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 Pub Number  Title  Date
NCEE 2022001 How to Text Message Parents to Reduce Chronic Absence Using an Evidence-Based Approach
Chronic absence is a nationwide problem, even among young students. A recent Institute of Education Sciences (IES) study found that a carefully designed text messaging strategy improved attendance in elementary schools. Based on the study, this guide provides districts with information and tools for carrying out their own evidence-based attendance text messaging.
12/2/2021
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
NCES 2022478 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC) Restricted-Use Data File
The 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC) restricted-use data file contains administrative record data on student financial aid, enrollment, demographic characteristics, institution characteristics, and income for approximately 245,000 undergraduate students and 21,000 graduate students attending 1,900 postsecondary institutions in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Data on undergraduate students are nationally representative, as well as state-representative for 30 states overall, 36 states for public 2-year institutions, and 45 states for public 4-year institutions. NPSAS covers topics pertaining to student enrollment with a focus on how individuals and families finance postsecondary education. NPSAS:18-AC is based solely on data collected from administrative data sources and, unlike other NPSAS studies, does not include student survey data.
11/30/2021
NCES 2022477 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC) Data File Documentation
This publication describes the methods and procedures used for the 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC). It also provides information that will be helpful to analysts in accessing and understanding the restricted-use files containing the NPSAS:18-AC data. NPSAS:18-AC includes cross-sectional, nationally representative samples of undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in postsecondary education in the United States. NPSAS:18 AC also includes state-representative samples of undergraduate students in some states, as well as in public 2 year and in public 4 year institution sectors within some states. The study covers topics pertaining to student enrollment with a focus on how individuals and families finance postsecondary education. NPSAS:18-AC is based solely on data collected from administrative data sources and, unlike other NPSAS studies, does not include student survey data.
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
WWC 2022002 Year Up Intervention Report
Year Up is an intervention that provides six months of occupational and technical training in the information technology and financial service sectors followed by six-month internships, together with other supports that ensure students have strong connections to employment. Based on the research, the WWC found that Year Up has positive effects on short-term earnings and no discernable effects on short-term employment, medium-term earnings, industry-recognized credential, certificate, or license completion, or medium-term employment.
11/18/2021
NCEE 2022002 Study of Enhanced College Advising in Upward Bound: Impacts on Where and How long Students Attend College
Decisions about whether and where to go to college can make a difference in students' later success. However, many students from low-income families "undermatch"—they do not enroll at all or not in the most selective college they likely could attend. This report examined whether promising advising strategies, bundled in a package called Find the Fit, could improve college choices and persistence for rising high school seniors in the federal college access program Upward Bound.
11/16/2021
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 2022123 Academic Mindsets and Behaviors, Prior Achievement, and the Transition to Middle School

Middle school is an important crossroad in a student’s academic journey. As students enter middle school, their academic achievement and engagement frequently declines. This is true particularly for Black and Latinx students. Poor middle school grades are often a harbinger of poor performance in high school and beyond. In particular, having a grade point average (GPA) below 2.0 is a strong signal of continuing negative academic outcomes. Previous research has found that academic outcomes around the transition to middle school are related to, and might even be driven by, academic mindsets, including growth mindsets (such as beliefs about the malleability of academic ability and the payoff to effort) and performance avoidance (fears of failure and the desire to avoid academic effort), and resulting academic behaviors (such as completing homework).

This study examined the relationship between 2016/17 grade 5 student responses to a Clark County School District (Nevada) survey on levels of academic mindsets and behaviors and the predicted probability of earning a low GPA (below 2.0) at the end of the first semester of grade 6 (the first year of middle school) in 2017/18. Grade 5 students who reported high levels of growth mindset and academic behavior and low levels of performance avoidance had a lower predicted probability of having a GPA below 2.0 in the first semester of grade 6. Once student scores on grade 5 state standardized math and English language arts achievement exams were accounted for, levels of academic mindsets and behaviors among grade 5 students with scores at or above the district median did not predict meaningful differences in the probability of having a GPA below 2.0 in the first semester of grade 6. However, among grade 5 students with prior academic achievement below the district median, students who reported high levels of growth mindset and academic behaviors and low levels of performance avoidance had a lower predicted probability of having a GPA below 2.0 in the first semester of grade 6, even after differences in individual grade 5 prior academic achievement were accounted for. These patterns were essentially the same for all racial/ethnic groups as well as for both English learner students and non–English learner students.

