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 Pub Number  Title  Date
WWC SSR82160 The impact of computer usage on academic performance: Evidence from a randomized trial at the United States Military Academy
The 2016 study, "The Impact of Computer Usage on Academic Performance: Evidence from a Randomized Trial at the United States Military Academy," examined the impacts of computer usage on the academic performance of college students. The study found that students who were permitted to use Internet-enabled devices in class scored lower on final exams than those in classes that prohibited the use of such devices. The impact estimate for the combined multiple choice and short answer portion of the final exam meets WWC group design standards without reservations. The impact estimate for the essay question portion of the final exam does not meet WWC group design standards because essays were only graded once and therefore, the authors were unable to report a measure of reliability for these scores.
2/22/2017
WWC SSR81036 WWC Review of "A randomized control trial of a statewide voluntary prekindergarten program on children’s skills and behaviors through third grade (Research report)."
For the 2015 study, "A Randomized Control Trial of a Statewide Voluntary Prekindergarten Program on Children's Skills and Behaviors Through Third Grade," researchers used a quasi-experimental design to compare outcomes for children based on whether they had attended at least 20 days of the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program, a public full-day program for 4-year-old children operated by participating school districts. They found positive impacts for participating students by the start of kindergarten, including higher test scores on outcomes related to cognition, mathematics, alphabetics, and comprehension and better work-related skills and social behavior. However, they found negative impacts on some math outcomes (quantitative concepts and applied problems) at the end of second and third grade. The researchers demonstrated baseline equivalence of the intervention and comparison groups in these analyses, and therefore, the study meets WWC group design standards with reservations.
9/27/2016
WWC SSR062816 WWC Review of the Report "Music Training Alters the Course of Adolescent Auditory Development"
The study authors examined whether high school students who chose to enroll and remain in a music training program improved their auditory and literacy skills more than students who did not choose to enroll in a music training program. The music program included instruction on playing instruments in groups using written music.
6/28/2016
WWC SSR10111 WWC Review of the Report "The Impact of Indiana's System of Interim Assessments on Mathematics and Reading Achievement"
The study, The Impact of Indiana's System of Interim Assessments on Mathematics and Reading, examined the effects of using Diagnostic Assessment Tools (DAT) on mathematics and reading outcomes for students in 59 Indiana schools during the 2009-10 academic year. DAT consists of interim assessment tools--Wireless Generation's mCLASS for students in grades K-2 and CTB/McGraw-Hill's Acuity for students in grades 3-8--modified to align with Indiana's state assessments. The goal is for teachers to use the assessment results to tailor instruction to students needs. After random assignment, schools in the intervention group received DAT, and schools in the comparison group did not receive the assessment tools or associated training. The study is a well-executed randomized controlled trial with low sample attrition. A subset of the analyses described in the study meets WWC group design standards without reservations. The study authors found, and the WWC confirmed, that the use of DAT did not have a statistically significant impact on general mathematics achievement or reading achievement for the full sample of students in grades K-8, but that the use of DAT did have statistically significant positive effects for grades 5 and 6 in mathematics achievement and grades 3-5 in reading achievement.
2/3/2015
WWC SSR10113 WWC Review of the Report "Does Working Memory Moderate the Effects of Fraction Intervention? An Aptitude-Treatment Interaction"
The 2013 study, Does Working Memory Moderate the Effects of Fraction Intervention? An Aptitude-Treatment Interaction, examined the impacts of the fluency and conceptual versions of Fraction Face-Off!, a math instruction program designed to improve knowledge of fractions and decimals in fourth-graders at risk for low mathematics achievement. The program emphasizes the measurement approach to teaching fractions and the use of a number line to represent, compare, and order fractions. For this study, students were randomly assigned to three conditions: a fluency group, a conceptual group, and a comparison group. The analytic sample included 243 students. This well-executed study that meets WWC group design standards without reservations found that both fluency and conceptual versions of the program had positive impacts on math achievement.
12/16/2014
WWC SSR20120 WWC Review of the Report "Freshman Year Financial Aid Nudges: An Experiment to Increase FAFSA Renewal and College Persistence"
The 2014 study, Freshman Year Financial Aid Nudges: An Experiment to Increase FAFSA Renewal and College Persistence, measured the impact of sending text message reminders regarding annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) renewal to first-year college students who were already receiving financial aid. The study sample included 808 students, most of whom were attending a postsecondary institution in Massachusetts. Students in the intervention group received text messages approximately every 2 weeks. The messages offered assistance with the financial aid process, reminders of important deadlines, and reminders about maintaining satisfactory grades. The comparison group did not receive the text messages. Study results demonstrated that while text messaging the financial aid renewal information had no significant effect overall on the rates of student persistence from their freshman to their sophomore years, it was effective in increasing freshman to sophomore year persistence at 2-year colleges. This is a well-executed randomized controlled trial that meets WWC group design standards without reservations.
