Education & Research Projects

Education Projects

new-starGraduate Degree Programs in the Neurodevelopmental Approach to Teaching (2007-2017)

The Center for School Success (CSS) partnered with Plymouth State (NH) University’s College of Graduate Studies to create applied graduate programs (Masters and CAGS) focusing on the Neurodevelopmental Approach to Teaching. Over 150 graduate students participated in this program of studies since 2007. CSS received a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation-North Country Region in 2010 to offer the core course as an online option. The grant served as a catalyst for CSS to adapt all of its courses to include an online format which exponentially increased overall participation in the program. In addition, CSS partnered with Southern New Hampshire University and its affiliated institution of higher learning in Vermont to offer professional development courses and the Neurodevelopmental Approach to Teaching degree program to educators pursuing advanced degrees.

The partnership will end summer 2017 as Plymouth State University has restructured its graduate program and no longer offers courses through partner organizations. CSS is seeking alternative ways to continue offering the graduate courses.


new-star Harvard University Extension School (Neuroscience of Learning: An Introduction to Mind, Brain, Health and Education; The Science and Application of Positive Psychology; The Science and Application of Brain Health and Performance) (2010-present)

CSS has collaborated with Dr. Stephanie Peabody to develop and deliver hybrid courses (online and in person) at the Harvard Extension School that are among a suite of companion courses strategically connected to provide a comprehensive set of useable knowledge, skills and tools. The cluster addresses a holistic approach to health and wellness promotion, as well as injury and disease prevention, intervention, and optimization of performance and well-being. The courses, when completed together, deliver a robust, innovative, and science-based education and skills training platform to support professionals in many fields, including health, well-being, education, performance and coaching psychology. Read More


new-star Making the Most of How You Learn Best Course (2011-2014)

The Center for School Success (CSS) developed a distinctive opportunity for students who want to maximize their ability to understand how they learn best. Making the Most of How You Learn Best is a facilitated online course geared for high school and college students. It is intended to guide students through the process of: understanding the scientific reason for why people learn differently; exploring their own unique learning strengths and weaknesses (including health-related bridges and barriers); distinguishing successes and breakdown points in their lives (identifying when and why they occur, and what to do about it); and initiating changes in their approach to tasks which support school success and life-long learning. The knowledge students gain through this course will help them to be more adaptive so they can work smarter, not harder, across various learning situations.

CSS piloted this course 2013-2014 with 100 NH/VT high school and college students, thanks in part to generous funders and partnerships with Plymouth State University and local school districts. CSS also developed and delivered a facilitator training to scale the project. Avenues to continue offering this course are in process.


new-star Upper Valley at Work (2008-2011)  

CSS partnered with New Hampshire Charitable Foundation-Upper Valley Region, Upper Valley Business and Education Partnership (UVBEP), Upper Valley United Way (UVUW) and Vermont Community Foundation to create a profile series, Upper Valley At Work.  The series highlighted people in the Upper Valley who purposefully use their unique combination of strengths and talents to better their lives and their communities. The Upper Valley at Work series was intended to give young people an awareness of how their own distinctive combination of strengths, interests and talents could lead them to find meaningful employment in this region. It continues to be a part of the Upper Valley and Business Education Partnership’s educational offerings for area schools. Read more.


new-star Other Courses and School-Based Consulting (2003-present)

CSS has created a number of other courses to support the varying needs of educators and regularly consults with schools on one time and long-term projects. One course, Student Support Teams That Work, provides training for a school-based child/educational support team.  The team engages in critical examination and upgrading of its school’s referral systems and processes in order to ensure that the needs of all students referred for support are efficiently and effectively identified.  The team learns to use protocols to promote efficiency, ensure effectiveness and provide ongoing feedback/learning for the team and referring teacher. Read a case study. This CSS training also provides the whole school with an appreciation for the variety of ways students learn, and ultimately improves teachers’ ability to address problems with appropriate strategies that can be put into practice immediately.



