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 Pub Number  Title  Date
NCEE 2016002 Can student test scores provide useful measures of school principals' performance?
This study assessed the extent to which four principal performance measures based on student test scores--average achievement, school value-added, adjusted average achievement, and adjusted school value-added--accurately reflect principals' contributions to student achievement in future years. Average achievement used information on students' end-of-year achievement without taking into account the students' past achievement; school value-added accounted for students' own past achievement by measuring their growth; and adjusted average achievement and adjusted school value-added credited principals if their schools' average achievement and value-added, respectively, exceeded predictions based on the schools' past performance on those same measures. The study conducted two sets of analyses using Pennsylvania's statewide data on students and principals from 2007/08 to 2013/14. First, using data on 2,424 principals, the study assessed the extent to which ratings from each measure are stable by examining the association between principals' ratings from earlier and later years. Second, using data on 123 principals, the study examined the relationship between the stable part of each principal's rating and his or her contributions to student achievement in future years. Based on results from both analyses, the study simulated each measure's accuracy for predicting principals' contributions to student achievement in the following year. The study found that the two performance measures that did not account for students' past achievement--average achievement and adjusted average achievement--provided no information for predicting principals' contributions to student achievement in the following year. The two performance measures that accounted for students' past achievement--school value-added and adjusted school value-added--provided, at most, a small amount of information for predicting principals' contributions in the following year, with less than one-third of each difference in value-added ratings across principals reflecting differences in their future contributions. These findings suggest that principal evaluation systems should emphasize measures that were found to provide at least some information about principals' future contributions: school value-added or adjusted school value-added. However, study findings also indicate that even the value-added measures will often be inaccurate in identifying principals who will contribute effectively or ineffectively to student achievement in future years. Therefore, states and districts should exercise caution when using these measures to make major decisions about principals and seek to identify nontest measures that can accurately predict principals' future contributions.
9/29/2016
NCEE 20164010 Focusing on Mathematical Knowledge: The Impact of Content-Intensive Teacher Professional Development
A popular strategy for improving student achievement in math is to provide teachers with professional development (PD) that deepens their conceptual understanding of math. This report examines the effectiveness of such a PD program. The PD program included an 80-hour summer workshop (Intel Math) that focused on grades K-8 math, as well as 13 additional hours of collaborative meetings focused on analyzing student work and one-on-one coaching based on observations of teachers' lessons. More than 200 4th-grade teachers from six districts in five states were randomly assigned to either a treatment group that received the study PD or a control group that did not. The study PD had a positive impact on teachers' math knowledge and on their use and quality of mathematical explanations in class. However, the study PD did not have a positive impact on student achievement.
9/28/2016
REL 2016121 How current teachers in the Republic of Palau performed on a practice teacher certification examination
The purpose of this study was to examine teachers' performance on the Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Tests® (PPST) in reading, writing, and math, and the relationships between test performance and selected teacher demographic and professional characteristics, in order to further the development and implementation of Palau's Professional Personnel and Certification System. The multiple choice sections of the practice Praxis I PPST tests of reading, writing, and math were administered and analyzed using descriptive statistics, along with cross-tabulations of test performance by teacher characteristics. Overall, the study found that while scores across subject areas were relatively low, teachers in Palau scored higher in reading than in writing and math. The performance of Palau test takers differed depending upon the language spoken in the home, English proficiency, level of education, years of teaching, and grade levels taught. In addition, respondents with better command of English performed better on the assessment. Level of education attained was significantly associated with a higher percentage of correct responses, and teachers with less than seven years of teaching experience answered slightly more questions correctly in reading, writing, and math than teachers with more years of teaching experience. Finally, teachers at the upper elementary and high school levels performed better on the assessments than teachers at the lower elementary level. The results of this study provide the Palau Research Alliance and Ministry of Education with information that may help establish appropriate passing scores on the Praxis PPST I reading, writing, and math subtests; may be used to create a multiyear plan of sustained improvement in the teacher workforce; may alert Palau leadership to the difficulties inherent in using English-based tests to assess the performance of those who do not have a strong command of the English language; and may be used to guide preservice curricular requirements and indicate the supporting professional development needs of Palau teachers at various grade levels.
9/28/2016
WWC SSR81036 WWC Review of "A randomized control trial of a statewide voluntary prekindergarten program on children’s skills and behaviors through third grade (Research report)."
For the 2015 study, "A Randomized Control Trial of a Statewide Voluntary Prekindergarten Program on Children's Skills and Behaviors Through Third Grade," researchers used a quasi-experimental design to compare outcomes for children based on whether they had attended at least 20 days of the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program, a public full-day program for 4-year-old children operated by participating school districts. They found positive impacts for participating students by the start of kindergarten, including higher test scores on outcomes related to cognition, mathematics, alphabetics, and comprehension and better work-related skills and social behavior. However, they found negative impacts on some math outcomes (quantitative concepts and applied problems) at the end of second and third grade. The researchers demonstrated baseline equivalence of the intervention and comparison groups in these analyses, and therefore, the study meets WWC group design standards with reservations.
