Executive Function News ResearchILD

SMARTS: 2022 in Review

Providing students with the strategies and tools they need for academic and life success is at the heart of our mission.

The SMARTS curriculum was developed by ResearchILD, and our impact over this past year reflects teachers’ increased understanding that executive function strategies are critical for helping students to navigate the academic and social challenges of school.

By the numbers

226,875 students have received executive function strategy instruction via SMARTS.

14,025 educators have attended our conferences, trainings, and workshops.

6,075 teachers have used the SMARTS curriculum in their classrooms.

2,082 schools in 47 states and 28 countries have participated in our programs.

82% growth in SMARTS licenses from 2021 to 2022.

Educators in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and 28 countries have implemented SMARTS and/or participated in our conferences and workshops.

2022 Accomplishments

  • Addressing executive function needs through an equity lens
    In 2022, the EF and Equity Fellowship brought together educators to explore how schools are addressing students’ executive function needs through an equity lens. Each month we examined how educators can use executive function as a transformative tool for building differentiated, inclusive instruction and developing community-based practices. Areas of focus for the current academic year include implicit bias and social-emotional learning.
  • MetaCOG Surveys & Toolkit
    After launching the Strategy Use Survey in January, we began developing the online version of the Motivation and Effort (ME) Survey. In numerous pilots, educators shared feedback to shape the final version. 2022 marked the second year of the SMARTS Student Ambassador Program, a student focus group designed to ensure our materials accurately reflect students’ lives. The ME Survey is targeted for release in January 2023 as part of the MetaCOG Surveys & Toolkit.
  • Conferences and trainings reach a worldwide audience
    Our 37th annual Executive Function Conference explored the intersection between executive function and social-emotional learning. The conference brought together 20+ experts in the fields of executive function, ADHD, social-emotional learning, and education with a virtual audience from 7 countries and 28 states across the US. We also offered free webinars that introduced educators to the fundamentals of executive function, and in-depth training that took educators on a deeper dive into executive function.

Get ready for 2023!

We are looking forward to 2023 and are excited about implementing our new initiatives and transforming the lives of more students so that they can learn how to learn. Read the full impact report here.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

Build Your Executive Function Toolkit in 2023

Are you interested in building your Executive Function Toolkit? Join us in February and March to hear from EF experts on topics such as executive function and social-emotional learning, organizing time and materials, UDL, and goal setting. Learn more and register today

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum:

Research Institute for Learning and Development:

Executive Function Recommendations ResearchILD

Interviewing an EF Expert, Part 1

Top Tier Admissions(link opens in new tab/window), a company devoted to empowering students from around the world in the college and graduate school admissions process, recently interviewed ResearchILD’s very own Shelly Levy*, M.Ed., M.S., who is a leader in the field of learning development. Shelly’s interview is a rich resource on executive function, and we will be diving into pieces of it here on the SMARTS blog over the next few weeks.

What is executive function and how does it impact learning?

Shelly’s response: If you Google the term “executive function,” you might notice that EF is a hot topic. There are a lot of resources and definitions out there, with doctors, neuroscientists, researchers, psychologists, teachers, and parents all claiming that they have the official definition of EF and the best approach. Some researchers claim that there is only one executive function process while others say there are up to 39 executive function processes!

It can be quite difficult to define executive function (EF), and this has a considerable impact on students who struggle with executive function, and especially those who learn differently.

The concept of executive function is interdisciplinary in nature; it is influenced by neuroscience, psychology, and education, and each field has interpreted and explained executive function differently. In addition, various components of executive function often overlap, and this confusion is reflected in the varying definitions of executive function offered by leading researchers in these fields.

Defining executive function the SMARTS way

When it comes to supporting the success of all students, it’s important to use approaches to EF that are clear to everyone. The definition we use as the core of the SMARTS curriculum is based on the work and research of Dr. Lynn Meltzer, who stresses the importance of translating theory and research in a way that is easy to access for practitioners.

Dr. Meltzer defines executive function as a broad term used to describe the complex cognitive processes that are the foundation for flexible, goal-directed behaviors.

Key executive function processes include:

  • Shifting flexibly (cognitive flexibility)
  • Goal setting
  • Organizing and prioritizing
  • Accessing working memory
  • Self-monitoring and self-checking.

Each of these executive function processes plays a crucial role in success, whether in school or in life. When teachers and their students can easily see how these processes are involved in learning, they can create strategies to address them.

Where do you see these processes arise for your students?

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

*Shelly Levy is the Director of SMARTS Training & an Educational Specialist at The Research Institute for Learning and Development in Lexington, MA. She has been in the field of Special Education for over 30 years.

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum:

Research Institute for Learning and Development:

The Institute for Learning and Development: