Episode 31 - From Translation to Implementation with Nicole Patton Terry, PhD
Nicole Patton Terry, Ph.D., is the Olive & Manuel Bordas Professor of Education in the School of Teacher Education, Director of the Florida Center for Reading Research, and Director of the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast at Florida State University. Prior to joining FSU in 2018, she was an Associate Professor of Special Education and the founding Director of the Urban Child Study Center at Georgia State University. At FCRR, she founded The Village—a division that takes a collective impact approach to creating and maintaining research partnerships with diverse community stakeholders to promote reading achievement, school readiness, and school success among vulnerable children and youth. Dr. Terry’s research, innovation, and engagement activities concern young learners who are vulnerable to experiencing difficulty with language and literacy achievement in school, in particular, African American children, children growing up in poverty, and children with disabilities. Her research and scholarly activities have been supported by various organizations, including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Institute of Education Sciences, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Learning Disabilities and a board member for the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. She is a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Dr. Terry earned a Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a specialization in learning disabilities from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. She was as a special education teacher in Evanston Public Schools.
To learn more about Nicole Patton Terry, PhD, visit: https://fcrr.org/person/nicole-patton-terry-phd
Danielle Scorrano: [00:00:00] Welcome to Dr. Nicole Patton Terry to the READ Podcast.
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: Thanks so much.
Danielle Scorrano: I am so excited. This has been a conversation for months in the making, and as we're recording you, the FCRR actually just was granted or won, I should say competed and won a $27 million contract for the Regional Education Laboratory for the Southeastern United States. So congratulations. That's amazing.
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: Thank you so much. You're right. It has taken a long time for us to finally sit down and chat. So we've been a little busy, but the wonderful thing about the Regional Education Lab Southeast FCRR has hosted that lab for 10 years now. So we just have the honor of continuing for another five years, and there are a lot of great people here who have continued to do that work. And I'm just happy to be a part of the teams that will continue to support our six states in the region and addressing their educational needs.
Danielle Scorrano: Yeah. I mean, it's amazing. And I think it speaks to [00:01:00] the testament of FCRR and your leadership in bringing this interdisciplinary work. I also have to thank theRegional Education Laboratory because there are two measures I want to use for my dissertation study that were printed in one of the funded research. It was the Mississippi, Folsom at al. 2017, the Mississippi study. And I was just able to have it for public access. I loved the measures they provided.
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: So amazing. It's such a small world. One of my doctoral students is using that measure too, for the same reason.
Danielle Scorrano: Interesting! Which one?
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: She's going to use the teacher knowledge survey. We actually we made use of one of the Regional Education Labs professional learning communities. They designed a facilitator guide that was aligned with the foundational skills in reading instruction practice guide that's available at the What Works Clearinghouse. And so they provided the PLC to a couple of our local schools and use that teacher knowledge measure to look at outcomes for people who participated[00:02:00] and which it was a wonderful tool and a wonderful measure. But as you know, it's aligned to LETRS training to the PLC. And so she's going to continue by trying to modify that measure, to align it better to the PLC and see if she can get a more accurate representation of teacher's knowledge after participating in that PLC. So it is kind of cool how measures and tools and resources that are developed with the regional educational lab program can contribute in so many different ways, like a little spiderweb. And I love that about the program and I'm glad that we're able to foster that and help people continue to do that work. So it's a really cool opportunity.
Danielle Scorrano: Yeah, absolutely. And I actually want to check out that PLC from the What Works Clearinghouse. Before we start to dive back into research and dissertation work, I want our listeners, I mean, anyone who listens to the READ Podcast is going to hear Dr. Nicole Patton Terry and be so excited because there's so much that you have ffered to the [00:03:00] community, but for those of our listeners that don't know or want to learn more about you, I'd like for you to give us some background about your career in education and research. Now you started your career as a special education teacher. Is that correct?
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: That is correct. So I was a doctoral student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I was studying in communication sciences and disorders. There, you can do concentrations in speech language pathology, audiology, or learning disabilities. And so I pursued learning disabilities. And as a part of that, I was certified as a special education teacher, and I taught in Evanston public schools for a couple of years. I was an LD resource room teacher. And it's funny, in our school, we had two special education teachers and so I did all the reading and the language and the writing services. And she did all the math and the social, emotional learning services. And we overlapped a little bit, but it was nice to be able to have a colleague to learn from and also share ideas with for the kids we were seeing.
Danielle Scorrano: And for you [00:04:00] to specialize too, in the reading, writing, and language. Are you a certified speech language pathologist?