9/27/2016
REL 2016224 Self-study guide for implementing literacy interventions in Grades 3-8
The Grades 3–8 Self-Study Guide for Implementing Literacy Interventions was developed to help district- and school-based practitioners conduct self-studies for planning and implementing literacy interventions. It is intended to promote reflection about current strengths and challenges in planning for implementation of literacy interventions, spark conversations among staff, and identify areas for improvement. This guide provides a template for data collection and guiding questions for discussion that may improve the implementation of literacy interventions.
9/22/2016
REL 2016180 Predicting math outcomes from a reading screening assessment in grades 3–8
District and state education leaders and teachers frequently use assessments to identify students who are at risk of performing poorly on end-of-year reading achievement tests. This study explores the use of a universal screening assessment of reading skills for the identification of students who are at risk for low achievement in mathematics and provides support for the interpretation of screening scores to inform instruction. The study results demonstrate that a reading screening assessment predicted poor performance on a mathematics outcome (the Stanford Achievement Test) with similar levels of accuracy as screening assessments that specifically measure mathematics skills. These findings indicate that a school district could use an assessment of reading skills to screen for risk in both reading and mathematics, potentially reducing costs and testing time. In addition, this document provides a decision tree framework to support implementation of screening practices and interpretation by teachers.
9/21/2016
REL 2016153 Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and the Community as Partners in Education Part 4: Engaging all in data conversations
The Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and Community as Partners in Education provides resources for school staff to build relationships with families and community members and to support family well-being, strong parent-child relationships, and students' ongoing learning and development. Originally developed for the Guam Alliance for Family and Community Engagement in Education, the Toolkit is based on information from a variety of sources that address engagement in diverse communities. Part 4 of the toolkit provides tools and activities to help school staff understand what data is important to share with families and community members and how to share such data. Part 4 is divided into two sections: determining what student data are important to share with families and community members and presenting student data in meaningful ways. Each section includes an introduction, summary of key points and related research, and activities that can be used with school staff. The activities in Part 4 help staff simplify data language, investigate data available to them, identify data to share with families, and learn strategies for sharing data with parents and community members.
9/20/2016
REL 2016152 Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and the Community as Partners in Education Part 3: Building trusting relationships with families and the community through effective communication
The Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and Community as Partners in Education provides resources for school staff to build relationships with families and community members and to support family well-being, strong parent-child relationships, and students' ongoing learning and development. Originally developed for the Guam Alliance for Family and Community Engagement in Education, the Toolkit is based on information from a variety of sources that address engagement in diverse communities. Part 3 of the toolkit focuses on cross-cultural and two-way communication as a strategy for enhancing family and community engagement. Part 3 is divided into two sections: cross-cultural communication in a school community and preparing staff for two-way communication with families. Each section includes an introduction, summary of key points and related research, and activities that can be used with school staff. Part 3 includes a tool that assists educators in examining their current use of cross-cultural communication and in planning improvements. Other Part 3 activities guide educators in discussions about effective communication strategies and ideas for listening to parents.
9/20/2016
REL 2016151 Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and the Community as Partners in Education Part 2: Building a cultural bridge
The Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and Community as Partners in Education provides resources for school staff to build relationships with families and community members and to support family well-being, strong parent-child relationships, and students’ ongoing learning and development. Originally developed for the Guam Alliance for Family and Community Engagement in Education, the Toolkit is based on information from a variety of sources that address engagement in diverse communities. Part 2 of the toolkit provides tools and activities to utilize the strengths of families and community members, and to help families establish active roles within the school community in support of student learning. Part 2 is divided into two sections: tapping into the strengths of families and communities and establishing roles for building family and community engagement. Each section includes an introduction, summary of key points and related research, and activities that can be used with family and community members. The activities emphasize a strengths-based approach and are designed to help school staff and family members establish positive roles within a partnership working toward co-constructed goals for student success.
9/20/2016
REL 2016148 Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and the Community as Partners in Education Part 1: Building an understanding of family and community engagement
The Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and Community as Partners in Education provides resources for school staff to build relationships with families and community members and to support family well-being, strong parent-child relationships, and students' ongoing learning and development. Originally developed for the Guam Alliance for Family and Community Engagement in Education, the Toolkit is based on information from a variety of sources that address engagement in diverse communities. Part 1 of the toolkit provides tools and activities to build awareness among educators about how their beliefs and assumptions influence their interactions with families. The activities also address how demographic characteristics of the families can provide information to educators about what might support or hinder family engagement with schools. Part 1 is divided into four sections: reflecting on beliefs and assumptions, getting to know your families, understanding the influence of cultural lenses, and acknowledging cultural differences. Each section includes an introduction, summary of key points and related research, and a series of activities that can be used with school staff and community members. The activities are designed to guide discussions about the influence of culture on individual beliefs, assumptions, and efforts to engage others in support of student learning.
