Supporting Strong Schools and Communities through Research and Innovation.

April, 2014

Check out the REL MA April Newsletter and the feature on CESP's director Dr. Cindy Blitz and her work with the Professional Learning Research Alliance (PLRA).


March 6, 2014

An evaluation research team at Rutgers including four of our own, Dr. William Firestone, Dr. Cindy Blitz, Dessi Kirova and Anton Shcherbakov have released the final report of the NJ teacher evaluation pilot program. The report details the barriers and successes of implementation, and stakeholders’ perceptions of the value of the evaluation system. 

The Center for Effective School Practices (CESP) dedicates itself to improving the educational attainment and preparation of all learners by connecting policy and practice with research-based evidence and innovation.  The primary objective of CESP is to facilitate and support the translation of research findings into effective educational practices that benefit all students and all communities.

CESP works collaboratively with a broad and diverse group of educational stakeholders, both locally and nationally. CESP’s researchers and staff conduct basic and applied educational research that informs educational policy and practice; supports the design, implementation and evaluation of educational programs and initiatives; creates opportunities for educators to exchange views and ideas; and provides training and tools that are tailored to the specific needs of individuals, schools, districts, and communities in the mid-Atlantic region and beyond.

  • CESP Announces New Jersey Department of Education Grant Award for Using Formative Assessments to Improve Teaching and Learning

    The Center for Effective School Practices at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education (RU GSE) has received a grant award through the New Jersey Department of Education (NJ DOE) to support the increasing need to improve New Jersey educators’ data literacy to support assessment-driven ELA instruction. The grant award will support a two-year Formative Assessment program, designed to meet the specific needs of the professional learning community at Red Bank Borough Public Schools. The goals and objectives of the program have been developed in close collaboration with school leaders in the district, and with the important input from the NJ DOE.

    The Formative Assessment program will be based on professional learning activities, developed with the academic expertise of several RU GSE faculty members – Dr. Flores, Dr. Francois, Dr. Gitomer and the Project Director – Dr. Blitz. The program was designed to inform and support educators in developing appropriate assessments for improving teaching and students’ academic outcomes. Importantly, the Formative Assessment program activities are developed in the context of the currently existing educational initiatives in the district such as the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and Teacher evaluation, among others. The Formative Assessment program will enable Red Bank Borough Public Schools’ educators to work productively in collaboration with colleagues, by taking advantage of the district’s current professional learning networks.

  • CESP presented at Pennsylvania Educational Research Association’s Conference, Philadelphia, October 3-4, 2013.

    Dessi Kirova, Cynthia Blitz and Anton Shcherbakov presented their work on Program Assessment of the New Jersey Teacher Evaluation: A Study of Two Year Pilot at the Regional Educational Research Conference, titled A New Agenda for Education: Challenges for Policy and Practice. The annual conference provides a forum for educational researchers and practitioners to engage in discussing a wide range of research findings and related policy issues.

    The Pennsylvania Educational Research Association (PERA) is one of the oldest state-level professional educational research associations in the country, recently expanded to include Delaware and New Jersey educators. It strives to be an active force supporting the use of research in education in the Mid-Atlantic region.

  • CESP Announces New Jersey Department of Education Grant Award for the Common Core Academy 2013

    The Center for Effective School Practices (CESP) at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) is pleased to announce the receipt of a grant awarded by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to support the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by enhancing teachers’ content knowledge and teaching skills aligned to the CCSS and by supporting principals to led this effort in their schools.

    The Common Core Academy 2013 (CCA 2013) program will involve intensive, informative and interactive activities, which will inform participants about expected shifts in standards and assessments for English Language Arts and Mathematics education for various student populations. Participants will be accordingly engaged and trained in practical strategies for shifting curriculum, instruction, and assessment. CCA 2013 will offer ample opportunities for building professional learning networks within and across schools and will enable educators to work productively in collaboration with colleagues on making the changes that full CCSS implementation entails.

    The CCA 2013 will run from August 5th through August 9th with participating educators from Plainfield City Public Schools, Red Bank Borough Public Schools, Central Jersey College Prep Charter School, Monroe Township Public Schools, South River Public Schools, Darul Arqam School, Red Bank Catholic High School, and Saint James Grammar School. The goals and objectives of CCA 2013 were developed in close collaboration with the participating schools and districts to meet their educators’ needs, as well as the NJDOE.

    For more information on the Common Core Academy and other similar services, please contact Christopher Magarelli at

  • Dessi Kirova had presented her work on Semantics of Single and Multiple Early Motion Event Expressions in French and English in Lille, France at the AFLiCO 5 conference, May 15 – May 17, 2013. The conference's major focus was in multi-modality (in particular, co-verbal gestures and signed languages viewed as multi-channel communication systems) and linguistic variation (typology as well as intralanguage variation). The conference also focused on empirical methods in cognitive linguistics, which have recently been attracting growing interest. With this emphasis on empirical approaches, the conference meets a real need of the linguistic community, given that the field of linguistics is shifting ever more rapidly towards interdisciplinary approaches, using various advanced empirical methods.


  • For strategies for training on a teacher practice evaluation instrument, as part of  Achieve NJ and EE4NJ, click here.


  • Check out our Director, Cynthia Blitz, spotlight feature on PLCs in the January RELMA newsletter here.


  • CESP has partnered with the American Institute for Research to integrate the Doing What Works resources into our Alternate Route curriculum. See more about DWW resources here, and stay tuned for the results from our research about this implementation study.


  • NEW! The Camden site has been added to our Alternate Route Program portfolio sites. For more information about our Alternate Route program, click here.

Regional Educational laboratory Mid-Atlantic

CESP is an integral partner in the Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic (REL Mid-Atlantic) , sponsored by the US Department of Education. In this role, the Center engages in the investigation of best educational practices for school districts and state departments of education with the intention of promoting the use of research data to inform and guide education policy and decision-making in the region.   

The Center for Effective School Practices is looking to hire two or more part-time individuals to work on funded research and evaluation projects. Both positions require excellent writing skills as the focus will be on the writing and preparation of documents and materials with educational content as well as the writing of research reports and summary materials.

Research Assistant

The Research Assistant will provide support with writing and preparation of documents and materials with educational content. The position will also require writing of sections of educational research reports, summary materials, and other documents presenting data findings.  The successful candidate must have excellent writing skills and be a proficient MS office user. 

Preference will be given to a candidate with a strong background in teaching and learning, as well as experience with New Jersey public school systems.

Research Associate

The Research Associate will provide support with writing and preparation of educational research reporting materials, including presentation of quantitative and qualitative data findings, preparation of research literature reviews, and identifying existing instruments of interest.

In addition, the Research Associate will have the opportunity to engage in field work and applied educational research.  As a part of this aspect of the position, the Research Associate will support activities including development of research instruments, cleaning and analyzing quantitative data, as well as assisting with the logistics and data collection efforts at site visits.  The successful candidate must have excellent writing skills and strong knowledge and experience with SPSS.

Preference will be given to a candidate with excellent communication skills, past experience with research projects, as well as experience with New Jersey public school systems.

If interested, please send a detailed cover letter outlining your relevant education and experience along with your current resume/cv to:

Dessi Kirova, Research Analyst, Center for Effective School Practices, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University,