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: So I never got my C's. I just went straight forward with the language and literacy. So as a part of that program, I did Wilson training and Orton-Gillingham training and went down that path.
Danielle Scorrano: The reason why I ask is every time I talk to someone who's educated in communication sciences and language and literacy, I'm just so fascinated by all the breadth of work and education that you have an expertise in this field. And so that presents my next question is what is the focus of your research? If you were to look back to your doctorate studies to now, what is the focus? How has it developed over the course of your career?
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: You know that's a great reflective question because in some ways it's almost full circle. So while I was a doctoral student and I was teaching in Evanston public schools. The schools where I was teaching at was literally across the tracks, you know, like many college towns, they're literally the railroad tracks. You go across the track and you end up in a whole [00:05:00] different world than the school I was at. , the kids there didn't even know that Northwestern existed. Even though we were within 10 miles of a campus, many of them had never even visited the campus. Our school was very diverse. It was about 60% African-American or so about 20% Latin X, and about 20% white or other. But all the kids on my caseload and all the kids that I started on my caseload were black kids. And they all had services for reading, writing, language spelling, and many of them also math. And so we were seeing kids as many as 220 minutes a week or something like that, outside of their classrooms, which was an extraordinary amount of time. When as I was working with them and having this language background, listening to them, that's when I became really interested in looking at language variation, because I was working with kids who I was on campus, learning all these [00:06:00] characteristics about students with specific learning disabilities and difficulty with reading.
And how they would do things like, for example, continue to have difficulty with spelling, grammatical morphemes. And then watching my kids who were using African-American English and also have difficulty spelling, grammatical morphemes, and I'm sitting there trying to figure it out. Is it a disability or a difference? At the time there was work happening in the field of speech language pathology with Julie Washington and Holly Craig focused on linguistic variation for African-American kids for language skills. So they were looking at difference versus disorder for specific language impairment. But no one was really looking at that for reading and writing. And that's what started me down that path. I was literally sitting in Doris Johnson's writing disorders class and just had this moment where I was like, these are my kids and I couldn't figure it out.
So I did my dissertation on spelling specifically. And then I moved on to do a post-doc at Haskins laboratory with Hollis Scarborough, [00:07:00] focused on this issue. She had been working on this issue with Anne Charity who was a socio linguist and Anne was studying this from the perspective of a socio linguist. And so she was looking at describing child language features, but not necessarily looking at the reading and writing side. And Hollis of course, was interested in integrating language and reading and writing. And so we've worked on looking at reading and writing skills and kids and the local New Haven schools that were literally across the tracks. Though in new Haven, I don't think it's across the tracks, but there's like literally a fork in the road and you'd go that way and that's where those kids were. And so we ended up there and so I sort of evolved. It's interesting how the decisions you make, you just, you don't realize what the decisions you're making that sort of evolve those interests.
And so by the time I got to Georgia State University in Atlanta had a really good understanding of these complex issues for reading and writing and language development for our [00:08:00] young kids who are growing up in these complex urban conditions, sometimes going to the schools that across the tracks with families who very much so care about what's happening for them, teachers who very much so care about addressing their needs. And how do you take all of these different streams of knowledge and pull them together to something that they can use has pretty much, that's what I've done. And it's been very interdisciplinary from the beginning, but it's also been very school and community focused from the beginning because that's where my kids are.
And for my kids, there's always going to be other people who were there trying to address their needs. There's always an after school program, community center, a local church, a local nonprofit. They're always these folks who were there, who are also working with our kids. And if we don't figure out how to harness the power that comes from those folks also being in the room and [00:09:00] we're really missing out on really understanding what it takes to support their achievement and school success, because it's not just tied to what's happening in the classroom.
It's absolutely tied to what's happening outside of the classroom. And so that works just continued, at FCRR now moving here and we started the village here, which is a division focused on supporting these children and families and communities and language and literacy and school readiness and all the things we've always done, really trying to focus on students who are vulnerable to having difficulty in school with reading and writing. And really, again, leveraging what's already here. It's not that FCRR hasn't done that work before in the past, they have, it's just not been done in a very targeted and intensive way that engages our communities and the way that I am. And so I'm really just trying to leverage all the possibilities here and bottle them towards these populations of students, so that we can really get the outcomes we hope to [00:10:00] see for them.
Danielle Scorrano: Mmm, I like what you were talking about from bringing that through line from your doctoral studies to now, as the director of the FCRR. What I hear a lot from you is you're taking this vast integrated, interdisciplinary, intensive approach. I like how you brought in that community aspect. Oftentimes, when I think about good reading instruction or the science of reading, I immediately look at classrooms.
