Our Research department is driven by the belief that rigorous research can help create a better, more responsive educational system that helps all kids learn. To support this belief, they partner directly with K-12 school systems to ensure that they are getting the most out of assessment data. Did you know that they also work with top scientists and emerging scholars from universities across the country on a wide range of educational issues? Leading these efforts is Dr. Beth Tarasawa, Manager of Education Research Partnerships. Interviewing Beth was a pleasure. Please take some time to get to know her!
Explain what you do as if you were talking to a first grader.
I bring really smart people together to help make education better.
What drew you to work at NWEA?
Several years ago, while living in Wisconsin, I worked on a university-community research project that used MAP data to examine how summer losses or gains vary by student socio-economic status and the impact of summer school programming in a local public school district. That applied research inspired me to pursue a career at NWEA, where I have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects that have the potential to make a meaningful impact on educational practice and policy.
What are you passionate about?
I am a fierce advocate for improving educational equity – particularly for students of color and those experiencing poverty.
What is something you feel is unique about you or your childhood? How did it shape you?
My mother and father were both public school teachers. They valued education immensely and often discussed its role in changing our family’s path out of poverty. They also taught us that long-standing opportunity gaps have deep roots inside and outside of schools, and while these gaps are persistent, they are not inevitable. These beliefs undoubtedly shaped my professional and personal efforts toward social justice.
What words do you live by?
I lost my father many years ago. In moments of greatest sorrow, I turn to a Buddhist tradition. Difficulties are considered to be so important to a life of growth and peace that a Tibetan prayer actually asks for them. It says: “Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey so that my heart may be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly fulfilled.” It is felt that when life is too easy, there are fewer opportunities for genuine growth.
What is something you think people would be surprised to know about you?
I have an irrational fear of clowns.
Read these blogs by Beth:
Reflections from a Doctoral Fellow
NWEA Research Partnerships has Local Impact
The 30 Million Word Difference