10/25/2021
REL 2022124 Predicting Early Fall Student Enrollment in the School District of Philadelphia
Predicting incoming enrollment is an ongoing concern for the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) and similar districts with school choice systems, substantial student mobility, or both. Inaccurate predictions can disrupt learning as districts adjust to enrollment fluctuations by reshuffling teachers and students well into the fall semester. This study compared the accuracy of four statistical techniques for predicting fall enrollment at the school-by-grade level, using data from prior years, to assess which approach might be the most useful for planning school staffing in SDP. The predictions differ little in accuracy: predicted cohort size differs from actual cohort size by roughly six students across all methods The statistical techniques leave much student mobility unaccounted for. Even under the best prediction approach, students and teachers in 22 percent of incoming grade levels within schools might have to be reassigned because of unexpected student mobility and district rules on maximum class size. Predictive accuracy is not meaningfully different in schools with larger proportions of Black students, economically disadvantaged students, or English learner students. Of the 259 predictors analyzed, 4 stand out as the most important: prior cohort sizes, in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, and absences.
10/12/2021
REL 2021226 Identifying Students At Risk Using Prior Performance Versus a Machine Learning Algorithm

This report provides information for administrators in local education agencies who are considering early warning systems to identify at-risk students. Districts use early warning systems to target resources to the most at-risk students and intervene before students drop out. Schools want to ensure the early warning system accurately identifies the students that need support to make the best use of available resources. The report compares the accuracy of using simple flags based on prior academic problems in school (prior performance early warning system) to an algorithm using a range of in- and out-of-school data to estimate the specific risk of each academic problem for each student in each quarter. Schools can use one or more risk-score cutoffs from the algorithm to create low- and high-risk groups. This study compares a prior performance early warning system to two risk-score cutoff options: a cutoff that identifies the same percentage of students as the prior performance early warning system, and a cutoff that identifies the 10 percent of students most at risk.

The study finds that the prior performance early warning system and the algorithm using the same-percentage risk score cutoffs are similarly accurate. Both approaches successfully identify most of the students who ultimately are chronically absent, have a low grade point average, or fail a course. In contrast, the algorithm with 10-percent cutoffs is good at targeting the students who are most likely to experience an academic problem; this approach has the advantage in predicting suspensions, which are rarer and harder to predict than the other outcomes. Both the prior performance flags and the algorithm are less accurate when predicting outcomes for students who are Black.

The findings suggest clear tradeoffs between the options. The prior performance early warning system is just as accurate as the algorithm for some purposes and is cheaper and easier to set up, but it does not provide fine-grained information that could be used to identify the students who are at greatest risk. The algorithm can distinguish degrees of risk among students, enabling a district to set cutoffs that vary depending on the prevalence of different outcomes, the harms of over-identifying versus under-identifying students at risk, and the resources available to support interventions.

