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|REL 2016138||Summary of research on the association between state interventions in chronically low-performing schools and student achievement
This report presents a summary of research on the associations between state interventions in chronically low-performing schools and student achievement. The majority of the research focused on one type of state intervention: working with a turnaround partner. In this type of intervention, states assign an individual or team to work with a school to identify strengths and weaknesses, develop a school improvement plan, and provide technical assistance as the school implements the plan. In some cases, additional funding is also provided to support implementation of the school improvement efforts. Most of the studies were descriptive, which limits conclusions about the effectiveness of the interventions. Results of studies of turnaround partner interventions were mixed, and suggested that student achievement was more likely to improve when particular factors were in place in schools such as strong leadership, use of data to guide instruction, and a positive school culture characterized by trust and increased expectations for students. Although researchers sought to include research on a variety of state intervention types, few studies were identified that examined other types of interventions such as school closure, charter conversion, and school redesign.
|REL 2016132||Stated Briefly: The utility of teacher and student surveys in principal evaluations: An empirical investigation
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. This study examined whether measures from student and teacher surveys that reflect principals' practice are related to schoolwide academic performance. The study was conducted using data from 2011–12 on 39 elementary and secondary schools within a midsize urban school district in the REL Midwest Region. The research team used the results of the district's Tripod student and teacher surveys to construct six school-level measures of school conditions that prior research has shown to associate with effective school leadership. The study finds that adding the full set of six survey measures as a group results in statistically significant increases in variation explained in mathematics and composite value-added outcomes, but not in reading. A stepwise regression procedure identified two measures—instructional leadership and classroom instructional environment—as an optimal subset of the six measures. This evidence indicates that student and teacher survey measures can have utility for principal performance evaluation.
|REL 2016130||Decision points and considerations for identifying rural districts that have closed student achievement gaps
Rural districts have long faced challenges in closing the achievement gap between high-poverty students and their more affluent peers. This research brief outlines key decision points and considerations for state and district decisionmakers who wish to identify rural districts that have closed academic achievement gaps. Examining these districts’ experiences with organizational and instructional policies and practices may suggest activities associated with making achievement gains and narrowing achievement gaps that can be systematically investigated. Key issues in the process are highlighted by examples from recent work with rural stakeholder groups in Colorado and Nebraska.
|REL 2016124||Can scores on an interim high school reading assessment accurately predict low performance on college readiness exams?
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between measures of reading comprehension, decoding, and language with college-ready performance. This research was motivated by leaders in two Florida school districts interested in the extent to which performance on Florida’s interim reading assessment could be used to identify students who may not perform well on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) and ACT Plan. One of the districts primarily administers the PSAT/NMSQT and the other primarily administers the ACT Plan. Data included the 2013/14 PSAT/NMSQT or ACT Plan results for students in grade 10 from these districts, as well as their grade 9 results on the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading – Florida Standards (FAIR-FS). Classification and regression tree (CART) analyses formed the framework for an early warning system of risk for each PSAT/NMSQT and ACT Plan subject-area assessment. PSAT/NMSQT Critical Reading performance is best predicted in the study sample by a student’s reading comprehension skills, while PSAT/NMSQT Mathematics and Writing performance is best predicted by a student’s syntactic knowledge. Syntactic knowledge is the most important predictor of ACT Plan English, Reading, and Science in the study sample, whereas reading comprehension skills were found to best predict ACT Plan Mathematics results. Sensitivity rates (the percentage of students correctly identified as at risk) ranged from 81 percent to 89 percent correct across all of the CART models. These results provide preliminary evidence that FAIR-FS scores could be used to create an early warning system for performance on both the PSAT/NMSQT and ACT Plan. The potential success of using FAIR-FS scores as an early warning system could enable districts to identify at-risk students without adding additional testing burden, time away from instruction, or additional cost. The analyses should be replicated statewide to verify the stability of the models and the generalizability of the results to the larger Florida student population.
|REL 2016120||Stated Briefly: Teacher evaluation and professional learning: Lessons from early implementation in a large urban district
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. REL Northeast and Islands, in collaboration with the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance, examined the alignment of teacher evaluation and professional learning in a large urban district in the Northeast. REL researchers examined the types of professional learning activities teachers reported they participated in, the alignment of the reported activities with what evaluators prescribed, and whether evaluation ratings improved from one academic year to the next. The study found that teachers received written feedback across all standards of the evaluation rubric. Each prescription tended to include one or two recommended professional activities, and more of these activities were professional practice activities, such as independent work to improve instruction, than professional development activities, such as courses or workshops. Teachers reported participating in more professional activities for the instruction-based standards than for the non-instruction-based standards. For all standards, less than 40 percent of teachers reported participating in the activities their evaluator recommended. While further work may be needed to strengthen the connection between teacher evaluation and a comprehensive system of teacher support and development, this study takes the first step in illustrating the need for coherence among these related systems.
|REL 2016122||A Review of the Literature to Identify Leading Indicators Related to Hispanic STEM Postsecondary Educational Outcomes
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.
|NCEE 20164002||Case Studies of Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants: Final Report
This evaluation report tracks the implementation of School Improvement Grants (SIG) by examining the actions and reactions of 25 SIG schools as they attempt to turn around a history of low performance.
|NCEE 20164003||Applying to the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: How Do Parents Rate Their Children's Current Schools at Time of Application and What Do They Want in New Schools?
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 describes findings using data from more than 2,000 applicants' parents, who applied to the program from spring 2011 to spring 2013 following reauthorization under the Scholarships for Opportunity and Result (SOAR) Act of 2011. The application form asked parents to rate elements of their child's current school with which they were satisfied or dissatisfied and to indicate which elements were top priorities for them when looking for a new school. The ratings provide insights about school-related reasons parents may have had for applying for a voucher and what they were looking for in a new school.
|REL 2016125||How do school districts mentor new teachers?
This report provides a snapshot of school district policies for mentoring new teachers in five REL Central states (Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota). State education agencies collected survey data from school districts on: who provides mentoring; how mentoring time changes after the first year; whether mentors are expected to observe their mentees; whether mentors are required to get training; whether mentors are paid stipends for their work; and district barriers to implementing mentor programs. Respondents from nearly 1,000 school districts, including superintendents and other district administrative leaders, completed the survey. The report also provides suggested next steps for district and state leaders to consider in light of the survey findings and current research.
|REL 2016119||Stated Briefly: How methodology decisions affect the variability of schools identified as beating the odds
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. Schools that show better academic performance than would be expected given characteristics of the school and student populations are often described as "beating the odds" (BTO). State and local education agencies often attempt to identify such schools as a means of identifying strategies or practices that might be contributing to the schools' relative success. Key decisions on how to identify BTO schools may affect whether schools make the BTO list and thereby the identification of practices used to beat the odds. The purpose of this study was to examine how a list of BTO schools might change depending on the methodological choices and selection of indicators used in the BTO identification process. This study considered whether choices of methodologies and type of indicators affect the schools that are identified as BTO. The three indicators were (1) type of performance measure used to compare schools, (2) the types of school characteristics used as controls in selecting BTO schools, and (3) the school sample configuration used to pool schools across grade levels. The study applied statistical models involving the different methodologies and indicators and documented how the lists schools identified as BTO changed based on the models. Public school and student data from one midwest state from 2007-08 through 2010-11 academic years were used to generate BTO school lists. By performing pairwise comparisons among BTO school lists and computing agreement rates among models, the project team was able to gauge the variation in BTO identification results. Results indicate that even when similar specifications were applied across statistical methods, different sets of BTO schools were identified. In addition, for each statistical method used, the lists of BTO schools identified varied with the choice of indicators. Fewer than half of the schools were identified as BTO in more than one year. The results demonstrate that different technical decisions can lead to different identification results.
|REL 2016129||Self-study Guide for Implementing Early Literacy Interventions
The Self-study Guide for Implementing Early Literacy Interventions is a tool to help district and school-based practitioners conduct self-studies for planning and implementing early literacy interventions for kindergarten, grade1 and grade 2 students. This guide is designed to promote reflection about current strengths and challenges in planning for implementation of early literacy interventions, spark conversations among staff, and identify areas for improvement. This self-study guide provides a template for data collection and guiding questions for discussion.
|REL 2016128||English Learner Student Characteristics and Time to Reclassification: An Example From Washington State
This study examined how long it typically takes English learner students to become proficient in English and how this time differs by student characteristics, such as gender, home language, or initial proficiency in English. The authors analyzed state data for 16,957 English learner students who entered kindergarten between 2005/06 and 2011/12 in seven cohorts. The students attended seven school districts that comprise the Road Map Project, an initiative designed to double the number of students in South King County (Washington) who are on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential by 2020. The study looked at five language groups in the region, each of which comprises at least 3 percent of the total sample: Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali, Russian and Ukrainian combined, and Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese combined. All other languages, 160 in total, were combined into an "other language" category. The findings show that students who entered kindergarten as English learners took a median of 3.8 years to be reclassified by Washington state as former English learners. Those who entered kindergarten with advanced English language proficiency were more likely to be reclassified than English learner students with basic or intermediate English proficiency. Also, female English learner students were more likely to be reclassified than male English learner students. Speakers of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russian and Ukrainian were more likely to be reclassified than Somali or Spanish speakers. In addition to contributing to the research base, the study findings may be of interest to state education agencies as they create new targets and standards for English language proficiency. State agencies may wish to consider taking initial English language proficiency into account when determining appropriate targets for federal accountability measures, for example by setting longer expected times to reclassification and providing additional support to students entering school with basic or intermediate levels of English language proficiency. Many states are also implementing new standards for college and career readiness and overhauling their assessment and accountability systems, both of which involve setting additional targets for English learner students. A better understanding of the factors related to variation in time to proficiency may allow states to establish targets that take particular factors, such as initial English language proficiency, into account.
|REL 2016114||Alaska students' pathways from high school to postsecondary education and employment
This study follows Alaskan students in their first six years after high school to describe the pathways they took to postsecondary education and careers. Analyzing data from multiple national and state education and employment sources, the study examines the trajectories of 40,000 students who exited public high schools in Alaska from 2004/05 to 2007/08. The analysis shows that students followed more than 3,000 unique postsecondary pathways. Over two-thirds of the students (67 percent) graduated from high school and most either enrolled in postsecondary education or entered the workforce in the state immediately after graduation. Female students, White students, and urban students were more likely than male students, Alaska Native students, and rural students to enroll in college, respectively. However, students from each of these groups with similar academic and personal background characteristics had similar probabilities of enrolling directly after high school. In addition, students who earned a postsecondary degree tended to have higher early-career employment rates and wages than students who did not earn a degree. The findings provide evidence to inform policy and practice related to academic readiness and closing the gap in postsecondary enrollment rates between Alaska Native students and their White peers.
|REL 2016115||Teacher evaluation and professional learning: Lessons from early implementation in a large urban district
REL Northeast and Islands, in collaboration with the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance, examined the alignment of teacher evaluation and professional learning in a large urban district in the Northeast. REL researchers examined the types of professional learning activities teachers reported they participated in, the alignment of the reported activities with what evaluators prescribed, and whether evaluation ratings improved from one academic year to the next. The study found that teachers received written feedback across all standards of the evaluation rubric. Each prescription tended to include one or two recommended professional activities, and more of these activities were professional practice activities, such as independent work to improve instruction, than professional development activities, such as courses or workshops. Teachers reported participating in more professional activities for the instruction-based standards than for the non-instruction-based standards. For all standards, less than 40 percent of teachers reported participating in all the activities their evaluator recommended. While further work may be needed to strengthen the connection between teacher evaluation and a comprehensive system of teacher support and development, this study takes the first step in illustrating the need for coherence among these related systems.
|REL 2016117||Benchmarking Education Management Information Systems Across the Federated States of Micronesia
The purpose of this study was to provide information on the current quality of the education management information system (EMIS) in Yap, Federated States of Micronesia, so that data specialists, administrators, and policy makers might identify areas for improvement. As part of a focus group interview, knowledgeable data specialists in Yap responded to 46 questions covering significant areas of their EMIS. The interview protocol, adapted by Regional Educational Laboratory Pacific from the World Bank’s System Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results assessment tool, provides a means for rating aspects of an EMIS system using four benchmarking levels: latent (the process or action required to improve the aspect of quality is not in place), emerging (the process or action is in progress of implementation), established (the process or action is in place and it meets standards), and mature (the process or action is an example of best practice). Overall, data specialists scored their EMIS as established. They reported that the prerequisites of quality, that is, both the institutional frameworks that govern the information system and data reporting, and the supporting resources, are emerging. They also rated integrity of education statistics, referring to the professionalism, objectivity, transparency, and ethical standards by which staff operate and statistics are reported, as emerging. Data specialists reported the accuracy and reliability of education statistics within their system to be mature. They reported that the serviceability (the relevance, timeliness, and consistency of data) and accessibility of education data within their system are established. Results show that data specialists know and can apply sound techniques and validate data and generate statistical reports; however the system does not ensure that their roles and responsibilities are defined, nor does it provide any assurance, in the form of a legal mandate, that they receive the data they require. Data specialists provide timely services, but the system cannot assure the public that such services are provided independently, or that public has information regarding internal governmental access to statistics prior to their release. The results of this study provide the Yap State Department of Education and the National Department of Education with information regarding the strengths and areas of the EMIS that may benefit from improvement efforts through the development of action plans focused on priority areas