Brown Deer - A high school teacher has been given authority to conduct graduate-level research in her classroom. District officials are praising the effort as an opportunity to identify some of the challenges remedial high school students face with reading and writing comprehension.
Jennifer Ankerberg, Brown Deer High School reading and English teacher, came before the School Board on Tuesday with a proposal to conduct the research. It was unanimously approved by officials.
Ankerberg hopes to survey most, if not all, of the students in the Reading and Writing Foundations course she teaches to high schoolers who are working to get up to speed on the district's grade-level standards.
"The project would explore the challenge readers often face when identifying main ideas in their reading, particularly in nonfiction texts," Ankerberg said. "The project's main emphasis would be to determine effectiveness of text structure instruction in assisting our learners in this task."
Ankerberg is in the midst of seeking her master's degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. For the project to move forward, Ankerberg emphasized she will follow proper protocol.
"I would first secure permission from the seven Foundations students' families to allow them to participate in this project," she said. "Certainly, students' identities would be carefully guarded and anonymity would be assured."
Few, if any changes, would be integrated into the high school's existing Foundations curriculum to accommodate Ankerberg's research. Plans call for Ankerberg to issue a pretest in early November, delve into her text structure analysis and administer a post-test by late November or early December.
In addition to compiling her results into her research work, Ankerberg said she was amenable to sharing the results with the district.
"Completion of the project will contribute to the strengthening of the reading curriculum by adding to our research base, analyzing the effectiveness of current instructional methods and emphasizing reflective practice that concentrates on student achievement," she said.
BDHS Principal Jim Piatt said he was on board with Ankerberg's proposal.
"She's in a unique position to take her findings out of this and assist the district," Piatt said. "This will work well in a number of directions, and I applaud the work she's doing. This could result in a good qualitative analysis that could be shared with the School Board."
School Board member Kevin Klimek lauded Ankerberg for her desire to conduct research that could benefit the district.
"I commend you," Klimek said to Ankerberg. "Anything we can do to provide analysis in this area is important, I think."
The district currently holds three Foundations courses for students in need of remediation. There is one section at the middle school and two sections at the high school.
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