And so when you talk about the other services, the community-based services that are specifically targeting vulnerable populations, that to me is like, okay, now we're broadening it. How can we best support students across all areas of their academic and personal life? So what have you learned and how have you applied that as your priorities of focus? When you talk about villages, when you about taking all of the work that FCRR is doing and targeting it in these specific categories, how does that manifest in the priorities of what you're doing currently?
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: [00:11:00] I think the best way to think about it, because it 100% comes from our training as special educators and as a speech language pathologists, but kids we typically serve who often have complex needs, we tend to address that in practice with a multidisciplinary team. It's never just the teacher, it's always the speech language pathologist, the school psychologist, probably if you're an elementary school and assistant principal, there might be an instructional coach. And then there's also the family. We all sit together at a table at least once a year, if not more often to figure out how to address these complex needs for students with disabilities. It is just the same approach. But understanding that in that approach, there are different, there may be different people at the table, but they are no less valuable to the decision-making that's necessary to support our kids.
If you work in this nonprofit space or community space, you will hear terms like collective impact and you'll hear terms like [00:12:00] cross sector approaches. It's the same thing. It's just about braiding and blending services, right, braiding and blending supports. It's the same issues. Who's responsible, who's primarily responsible for it. Is it the classroom teacher or is it the LD resource room teacher? And what we always do, and we always learn that is it's just our kids and can't we just figure out how to approach them as our kids? Right. So I very much still have, I think that same frame and the way that I'm trying to do this work.
So you asked, what about priorities for me? The priorities are and have always really been making sure you take an equity frame to what you're doing. In other words, you go where the need is and address the need. And we talk about equity from an outcome standpoint, because we're talking about closing achievement gaps, for example, and we're talking about kids who are most vulnerable, making sure that those kids are moving forward, but equity is also about the process. It's also about who is at that table, helping to move kids [00:13:00] forward. What decision makers are there, who are the leaders that are there? Do they reflect the communities you're trying to serve? If they don't, what are you doing explicitly to make sure that they do. That's about process, try to address both of those in a structures that are built up here.
Secondly, we always tried to make sure we leave with relevance and with rigor and the way that we do this work. I think sometimes in all of our passion and sometimes in all of our frustration around how we're not moving as quickly as we like to, and how we're not getting the outcomes we want to see tomorrow, people want right now. And I appreciate the passion that comes from that, but you have to have some appreciation for how complex the problem is. We didn't get here overnight. If it was just one thing that we needed to do, we would've done that already. We're super smart. We figured that out already. So it is a complex problem and a complex problem deserves a comprehensive solution.
So we give it its [00:14:00] due. And then in being in comprehensive in our approaches, we do that with rigor. This is not the time to skirt. Right. This is not the time to just figure out how to get over, to make something happen. That's what we've been doing, right? Why not approach it with rigor, but rigor is hard and sometimes it's time consuming and sometimes it takes patience. But if you really want to see the outcomes you expect to see, you need to move with care and you need to move with intention, you need to be systemic and systematic about the way you approach it. So we do that and we try to do that by, like I said, being relevant. So, that does mean centering problems of practice and problems of implementation and problems of policy that are identified by the folks we're trying to work with.
And they might not always be the problems that we're focused on. Right. There are certain things I'm very much interested in and then certain things I really want to research. You know, they make this side of my brain itch. I really want to jump down that hole, but [00:15:00] that might not be the thing that my school partner or the family partner or a community organization partner needs. And if I'm really here to address those challenges, some of which can be addressed with research, then I do feel it is our responsibility to try to leverage that research as a tool that can help them address their problem and their needs get to be priorities too. It doesn't mean we can do everything, but what we can do, we should do.
Danielle Scorrano: Hmm. I like how you brought all of those interdisciplinary pieces again, in and focusing on the process. I actually, in my dissertation at Johns Hopkins, it's embedded in improvement science, so bringing that problem of practice forward, understanding the needs of the context of the stakeholders that are affected by this problem of practice, collecting data, and then figuring out what the best intervention or figuring out an intervention to target those needs. And it is this reciprocal [00:16:00] iterative process. You spoke a lot about engaging with stakeholders. I'm sure these are stakeholders in districts across the state, or I'm sure you are navigating policies from all different types of government, not even government, just different school systems. So how have you been able to navigate that as you have tried to enact this change, using the research to then help these ultimately help these kids?
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: So I will say in my career, and I am learning about myself, even learning about myself as I moved from Georgia State in Atlanta to Florida state and Florida. And in Tallahassee, Florida, I should say, one of the things I've learned about myself is that I am very good at partnering locally. I do a really good job, I think, and I have certain strengths associated with making sure I embed myself in my community, and bring whatever resources I have to bear to embedding myself in my community.
And I do that in a very personal way, and I have to say that it's my way. [00:17:00] It is not everyone's way. Everyone is not comfortable with being that personable with folks that they work with. But I find that oftentimes for the work that I am doing, which is typically work with black and brown kids and black and brown communities, those are my people. Those are my folks. So the research is very personal to me, and the work is very personal to me. I go to school board meetings and I read the local newspaper and I listened to the local news. I look at everybody's Facebook pages and Twitters and other social media that's out there and available now. You know, schools all have their own Facebook pages and I show up to PTA meetings and I literally drive by and say, what have you got going on? And how can I help? I do that in schools, but I also do it in these community organizations as well, as much as I can to really make clear that I am just trying to learn more about you and how it is that I can be of service to you. I'm not here to do research. Research [00:18:00] typically comes, it always comes because once they find out that is the thing that's one of the resources I have available to them, I've never had anybody say no, I want some research. Like everybody wants, everybody wants to have it. Yeah, everybody needs evidence. So, you have to build the trusting relationship that comes from that. I think I do pretty well with that. And, and as a result, I'm able to navigate local politics pretty easily because I know what they are. I know who it is. I know who the important people are, which are not the same important people in every city and every state and every community. So I know who they are and I know what their priorities are, and I know how to think about how to align what it is that I'm trying to do with what it is that they're trying to do, so we all get the same outcome we want for our kids. I am not as strong at figuring out how to do that at state levels. It's one of the things that is exciting about working in the REL. It's one of the things that's exciting about working at FCRR. Both of those institutions work at the state and regional level.
I'm learning how to understand how to take what is happening for the [00:19:00] decisions that those folks make, the state superintendents make, right, policy level, the senators make and representatives make, and how that makes its way down into what's happening in school building is fascinating. And as a place where I'm learning how to do it, I will say that thus far, what I have learned is you got to still focus on why you're there. Right? You got to know why you're there. You're there to help this kid and that school that I drive by every single day, that's what I'm there for. And as long as I figure out how to connect to that, even if that sometimes means, you know, I gotta go over there and get to a literacy night. I got to go over there and read the kindergarten classroom just to remember that that is why I'm there. It helps because the politics are insane and they're particularly amplified at this moment and it can be distracting. You can't get distracted. You've got to focus on why you're there.
Danielle Scorrano: I think we just need to clone you into all these different states. FCRR everywhere across the [00:20:00] U.S. As you're talking, I want to highlight just how much of a leader you are in this space and particularly how invested you are in , leading the forefront of translation science. And I know you've penned a number of papers with your dream team of colleagues. Thank you for being on the webinar with The Windward Institute last year, to talk about translation science or translational science. And speaking of translational science, one of the articles that was the most memorable for me last year was your 2021 article, "Delivering on the Promise of the Science of Reading for all Children." and there was one quote that I want to echo to our listeners. We will have it on the READ Podcast webpage, but you said," Despite its promise, the Science of Reading is not benefiting black and brown children at scale and there appear to be no clear solutions to solve this problem." And you go on to say how the NAEP scores and similar data show these disparities in reading proficiency, specifically impacting black children, children of color children, living in poverty. And then you also [00:21:00] went to quote a study, Burchinal et al.,, 2011, where you said for every year African-American students are in school, the disparity of school achievement increases by one 10th of a standard deviation especially students from low SES backgrounds. This article is illuminating a lot of gaps and disparities. It offers a larger discussion. So how are these disparities manifested in the science of reading and how we teach reading and then how do they extend beyond reading instruction?
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: That's a big question. Um, I think that like many fields that are focused on service delivery, just like teaching and learning we focus a lot on describing the problem. Like those NAEPscores that you cited, it's that those have been there for a very long time. They haven't changed in my career not very much not in substantial and significant [00:22:00] ways. We are very good at describing who is vulnerable, who is at risk. And I use my air quotes with at risk, not because at risk, isn't a real thing. It's just, it's a statistical problem. And so there, there are populations of students who are in an increased risk for not doing well in school. We are not so great at innovating around how to fix those problems. What are the solutions that get us to addressing these problems that now at this point, feel Berry and trackable. I feel like we can't do anything about it and I just don't buy it. I think that there is real innovation requires. To address it.
And we need to start thinking about things and doing things differently to address it instead of repeating ourselves. Right. Even with this current conversation around the science of reading. So those of us who have been around long enough know that this is not a new conversation. It's just the current [00:23:00] iteration of this conversation.
