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NAEP Summer Intern Blog Series: Reflecting on their Experience

December 8, 2021

Throughout the summer, we’re highlighting the experiences of some of our NAEP interns, in their own words. 

This summer’s final post is from the perspectives of both Janine Jackson and Christopher Terrazas. Janine is collaborating with ETS senior research scientist and strategic advisor, Catherine Millett in ETS’s Policy Evaluation and Research Center (PERC), on a project exploring future graduate student profiles. Christopher is collaborating with ETS research scientists, Geoffrey Phelps and Cara Cahalan Laitusis, and senior program advisor of the NAEP program, Jhan Doughty-Berry, on a project analyzing the potential of exploring teacher and student perspectives in NAEP using empathy maps. Here’s their latest view about what they’ve learned from our staff about equity and fairness in assessment:

Christopher Terrazas:

At the beginning of the summer, I learned I would contribute to a project aimed at increasing teacher diversity. It was exciting and motivating to be part of a project aligned with my interest and goals as an aspiring researcher. For the last three years, I have worked in my community to support students and teachers. With that said, my experiences as a former community member contributed to a deeper understanding of the school I worked in as a classroom teacher. As a result, I found it easier to relate to my students because I was a former community member who understood the community’s socio-cultural aspects—and this project helped to illuminate my own life experiences. 

Our internship symposium was an opportunity to learn about the work other interns worked on this summer. The experience allowed me to learn and explore the many projects that can occur at ETS. At the beginning of my NAEP internship, I knew I would learn from a group of interns who were filled with incredible talent because each of them came from a very prestigious university with various backgrounds. The internship symposium allowed me to see my fantastic peers in action! Everyone presented on topics they cared about, and it showed how they spoke the information to life for the audience. Their excitement, enthusiasm, and natural curiosity were evident in their presentations. It was essential for me to observe how my peer’s interpreted information and went about data analysis to uncover findings.  

I believe in the importance of making sure people from all walks of life and backgrounds are part of educational research because research will impact communities in many ways. With that said, it is crucial now more than ever to be aware of who is telling the story in research that can have lasting implications. In that same light, we must all continue to include people from underrepresented backgrounds to analyze and disseminate information to the larger education research community. As we progress in the next decade of this century, we all must make this a priority. 

Janine Jackson:

Reflecting on my time as a Summer Predoctoral Research Experience (SPRE) Intern, I am in awe of Dr. Jhan Berry and the community that is ETS. I am grateful for the way the staff members treated us like colleagues right from the start. I thank everyone for having what teachers call a “warm-demanding” approach to working with the interns. We were never coddled – we were constantly challenged as we worked alongside our mentors, and we were given the support needed to be successful. 

There was a clear expectation and understanding that we would come to the internship with certain skills and abilities, and we were matched with projects that refined, improved, and extended our skill set. That is unique, and it is the reason that the internship program continues to be a success. At the end of our eight weeks, we had the opportunity to present our work to each other, the ETS community and our family. Although I was an intern and responsible for my own presentation, the former teacher in me was filled with pride as I watched my fellow interns present their research. It was abundantly clear that we had all grown as professionals over the course of the summer. This, in large part, is due to the workshops, seminars and research talks that helped us contextualize our work and develop a clear understanding of how our individual projects contributed to the larger mission of creating assessments and learning tools that facilitate quality and equity in education. I sincerely thank Jhan Berry, Catherine Millet, Marisol Kevelson and all of ETS for putting me to work, and I extend hearty congratulations to all my fellow interns. We had an amazing summer.  

Christopher Terrazas is a NAEP-Summer Pre-Doctoral Research Experience (SPRE) intern who is currently pursuing his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin. Janine Jackson is NAEP- Summer Pre-Doctoral Research Experience (SPRE) intern who is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in psychometrics at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.