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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2022135 English Language Development Among American Indian English Learner Students in New Mexico
New Mexico’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan set the goal for all English learner students to attain English proficiency within five years. The Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest English Learners Research Partnership conducted this study to better understand progress toward English proficiency among American Indian English learner students. The study examined two statewide cohorts of American Indian students identified as English learner students at initial kindergarten entry in 2013/14 or 2014/15 in New Mexico public schools. The study found that most American Indian English learner students were not reclassified as English proficient within five years. Similarly, most American Indian English learner students did not meet grade-level standards on New Mexico state assessments in English language arts and math in grades 3 and 4, regardless of whether they attained English proficiency and were reclassified within five years. However, considerably higher percentages of American Indian English learner students who were reclassified as English proficient met grade-level standards in both English language arts and math compared with students who were not reclassified. Finally, students who attended a school with a bilingual multicultural education program (BMEP) for at least four years were reclassified as English proficient and met grade-level standards on state assessments in English language arts and math at higher rates than students who never attended a school with a BMEP. Staff at the New Mexico Public Education Department, district and school leaders, and teachers can use the findings from this study to determine how best to support English language development among American Indian English learner students.
5/16/2022
REL 2022134 California’s Special Education Local Plan Areas: Funding Patterns, Inclusion Rates, and Student Outcomes
California requires each school district to belong to a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) for special education planning and governance. The California Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) are interested in the impact on the surrounding small and midsized districts when large districts become single-district SELPAs. Given one of the original motivations of SELPAs was economies of scale, the state wanted to examine the association between different SELPA types and district configurations and outcomes, including SELPA funding patterns, inclusion rates of students receiving special education services in the general education environment, and academic outcomes for students receiving special education services. This study examined those differences using publicly available data. The findings provide mixed evidence for the possible implications of large districts leaving multidistrict SELPAs to form single-district SELPAs. The study found no meaningful association between different SELPA and district configurations and academic outcomes for students with disabilities—including graduation and dropout rates—and proficiency rates in math and English language arts and on the alternative assessment. Several meaningful differences with regard to funding and inclusion were found. For example, when comparing multidistrict SELPAs with and multidistrict SELPAs without a large district, multidistrict SELPAs without a large district received larger per pupil apportionments and had higher inclusion rates. Also, when comparing small districts in multidistrict SELPAs with and multidistrict SELPAs without a large district, inclusion rates were higher for preK students and lower for K–12 students in SELPAs without a large district. The larger amount of per pupil special education funding in multidistrict SELPAs without a large district may help to alleviate some concern about the impact of large districts separating from surrounding small and midsized districts to become their own SELPAs. The CDE and the SBE may want to further examine which regionalized programs are implemented by SELPAs of different compositions and how they benefit small districts. Further research could consider more complex analyses to better understand the outcomes that may be due specifically to membership in a single-district versus a multidistrict SELPA.
12/27/2021
REL 2022121 Examining the implementation and impact of full-day kindergarten in Oregon
Many states and districts offer full-day kindergarten (FDK) to provide additional time for student learning in the hope that it will improve student outcomes. Prior research has shown an association between FDK and gains in student outcomes such as math and reading standardized assessment scores. In 2015/16, through a policy shift, Oregon changed its funding structure for kindergarten enrollment, which created incentives for districts to offer FDK. This study examines three aspects of FDK in Oregon. First, the study looked at the characteristics of Oregon districts that offered FDK in 2013/14 and 2014/15 (the two years before the policy shift) and how those FDK programs were structured. Next, the study estimated the impact of attending FDK in one large Oregon school district in 2013/14 and 2014/15 on academic and non-academic outcomes. Lastly, the study explored how FDK programs were implemented in 2017/18 (after the policy shift).

Examining how FDK programs were implemented after the policy shift, only 22 percent of teachers responded to a survey, and those respondents reported a focus on teacher-directed activities and limited use of kindergarten entry assessment data in 2017/18. These findings cannot be generalized to all FDK teachers in Oregon and only apply to teachers who responded. In the same year, the 42 percent of principals who responded to the survey reported that a small number of FDK students only received a half day of instruction and that there was a lack of curricular and professional development alignment between preschool and kindergarten. Again, these findings cannot be generalized to all schools with FDK. The study’s mixed findings indicate that FDK may slightly improve student attendance in early elementary grades for some student groups and in settings that are similar to the large district examined in this study. The study also reveals a need for more research on the barriers to offering, accessing, and implementing FDK, as well as the variation in the impact of FDK on student outcomes. Finally, the study points to a need for additional state guidance and support on how to implement high-quality FDK programs.
12/27/2021
REL 2022133 Branching Out: Using Decision Trees to Inform Education Decisions
Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis is a statistical modeling approach that uses quantitative data to predict future outcomes by generating decision trees. CART analysis can be useful for educators to inform their decisionmaking. For example, educators can use a decision tree from a CART analysis to identify students who are most likely to benefit from additional support early—in the months and years before problems fully materialize. This guide introduces CART analysis as an approach that allows data analysts to generate actionable analytic results that can inform educators’ decisions about the allocation of extra supports for students. Data analysts with intermediate statistical software programming experience can use the guide to learn how to conduct a CART analysis and support research directors in local and state education agencies and other educators in applying the results. Research directors can use the guide to learn how results of CART analyses can inform education decisions.
12/27/2021
REL 2022132 Career and Technical Education Credentials in Virginia High Schools: Trends in Attainment and College Enrollment Outcomes
In Virginia, there has been a long-term effort to increase the number of graduates who earn career and technical education (CTE) credentials. These CTE credentials are intended to provide high school graduates with additional preparation for college and careers. In 2013, the Virginia Board of Education added a CTE credential requirement to the Standard diploma for students who entered grade 9 for the first time in 2013 or later. Graduates can complete this requirement by passing an approved assessment and do not have to take any CTE courses.

At the request of Virginia CTE leaders, the Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia conducted a descriptive study of attainment rates of CTE credentials, completion rates of CTE programs of study, and college enrollment rates for Standard diploma graduates from 2011 to 2017, the years before and after the policy change. Education stakeholders in Virginia and elsewhere can use the results of this study to inform their CTE policies.

From 2011 to 2017, the percentage of Standard diploma graduates who earned at least one CTE credential increased from 23 percent to 91 percent. A similar increase occurred among Advanced Studies diploma graduates, even though the CTE credential requirement applied only to Standard diploma graduates. The attainment rates of CTE credentials increased for all groups of Standard diploma graduates, including groups based on demographic characteristics, federal program participation, and academic achievement. While the percentages of Standard diploma graduates who earned a CTE credential increased consistently from 2011 to 2017, their college enrollment rates dropped. The percentage of Standard diploma graduates completing a CTE program of study, which requires taking CTE courses that are not required to earn a credential but may still be helpful for later student outcomes, decreased in 2016 and 2017.