Eventually it will damper down and then we'll come back around to it. Another 10 years, 20 years from now in a new iteration because what we continue to do is keep yelling at each other and yelling past each other, right, instead of trying to think about how we might address these challenges differently. So I do think, thinking about things like translation, can help us here.
It's not something that we as a field have done very well or as a field that we've been very focused on. We've been focused on building basic understanding of reading development and the processes and assessments and instruction and intervention and trying to understand what is most effective for moving certain student populations along. And we've made great progress, tremendous progress and progress that should not be ignored. But we often don't contextualize that progress in the realities of what's happening in many schools and communities around our nation that make it so that kids still are not [00:24:00] progressing despite these findings.
What I find, I think for us as researchers, we need to be careful with how we think about things like translation, because translation is a process that's not, oh, you know, I wrote a paper in a research practitioner journals so I translate it. Yay. I did something on Twitter, so I translate it. Yay. That's not translation. Translation is a process, and translation isn't the only thing we need to be thinking about. We need to be thinking about issues of implementation and implementation of effective practices and interventions of strategies and things in schools is not just adherence and fidelity.
There are real issues that you need to think about in terms of adaptations of interventions, heterogeneity of effects, right? We often look for average effect sizes, as we should, but now we're asking a different question. Like, what do you look at beyond the average effect for kids who maybe don't respond in the way that you think the [00:25:00] average does and how do you address that?
So those are implementation issues. We need to be thinking about dissemination. Right. So, so I want to get something across to a specific stakeholder group, a teacher. Is Facebook better. Is Twitter better? Is Instagram better? Should I get the Tik TOK together? And what if I be to then get to younger teachers versus older teachers?
What if I need to get to families? What if I need to get to families who don't have access, reliable access to technology? All of these people, these decision makers, and they're all making decisions about what's happening with kids in schools, all required different things to help them understand and make use of the science that we hold so dear, and that we're developing. And if there's anything we should have learned over the last couple of years, no matter where you stand politically on COVID, what we should be watching and paying attention to is how it is that the public is understanding this very scientific [00:26:00] phenomenon and how it is being addressed at many different levels. And it's a case study. I'm sure somebody is doing a dissertation on it now, but we really should learn from this moment and apply that to what it is that we're trying to do because there are lessons there for us on issues related to translation, dissemination, and implementation of scientific evidence. And reading just is no different, but it's going to require us as researchers to be innovative in thinking about how as we do that. I think it's going to require us as practitioners for those of us who sit in these sort of knowledge brokering spaces to also be innovative in thinking about what it is that we're doing to address these challenges. Because what we have been doing has not always been so effective and yelling at each other or past each other is also not going to be effective either.
And legislating it in and of itself is not going to be effective. There's a reason why laws, we have lots of laws [00:27:00] that people don't follow. Laws themselves are not effective. Right? So all of those things are going to require some innovation from all of us. And really, we just have to decide, are we willing to take up this challenge?
Danielle Scorrano: Oh, I'm ready to take up the challenge. I like how you brought that in terms of instead of thinking about the problem, how do we then target the solution and in the paper that you wrote you specifically, in your introduction I remember reading, talked about supporting all children, inclusive of race and socioeconomic status. What are the implications then of students that you have worked with in your dissertation? The children that have different language as opposed to a disorder and the implications for reading and for writing, how do we then look at the solution forward for targeting those populations of students?
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: Let's so here's a real problem right now. I have a school partner [00:28:00] where, you know, more than 90% of the kids in her school are black. More than 90% of those kids in her school are growing up in poverty, very dedicated staff of teachers, very dedicated staff of leaders, who were really, they're trying to figure out what to do. Families who are dedicated. A local church who contributes every week, local non-profit organizations who are there all the time, superintendent who was very supportive and favorable for what's happening in that building. And she is using what she feels are effective programs that support early reading because she has figured out that that's the way that, that I've got too many kids who are not reading on grade level, and if we start early, that's, what's going to happen. That's going to fix this for us. And so she's invested in programs and invested in professional learning for her teachers, but she's got kids who are, what we would call them in the research literature, non-responders. They just are not [00:29:00] responding to what she's providing for them.
And they don't meet a pattern. You can't discern the pattern that makes it clear that, oh, maybe they just need phonological awareness instruction or all, maybe it's an attendance problem or, well, maybe it's a, that's not it. They look like a very heterogeneous group of kids who perhaps, maybe have a specific learning disability.
