CPRD’s Assistant Director of Research Programs Named Recipient of Deborah Kasak Distinguished Leadership Award

Nancy Flowers from the Center for Prevention Research and Development (CPRD) at the University of Illinois School of Social Work is the 2017 recipient of the Deborah Kasak Distinguished Leadership Award from the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.

For more than 25 years, Flowers has been an integral member of the research team at CPRD that has focused a significant portion of its work on middle-grades education.  That team provided evaluation services for the Carnegie Corporation’s Turning Points work, Middle Start in Michigan and through the Foundation for the Mid-South, and the Lilly Endowment’s Middle-Grades work.  The program officers for those initiatives were founding funders and leaders for the National Forum.  The research team contributed to policy and advocacy through its many articles and research presentations through the years and actually provided the evidence for the 1997 Phi Delta Kappan special feature which provided the foundation for the four domains of what eventually became Schools to Watch.  Her co-authored articles for many years were part of an ongoing feature in the AMLE Middle School Journal.

As a member of the Forum, she has served on the Forum’s board and has provided a reasonable and steady voice for Forum activities and directions.  She provides an important link between the National Forum, AMLE Research Committee and the AERA Middle-Level Special Interest SIG.  She has presented frequently on the Forum’s grant work at several AMLE conferences.  Through the AERA SIG, she has lead the Common Planning Time project among middle grades researchers, written the subsequent book Common Planning Time in Middle-Level Schools, and has been one of the editors on the Encyclopedia of Middle-Level Education Edition I and II.  She has presented on our research at several AERA national conferences in recent years.

Most notably, she has been and continues to be an integral part of our grant teams since we received the 2010 I3 grant.  She provides invaluable guidance and direction on the Investing in Innovation grants and the Supporting Effective Educator Development grant devoting countless hours to the Forum’s work.   Her commitment to young adolescent education is evident through her grasp of our research efforts and outcomes.  Members of the grant teams look to Nancy for her opinions and thoughts and respect her ideas and judgments.   She has been extremely instrumental in every one of our grant applications year in and out.  Once funded, she then works with her CPRD team to conduct the studies at the highest level of research quality.  Her team provides helpful feedback to our grant teams and grant schools so as to implement our goals and objectives with the highest levels of fidelity as possible.  She and her team write beneficial interim and final reports in easy to understand language so practitioners can apply the findings to their school settings and experiences.  Her leadership helped to create the STW Coaching logs for i3 2010 and 2013 grants and for the on-line STW Ratings Rubric instrument used by grant schools and eventually by all states and schools seeking STW designation.

She is the lead for the initiative to quantify the STW network using the on-line Ratings Rubric data source in order to give the National Forum’s STW initiative greater credibility.   This growing data set will be mined as the work progresses into the future.

-Excerpt from National Forum awards presentation.