The study findings suggest a need to examine workforce outcomes for Standard diploma graduates to fully understand whether this policy is meeting its intended goals. In addition, the findings suggest a need to consider other methods to address outcomes for Virginia’s Standard diploma graduates, such as support for implementing practices with rigorous evidence of effectiveness for improving college and career outcomes.
12/27/2021
REL 2022122 Supporting Integrated English Learner Student Instruction: A Guide to Assess Professional Learning Needs Based on the Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School Practice Guide
This guide is designed to help district and school site leaders assess the professional learning needs of elementary school teachers to implement research-based recommendations for the instruction of English learner students. It comprises two tools—the Teacher Self-Reflection Tool and the Classroom Observation Tool—and outlines a 10-step process to help districts align their professional learning decisions with the data collected from these tools.
12/7/2021
REL 2022129 Principal Retention Patterns in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah
The departure of an effective school leader can influence staff turnover and student achievement for several years. With school systems facing an unprecedented public health crisis due to COVID-19, principal retention is a key area of concern for many local and state education agencies. The Regional Educational Laboratory West undertook this study of principal retention rates to help leaders in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah better understand principal retention patterns in their state, so that their new statewide leadership support initiatives could identify areas where support could be most effective. Findings showed that fewer than half of principals in each of these states remained at the same school from fall 2016 to fall 2020 (four-year retention). The study also found that principals who changed jobs (but remained in the principalship) tended to move to a new school in the same local education agency rather than to a new school in another local education agency. Principal retention patterns varied by state according to grade span, school locale type, and student demographic characteristics. In addition, across the three states, proportionally fewer principals remained at schools with lower average proficiency rates on standardized tests in math and English language arts than at schools with higher average proficiency rates from fall 2016 to fall 2019 (three-year retention).
12/6/2021
REL 2022131 Estimating Changes to Student Learning in Illinois Following Extended School Building Closures due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the education of students in Illinois and around the nation. Leaders at the Illinois State Board of Education and in Illinois public school districts want to better understand how student learning changed during the pandemic. This study examines data from 17 Illinois districts over five years, including four years prior to the pandemic, to measure how student learning changed in fall 2020 relative to fall terms prior to the pandemic. The study demonstrates how learning changed in both mathematics and reading for students in grades 3–8, as well as how these changes varied across student characteristics and district size. The study found that students in grades 4–8 scored lower than expected in mathematics following the onset of the pandemic, after adjusting for other factors. The magnitude varied by grade level. Larger estimated changes in learning occurred in grades 6–8 than in grades 4 and 5. Students in grades 3–8 did not experience any statistically significant changes in learning in reading. A further analysis of learning in mathematics showed that changes in learning varied across students with different characteristics but were unrelated to district size. The study findings should be interpreted with caution, especially when generalizing to the population of Illinois districts and students. The study includes a small number of districts, and the students in these districts differ from the statewide population of students.
12/1/2021
REL 2022109 Teacher Shortages in New York State: New Teachers' Certification Pathways, Certification Areas, District of Employment, and Retention in the Same District
New York State is experiencing teacher shortages in specific subject areas. One way to address these shortages is through the certification and placement of new teachers. This study explored the pathways through which new teachers between 2015/16 and 2017/18 earned certificates, their certification areas, and their subsequent placement and retention in districts across the state, particularly high-need districts. While the majority of new teachers earned certificates through the traditional in-state pathway, this varied somewhat by certification area. The proportion of teachers who earned certificates through the individual evaluation pathway was higher for the shortage certification area of career and technical education than for other certification areas. The most frequent certification area was the shortage certification area of special education, while the shortage certification areas of career and technical education and bilingual special education were among the least frequent. New York City district schools employed new teachers who earned certificates through the alternative in-state pathway at a higher rate than other types of high-need districts (rural, large city—not New York City, and other urban/suburban) as well as average- and low-need districts. New teachers employed in high-need districts had higher rates of retention in the same district for a second year than new teachers employed in average- and low-need districts. Just 5 percent of new teachers in New York State were uncertified.
11/30/2021
REL 2022110 Additional Certification for Teachers in New York State: Teachers’ Experience and Employment Location, Certification Pathways, and Certification Areas
New York State is experiencing teacher shortages in specific subject areas. One way to address these shortages is for certified teachers to earn additional certificates qualifying them to fill positions in shortage areas. This study explored patterns in how experienced teachers (those with at least one year of teaching experience in New York State public schools) in 2015/16 earned additional certificates between October 2015 and October 2017. These patterns included which teachers earned additional certificates, their certification pathways, and their additional certification areas. The study found that about 5 percent of teachers in New York State in 2015/16 earned additional certificates during the two-year period. A larger proportion of teachers who earned additional certificates during that period were employed in New York City district schools and charter schools than in other types of districts or schools. Teachers who earned additional certificates were less experienced than those who did not earn additional certificates. More teachers earned additional certificates in shortage areas than in nonshortage areas, except for administration, a nonteaching certification area. Special education was the most common shortage certification area in which experienced teachers earned additional certificates. More than half of teachers who earned additional certificates did so through the traditional in-state pathway, while about a third did so through the individual evaluation pathway.
11/30/2021
REL 2022127 Education and Career Planning in High School: A National Study of School and Student Characteristics and College-Going Behaviors
A large proportion of high schools across the country have adopted education and career planning requirements intended to help students prepare for postsecondary education and to facilitate successful transitions to the labor market. This study used student and counselor survey responses from a nationally representative longitudinal dataset to examine the relationships between students’ participation in three core elements of education and career planning during high school and their application, coursetaking, and enrollment behaviors associated with the transition to college. Students who developed an education or career plan upon first entering high school in grade 9 were no more or less likely to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, complete a college preparatory curriculum, apply to college, or enroll in college than students who did not develop a plan. However, for students who received support from a teacher or a parent to develop their plan and for students who met with an adult in school to review the plan at least once a year, developing a plan was significantly associated with several college-going behaviors.
11/29/2021
REL 2022128 Impacts of Home Visits on Students in District of Columbia Public Schools
This study examined the impacts of structured relationship-building teacher home visits conducted in grades 1–5 as part of a family engagement program in the District of Columbia Public Schools. Using a matched comparison group research design, the study measured the impacts of the home visits on student disciplinary incidents and attendance. The study found that a home visit before the start of the school year reduced the likelihood of a student having a disciplinary incident in that school year. During the school year following a home visit, 9.27 percent of visited students had a disciplinary incident compared with 12.22 percent of nonvisited comparison students. The study also found that, on average, a home visit slightly improved student attendance. The attendance rate averaged 95.28 percent for visited students and 94.93 percent for nonvisited comparison students.
11/23/2021
REL 2022120 Community Math Night Facilitators' Toolkit
The Community Math Night Facilitators’ Toolkit is a detailed resource for elementary school educators to plan and implement a Community Math Night event. Community Math Nights use interactive math activities to engage families in building positive math attitudes, facilitate their participation in children’s learning in grades K–5, and build a community of educators, students, families, and other caring adults. This toolkit includes planning and organizational resources, research findings on community engagement and math instruction strategies, and step-by-step instructions and printable materials for the interactive activities. It also includes a workbook that can be used as a professional learning resource on key math-learning research findings and how to apply them in practice.
11/22/2021
REL 2022119 What Were the Reach and Impact of the Oregon Promise Financial Aid Program in Its First Two Years?
In 2015 Oregon became the second state in the country to implement a statewide promise program. Its program, Oregon Promise, seeks to promote students' postsecondary attainment by covering nearly all community college tuition. This study used student data from K–12 public schools, Oregon Promise applications, and postsecondary records to examine which public high school seniors the program reached and served and to assess the program's impact on high school graduates' postsecondary outcomes in its first two years. The study found that Oregon Promise applicants generally reflected the demographic composition of all Oregon public high school seniors in 2015/16 and 2016/17, although applicants were more likely to be female and less likely to have received special education services. While applicant characteristics were similar in the first and second years, there were fewer eligible applicants and recipients in the second year, when an expected family contribution limit was added, than in the first year, and they were more likely to be from low-income households and to be students of color. Using grade point average (GPA) data from the Portland metropolitan area, the study also found that lowering the GPA requirement would have increased the overall applicant pool, as well as the number of applicants from low-income households and applicants of color. Just over half of recipients in the first year of the program renewed their award and received it in their second year at a community college. These recipients had better high school attendance and were more likely to have participated in college-level coursework during high school than recipients who received an award only in their first year. Finally, among high school graduates in the Portland metropolitan area with a GPA close to the eligibility cutoff (2.5), the offer of an award had a positive impact on first-year persistence and on persistence or college completion within four years of high school graduation. Findings from the statewide exploratory analysis also found positive program impacts on first-year persistence and persistence or college completion within three or four years of high school graduation for all 2015/16 and 2016/17 seniors in the state. Oregon stakeholders can use the findings to better understand the reach and impact of the Oregon Promise program, implications of program requirements on the number and composition of applicants and recipients, and the high school experiences of recipients who renewed their award.
11/15/2021
REL 2022130 Exploring Early Implementation of Pennsylvania's Innovative Teacher and Principal Residency Grants

To improve educator diversity and address educator shortages, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) awards grants to universities in the state to develop and implement teacher and principal residency preparation programs. The programs must offer aspiring teachers and principals a residency of at least a year, consisting of clinical practice in schools with trained mentors, aligned coursework, and financial aid. The programs must focus on improving diversity and must partner with districts with chronic teacher or principal shortages, high proportions of students of color or in poverty, or that have been identified for state support.

This study examines eight residency programs that received grants for the 2019/20 school year. The study interviewed program staff, collected program data, and conducted focus groups with residents and mentors. The study sought to provide preliminary information early in the implementation of the programs on how well they were preparing teachers and principals, where the teachers and principals were getting jobs after completing the programs, whether the programs were improving diversity, and how they could be improved.

Four key findings emerged from the study. First, recruiting diverse candidates was difficult. Teacher residents were mostly White, although more than a third of participants in one of the programs were people of color. Principal residents were more diverse. Second, for five of the six programs with available employment data, at least half of the residents were hired in high-need districts after completing the programs. Third, residents and mentors felt the residents were prepared for most teaching or school leadership responsibilities, although principal mentors felt some principal residents were not as well prepared. Finally, program staff, residents, and mentors described several lessons learned, including that communication and the balance of the time commitment between the coursework and the residency could be improved.

The findings will inform PDE’s plans for future grants and help the funded programs improve. The findings may also be relevant to other states, districts, or preparation programs that are developing residency programs.

11/8/2021
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