Because don't they do that? Don't they show up and look differently. Right? It's not a standard profile. So how do we help her figure out how to get for those kids? Find those kids sooner. Right? So we sit, and I sit with her and her data and I sit with her and her special education team, trying to figure out how to address the issues. How do we resolve providing support for those learners? And that's one building, right? That's one building. I've got that, but how do I get the scale? Right. How do I work with the special education team at that district to think about the processes that they're using for really implementing what should [00:30:00] be a multi-tiered system of support for kids that's effective, but you know, in a different building, they do a different thing. I've got a different leader, I've got a different group of parents, right? And she's got to figure out the solution today. Right? And she also, is in a school. It is a school where there are kids who receive a lot of free and reduced lunch and may come in and ask if they can get extra, to take home for their siblings.
And there are kids in that school who sleep on couches and who are homeless. And there are kids in that school who have been, by second grade, in five different schools. Right? So there are real challenges that she has to face every single day for the protection and safety of our students, let alone their learning.
At the very least, can she just figure out how to help these non-responders? So I think that's where we as researchers, those are the doors, those are the opportunities for us to come in to really try to understand what's happening in this case. And then my job is to figure out how to translate that into [00:31:00] research agenda research studies that can be done to find answers while also sitting alongside her, helping her figure out what to do on Tuesday for her kids who are not responders, there's a both and.
And there's a certain level of dedication and a certain level of commitment that you make, if you work in this way and I need to be clear, everybody doesn't have that, nor does everybody need to have that. I think it's important, but it's okay if there are those of us who are researchers for who that is not your jam, because your level of commitment is making sure that we do be best rigorous research studies that inform what I'm going to tell her to do.
Right, so I need you too. , I need all of us to be able to bring our best a game to this situation, to situation value that, and then try to funnel it towards addressing that issue for her and teachers like her or principals like her around the nation. I think if we can start to do that a little bit more, you know, our best multidisciplinary team approaches, [00:32:00] we might start to see more scalable solutions for our kids. But it's going to take some collaboration and it's going to take some humility and it's going to take some innovation on our part.
Danielle Scorrano: You keep returning to these comprehensive solutions to the problem. You just said this, both and this, yes and that you're targeting the needs using data from a local context and understanding what those would look like perhaps or understanding how you could develop more research to then create scalable solutions. And I'm wondering as you, the leader of FCRR and your colleagues are creating these research agenda. What is then the future of research in terms of targeting vulnerable populations or just having this broader understanding of the scalable solutions that also help the needs of the local districts and schools that you are sitting with on Tuesday or [00:33:00] every day.
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: You'd have the biggest questions. Um, so what is the future of research? So I think that there are two parts to that question, right? One of it is, one of them is like, what are the topics we should be focused on? And then there's another part of it that feels much more like, what are the processes to make that happen, the topics that we should be focused on. You know, they're real places where we need basic understanding of how learning and reading and in language and literacy develop and instruction that should be necessary for kids who are not, who live and breathe outside of the norm. Whether that be because they are emerging bilinguals or trilinguals, whether that be because they experienced certain traumas in their lives, that they bring into the school building with [00:34:00] them every day, whether that be because they are quote, unquote, beating the odds kids who aren't doing, what we expect of them, right, kids who are performing, well and moving along well, despite challenges that are there. There's stuff to learn from those kids as well. So there are these sort of understudied, we talk about this and other fields as being understudied, right? There are these understudied areas and under study populations, we need to bring to the table.
There are also understudied areas and related in reading and language. We certainly currently right now, we're all talking about how much we don't know about comprehension. So that's an area that's right for investigation. We're talking a lot, it sounds like in this, and certainly in the social space, around advanced phonics instruction. There's a lot, we need to know about that and advanced phonological awareness instruction. We need to know about that. It's always the sort of redheaded stepchild that we never pay enough [00:35:00] attention to, but we should. And we should be doing that for my youngest kids. Not just waiting until kids are older, but composition skills are up for play in preschool and we should be thinking about that. So there are these under-studied areas of investigation as well. And then I think in terms of process, I do think there has always been a need for us as researchers to partner with those who we expect to affect, our research should affect. And so there's always been a need for us to take more participatory approaches and what we do.
And there are many education researchers who do. Many of us do not though. And we have our reasons for why we don't. But I do think that as the field evolves and as we start to see more public demand and public frustration for being able to apply this evidence and this research more quickly and more [00:36:00] appropriately, it is going to require that we as researchers start to build competencies and skills related to partnerships and really related to understanding partnership as a tool, not as a, you know, I put my logo up and you put your logo up and now we're partners, but really sitting side by side with the communities and the folks we expect to serve with this research, allowing that they ask questions too. Maybe your primary research questions include one of theirs. Maybe that question, isn't a researchable question. So you have to figure out how to help them understand what a researchable question is and what you can and cannot do. But even that in and of itself, you're partnering with that community at that point. So I do think we're going to have to start to take on some of these competencies that feel uncomfortable.