9/28/2021
NCES 2021476 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC): First Look at Student Financial Aid Estimates for 2017–18
This First Look publication provides the first results of the 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC), the most comprehensive national study of student financing of postsecondary education in the United States. The study includes information for about 245,000 undergraduate students and 21,000 graduate students attending 1,900 postsecondary institutions in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. NPSAS:18-AC also provides state-level estimates for undergraduate students in 30 states. This report describes the percentages of students receiving various types of financial aid and average amounts received, by type of institution attended and institution state (for undergraduate students), and by type of institution, attendance pattern, graduate program, and income level (for graduate students).
9/16/2021
REL 2021107 Characteristics and Performance of High School Equivalency Exam Takers in New Jersey
Since 2014 the New Jersey Department of Education has offered three high school equivalency (HSE) exams for nongraduates seeking credentials: the GED, the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET), and the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC). This study used data on exam takers who had been grade 8 students in a New Jersey public school between 2008/09 and 2013/14 and who had attempted at least one HSE exam in New Jersey between March 2014 and December 2018. It analyzed how the characteristics of exam takers differ across exams and from the characteristics of non–exam takers, how the performance of exam takers with similar backgrounds varies, and how a recent reduction in the passing threshold for two of the exams affected passing rates. Among all students who had been grade 8 students in a New Jersey public school during the study years, HSE exam takers completed fewer years of school, were more likely to have been eligible for the national school lunch program in grade 8, and were more likely to identify as Black or Hispanic than non–exam takers. GED takers had received higher grade 8 standardized test scores, were more likely to identify as White, and were less likely to have been eligible for the national school lunch program in grade 8 than HiSET and TASC takers. Under the New Jersey Department of Education's original passing thresholds, exam takers in the study sample were more likely to pass the HiSET and TASC than the GED on the first attempt (after grade 8 standardized test scores were controlled for). However, after the reduction in passing thresholds, the first-attempt passing rate was similar across the three exams. Under the new passing thresholds, two-thirds of GED takers and more than half of HiSET and TASC takers passed on the first attempt, and—when all exam attempts are included—three-quarters of all exam takers ever passed each exam.
8/23/2021
NCES 2021411 One Year Later: Relationship Between 2015–16 Bachelor’s Degree Recipient Enrollment in Further Education and Pell Grant Receipt
This Data Point uses data from the 2016/17 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B: 16/17) to examine how Pell Grants for bachelor’s degrees relate to later education.
8/3/2021
REL 2021114 Using a survey of social and emotional learning and school climate to inform decisionmaking

The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has prioritized efforts to support students' social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies, such as perseverance and social awareness. To measure students' SEL competencies and the school experiences that promote SEL competencies (school climate), DCPS began administering annual surveys to students, teachers, and parents in 2017/18. DCPS partnered with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory to study how the district could use these surveys to improve students' outcomes. The study found the following:

  • Students' SEL competencies and school experiences are the most favorable in elementary school and the least favorable in middle school and the beginning of high school. This pattern suggests that schools might provide targeted supports before or during grades 6-10 to promote SEL competencies and school experiences when students need the most support.
  • The trajectories of students' SEL competencies and school experiences differed in different schools, to a similar degree as trajectories in academic measures like test scores. To understand why changes in SEL competencies and school experiences differ across schools, DCPS could explore differences in practices between schools with better and worse trajectories. In addition, DCPS could provide targeted support to schools with lower levels of positive change.
  • Of the SEL competencies and school experiences in DCPS's survey, self-management—how well students control their emotions, thoughts, and behavior—is most related to students' later academic outcomes. Programs or interventions that target self-management might have the most potential for improving students' outcomes compared to those that target other SEL competencies or school experiences.
  • In statistical models designed to predict students' future academic outcomes, SEL competency and school experience data add little accuracy beyond prior academic outcomes (such as achievement test scores and attendance) and demographic characteristics. Prior academic outcomes and demographic characteristics predict later outcomes with a high degree of accuracy, and they may implicitly incorporate the SEL competencies and school experiences. These findings suggest that DCPS would not need to use SEL competencies and school experiences to identify whether or not students are at risk of poor academic outcomes.
  • Student, teacher, and parent reports on SEL competencies and school experiences are positively related across schools, but they also exhibit systematic differences, suggesting that some respondent groups may not be aligned in their view of SEL competencies and school experiences. These differences may serve as a tool to help DCPS target efforts to improve communication among students, teachers, and parents.
8/3/2021
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