Research Projects

 new-star Rx for School Success (2015-present)

CSS and Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital (a community-based hospital) in Lebanon, NH initiated Rx for School Success, a project to proactively address the health and learning needs of school-aged children (ages 9-18). The project includes the development of a screening tool, training for clinicians on how to use the tool and interpret the findings, and a team intervention delivery model that involves collaboration among all the key stakeholders (student, family, educators, physician/clinician) who can support a student’s academic achievement. The project is currently in operation and running as a pilot (July 2016-June 2017). Read more  or watch an April, 2017 presentation on the Impact of Learning on Health.


new-star PROMIS (Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System) (2008-2011)

The Center for School Success, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the International Mind, Brain, Health and Education Initiative (IMBEHI) joined in collaboration to address proactively the factors that affect children’s health and school performance.

Project Pediatric PROMIS is funded by the National Institutes of Health with a focus on improving the conceptualization and measurement of children’s health, well-being, and learning outcomes. The project involves development of valid, useful, and efficient tools for the measurement of children’s academic and health-related strengths and weaknesses. Once the tools are fully developed, they will be made publicly available and could be used by researchers, clinicians and educators to identify children who are at risk for future health and learning challenges, even if those problems are not currently evident. Many school districts across the country are working with the PROMIS network to improve the assessment of children’s health and learning. In doing so, they are gaining valuable insight into the concept of health as being more than “the absence of disease” and further how health affects their students’ learning and school performance.

CSS was involved with this project in several ways. CSS coordinated the effort to recruit 1500+ students from NH/VT schools. At the same time, CSS developed a pilot bank of questions regarding children’s self-report of skills that impact essential school tasks (e.g., comprehension, verbal ability, problem solving, work regulation and production). More specifically, this bank of questions measure: key neurodevelopmental skills; students’ academic efficacy belief; and related strategies. With the inclusion of this pilot domain, CHOP intended to explore the extent to which children’s ability to accurately report their perceived school-related skills/strategies is contingent upon a “profile” that includes certain predictors that have been linked to learning and achievement. CSS has used the findings to inform its Rx for School Success screening tool.


new-star CSS Learning Assessment Trends

The Center for School Success conducted transdisciplinary neurodevelopmental learning assessments from 2003-2012. The assessment included a developmental pediatrician, clinical psychologist, learning specialist and family liaison.

A review of CSS learning assessment outcomes has uncovered some noteworthy learning “trends” that impact academic achievement for students in specific grades and school populations. This information has been gathered from over 200 learning assessments conducted by CSS clinicians, as well as the work of CSS professional development staff in schools throughout New England.

These trends have significant implications for both teaching and learning. For example, 90% of students seen at CSS for a learning assessment have graphomotor weaknesses. Graphomotor skill refers to the brain’s ability to coordinate signals with the small muscles at the ends of the fingers to form letters while writing. When this weakness is combined with active-working memory difficulties (the ability to juggling multiple components of a task simultaneously as is required in the writing process or when calculating multi-step math problems) and aspects of attention (being able to discriminate between important and unimportant information, sustaining focus), students’ ability to show the extent of their knowledge in written form is greatly affected.

Students who came to CSS for an neurodevelopmental learning assessment (2003-2013) presented with a unique array of strengths and almost all of the students possess excellent higher thinking skills (e.g., problem solving, critical thinking, creativity). Yet, despite the fact that CSS identified strengths in higher order thinking for these students, not all of them were successfully demonstrating this ability in the classroom. In fact, nearly 70% of these same students also shared the combination of learning weaknesses described above (handwriting, memory and attention weaknesses) which CSS can attribute directly to the cause of their academic struggles.

The trends identified by CSS, in conjunction with a rigorous literature review, have informed the development of a survey of learning skills and experiences that was recently used in a National Institutes of Health survey project, led by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Watch a video describing the CSS transdisciplinary learning assessment model