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 Pub Number  Title  Date
NCEE 20164004 Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After Three Years
The Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), now named the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program, provides grants to support performance-based compensation systems for teachers and principals in high-need schools. The study measures the impact of pay-for-performance bonuses as part of a comprehensive compensation system within a large, multisite random assignment study design. The treatment schools were to fully implement their performance-based compensation system. The control schools were to implement the same performance-based compensation system with one exception—the pay-for-performance bonus component was replaced with a one percent bonus paid to all educators regardless of performance. The report provides implementation and impact information after three years. Implementation was similar across the three years, with most districts (88 percent) implementing at least 3 of the 4 required components for teachers. In a subset of 10 districts participating in the random assignment study, educators' understanding of performance measures continued to improve during the third year, but many teachers still did not understand that they were eligible for a bonus. They also underestimated the maximum amount they could earn. The pay-for-performance bonus policy had small, positive impacts on students' reading and math achievement.
8/24/2016
REL 2016165 Guide to the Competency-based Learning Survey for Students
Many states are beginning to move away from policies that base student advancement on credits and "seat time" toward competency-based learning policies that provide schools with the flexibility to link advancement to a student's mastery of content. As schools and districts implement these changes, information about students' exposure to and understanding of competency-based learning policies and practices can help identify areas of improvement for implementation and communication with students. However, few tools exist for systematically collecting this information. In response to this need, the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands worked with practitioners and researchers to develop a new survey—the Competency-Based Learning Survey for Students. Designed to be administered to students attending high schools in which competency-based learning is being implemented, the survey collects information regarding students' beliefs about, understanding of, and exposure to key elements of competency-based learning. This report describes (1) why the survey was developed, (2) elements of competency-based learning addressed by the survey, (3) how to adapt and administer the survey, and (4) how to analyze the results. The report includes the complete survey instrument.
8/24/2016
REL 2016171 Stated Briefly: Reshaping rural schools in the Northwest Region: Lessons from federal School Improvement Grant implementation
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. This study examines implementation of the School Improvement Grant (SIG) transformation model in rural regions, exploring challenges in implementation and technical assistance to support these efforts. This study is not part of the federal evaluation of the SIG, which provides more comprehensive information about SIG schools. Leaders participating in research alliances with REL Northwest and other regional stakeholders requested this study to learn more about how implementation of the SIG transformation model has played out in rural schools across the nation.

Researchers used data from the first cohort of the U.S. Department of Education's SIG baseline database to administer a survey addressing four research questions: 1) How did principals of rural SIG transformation schools rate their school's implementation of the requirements of the transformation model?; 2) To what extent do principals report challenges to implementation of the transformation model?; 3) To what extent do principals report their school received technical assistance for the implementation of the transformation model?; and 4) To what extent are principals' reports of challenges and technical assistance related to implementation? The survey was sent to all cohort 1 SIG principals of rural schools using the transformation model—a group that represented 42 states and Bureau of Indian Education schools. The final sample size was 135 principals (67 percent of the 201 schools where staff members who worked under SIG were still present). All surveyed principals worked in schools that were similar in size and student characteristics to the total sample.

Principal responses highlight challenges in both implementation and technical assistance. The results confirm previous research, by finding that certain elements of the transformation model are challenging for rural schools to implement—particularly, those related to ensuring high-quality staff and family and community engagement. The study also finds that principals are more likely to implement strategies for which they receive technical assistance; at the same time, they implement fewer strategies that present challenges. This suggests that rural schools working on improvement strategies need help beyond just grant funding.
8/23/2016
REL 2016161 Retention, attrition, and mobility among teachers and administrators in West Virginia
Due to increasing evidence that high rates of teacher and administrator turnover adversely affect student academic outcomes, stakeholders in West Virginia were interested in learning more about retention, mobility, and attrition rates in their public school districts. The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia partnered with the West Virginia School Leadership Research Alliance to conduct a descriptive study examining the average rates of retention, attrition, and mobility for teachers and administrators in West Virginia public school districts for the academic years 2008/09–2012/13. The findings describe the average rates in these three areas for teachers and administrators across all West Virginia public school districts, as well as how these rates varied by personnel and district characteristics. On average, about 90 percent of both teachers and administrators stayed in the same West Virginia public school district from one year to the next. Retention rates were lower for teachers and administrators with fewer than 4 or more than 15 years of experience, for those with doctoral degrees, and for those earning the highest salaries. Average rates of retention, mobility, and attrition varied by school district, but rates for administrators varied more than for teachers. Both teacher and administrator attrition rates were higher in districts with greater percentages of students who were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Administrator attrition rates were higher in rural and town districts, in districts with enrollments between approximately 2,000–4,000 students, in districts with lower percentages of racial/ethnic minority students, and in districts serving fewer limited English proficient students. Average mobility rates were less than 3 percent for teachers and less than 6 percent for administrators, suggesting that teachers and administrators are leaving the system rather than moving to different West Virginia school districts. Attrition rates were highest for beginning teachers—those who were initially employed in the West Virginia public school system during one of the academic years examined (2008/09–2012/13). About a fifth of beginning teachers left after their first year of teaching, and nearly a third had left by the end of their fourth year. These findings contribute to the sparse literature on teacher and administrator retention, attrition, and mobility in West Virginia, indicating that the workforce is largely stable. This study also provides information that can be used to inform state and district policy initiatives that aim to improve teacher and administrator retention in school districts serving specific student populations, such as those with the highest proportions of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. At the state level, the information could be used to inform the development of policies aimed at improving retention of beginning teachers.
8/23/2016
REL 2016218 Self-study guide for implementing high school academic interventions
This Self-study Guide for Implementing High School Academic Interventions was developed to help district- and school-based practitioners plan and implement high school academic interventions. It is intended to promote reflection about current district and school strengths and challenges in planning for implementation of high school academic interventions, spark conversations among staff, and identify areas for improvement. The guide provides a template for data collection and guiding questions for discussion that may improve the implementation of high school academic interventions and decrease the number of students failing to graduate from high school on time.
8/23/2016
REL 2016140 "Double-dosing" in math in North Carolina public schools
Double-dosing expands time for students to learn mathematics by having them participate in two (or occasionally more) mathematics classes during the regular school day in a given school year. Although the practice can take different forms and be used for different grade levels, most research on double-dosing has focused on students who need preparation to make the transition to Algebra I or similar rigorous high school mathematics classes—typically, grade 8 or grade 9 students. This study provides a more complete picture of the prevalence of double-dosing in mathematics in one state for the most recent year data were available: North Carolina in 2011/12. In addition to describing the prevalence of double-dosing in mathematics, the study reports the extent of its use for remediation, grade-level maintenance, and enrichment. The report also compares schools that offer double-dosing in mathematics with those that do not and examines the various characteristics of students enrolled in double-dosing.
8/3/2016
REL 2016164 Survey methods for educators: Analysis and reporting of survey data (part 3 of 3)
Educators at the state and local levels are increasingly using data to inform policy decisions. While student achievement data is often used to inform instructional or programmatic decisions, educators may also need additional sources of data, some of which may not be housed in their existing data systems. Creating and administering surveys is one way to collect such data. However, documentation available to educators about administering surveys may provide insufficient guidance about sampling or analysis approaches. Furthermore, some educators may not have training or experience in survey methods. In response to this need, REL Northeast & Islands created a series of three complementary guides that provide an overview of the survey research process designed for educators. The guides describe (1) survey development, (2) sampling respondents and survey administration, and (3) analysis and reporting of survey data.

Part three of this series, "Analysis and Reporting of Survey Data," outlines the following steps, drawn from the research literature:

1. Review the analysis plan
2. Prepare and check data files
3. Calculate response rates
4. Calculate summary statistics
5. Present the results in tables or figures
The guide provides detailed, real-world examples of how these steps have been used in a REL research alliance project. With this guide, educators will be able to analyze and report their own survey data.
8/2/2016
REL 2016160 Survey methods for educators: Selecting samples and administering surveys (part 2 of 3)
Educators at the state and local levels are increasingly using data to inform policy decisions. While student achievement data is often used to inform instructional or programmatic decisions, educators may also need additional sources of data, some of which may not be housed in their existing data systems. Creating and administering surveys is one way to collect such data. However, documentation available to educators about administering surveys may provide insufficient guidance about sampling or analysis approaches. Furthermore, some educators may not have training or experience in survey methods. In response to this need, REL Northeast & Islands created a series of three complementary guides that provide an overview of the survey research process designed for educators. The guides describe (1) survey development, (2) sampling respondents and survey administration, and (3) analysis and reporting of survey data.

Part two of this series, "Sampling Respondents and Survey Administration," outlines the following steps, drawn from the research literature:

1. Define the population
2. Specify the sampling procedure
3. Determine the sample size
4. Select the sample
5. Administer the survey
The guide provides detailed, real-world examples of how these steps have been used in a REL research alliance project. With this guide, educators will be able to develop their own sampling and survey administration plans.
8/2/2016
REL 2016163 Survey methods for educators: Collaborative survey development (part 1 of 3)
Educators at the state and local levels are increasingly using data to inform policy decisions. While student achievement data is often used to inform instructional or programmatic decisions, educators may also need additional sources of data, some of which may not be housed in their existing data systems. Creating and administering surveys is one way to collect such data. However, documentation available to educators about administering surveys may provide insufficient guidance about the survey development process. Furthermore, some educators may not have training or experience in survey methods. In response to this need, REL Northeast & Islands created a series of three complementary guides that provide an overview of the survey research process designed for educators. The guides describe (1) survey development, (2) sampling respondents and survey administration, and (3) analysis and reporting of survey data.

Part one of this series, "Collaborative Survey Development," outlines the following steps, drawn from the research literature:
1. Identify topics of interest
2. Identify relevant, existing survey items
3. Draft new survey items and adapt existing survey items
4. Review draft survey items with stakeholders and content experts
5. Refine the draft survey using cognitive interviewing

