Here at the To&Through Project, we work to make data accessible with an aim to inspire action. As a result, we’ve often had the honor of being privy to our colleagues’ personal reflections on the data we share, and their varying perspectives shape the way we think about this work.
Below, we share Eve L. Ewing’s reflections on one of our Data Insights — which summarize years of research from the UChicago Consortium and To&Through Project — and her pushes for thinking about how students’ voices can inform our collective work to improve the system.
When I was a ninth-grader in CPS, I had major challenges transitioning to the context of my new high school, even though I had been academically successful in eighth grade. Later on, as an eighth grade teacher, I thought about this often — how could we better prepare Chicago’s students to transition successfully after being nurtured in a much smaller K–8 setting?
When I became a researcher, I brought up this question with my colleagues at CPS, who pointed out that the transition to high school seemed particularly difficult for students who are over-age for their grade level. One of my PhD students, Sireen Irsheid, is now launching a study focused on how to support this group of students and what assets can lead them to thrive in this transition.
Additionally, I think there are opportunities for instructional leaders in eighth and ninth grade to collaborate together and consider what, precisely, about students’ experiences changes between elementary and high school. We should hear from their own voices about the areas where they didn’t feel prepared when thinking about how to strengthen our supports.
—Eve L. Ewing, Associate Professor in the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice