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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2024004 Assessing the Validity and Reliability of the Pennsylvania School Climate Survey for Elementary School Students
The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE’s) Office for Safe Schools partnered with REL Mid-Atlantic to conduct a study analyzing the validity and reliability from PDE’s school climate survey for elementary school students. This survey, which is available on a voluntary basis to any school in the state, provides a way for schools to track their school climate and identify aspects of school climate that need additional support. The analysis examined the three domains of the PDE school climate survey: (1) social-emotional learning, (2) safe and respectful school climate, and (3) student support and academic engagement. The study found that the items in each of the three domains measured the constructs that they intended to measure and that the three domains were distinct from one another. However, one domain—safe and respectful school climate—fell short of the established threshold for reliability based on the correlations among the items within the domain. As a result, the study team recommended revisions to the safe and respectful school climate domain of the elementary school student survey to improve its internal consistency reliability.
NCEE 2024002 Federal Efforts Towards Investing in Innovation through the i3 Fund: A Summary of Grantmaking and Evidence-Building
Finding and expanding the use of innovative educational strategies that work is important to help improve student learning and close equity gaps nationwide. The Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) was a key U.S. Department of Education (Department) program explicitly focused on these goals. Between 2010 and 2016, i3 invested $1.4 billion in 172 five-year grants to universities, school districts, and private non-profit organizations. The i3 Fund intentionally awarded different types of grants to either develop and test new, innovative but as-yet unproven strategies or to learn more about the circumstances under which previously tested strategies are effective. Grantees were required to fund independent evaluations that would meet high standards for quality. The Department reviewed 148 i3 evaluations, completed at or after the conclusion of the grants, to understand the key components of the grantees' educational strategies, assess the quality of the grantees' evaluations, and summarize what the evaluations found.
WWC 2024001 Building Blocks Intervention Report
This What Works Clearinghouse intervention report summarizes the evidence on Building Blocks, a mathematics curriculum that seeks to develop preschool children’s knowledge of mathematics using activities that are intentionally sequenced based on the developmental progression of children’s mathematical learning. The research provides moderate evidence that Building Blocks improves mathematics achievement. This assessment is based on three studies that meet WWC standards.
NCEE 2024001 Practical Strategies for Recruiting Districts and Schools for Education Impact Studies
This brief will help researchers newer to school-based impact studies recruit districts and schools that represent the study's population of interest so that the findings are more actionable for educators. Practical strategies are provided on four topics that may play an increasingly important role in a district or school's willingness to participate in a study: attention to urgent priorities and needs, limited staff capacity, commitment to fairness and collaborative practices, and protection of student and staff privacy.
WWC 2023009 Pre-K Mathematics Intervention Report
This What Works Clearinghouse intervention report summarizes the evidence on a supplemental curriculum entitled "Pre-K Mathematics." The supplemental curriculum is designed to develop informal mathematical knowledge and skills in preschool children. Specific mathematical concepts and skills from each unit are taught in the classroom through teacher-guided, small-group activities using concrete manipulatives. The research provides strong evidence that Pre-K Mathematics improves mathematics achievement, although the intervention had uncertain effects on outcomes in the language domain, reading & literacy related domain, social-emotional learning domain, and self-regulation domain. This assessment is based on five studies that meet WWC standards.
NCEE 2023006 Investigating the Scope and Implementation of Return to Title IV Funds
Students who receive federal student loan or grant aid and subsequently withdraw may be subject to a "Return of Title IV Funds" (R2T4) calculation, which can require the student or college to pay back unused aid funds to the government. Despite the potential influence of the policy on students, colleges, and the integrity of federal student aid programs, little is known about the policy's scope. Offices within the Department of Education, including Federal Student Aid and the Institute of Education Sciences, collaborated with the Office of Evaluation Sciences at the U.S. General Services Administration to better understand R2T4. The overarching goal of this evaluation is to build foundational, descriptive evidence that documents the scope of R2T4 in terms of students and colleges affected by the policy as well as associated aid amounts due and returned.
WWC 2023008 Using Bayesian Meta-Analysis to Explore the Components of Early Literacy Interventions
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) released a report that applies two methodological approaches new to the WWC that together aim to improve researchers' understanding of how early literacy interventions may work to improve outcomes for students in grades K-3. First, this report pilots a new taxonomy developed by early literacy experts and intervention developers as part of a larger effort to develop standard nomenclature for the components of literacy interventions. Then, the WWC uses Bayesian meta-analysis—a statistical method to systematically summarize evidence across multiple studies—to estimate the associations between intervention components and intervention impacts.

Twenty-nine studies of 25 early literacy interventions that were previously reviewed by the WWC and met the WWC's rigorous research standards were included in the analysis. This method found that the components examined in this synthesis appear to have a limited role in explaining variation in intervention impacts on alphabetics outcomes, including phonics, phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, and letter identification. This method also identified positive associations between intervention impacts on alphabetics outcomes and components related to using student assessment data to drive decisions, including about how to group students for instruction, and components related to non-academic student supports, including efforts to teach social-emotional learning strategies and outreach to parents and families. This report is exploratory because this synthesis cannot conclude that specific components caused improved alphabetics outcomes.
NCEE 2023007 IDEA State and Local Implementation Study 2019: Compendium of Survey Results
Federal policy has long played a key role in how the more than seven million children with disabilities are educated, but the context for the policies has been shifting. This compendium describes the methods, response rates, and weights used for surveys of state, district, and school agency personnel about implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the 2019-2020 school year. It also includes detailed tables, based on the surveys, that provide a national picture of policies and practices, 15 years after the law was last updated and 10 years after a similar study was conducted.
WWC 2023007 World of Words Intervention Report
This What Works Clearinghouse intervention report summarizes the evidence on World of Words. World of Words aims to accelerate the development of preschool children’s vocabulary knowledge, concept knowledge, and content knowledge in science through topic-centered conversations and shared book readings. The research provides strong evidence that World of Words improved student language skills. This assessment is based on four studies that meet WWC standards.
REL 2023003 Changes in school climate during COVID-19 in a sample of Pennsylvania schools
To assess how school climate changed during the pandemic, the Pennsylvania Department of Education's (PDE's) Office for Safe Schools partnered with REL Mid-Atlantic to conduct a study using data from PDE's school climate survey. This survey, which is available on a voluntary basis to any school in the state, provides a way to track school climate and identify schools that need additional support to improve school climate. The REL study analyzed changes in scores from a pre-pandemic year (2018/19) to the 2020/21 and 2021/22 school years. In a sample of Pennsylvania public schools that took the survey in all three years, students and teachers reported more positive perceptions of school climate in the 2020/21 school year, during hybrid and remote learning, compared to 2018/19 (before the pandemic) and 2021/22 (when schools had returned to fully in-person operation). This was an unexpected positive bump in the year in which schools experienced the most pandemic-related disruption. In contrast, school climate scores were steady across the years before COVID-19. The study also found no evidence of a significant decline in school climate scores between 2018/19 and 2021/22, suggesting the pandemic did not have a lasting negative effect on school climate in this sample of schools. One important caveat of this study is that the sample of schools was small and not representative of the rest of the state of Pennsylvania. In the future, increasing the number of schools completing the school climate survey over multiple years will allow PDE to conduct more informative analyses of the relationship between school climate and other factors, such as interventions to improve school climate.
WWC 2023006 Reading Recovery® Intervention Report
This new What Works Clearinghouse intervention report summarizes the evidence on Reading Recovery®, updating an earlier report from 2013, and provides detailed information about program implementation and cost. Reading Recovery® is a supplemental, one-on-one tutoring program designed to help students in grade 1 who score below grade level in reading. The program aims to improve student reading and writing skills by providing one-on-one tutoring and tailoring lessons to each student. Trained Reading Recovery® teachers deliver the tutoring in daily 30-minute sessions over the course of 12 to 20 weeks. Based on two studies that meet WWC standards, there is moderate evidence that Reading Recovery® positively impacted student achievement in literacy immediately after the intervention. There is also promising evidence that Reading Recovery® positively impacted writing productivity and receptive communication immediately after the intervention and writing conventions 3 years after the intervention. Reading Recovery® had uncertain effects on math achievement 3 years after the intervention and on general academic achievement 10 years after the intervention.
NCEE 2023005 Conducting Implementation Research in Impact Studies of Education Interventions: A Guide for Researchers
Implementation analyses conducted as part of impact studies can help educators know whether a tested intervention is likely to be a good fit for their own settings. This guide can help researchers design and conduct these kinds of analyses. The guide provides steps and recommendations about ways to specify implementation research questions, assess whether and how the planned intervention is implemented, document the context in which the intervention is implemented, and measure the difference between the intervention and what members of the control group receive. It presents strategies for analysis and reporting about these topics, and also for linking implementation and impact findings. The guide offers key definitions, examples, templates, and links to resources.
REL 2023002 Supporting the California Department of Education in Examining Data to Inform the Setting of Thresholds on the California Alternate English Language Proficiency Assessments for California
Staff from the California Department of Education (CDE) will present findings to the State Board of Education (SBE) from a project CDE conducted with analytic technical assistance from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) West. The SBE meeting will take place on May 18 and 19, 2023 at the California State Board of Education, 1430 N Street, Room 1101, Sacramento, California. This item is currently placed as the third item the SBE will take up, making it likely to be presented around midday on May 18.

At the meeting, CDE plans to present the findings and implications from analyses it conducted of student achievement on the state’s alternate English language proficiency and English language arts assessments. REL West staff will attend the presentation in order to briefly describe REL West’s technical assistance role and support the CDE in addressing any questions posed by Board members about technical aspects of the data analysis that cannot be answered by CDE staff. The technical memo and slide deck will be made available on the REL website soon after the presentation to the Board.
WWC 2023005 Class-Wide Function-Related Intervention Teams (CW-FIT) Intervention Report
This What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) intervention report summarizes the research on the effectiveness of Class-Wide Function-Related Intervention Teams (CW-FIT) and provides detailed information about program implementation and cost. CW-FIT is a classroom management strategy that aims to help teachers improve student behavior and create a positive learning environment. Teachers establish classroom rules, provide instruction on target skills, place students into teams, and then reward teams for demonstrating target skills. Based on eight studies that meet standards, the WWC found strong evidence that CW-FIT positively impacted student behavior and promising evidence that CW-FIT positively impacted teacher practice.
WWC 2023004 Good Behavior Game Intervention Report
This What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) intervention report summarizes the research on the effectiveness of Good Behavior Game and provides detailed information about program implementation and cost. Good Behavior Game is a classroom management strategy that aims to help teachers improve student social skills, minimize disruptive behaviors, and create a positive learning environment. Teachers place students into teams and reward them for demonstrating appropriate behaviors and following classroom rules. Based on 16 studies that meet standards, the WWC found strong evidence that Good Behavior Game positively impacted student behavior and promising evidence that Good Behavior Game positively impacted teacher practice, student writing conventions, and student writing productivity. The WWC found uncertain effects on literacy and math achievement, student intrapersonal competencies, and school climate.
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