That we know we are not experts, then we know we don't know how to do it. And we're going to have to deal with that cognitive dissonance and get to work it because that's that I do think it's how you're going to affect change from [00:37:00] where we sit.
Danielle Scorrano: There's so many insights that you offered that are beyond what the science of reading is and isn't, I mean, there's so many avenues that you can think about. School implementation to understanding MTSS, to understanding how effective partnerships should be created and sustained to research on leadership. I mean, we spoke of a couple of number of months ago on some of the research that I've been doing on leadership and it's so multifaceted. And again, bringing back to your language of having this comprehensive understanding, I always think about integration. One of the reasons why I started READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast, was to think about and figure out, how can there be a stronger integration between the research, the education and advocacy as they have long operated, maybe not so much, but that there have been existed within their own silos.
So how [00:38:00] do we then integrate that more? And everything that you're talking about are those solutions to address towards the stronger integration of these pieces. So as we do close up this interview, I would like to just know if there's anything that you're extremely passionate about in terms of the work that you're doing, anything you've been talking about that no one's asked you about, and that you're just really excited to share?
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: No one's asked me about, let me think I need that. That's a really good question.
Danielle Scorrano: My value is curiosity, so that's why I like to bring these bangers of questions.
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: Yeah. So I will say that I really am interested in better understanding these issues of implementation and how to bring these issues of implementation science and dissemination science into play in this world of reading research. I feel like much of what you're talking about with the READ Podcast, you need bridges. Right. And [00:39:00] we can exist very well in our reading research world. And we can exist very well in our advocacy world. And we can use this very well in our practitioner world and never know each other and never be able to connect to each other.
So you do need these structures, these bridges that allow you to figure out how to meet and work together. And I think throughout my career, whether it be a doctoral student or a special ed teacher or working in these universities and being members of these bridging teams, these teams of people who have been working together to solve these complex issues, one thing you do learn is that doesn't happen without the support of a structure, whether it's a backbone organization, so. The REL has a governing board. For example, we have a committee structures and our departments in the universities, and even in FCRR as a committee structure, you need the structures.
And I feel like as to your point, there are a bunch of areas of [00:40:00] research that inform our thinking about this. And I wish I could just go get another PhD or go do a post doc or sabbatical in these different fields, like organizational theory probably could really inform this. Family and marriage counseling could probably really inform this because they do a lot of research on things associated with relationships. So, and that's what we're talking about. We're talking about issues of trust and relationships and building narratives and stories to get a co-creation there. There are fields out there that have actually studied this, that aren't my field. And I wish I could, just like in the matrix when they like stick the thing in the back of his head and he learns everything about Kung Foo, like, I wish I could do that. So I am excited to dive into that world, but I am also extremely impatient and extremely frustrated that I can just figure this out tomorrow. And I think that's, again, it brings me back to, I need a structure, like do we need a think tank? Do we need a committee? Do we need an annual [00:41:00] conference?
Like w where is it that we find that we're all of us are together and can be together in a room working productively towards this issue, because if you could figure that out, that framework, it's not specific to reading. I actually think it's going to be discipline agnostic. I think it would work for math. I think it would work for science. It'll work for civics. It'll work for all of these other areas in education that we're trying to push kids forwards on. We get so passionate about reading because it's what we know. We can find equally passionate people about math, who could benefit from the same thinking, the same ideas and structures around this.
So on my Blackboard, in my office, I have this framework, all these boxes and arrows up here trying to unpack. What would this look like in reading? And then what would the research agenda be necessary to investigate it, to figure out how it works. So in all my infinite spare time, I would love to be able to focus in there and really try to figure that out.
I [00:42:00] think it would change the field.
Danielle Scorrano: Yeah. Well, if there's anyone that could create that table, I think it would be you.
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: Oh, I can make the table. I can make all kinds of boxes and arrows, I don't know how informed it is at all.
