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Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations


Volume 2, Issue 1

in Action

September 2010

A Message From Dr. Quaglia

I hope you all had a fantastic summer and are eager to meet the challenges of a new academic year. At QISA, the summer was full of incredible growth, increased impact, and strengthened relationships with people and organizations from around the United States and the world. From our first official Aspirations Research Summit, to advancing our partnerships with our friends in England, it has been quite a summer! As another academic year full of new hopes, dreams, and challenges begins, I reflect back on the previous year in order to learn from my efforts ... celebrating the good experiences and learning from the negative ones. I am a firm believer that if we fail to learn from our past efforts, we are destined to repeat our failures. Turning the page to another school year does not automatically mean your prior challenges have disappeared; it means you have begun a new chapter in your story as an educator. How do you want this chapter to be written and remembered? I urge each of you to take some time before the students arrive to reflect on what you learned about yourself last year. Celebrate and share what was successful for you in the past. Identify your mistakes and commit to making the changes necessary to ensure you do not repeat those mistakes. Imagine and plan for what you can do differently to be a better person and educator. A new school year represents excitement and a fresh opportunity to achieve your dreams. Set new challenges, celebrate your achievements, learn from your failures, and remember that all the hopes and dreams you have for yourself and your students are well within your reach. Have fun this year and believe ... in yourself and the students whose lives you impact every day.

"Turning the page to another school year ... means you have begun a new chapter in your story as an educator."

Dr. Russell Quaglia

Condition of the Month: Belonging

About Us Insights on Belonging QISA News Best Practices to Foster Belonging Student Voice By Nickolas, a student at Kennedy Elementary School 2 3 4 5 6 An Educator Speaks Out By Adam Ray, Director of Communications and Alliances, Pearson Foundation Aspirations Research Center (ARC) ARC News Data Related to Belonging Relevant Research 7 8

About Us

What We Do

QISA leads the study of student aspirations through innovative research, surveys, publications, and direct work in schools around the world. QISA's mission and commitment to schools are based on more than two decades of groundbreaking research. Annual data, collected by the Aspirations Research Center from hundreds of thousands of students, is used to inform educational policy at the international, national, and local levels. As part of its deep commitment to today's students, QISA works directly in schools to increase student and staff aspirations. Known as "Demonstration Sites," these schools partner with QISA to affect positive social change. Demonstration Sites become self-reflective research partners over an intensive three-year journey, infusing the Guiding Principles that affect student aspirations into every aspect of the school's life.

Mission Statement

The Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA) is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and putting into practice the conditions that foster student aspirations in schools and learning communities around the world.

QISA 29 Falmouth Street Portland, ME 04103 (207) 874-7472

The Three Guiding Principles

The three Guiding Principles provide educators with a practical model that can be used to guide the development of educational experiences, from the individual classroom to the entire school building. If school curriculum, activities, and lessons support each of the Guiding Principles, students will be more likely to achieve academic, personal, and social success. When schools ensure the Guiding Principles are in place, students are more likely to have high aspirations. Students with high aspirations show marked improvements in academic achievement, social awareness, and positive contributions to their school community. When all students believe in themselves, are actively engaged in their learning, and understand that what they learn today influences who they will become tomorrow ­ only then will the larger goal of helping students reach their fullest potential finally be met.


occurs when students know they are valued members of the school community, have a person in their lives they can trust and learn from, and believe they have the ability to achieve -- academically, personally, and socially. Active Engagement happens when students are deeply involved in the learning process as characterized by enthusiasm and desire to learn new things and a willingness to take positive, healthy steps toward the future. Purpose exists when students take responsibility for who and what they want to become, in terms not only of professional careers, but by being confident, responsible members of their community.


Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations

The 8 Conditions That Make a Difference®

The 8 Conditions that Make a Difference are built upon the framework of the three Guiding Principles and operationalize the work QISA performs in schools. The Conditions affect the development of student aspirations and need to be in place if students are to strive for, and fulfill, their academic, personal, and social promise. The 8 Conditions emphasize relationships, engaged learning, and students' sense of purpose:


Belonging Feeling like you are part of a group, while knowing you are special for who you are. Heroes Having someone who believes in you and who is there when you need them. SenseofAccomplishment Being recognized for many different types of success, including hard work and being a good person.


Fun&Excitement Enjoying what you are doing, whether at work, school, or play. Curiosity&Creativity Asking "Why?" and "Why not?" about the world around you. SpiritofAdventure Being excited to try new things, even when you are not sure if you will be good at them.


