To prepare for the beginnings of the first research study for the Windward/Haskins Collaborative Project, state-of-the-art, custom electroencephalography, also known as EEG labs, are now being installed at The Windward School’s Manhattan and Westchester campuses. In February of 2019 Windward, a school for children with dyslexia and language-based learning disabilities, announced its collaboration with Haskins Laboratories, a private, non-profit research institute at Yale University with a primary focus on speech, language and reading. The Windward/Haskins Laboratories Collaborative Project is “an international and interdisciplinary collaborative that brings together researchers, practitioners, educators and education technology specials.”
In the United States, 63% of fourth grade students and 66% of eighth-grade students performed below the proficient reading level, according to the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress. This reality spurred Windward and Haskins to collaborate in order to increase brain-based literary pedagogy and remediation.
Jon Russell, long time head of the Windward School who will be taking on a new position at the Windward Institute, which will be launching in January 2020, wrote in a letter addressed to Windward community members that collaborations like this will continue long after a new head steps in.
“The Windward Institute will continue to offer comprehensive professional development programs that are based on scientific research,” Russell wrote. “I believe that increasing awareness of the effectiveness of research-based instructional practices has the potential to positively influence the way students are taught in public and independent schools across the country and impact educational policy at the local, regional, national and international levels.”
Russell also commended the partnership between Windward and Haskins as a historic moment for the school’s 93-year history. “I am proud that Windward will be joining with Haskins Laboratories at the forefront of the continuing efforts to provide all students with language-based learning disabilities with the research-based instruction they need and deserve,” he said.
The Haskins Global Literacy Hub’s mission is to improve language and literacy outcomes for children who are at risk for reading deficiencies across all languages and cultures.
Dr. Kenneth Pugh, President and Director of Research as well as Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratories, said that the collaborative initiative between Haskins and Windward is a mutualistic relationship. “There's an acute need for both sides of the equation to be teaching each other,” Pugh said. “Our scientists have the research tools, and Windward teachers have the expertise in educating children with one of the best educational programs to remediate children with language-learning disabilities. We all need to be speaking the same language to produce better outcomes for students by understanding how they interact with learning environments and the ways their genes, brain and cognition work in learning environments.”
According to the overview on The Windward School’s website for the Windward/Haskin’s Laboratories Collaborative Project, the partnership will start out by establishing state-of-the-art labs at The Windward School’s Manhattan and Westchester campuses. This is where the EEG labs come into play, as Haskins scientists and Windward teachers will conduct in-school research using neurocognitive measures to assist them in better understanding which different types of instructional strategies work best for each student. This is a step toward individualized brain-based instructional programs. Cognitive and brain imaging research will also take place in an attempt to improve the early diagnosis procedures of language-based learning disabilities for at-risk preschool children.
According to The Windward School’s website, “a joint Windward/Haskins training and professional development program will be created for educators, clinicians, researchers, and other stakeholders so that critical research-to-practice goals can be achieved.”