University of Florida Lastinger Center for Education

The Lastinger Center for Learning at the University of Florida, created in 1999, is nationally known for its work with schools and school districts across the state to improve the quality of teaching, student learning and leadership, especially at high-poverty urban elementary schools. The Center connects nearly 100 partnering schools statewide with the multidisciplinary resources of a top research university to form powerful learning communities in support of children’s learning and healthy development. This collaboration is now extending into secondary programs in math and science.

UF education professors affiliated with the Lastinger Center embed themselves in the classrooms of partnering schools for first-hand observation and collaborate with administrators and teachers to provide state-of-the-art professional development that directly impacts teaching practice. The Center serves as a central clearinghouse, identifying the most effective instructional strategies and sharing new models of teaching and learning with educators throughout the state.

Recent innovations include:

  • Free graduate degree programs online and in their own classrooms for partnering teachers and principals in high poverty elementary and secondary schools.
  • Yearlong apprenticeships in impoverished Duval County schools for career changers hoping to become elementary school teachers.
  • Expanding new school-readiness programs into South Florida communities to smooth the transition to the classroom for at-risk preschoolers likely to start school unprepared.
  • The UF Lastinger Center’s role in Secrets of Successful Teaching.

During the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s inaugural Celebration of Teaching, the 2008 Excel Award winners participated in focus groups to share their real-life classroom experiences with eight education professors and 13 doctoral students from the Lastinger Center. Florida’s greatest teachers also completed a UF-developed online survey about their classroom teaching practices. This process was repeated with the 2009 Excel Award winner.

After the focus group interviews In both 2008 and 2009 UF researchers and Foundation for Excellence in Education compiled and analyzed the data to create Secrets of Successful Teaching.

Across the two years the analysis and writing team from the Lastinger Center at the University of Florida included:

  • Dorene Ross, Professor (2008 and 2009)
  • Alyson Adams, Clinical Assistant Professor (2008 and 2009)
  • Thomasenia Adams, Professor (2008)
  • Tim Jacobbe, Assistant Professor (2008)
  • Kerry McArthur, Assistant Professor (2008)
  • Barbara Pace, Associate Professor (2008)
  • Stephen Pape, Associate Professor (2008)

The Foundation for Excellence in Education also wishes to acknowledge the work of additional faculty and graduate students who were part of the data collection team, including:


  • Sylvia Boynton (2008 and 2009)
  • Kate Kiss (2008)
  • Kaethe Perez (2009)

Graduate students

  • Katie Milton (2008 and 2009)
  • Karina Hensberry (2008 and 2009)
  • Stephanie Dodman (2008 and 2009
  • Katina Short (2008 and 2009)
  • Joe DiPietro (2008 and 2009)
  • Mary Theresa Kiely (2008)
  • Charlotte Mundy (2008)
  • Brian Trutchel (2008 and 2009)
  • Luke Rodesiler (2008)
  • Katie Tricarico (2008 and 2009)
  • Lauren Tripp (2008 and 2009)
  • Vicki Vescio (2008 and 2009)
  • Prisca Rodriquez (2009)
  • Emma Humphries (2009)
  • Amy Martiinelli (2009)
  • Chris Brkich (2009)

American Institutes for Research

The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world. AIR’s overriding goal is to use the best science available to bring the most effective ideas and approaches to enhancing everyday life. Making the world a better place is not wishful thinking at AIR, it is the goal that drives them.

Founded in 1946 as a nonprofit organization, AIR is a carefully designed institution motivated by the desire to enhance the human experience. AIR is committed to contributing to the science of human behavior and the development of man’s capacities and potential.

AIR’s work spans a wide range of substantive areas: education, student assessment, international education, individual and organizational performance, health research and communication, human development, usability design and testing, employment equity, and statistical and research methods. The intellectual diversity of our more than 1,100 employees, more than 50 percent of whom hold advanced degrees, enables us to bring together experts in many fields, including education, psychology, sociology, economics, psychometrics, statistics, public health, usability engineering, software design, graphics and video communications—all in the search for innovative answers to any challenge.

AIR conducts its work within a culture and philosophy of strict independence, objectivity, and non-partisanship, as they tackle society’s most important issues.

AIR worked with the Foundation to develop the growth model used to identify the Excellence in Teaching 2009 Excel Awardees. The model is based on data provided by the Florida Department of Education and confirmed by school administrators; teachers were selected based on the degree of progress in reading and/or math demonstrated by their students on the FCAT from the 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 school years. To be eligible for consideration for a 2009 Excel Award, teachers must have taught a reading and/or math course, to students in fourth through tenth grade who took the during each of the three years from 2006-2007 through 2008-2009.

AIR’s team included Jon Cohen, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Director of Assessment, and Chief Statistician, Harold Doran, Ed.D., Principal Research Scientist, and Sabapathy Karunanithi, SAS programmer.