Saint Mary’s, University of Kansas Partner on $8 Million Education Grant

Saint Mary's Kalmanovitz School of Education (KSOE)Researchers at Saint Mary’s Kalmanovitz School of Education (KSOE) and the University of Kansas (KU) have been awarded an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand a program recognized for boosting student engagement. Known as the Class-Wide Function-Related Intervention Teams (CW-FIT) program, the classroom management initiative has been proven effective in helping students focus on class material, reducing disruptive behavior, and allowing teachers more time to boost student achievement. KSOE will receive $1.4 million from the grant to establish a training center at the College to expand the program nationally.

“We are extremely proud to partner with the University of Kansas in this student-centered teacher education initiative,” said KSOE Dean Carol Ann Gittens. “The mission of the CW-FIT program is in alignment with Saint Mary’s mission and KSOE’s Lasallian-based teaching practices and focus on excellence and equity in the classroom.”  

As a result of the grant, KU and Saint Mary’s researchers will work with nearly 10,000 students in grades three through five in schools in Kansas, Missouri, and California. CW-FIT training will help teachers improve classroom management by teaching them to reinforce positive behaviors in students, increase the time students spend on their class assignments and improve learning.  

In the Bay Area, the project will be implemented in classrooms in the Mount Diablo Unified School District and the Vallejo City Unified School District. KSOE Associate Professor of Special Education Peter Alter will lead the CW-FIT training center at the College. “We’re excited to train district personnel to implement the CW-FIT program,” said Alter, who also chairs KSOE 's Teacher Education Department. “It has the potential to positively impact teachers and students in area schools as well as to strengthen our partnerships in local districts.”

The overall goal for Saint Mary’s and KU researchers is to build capacity for the classroom management program and determine ways to scale it up nationally. “We want to foster broad adoption of CW-FIT: The program is evidence-based and effective, but we haven’t been able to get it to as many schools and teachers as we’d like,” said Howard Wills, associate research professor at KU’s Juniper Gardens Children’s Project and the principal investigator on the grant. “Our plan with this grant is to develop a district coach program that can work as a model for school districts to cost-efficiently implement a proven intervention,” he added.

Led by KU researchers, the CW-FIT grant is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education initiative known as the Education Innovation and Research-Mid-Phase (EIR) Program, which is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent educational challenges and expand those solutions to serve more students. The CW-FIT grant is for three years and $4 million, and it is renewable for two more years, for a total of five years and nearly $8 million. The U.S. Department of Education received roughly 300 applications for EIR awards; only 14 percent of the applications were funded, including the award to CW-FIT partners KU and Saint Mary’s College.  


Karen "Kay" Carney
Director of Communications and Public Relations
925-631-5081 office

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