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The Center for Effective School Practices (CESP), a unit of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, is pleased to announce its award from the United States Department of Education through the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program.

The EIR program, with the mission to “create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based innovation to improve student achievement,” competitively awarded $185 million in grants in December 2020 to 28 school districts, higher-education institutions, and nonprofit organizations across the country. CESP’s grant is one of only 28 awards nationwide and the only award to a recipient from New Jersey.

In collaboration with Dr. Fran Trees from Rutgers Computer Science Department, the“Extending the Computer Science Pipeline” project will support efforts to broaden participation of high-needs students in STEM education – specifically with a computer science focus – through technical assistance (TA) for middle school educators in grades 5-8. Over the course of the grant period, the team will refine and implement a computer science TA Framework (TAF) to support middle school educators from 38 schools across the state with tailored, purposeful professional learning and assistance. Additionally, the project will assess the added benefit of the researcher-practitioner partnership (RPP) collaborative structure by providing educators from select schools the space to share insights, experience, and expertise to solve common problems of practice and drive change. Dr. Teresa Duncan of Deacon Hill Research Associates will evaluate the effectiveness of these methods in increasing school and educator capacity and continually refining the grant’s implementation, contributing to the field’s body of knowledge surrounding broadening participation efforts.

Overall, the grant will serve approximately 25,000 students in grades 5-8. “Our entire CESP team is proud of the work we’ve done with our group of dedicated computer science education professionals and school leaders to build CSE capacity in schools and we are looking forward to building on and expanding this work on a larger scale with this recent funding, ” remarks project PI and CESP’s Executive Director Cynthia Blitz.

To learn more about CESP’s ongoing work in the field of education, please visit For information about the EIR competition, please visit