October 31, 2011

CSOS moves to School of Education

Leadership says new pairing is ‘mutually beneficial’

The Center for Social Organization of Schools, a 45-year-old institution that has helped change the landscape of K-12 education nationally, now calls the Johns Hopkins School of Education home.

CSOS officially moved on Oct. 21, ending its long and successful relationship with the School of Arts and Sciences.

Leadership of CSOS and the School of Education said that the new collaboration would be “mutually beneficial” and allow the School of Education to expand nationally its efforts in school reform.

“CSOS has a long-standing, excellent reputation dealing with nonacademic barriers and closing the achievement gap,” said David Andrews, dean of the School of Education. “We are pleased to enter into this new relationship. We see it as a great fit with the School of Education and what we are trying to accomplish with U.S. school reform. It’s our vision to be a major contributor in this area, implementing best practices that will work.”

James McPartland, co-director of CSOS and a professor of sociology in the Krieger School, said that the time was right.

McPartland said that the move was first considered not long after the School of Education—a discipline at Johns Hopkins since 1909—was established as a separate division in 2007.

“The School of Education is really our natural home at Johns Hopkins,” said McPartland, who joined Johns Hopkins in 1968 and became CSOS director in 1976. “The still relatively new School of Education has been broadening its focus from local to national school reform, so it’s more of a close match for us now. The school’s goal to become a national leader in research-based school improvement provides a wonderful overlap for the work that we do.”

Katherine Newman, the James B. Knapp Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said that the new arrangement recognizes that the mission of the CSOS is more closely aligned to that of the School of Education.

“In collaboration with the vice deans and our colleagues throughout the school, we have been evaluating every enterprise the school supports, with an eye toward continued excellence and appropriate alignment with a distinguished program of scholarship and instruction,” Newman said. “CSOS is an important institution and a national treasure in the field of school reform. As an applied research and intervention organization, it shares with our colleagues in the School of Education a mission dedicated to reform and rigorous evaluation.”

The move gives the School of Education direct responsibility for four Baltimore City schools.

The School of Education, in partnership with Morgan State University’s School of Education and Urban Studies, assumed operating responsibilities for the East Baltimore Community School on Aug. 8. Johns Hopkins took over the day-to-day operation of the school through a contract with the school’s board.

This fall, the school began its third year, with approximately 260 students in kindergarten and first, second, third, sixth and seventh grades. Grades four, five and eight will be added incrementally. The school, temporarily located at 1101 N. Wolfe St. and officially a charter school of the Baltimore City Public School System, was previously known as the Elmer Henderson Elementary School.

CSOS operates the William C. March Middle School, the Baltimore Civitas School (grades 6–12) and the Baltimore Talent Development High School. Both the Baltimore Civitas School and Baltimore Talent Development High School were created by CSOS. The William C. March Middle School was an existing school for which CSOS assumed operation in July 2010.

Andrews said that the merger with CSOS brings a “critical mass” of schools under the School of Education umbrella that could, in the near future, justify an administrative support structure to help with day-to-day operations and long-term planning at these four sites.

“We are now officially in the business of running schools,” Andrews said. “Having four certainly puts us out there.”

CSOS was established in 1966 as an educational research and development center at The Johns Hopkins University. The center has a 120-person staff of full-time sociologists, psychologists, social psychologists and educators who conduct programmatic research to improve the education system, as well as full-time support staff engaged in developing curricula and providing technical assistance to help schools use the center’s research. The center currently includes the Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships, and the Everyone Graduates Center.

Since the founding of the center, its mission has been to study how changes in the organization of schools can make them more effective for all students in promoting academic achievement, development of potential and eventual career success. The center’s stated belief is that changes in the structure of a learning environment can produce positive results in the attitudes, behaviors and accomplishments of students and faculty.

CSOS staff, for example, look to develop learning environments that minimize student apathy or disruption, and examine how to connect schools with families and communities.

The center’s middle and high school studies focus on the development, evaluation and dissemination of its Talent Development secondary school model, which includes all elements of curricular and social organization, as well as professional development and specific transitional courses in math and English. Other studies at the center focus on dropout prevention, content literacy, the effects of coaching on literacy instruction and effective algebra instruction.

The center’s researchers publish regularly in leading social science journals and present their findings at annual conferences such as those of the American Educational Research Association, American Sociological Association and American Psychological Association.

Success for All, a comprehensive restructuring program for elementary schools, with an emphasis on literacy skills, was developed at CSOS by School of Education professors Robert Slavin and Nancy Madden. Success for All is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the most effective evidence-based programs available to improve student performance. The whole-school reform program is currently being used in 1,000 schools and has received additional funding to nearly double that number over the next three to five years.

Andrews said that CSOS’s long list of accomplishments will certainly help in the recruitment area.

“This merger will help as we look to expand our faculty and attract world-class colleagues,” he said.

McPartland said that CSOS looks forward to partnering with the School of Education and its graduate program in education research.

“We want to help them develop the next generation of education researchers with a scientific base in school reform,” he said. “We welcome any involvement with graduate training.”

CSOS receives federal funding for its work, supplemented by grants and contracts from both public and private sources.

Its offices are at 2701 N. Charles St., a block south of the Johns Hopkins Education Building.

For more information on CSOS, go to www.jhucsos.org.