The guide provides detailed, real-world examples of how these steps have been used in REL research alliance projects. With this guide, educators will be able to develop their own surveys in collaboration with other practitioners, researchers, and content experts.
8/2/2016
NCEE 20164007 Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Features of Schools in DC
The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), established in 2004, is the only federally-funded private school voucher program for low-income parents in the United States. This evaluation brief is based on a 2014 survey of Washington DC school principals and compares features of DC traditional public schools, charter schools, and those private schools that participate in the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). Findings suggest public school principals, compared to OSP private school principals, viewed their schools less favorably in areas such as academic climate, teachers' instructional skills, and school safety. However, public school principals reported students spent more time receiving math and reading instruction than did private school principals.
8/2/2016
REL 2016170 Stated Briefly: Exploring the foundations of the future STEM workforce: K-12 indicators of postsecondary STEM success
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. The purpose of this study was to review recent peer-reviewed studies in order to identify malleable factors measured in K-12 settings that are related to students' postsecondary STEM success, particularly for Hispanic students. Postsecondary STEM success was defined as enrollment in, persistence in, and completion of postsecondary STEM majors or degrees. Twenty-three relevant studies were identified, yet only 4 examined K-12 factors predictive of postsecondary STEM success specifically for Hispanic students. The review found that the number of high school mathematics and science courses taken, and the level of those courses is a consistent predictor of postsecondary STEM outcomes for all student subgroups. However, the literature indicates that minority students, including Hispanics, were less likely to take the highest-level mathematics and science courses. Students' interest and confidence in STEM at the K-12 levels was also predictive of postsecondary STEM success. Yet, despite lower levels of postsecondary STEM success, some studies indicate racial/ethnic minority and White students had similar levels of interest and confidence in STEM. The reviewed research suggests that reducing disparities in mathematics and science preparation between Hispanic and White students and increasing the rates at which Hispanic students take high-level mathematics and science classes has promise for informing interventions designed to improve STEM outcomes.
7/28/2016
WWC IRPS661 Summer Bridge Programs
Summer bridge programs are designed to ease the transition to college and support postsecondary success by focusing on the academic skills and social resources needed to succeed in college. These programs occur in the summer "bridge" period between high school and college and typically last 2-4 weeks. The content of summer bridge programs can vary across institutions and by the population served. They often include an in-depth orientation to college life and resources, academic advising, training in skills necessary for college success, and may include accelerated academic coursework. The WWC reviewed the research on summer bridge programs and found that they have potentially positive effects on attainment for postsecondary students.
7/19/2016
WWC IRPS651 First Year Experience Courses for Students in Developmental Education
First year experience courses are designed to support the academic performance, social development, persistence, and degree completion of college students. They are also known as college success courses or freshman seminars and topics commonly discussed include study skills, campus resources, time management, career exploration, campus policies, and academic advising. The WWC reviewed the research on first year experience courses and found that they have potentially positive effects on academic achievement, degree attainment, and credit accumulation for postsecondary students.
7/19/2016
REL 2016157 Stated Briefly An analysis of student engagement patterns and online course outcomes in Wisconsin
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. The purpose of the study was to identify distinct patterns—or trajectories—of students' engagement within their online courses over time and examine whether these patterns were associated with their academic outcomes in the online course. The study used data collected by Wisconsin Virtual School's learning management system and student information system, including 1,512 student enrollments in 109 online elective, core, and Advanced Placement high school courses. Group-based trajectory modeling was employed to estimate the number and shapes of engagement patterns evident in the sample, and hierarchical linear modeling assessed the associations between engagement group membership and course outcomes, controlling for demographic characteristics. Analyses revealed six distinct patterns of student engagement in online courses. Students with relatively low but steady engagement had better outcomes than students with similar initial engagement that diminished throughout the course. Overall, students engaging two or more hours per week had better online course outcomes than students who engaged less than two hours per week.
7/6/2016
REL 2016147 An analysis of student engagement patterns and online course outcomes in Wisconsin
Student enrollment in online courses has increased over the past 15 years and continues to grow. However, there is much that is not known about students' educational experiences and outcomes in online courses. The purpose of the study conducted by REL Midwest in partnership with the Virtual Education Research Alliance was to identify distinct patterns—or trajectories—of students' engagement within their online courses over time and examine whether these patterns were associated with their academic outcomes in the online course. The study used data collected by Wisconsin Virtual School's learning management system and student information system, including 1,512 student enrollments in 109 online elective, core, and Advanced Placement high school courses. Group-based trajectory modeling was employed to estimate the number and shapes of engagement patterns evident in the sample, and hierarchical linear modeling assessed the associations between engagement group membership and course outcomes, controlling for demographic characteristics. Analyses revealed six distinct patterns of student engagement in online courses: Initial 1.5 Hours with Decrease, Steady 1.5 Hours, Initial 2 Hours with Spike, Steady 2.5 Hours, 4+ Hours, and 6+ Hours. Students with relatively low but steady engagement had better outcomes than students with similar initial engagement that diminished throughout the course. Overall, students engaging two or more hours per week had better online course outcomes than students who engaged less than two hours per week. Wisconsin Virtual School directors and directors of other online learning programs can use information from this study to consider the supports they implement to help students successfully complete their courses, especially students who display engagement patterns that are associated with poorer course outcomes. Other online learning programs across the country can use the results of this project as a framework for investigating the data they have available in their learning management systems and student information systems.
7/6/2016
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