9/20/2016
REL 2016227 Professional learning communities facilitator's guide for the What Works Clearinghouse practice guide: Foundational skills to support reading for understanding in kindergarten through 3rd grade
The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southeast developed a Professional Learning Community (PLC) Facilitators Guide to support educators in the implementation of recommendations from the What Works Clearinghouse's Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade Practice Guide. The practice guide focuses on the foundational reading skills that enable students to read words, relate those words to their oral language, and read connected text with sufficient accuracy and fluency to understand what they read. The practice guide, developed by a panel of experts comprised of researchers and practitioners, presents four recommendations that educators can use to improve literacy skills in the early grades.

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are a form of professional development in which small groups of educators with shared interests work together with the goals of expanding their knowledge and improving their craft. REL Southeast developed PLC materials focused on the practice guide that were designed to assist a literacy leader in guiding a professional learning community in applying the recommendations from the practice guide. The materials include a facilitator's guide, participant activities, and videos. The facilitator's guide includes a framework for facilitators to conduct each of the ten PLC sessions. It also includes participant activities, discussion questions, small- and whole-group activities, and implementation and reflection activities. The participant's activities include reflection questions, lesson plan examples and templates, video-viewing guides, and sharing opportunities. The videos illustrate practices presented in the foundational reading skills practice guide.
9/20/2016
WWC IRTFA663 Teach For America Intervention Report
Teach For America (TFA) is a program that places new teachers in schools in low-income communities. The WWC reviewed the research on teachers trained through TFA and their impacts on the academic achievement of students in grades pre-K-12, and found that TFA teachers have positive effects on mathematics achievement, potentially positive effects on science achievement, and no discernible effects on social studies achievement and English language arts achievement.
9/14/2016
REL 2016162 How to use the School Survey of Practices Associated with High Performance
Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest, in partnership with its School Turnaround Research Alliance, developed a survey that state education departments and school districts can use to measure the degree to which schools are engaging in practices associated with high performance. An extensive literature review was conducted to determine key domains of practices and policies (for example, effective leadership, curriculum, professional development, positive school culture, data practices) in which high-performing schools engage, and a search was conducted to assess existing surveys that measured similar key dimensions and supporting constructs. The psychometric validation of the survey was completed using classical test theory and item response theory analyses. The guide includes information regarding ways that principals and educators can use the survey, as well as the development of the survey and its psychometric validation. Educators can utilize the survey to identify and describe practices associated with high performance, compare practices across subgroups of schools, target schools for specific interventions, and design interventions to improve school performance.
9/8/2016
REL 2016169 A guide to developing and evaluating a college readiness screener
This guide describes core ideas for colleges to consider when developing a screening tool for estimating college readiness. A key focal point within the guide is a discussion of ways to improve how well a screening tool can identify individuals needing remedial or developmental education along with key considerations that a user or developer of such a tool must address. Specifically, the following steps are discussed:
1.Creating an operational definition of success and college readiness
2.Selecting potential predictors of college readiness
3.Prioritizing types of classification error
4.Collecting and organizing the necessary data
5.Developing predictive models
6.Evaluating the screening results and selecting the final model
9/7/2016
REL 2016184 Stated Briefly: Ramping up to college readiness in Minnesota high schools: Implementation of a schoolwide program
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. This study examined whether the Ramp-Up to Readiness program (Ramp-Up) differs from college readiness supports that are typically offered by high schools, whether high schools were able to implement Ramp-Up to Readiness to the developer's satisfaction, and how staff in schools implementing Ramp-Up to Readiness perceive the program. The researchers conducted interviews and focus groups with staff in two groups of schools: (1) a group of 10 schools that were in the first year of implementation of Ramp-Up to Readiness, and (2) a group of 10 other schools that were not implementing the program. The researchers also administered surveys to staff employed by these 20 schools as well as to students in grades 10-12 in these schools. Through these data collection efforts, the researchers obtained information on the types of college readiness programming and supports in the two types of schools, students' perceptions of college-focused staff-student interactions, schools' success at implementing Ramp-Up to Readiness’ core components and sub-components, and the opinions of staff in implementing schools about the program. Compared with non-Ramp-Up schools, those implementing Ramp-Up offered more college-oriented structural supports, professional development, and student-staff interactions. Ramp-Up schools also made greater use of postsecondary planning tools. Students in Ramp-Up schools perceived more emphasis on four of five dimensions of college readiness than students in comparison schools. Ramp-Up schools met the program developer’s threshold for adequate implementation on four of five program components (structural supports, professional development, curriculum delivery, and curriculum content). However only 2 of the 10 schools met the developer’s adequacy threshold for the other component (use of postsecondary planning tools). Staff at Ramp-Up schools generally had favorable perceptions of the program. Schools that implement Ramp-Up were able to offer deeper college readiness support to more students than comparison schools. Schools that adopt Ramp-Up can implement the program as intended by the program developer, but some program components are more challenging to implement than others. Additional studies should be performed to examine whether implementation improves after a second year of implementation and whether Ramp-Up improves the likelihood that students will enroll and succeed in college.
9/6/2016
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