Leadership&Responsibility Making your own decisions and accepting responsibility for those choices. ConfidencetoTakeAction Setting goals and taking the steps you need to reach them.

Insights on Belonging

Each Month, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Michael J. Corso shares his beliefs, inspirations, and insights on one of the 8 Conditions. This month's writing focuses on Belonging.

"Umuatu ngumuntu naga antu." A person is a person because of other people.

­ Zulu saying

One way to define teaching is as the job of helping people become people. As such, teaching is a profoundly privileged profession. We are entrusted with sponsoring other human beings in the one and only project that is self -- or perhaps it is better to say "human becomings." Our students are in a process of becoming more and more themselves. So are we all.

person-making is (or ought to be) an intentional process. This is no less One thing that makes teaching unique is that ongoing, interactive

true of the high school senior as it is the preschooler. Educators need to be aware of their impact on who their students are becoming, as much as they are aware of what their students are learning. Valuing our students for who they are and helping them see the unique contribution they can make to our classroom and our school is as much an educational exercise as learning how to count quarters, do quadratic equations, or compose a quatrain. As we start another new school year, be mindful that intending for a student to know she is

part of a community and can still be herself is not an elective nicety to the job of teaching. It is a prerequisite of her learning and becoming. A sense of Belonging develops Self-Worth. And students who

believe in their own value have the inspiration and support in the present to work towards their dreams.


Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations


We are excited to announce that beginning January 1st, Matthew J. Bundick, PhD will be joining QISA on a full-time basis as the Director of Research. Matt originally joined QISA as a Senior Research Associate for the Aspirations Research Center (ARC). Matthew is a MacArthur Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Pennsylvania State University. Matthew's prior work includes his role as Research Assistant at the Stanford Center on Adolescence at Stanford University, as well as Academic Advisor and Director of the Psychology Department Advising Office at the University of Pittsburgh. Matthew brings his expertise in student engagement and a wealth of knowledge in statistical analysis to his work at ARC.

QISA is pleased to welcome two new Demonstration Sites for the 2010-2011 academic year. We are excited about our three-year partnership with two California schools, Woodside High School in Woodside and Redwood High School in Redwood City, and our collaborative effort to foster student aspirations.

The Pearson Foundation has introduced the Million Voice Project, a public interest initiative that is gathering and analyzing the perceptions of one million students in grades 6-12. This student voice project will be the largest single initiative to document and analyze student engagement and to highlight the related variations in academic performance in schools. For more information and to register your school/district, visit

Aspirations Unlimited and the Successful Practices Network have developed the iKnow My Class Survey. This new online instrument is designed to assess and address the conditions that inspire students to reach their fullest potential. It provides valuable information and formative assessment to individual classroom teachers, allowing them to make necessary midcourse adjustments. For more information and to register your school, please visit (United States) or (United Kingdom).

QISA president and founder Dr. Russell Quaglia will be serving as a visiting scholar at both Stanford University and the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

To view announcements online, please visit and scroll down to Latest News.


Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations

Best Practices to Foster Belonging

Classroom Strategies

Educators are encouraged to employ the following strategies to foster student aspirations:

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Professional Dialogue

QISA invites you to create ongoing dialogue with your colleagues related to the 8 Conditions, teaching, and learning.


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Greet each student as he or she enters the classroom. Learn your students' hobbies and interests. Share with your students what makes you proud about the school. Develop classroom rules with your students. Invite support staff to your class to participate in class projects and activities. Allow students to read literature representative of who they are. Teach all students basic sign language or Braille to help them communicate with a range of students. Work on cross-disciplinary projects with art, music, and physical education teachers to demonstrate cooperation and collaboration.


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How do we help transfer-students feel accepted and valued at our school? Which of the students at your school feel like they do not belong? How do we personalize learning for our students? How do we show students we care when they are absent from school? How do we incorporate students' hopes and dreams into our teaching and learning? What does it mean to be part of our school community?

Captain Albert Stevens School ­ Belfast, Maine QISA Consulting Site

Annually, to kick off the beginning of the school year at Captain Stevens Elementary School in Belfast, Maine, the staff creates a quilt representing their hopes and dreams for the coming school year. Each year, the quilt is added to a collection displayed in the school entrance for students and community members to view.


Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations

Student Voice


by Nickolas, a student at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, Somerville, Massachusetts

A lot of people think there's no point to school. But when it comes to aspirations, school plays a big role. It doesn't matter if you want to be a heart doctor or a professional baseball player, you need to have good grades in school. Basically, if you want to achieve your goal, you must work hard in school. My aspiration is to become a writer. I just love to write stories. I have a lot of good ideas that need to get put on paper. One story I wrote is called "The 4th Floor" which is about time travel. Another time-travel story I wrote is called "The Time Watch." Finally, I've written a story about how my grandpa is my everyday hero.

"... when it comes to aspirations, school plays a big role."

When I wrote "The 4th Floor," it made me feel like I belonged. The story takes place in my school. The main characters are in the fifth grade, which was my all-time favorite year. I also have some teachers as characters so it really brought back memories. In addition to this, the main characters go up to the 4th floor -- a floor that in our real school is forbidden to all students. So, I made up this big scenario of what was up there. Writing this story showed me how much I love to write stories. When I wrote "The Time Watch," it gave me a sense of accomplishment because the main character accomplishes something big. He went back in time to the "Great Blizzard of '78." He explored the past, saw his hometown as it was 20 years before, and made a loving friend. Writing this essay showed me that I have many stories to write. The final essay I wrote is about my hero. I wrote it about my grandfather. I picked him because of all he's been through. He grew up during World War II and came to America, married my grandma, and had my mom and uncle. Then in 2002 he was diagnosed with emphysema, in 2004 he got cancer on his hip, in 2007 he got pneumonia, and in 2009 he was treated for lung cancer. Considering all he's been through, he still, to this day, faces challenges head on. This essay showed me that I have people to look up to. If it wasn't for school, I wouldn't have written these stories and hero essay, or even this aspirations essay. This is a perfect example of how school helps me achieve my aspiration.

Aspirations Alley articles are written by students at our Demonstration Sites. Though articles may be edited for mechanics, few changes are made so that the true voice of each student can be heard. It's time to listen.

John F. Kennedy Elementary School


Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations

An Educator Speaks Out

What We can do to Make a Difference

by Adam Ray, Director of Communications and Alliances, Pearson Foundation

Education, as we all know, is about people -- students, parents, teachers -- and their hopes and dreams. People are the best part of education. My guess is that you are looking for ideas on what you can do to make a difference in the lives and attitudes of the people you influence. Me, too. I somehow have the good fortune of working directly with individuals who offer great ideas about education, people, and what we can do to impact both. And even better, I have the good fortune of taking these individuals out to dinner! Recently, I schemed to bring together the great minds I have encountered over the last year. It was easy -- one meal to gather their thoughts. People who love people also love to eat, it turns out. Here's what I learned, along with how I got to know, and what I like to call, the "Justice League" of Student Aspirations: "Ask the kids!" says Dr. Russell Quaglia. You already know Russ Quaglia. He and I met through our work together on the Million Voice Project,, our effort to gather and analyze the perceptions that one million students have about school. "Model it. Be the character you want to see in kids," advises Dr. Marvin Berkowitz. Marvin is the Sanford N. McDonnell Professor of Character Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Co-Director of the Center for Character and Citizenship. He also serves on our We Give Books,, advisory board, helping us understand and research the experiences that encourage prosocial behavior in children. "Mobilize the `whole village' to support the whole child," says Dr. Jonathan Cohen, President of the National School Climate Center (formerly the Center for Social and Emotional Education), "When we measure school climate, we recognize the essential social, emotional, and civic, as well as intellectual aspects, of student learning. We use this data to bring students, parents, and school personnel together." Jonathan serves with me on the research advisory team for the Aspirations Research Center, the Quaglia Institute/Pearson Foundation's initiative to research student aspirations. "Spread the message as far and wide as you can," says Amy Terpeluk, Vice President of Ruder Finn, a communications firm that specializes in advancing and raising awareness about social issues. Amy has worked with the Pearson Foundation to highlight the early literacy crisis through Jumpstart's Read for the Record,, an awareness campaign that engages millions of people in reading to children. All of this is great advice about what we can all do as we set out to make a difference in our world. The good news is that each one of these folks is working 80-hour days to make a difference in the lives of children, families, and teachers. They are dedicated, just like you.

Adam Ray manages well-known programs for the Pearson Foundation, including Jumpstart's Read for the Record and the Million Voice Project. Adam is also involved in partnerships with celebrated leaders including Jane Goodall and Greg Mortenson, as well as leading education organizations like the National Education Association Foundation.


Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations

Aspirations Research Center Listen. Learn. Lead.

What We Do Mission Statement

Focused on the voice of students, the Aspirations Research Center (ARC) collects and analyzes data to better understand school environments. ARC is committed to developing partnerships and sharing information in ways that engage all stakeholders in education. The Aspirations Research Center (ARC) is a division of QISA focused on collection, analysis, and dissemination of data about the Guiding Principles and related content. Data gathered on student and teacher perspectives for each Guiding Principle allow educators and researchers to look closely at the Guiding Principle framework at the school, district, state and national level. ARC's research is made possible by the generous support of the Pearson Foundation.

ARC in Action

The Aspirations Research Center's Advisory Team held its first Aspirations Research Summit. Proceedings from the

meeting are available on the ARC section of our website, The Aspirations Research Advisory Team members include:

· · · · · Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - Leading scholar on motivation and creativity, Claremont University Jonathan Cohen - Leading scholar on school climate, Center for Social and Emotional Education Anna Craft - Leading scholar on creativity and school improvement, University of Exeter and Open University in the United Kingdom Matthew Bundick - Leading scholar on student purpose and meaningful engagement, Pennsylvania State University Joseph O'Keefe - Leading scholar on Christian studies, Dean of Education at Boston College

A technical report of the scale development process regarding the use of the My Voice SurveyTM to operationalize the three

Guiding Principles, titled The Development of Scales to Measure QISA's Three Guiding Principles of Student Aspirations Using the My Voice Survey, can be found on the ARC section of our website, The My Voice Survey was adapted from the Student Aspirations Survey (Plucker & Quaglia, 1998) and was originally constructed to address both intraindividual and environmental factors that support student aspirations. The three Guiding Principles focus on the intraindividual dimensions of student aspirations; as such, the primary goal of this exploration is to determine whether selected items of the My Voice Survey reliably and validly operationalize each of the Guiding Principles: Self-Worth, Active Engagement, and Purpose.

An article titled "Got Opportunity?" has been accepted as the lead article for Educational Leadership's November online

issue. This article focuses on closing the achievement gap by addressing three underlying gaps -- the expectation gap, the relationship gap, and the participation gap -- and provides useful strategies for addressing these gaps in order to improve student achievement.


Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations

ARC Data Related to Belonging

National My Voice Survey Results

Belonging means that a student is a valued member of a community, while still maintaining his or her uniqueness. It is a relationship between two or more persons characterized by a sense of connection and support. A sense of belonging is a necessary condition for a student's feeling of well-being, social engagement, and competence. To date, of the more than 18,000 students who have responded to the Million Voice Project, QISA found:

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Questions for Discussion

How do the adults in your school create a welcoming and friendly environment? How can you help address bullying at your school? How can you show that you care for your students' academic and emotional well-being?

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To order My Voice Surveys, visit



64% of students agreed with the statement "School is a welcoming and friendly place." 42% of students agreed with the statement "I think bullying is a problem at my school." 49% of students agreed with the statement "Teachers care about my problems and feelings."

Relevant Research about Belonging

Ripski and Gregory (2009) examined three dimensions of 10th grade school climate -- unfairness, hostility, and victimization -- as predictors of teacher-perceived student engagement and achievement in reading and mathematics in the same year. A total sample of 15,000 participants in the study included students who took part in the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education. "The findings showed that students who reported greater victimization were perceived by teachers as less engaged and achieved at lower levels" (370). Data gathered by Brady (2005) reports on the impact of secondary school culture on the dual student outcomes of academic achievement and engagement with the institution attended. Results from a survey administered to 268 11th grade Canadian students demonstrated that institutional culture had a limited impact on student academic achievement, but a significant influence on students' perceptions of engagement with their schools. As part of his quantitative analysis, Brady measured the degree to which students believed their schools encouraged all students to learn and their sense of belonging within the school community. Being treated with respect and feeling encouragement from teachers were two significant variables. In a study of more than 13,500 6th and 8th grade Canadian students, Ma found that student self-esteem was the most important predicator of students' sense of belonging and that sense of belonging was more affected by students' mental and physical conditions and less by their individual and family characteristics. The results indicate that, "The relationship between self-esteem and sense of belonging may be circular, with each enhancing the other" (347).

Ripski, Michael, B., & Gregory, Anne. (2009). Unfair, unsafe, and unwelcome: Do high school students' perceptions of unfairness, hostility, and victimization in school predict engagement and achievement? Journal of School Violence, 8, 355-375. Patrick, Brady. (2005). Inclusionary and exclusionary secondary schools: The effect of school culture on student outcomes. Interchange, 36(3), 295-311. Ma, Xin. (2003). Sense of belonging to school: Can schools make a difference? The Journal of Educational Research, 96 (6), 340-349.


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