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 Pub Number  Title  Date
WWC RER012621 A What Works Clearinghouse Rapid Evidence Review of Distance Learning Programs
Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, educators and school administrators need to understand the available distance learning models and programs that may assist students who attend school from a remote location. To meet this need, this rapid evidence review sought to identify and report on what works in distance learning educational programming. After an extensive search and screening process, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviewed 36 studies spanning kindergarten through postsecondary education. Fifteen studies met the WWC Group Design Standards; of those, four met the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Tier 1 requirements. An evidence gap map analysis found that while several effective distance learning programs for K–8 students were identified, few studies of distance learning programs for high school students met WWC Group Design Standards. In addition, a meta-analysis of studies with similar design characteristics (nine in total) found that, on average, students in the distance learning programs improved in the English language arts (ELA) outcome domain but not in the mathematics domain, compared with students in business-as-usual conditions. Although the meta-analytic results are promising, continued research using rigorous, randomized designs should be a priority.
WWC QR82328 Quick Review: Charter schools' effects on long-term attainment and earnings.
The study uses a quasi-experimental design (QED) using matching techniques. The study sample was first restricted to students who attended charter schools in eighth grade. Students then transitioning to a charter high school for ninth grade were placed in the intervention group and those transitioning to a non-charter high school for ninth grade were available for the comparison group. Then, students in the charter high school group were matched to the non-charter group using " . . . a one-to-one nearest-neighbor Mahalanobis matching approach" (p. 5) with no caliper restriction and replacement. Four cohorts of students were included in the sample, including students who were in eighth grade in the school years 1997-1998 through 2000-2001. The two groups included 1,143 students each.
WWC QR20121 Interactive Online Learning on Campus: Testing MOOCs and Other Platforms in Hybrid Formats in the University System of Maryland
This study measured the impact of using hybrid forms of interactive online learning in seven undergraduate courses across universities in the University System of Maryland. In college courses, interactive online learning typically involves video lectures, extensive opportunities for discussion and interaction with instructors and peers, and online assignments and exams. Hybrid forms of such courses combine online learning components with traditional face-to-face instruction. In this study, college students enrolled in hybrid sections of biology, statistics, pre-calculus, computer science, or communications or in sections that used the traditional face-to-face format. The authors measured the impact of these hybrid courses on course pass rates, student grades, and on exam questions that were common across the hybrid and face-to-face courses. Due to the significant cost savings possible with interactive online learning platforms, the study authors examined whether students participating in online learning courses performed as well as or better than students in traditional courses.
WWC QR2014230 Quick Review of "Conceptualizing Astronomical Scale: Virtual Simulations on Handheld Tablet Computers Reverse Misconceptions"
This study examined how using two different ways of displaying the solar system—a true-to-scale mode vs. an orrery mode--affects students' knowledge of astronomical concepts. Solar system displays were presented in a software application on a handheld tablet computer. In a true-to-scale mode, users navigate a simulated three-dimensional solar system environment using a tablet's pinch-to-zoom touchscreen interface; this provides an accurate representation of sizes and distances of planetary bodies. The study authors reported that student gains in learning astronomical concepts, measured as the differences between pretest and posttest scores, were significantly larger when using the true-to-scale mode than when using an orrery mode.
WWC QR20008 "Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?"
The study examined whether taking a course with a tenured/tenure track professor versus a non-tenured/tenure track professor for first-term freshman-level courses (e.g., introductory economics) was associated with whether students enrolled and performed well in future classes in the same subject.
WWC QR00223 "Charter Schools and the Road to College Readiness: The Effects on College Preparation, Attendance and Choice"
The study examined whether attending a Boston charter school affected students' high school and college outcomes. The study compared charter school students who were admitted via a random admission lottery and attended one of the six study charter schools to students who applied but were not admitted via lottery and instead attended another public school in Massachusetts. The study reported that students attending the six Boston charter schools included in the study scored significantly higher on the 10th grade state assessments in both English language arts and math, had significantly higher SAT scores, and were significantly more likely to attend a 4-year postsecondary institution than students who applied but were not admitted. There were no statistically significant differences between groups in AP exam passing rates, high school graduation rates, or overall college enrollment rates.
WWC QR20004 Quick Review: "The Impact of Dual Enrollment on College Degree Attainment: Do Low-SES Students Benefit?"
This study used data from the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS:88) to examine the effects of dual enrollment programs for high school students on college degree attainment. Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to take college courses and earn college credits while still in high school.
WWC QR20005 Quick Review: "Expanding College Opportunities for High-Achieving, Low Income Students"
The study is a randomized controlled trial. As such, it could potentially meet WWC evidence standards without reservations. However, there was attrition in the overall study sample, and more information is needed to determine whether attrition rates were similar in the intervention and comparison groups. A more thorough review (forthcoming) will explore this issue further and will determine the final study rating.
WWC QR20003 Late Interventions Matter Too: The Case of College Coaching in New Hampshire
The study examined whether providing college application coaching to high school seniors increased postsecondary enrollment. The program was aimed at students who were considering applying to college but who had made little or no progress in the application process, and who had a tenth grade test score high enough to warrant applying to college. Study authors found that women who participated in the program enrolled in postsecondary education at a rate that was 12 percentage points higher than women in the control condition (63% versus 51%). This study meets WWC evidence standards without reservations because it is a randomized controlled trial with no attrition. A more thorough review is forthcoming and will examine whether follow-up and subgroup findings meet WWC evidence standards.
WWC QR13221 "Have We Identified Effective Teachers? Validating Measures of Effective Teaching Using Random Assignment"
This study tested whether a measure created by study authors could identify teachers who are effective at increasing student achievement. The authors used 2009-10 school year data to create a single composite measure of teacher effectiveness; this composite measure included estimates of teacher value-added to student test scores, data from classroom observations of teachers, and responses to student surveys. Then, for the following school year (2010-11), the authors randomly assigned classrooms of students to teachers (to ensure that there were no measured or unmeasured differences in students assigned to each teacher) and then followed the students' academic progress throughout the school year. The authors compared the students' actual academic achievement with their predicted achievement to determine how well the teacher effectiveness measure identified teachers who were improving student performance beyond their expected gains.
WWC QR0113 Can Scholarships Alone Help Students Succeed? Lessons from Two New York City Community Colleges
The study examined the effects of performance-based scholarships for low-income community college students (ages 22–35) who were required to enroll in remedial courses. The study evaluated the impact of the scholarships on continued community college enrollment, credits attempted and earned, and cumulative grade-point average (GPA). All study subjects were eligible for Pell Grants.
WWC QR0108 Information and College Access: Evidence From a Randomized Field Experiment
This study examined the impact of offering an online informational video and financial aid materials to high school students on: (1) their postsecondary aspirations, (2) the accuracy of their understanding of financial aid availability, and (3) the accuracy of their estimates of the economic benefits of postsecondary education.

The study found that students offered the video and financial aid calculator reported more accurate assessments of returns to postsecondary education, less concern about postsecondary costs, and higher expectations for their educational attainment. The effects may have been larger for students who originally reported that they were unsure about their expected educational attainment. However, because of the need for additional data from the study authors, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) cannot confirm the statistical significance of any of the study's outcomes.
WWC QR1221 Charter School Performance in New Jersey
The study examined whether students in grades 3-8 attending charter schools in New Jersey made more gains in math and reading achievement than similar students attending traditional public schools. Based on an analysis across charter schools, the authors reported that charter school students made significantly greater year-to-year gains in math and reading than similar students in non-charter schools. The authors also reported that the impact of attending a charter school on student math and reading achievement gains varied from school to school. Although students at some charter schools showed significantly higher or significantly lower achievement gains compared to students in non-charter schools, most charter schools had student gains that were not different from the gains of students in non-charter schools.
WWC QR0912 Quick Review: "The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City"
The study examines the effects of private school vouchers on college enrollment outcomes. The vouchers were given to low-income elementary-age students through the New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation (SCSF) program. The study found no differences of the offer of a school voucher on college enrollment; however, there was a positive impact of vouchers on college enrollment (part-time and full-time) for African-American students. In addition, the study reported that African-American students who were offered a school voucher had statistically significantly higher rates of attending a private 4-year university or a selective 4-year university. The study also found no statistically significant effects of school vouchers on any of the outcomes assessed for the subgroup of Hispanic students.
WWC QRMAA0327 WWC Quick Review of the Report "Access to Algebra I: The Effects of Online Mathematics for Grade 8 Students"
Among the students identified by school staff as eligible for the program, those attending schools that offered the online Algebra I course scored higher on the assessment of algebra skills than those attending schools without the program. The estimated effect size of 0.41 is roughly equivalent to moving a student from the 50th to the 66th percentile in algebra achievement. No statistically significant difference existed between the two groups in nonalgebra, general mathematics achievement.
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