Danielle Scorrano: Well, it'd be, that's actually a really interesting final thought, because it's something that brings back to what I'm passionate about. I mean, there are so many, I think you and I are very similar in the sense that there are those boxes and arrows. And then how do we then break those barriers to make sure that the bridge is sustainable? And there are a lot of people that we can bring to the table. There's so much opportunity. And that brings back to your thought and your discussion, okay. We focused so much on the problem. How do we innovate and focus on the solutions that are going to bring the best outcomes to not just a certain population of kids, but all kids, the kids that you're working with across the schools in Florida, to the kids up here in New York, to the students that you served in your dissertation work at Northwestern to Georgia [00:43:00] State, around the world. And so I'm ready for you to, I'm going to just join you, to lead the charge. You know what I mean? Speaking of connections, I'm ready to go. I'm like, if it wasn't COVID I would say let's just start a conference at FCRR I'm on the plane to Tallahassee right now, but thank you. I'm really inspired right now and to our listeners, this wasn't a day where I was feeling inspired and now I feel like you've just taken inspiration for me, I don't know the rest of the year. So thank you Dr. Patton, Terry!
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: No problem. That's what I'm here for every Thursday morning.
Danielle Scorrano: I am making a running zoom link for this. Speaking of our listeners that are also inspired by you. Where can we learn more from you? Where can we find you on the internet? Twitter?
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: Yeah, I do tweet at TheDrPT. You can certainly find it at FCRR. FCRR has a website, fcrr.org. And we [00:44:00] have a Twitter feed and we have a Facebook and we even have an Instagram.
We have been talking about Tik TOK. We're not there yet. I'm a little terrified of that one. Okay. My daughter's is trying to convince me that's not so scary. So you can certainly find us at all of those places, but the REL has an active social media presence as well. You can find things from the REL program, on Twitter as well. I believe our handles at R E L underscore S E for a Southeast, but you can find it for the entire world program and then certainly FSU. Yeah, you can find us at FSU at FSU education. If you pick any one of those accounts, you'll somehow find us there. I am president elect for the society for the scientific study of reading. We're actually really trying to be present and available. And you can always just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll answer, not quickly, , but I will answer you, you and a number of your colleagues are [00:45:00] so open to sharing information with me.
Danielle Scorrano: Actually, it was funny a couple of weeks ago I was writing an article and I needed to ask Dr. Catts a question. And as soon as I press send, he had a response. Oh, my goodness. And all your colleagues at FCRR. I mean, thank you so much for being so forthcoming and sharing information and your expertise.
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: Absolutely. We're just regular people.
Danielle Scorrano: Yes. Thank you again.
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry: Absolutely.
What does it take to invest in improving the educational outcomes and livelihood of all children? In this episode, Nicole Patton Terry, PhD, director of the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) shares her expertise and experience collaborating with researchers, schools, community partners, and families to support literacy and academic goals of students.
Dr. Terry’s research focuses primarily on young learners who are vulnerable to experiencing poor language and literacy achievement including African American children, children growing up in poverty, and children with disabilities. Applying a collective and integrated approach to implementation and dissemination of research in education, Dr. Terry offers insights and wisdom to the systems that are needed to make lasting change.
Top READ Bookmarks
Each episode, host Danielle Scorrano identifies key takeaways or “READ bookmarks.”
1. The “yes, and” collective approach to addressing the needs of children
Addressing the literacy and academic achievement of children, especially in vulnerable populations and complex urban environments, should always be a collective approach.
All stakeholders within the school, community, and family should have an equitable voice in discussing the needs of the children beyond the classroom.
“If we don't figure out how to harness the power that comes from [community-based resources and partners], then we're really missing out on understanding what it takes to support student achievement and school success, because it's not just tied to what's happening in the classroom.”
2. Key pillars for promoting equity in educational partnership and collaboration
Sustainable and equitable approaches to partnering with schools and communities use a solution-based lens and requires:
- Prioritizing the community needs
"The priorities are and have always been about making sure you take an equity frame to what you’re doing."
- Focusing on the process and systems
"It’s about who is at the table. What decision makers are there? Who are the leaders that are there? Do they reflect the communities you’re trying to serve? Try to address the [process] and the structures that are built up there."
- Maintaining relevance to the problems of practice, implementation, and policies that are applicable to the specific context and culture
"You have to have appreciation for how complex the problem is. We didn’t get here overnight… and a complex problem deserves a comprehensive solution."
- Committing to rigor and consistency of implementation and evaluation of programs
"Rigor is hard, and sometimes it’s time consuming and takes patience. But if you want to see the outcomes you expect to see, you need to move with care and intention, and be systemic and systematic in the way you approach it."
3. Bringing innovative solutions at scale
Applying research in educational settings requires translation of research across disciplines as well as efforts for collaborative implementation and dissemination. It’s about sitting with partners and collaborators, rather than sitting next to them.
"Implementation of effective practices and interventions of strategies in schools is not just about adherence and fidelity. There are real issues that you need think about in terms of adaptations interventions and heterogeneity of effects."
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About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.
Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests.