Researchers to study school data


Staff Writer

Monday, September 25, 2017

TARBORO — The Stanford University Research Organization will use data from Edgecombe County Public Schools to study kindergarten preparedness and the effect of natural disasters on students.

The information will be part of study conducted by Seth Saeugling and Vichi Jagannathan, both former teachers in Eastern North Carolina, who have been interviewing families in Tarboro to research the effects of trauma on young children for months. The research is being done under the auspices of the Public School Forum of North Carolina, said Erin Swanson, director of innovation for the school district.

“In an effort to be data-driven, this community group would really like to understand the specific needs of children who are entering ECPS kindergarten classrooms,” Swanson said. “The goal then is to co-develop pilots and programs that will address specific needs for parents and children ages pre-natal to four.”

The two part-study will also examine how the recent flooding in Edgecombe County affected students and their outcomes, Swanson said.

“There has been research on how natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina affected students, but it would be useful to understand how smaller scale natural disasters, especially in rural communities, impact students in schools,” Swanson said. “This could potentially be used as evidence for lobbying for funds or help better understand interpretations of accountability measures collected over the relevant time span.”

Swanson said the study also will benefit the school district through access to Stanford researchers.

“Luckily for us through federal funding, Stanford is able to provide data analysis services at no cost to the communities they work with. So our hope is to connect these resources from Stanford to Edgecombe County and benefit our ability to support young children ages prenatal to four before they enter kindergarten,” Swanson said.

School board member Raymond Privott said he already has attended some meetings about the study and is excited to see the results.

“They do some intricate studies of kids from birth to age five and the trauma that happens in homes and the baggage that kids bring. And sometimes they don’t get over those things and don’t get any help for it,” Privott said. “The trauma can be that of the child or the parent. Sometimes the parent’s trauma has a lot to do with how they treat or mistreat kids. That has a lot to do with kids’ cognitive development and learning styles. So it’s pretty good.”

The researchers will study data from the 2011 school year and through the current year and will end in August 2019. Though most student data will be studied, Swanson stressed that the data would be anonymous to the researchers.