Kansas City Regional Professional Development Center at UMKC Receives $29M Contract

Funds support redesign and development of new academic assessment resources

The Kansas City Regional Professional Development Center (RPDC) at the University of Missouri-Kansas City received a two year, $29 million contract from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to re-design academic assessment resources to help teachers identify and address gaps in student learning in a more timely and effective manner.

The Kansas City RPDC, housed in the UMKC School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences, will provide staffing, design, content development and project implementation to support research in learning loss from Kindergarten through high school.  The project was born from a need to understand how the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted elementary and secondary education in Missouri, but also has a larger purpose of developing a tool that will provide teachers data on student comprehension within the year they are teaching, so the gaps in learning can be addressed before the summer break.

“Based on scientific knowledge this is a huge step,” Michael Pragman, Ed.D. senior program director at the RPDC, says. “Typically, in the state of Missouri there are assessments that are officially measured starting with third grade. At that point you may be receiving data on a student entering fourth grade who is already behind.”

Providing teachers with data on whether they are meeting the goals for the students within the academic year will be a difference-maker, because teachers will receive information for their current students and have time to address them before the students move on to a new grade and teacher.

Pragman anticipates that addressing learning challenges earlier may have long term academic effects.

“Based on scientific knowledge this is a huge step.” -

 Michael Pragman, Ed.D.

“If we wait until the end of third grade, a lot of students who are frustrated don’t care about school anymore. We know from research that by fourth grade students either have a love of learning and want to continue or are bored, and their behavior is to act out. We think the results of this testing may abate some of that.”

Carolyn Barber, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences, says the focus on individual learning is an important part of this research.

“I think it's a testament to the work that the RPDC and the school has done to be a partner, not only in the Kansas City Metro, but to the state of Missouri. We are recognized for our expertise,” Barber says. “We didn’t start working with assessments like these because there was a crisis. Dr. Pragman and members of his team have been active in this area for years, which is what made us an attractive partner for the state of Missouri.””

Published: Jul 26, 2022
Posted In: Research

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