize the development of students' academic English. This project will engage teachers in kindergarten through twelfth grade in a professional development series, including their participation in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offered by Stanford’s Understanding Language initiative. Researchers will gather and analyze data on shifts in teacher instruction and the impact teachers have on student outcomes. Data gathering tools include observation protocols (based on previous Stanford-SFUSD partnerships), surveys, interviews, and MOOC assignments.


Identifying and Addressing Human Resource Needs in SFUSD

Stanford : Professor Susanna Loeb

SFUSD : Executive Director Daniel Menezes for SFUSD’s Human Resources Department

Problem of Practice : How can SFUSD develop and retain talented teachers and leaders to support district goals?

Overview: This project will continue a partnership originally established to evaluate Quality Teacher and Education Act (QTEA) in San
 Francisco and seeks to deepen the collaboration between SFUSD Human Resources and Susanna Loeb’s research team in the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA). Our project will support data collection, management, and sharing in order to bolster SFUSD’s capacity to develop its teacher, leader, and staff talent. We will analyze the major staffing concerns of SFUSD: applications (the hiring process), promotions (career pathways), and retention. Within each of these areas, we will integrate existing SFUSD administrative data with new survey data collected by Stanford. By preserving unique SFUSD data and producing new data that are not commonly found in other settings but are relevant to the larger urban education landscape, our project seeks to integrate several sources of workforce data to provide research that supports SFUSD and helps us understand education labor markets more broadly.


Sustaining Equitable Pedagogy in Heterogeneous Math Classrooms

Stanford: Professor Rachel Lotan

SFUSD : Program Administrator Lizzy Barnes and Math Specialist Angela Torres

Problem of Practice : How do you sustain equitable pedagogy in heterogeous math classrooms across a school and across a district?

Overview: This study will provide systematic documentation of teacher practices in support of equitable student learning in heterogeneous Complex Instruction classrooms. Stanford researchers will gather evidence for the development of mathematical practices and mathematical thinking among students in Complex Instruction classrooms . The data collected will be used to explore the organizational and professional conditions that support productive implementation of Complex Instruction at school sites and inform the district leadership in San Francisco and beyond of the necessary conditions and resources for deepening district-wide implementation of equitable pedagogies such as Complex Instruction . D istrict   capacity to sustain and expand the program will be enhanced.  

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