12/16/2014
WWC SSR232 WWC Review of the Report "The Short-Term Effects of the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship on Student Outcomes"
Researchers examined the impacts of the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship program on academic and behavioral outcomes of students in grades 9–12 in Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS). The Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship program offers college scholarships to graduating high school students in the KPS district. The percentage of tuition and fees covered is dependent on how long a student has attended school in the district. Students attending since kindergarten receive the full 100% of tuition and fees. Students attending since ninth grade receive a scholarship covering 65%. Students who enter KPS in tenth grade or later are not eligible to receive the scholarship. To assess the program’s impacts, researchers compared the academic and behavioral outcomes of students in high school, before and after the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship program was introduced. Student outcomes that were included in the study were: student grade point averages, whether students earned course credits, the number of course credits earned, incidence of and number of days spent in suspension, and incidence of and number of days spent in in-school detention. This study uses a quasi-experimental design in which baseline equivalence of the groups cannot be demonstrated. Therefore, the research does not meet WWC group design standards.
8/26/2014
WWC SSR10057 WWC Review of the Report “Longitudinal Evaluation of a Scale-Up Model for Teaching Mathematics with Trajectories and Technologies”
The 2012 study, Longitudinal Evaluation of a Scale-Up Model for Teaching Mathematics with Trajectories and Technologies, examined the effects of Technology-enhanced, Research-based, Instruction, Assessment, and professional Development (TRIAD), a math intervention for preschoolers that combines a curriculum, a software-based teaching tool, and in-person teacher professional development. TRIAD is designed for young children, particularly those at risk of low math achievement. The study also included an assessment of whether continuing the intervention through kindergarten improved math achievement at the end of kindergarten. To measure the impacts of the program, researchers randomized 42 schools to implement TRIAD or to not implement TRIAD. The researchers then assessed the math achievement of 963 children from 42 schools at the start of preschool (prior to intervention), at the end of preschool (after 1 year of study participation), and at the end of kindergarten (after 2 years of study participation). The study found that the TRIAD intervention had positive effects on student math performance. The study meets WWC group design standards with reservations because it is a randomized controlled trial that demonstrates baseline equivalence but has unknown levels of study attrition.
7/1/2014
WWC SSR227 WWC Review of the Report “Incentives, Selection, and Teacher Performance: Evidence from IMPACT”
The study examined the effects of IMPACT, the teacher evaluation system used in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), on teacher retention and performance. IMPACT assigns each teacher a single performance score based on classroom observations, student achievement, core professionalism, and their contributions to the school. Based on these scores, teachers are assigned one of four ratings: Highly Effective, Effective, Minimally Effective, or Ineffective. Highly Effective teachers receive sizeable increases in compensation, Minimally Effective teachers are scheduled for dismissal if improvement does not occur in 1 year, and Ineffective teachers are immediately dismissed.
7/1/2014
WWC SSR10070 WWC Review of the Report "Staying on Track: Testing Higher Achievement's Long-Term Impact on Academic Outcomes and High School Choice"
The 2013 study, Staying on Track: Testing Higher Achievement’s Long-Term Impact on Academic Outcomes and High School Choice, examined the effects of Higher Achievement, a multi-year afterschool and summer program for incoming fifth and sixth graders attending schools in at-risk communities. The program's goal is to improve academic achievement and encourage matriculation into an academically competitive high school. The study included 952 fifth and sixth graders in Washington, DC and Alexandria, Virginia. The researchers found that 4 years after randomization, students who were offered participation in Higher Achievement had significantly higher standardized test scores in mathematical problem solving. They were also significantly more likely than comparison students to be admitted to and matriculate at private high schools, and were less likely to apply to, be admitted to, and matriculate at noncompetitive public charter/magnet schools. No statistically significant differences were found for standardized tests of reading comprehension; application to private schools; application to, admittance to, or matriculation at competitive public charter/magnet schools; or matriculation at neighborhood public schools. This study is a well-executed randomized controlled trial that meets WWC evidence standards without reservations.
4/15/2014
WWC SSR220 WWC Review of the CREDO Charter School Studies
The study, National Charter School Study: 2013, examined the effect of charter schools on annual student achievement growth in reading and math in 25 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City. The study primarily used data on students in grades 3-8, but additional elementary and high school grades were included for several states. Researchers compared year-to-year test score changes from state-level standardized reading and math tests administered during the 2008–09 through 2010–11 school years. This research meets WWC evidence standards with reservations. Although the charter school students and traditional students were well matched, using demographic and academic characteristics, unobserved differences may have existed. In addition, the study results are difficult to interpret because they blend 1-year gains from the first year of charter school attendance and 1-year gains during subsequent years.
1/28/2014
WWC SSR222 WWC Review of the Report "KIPP Middle Schools: Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes, Final Report"
The 2013 study, KIPP Middle Schools: Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes, Final Report, examined whether attending a Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) middle school improved students’ academic performance for up to 4 years following enrollment. For the experimental portion of the study, researchers used admissions lotteries to place about 1,000 students into either a KIPP middle school or a traditional middle school. For the quasi-experimental portion of the study, researchers used baseline achievement and demographic characteristics to match 15,916 students in 41 KIPP middle schools with similar students who had attended non-KIPP public middle schools in the same school district in the previous year. Researchers then used state assessments in math, reading, science, and social studies to measure student achievement. The experimental portion of the study meets WWC evidence standards without reservations for the 1-year follow-up. However, the research on the later follow-ups meets standards with reservations because of the large number of students who stopped participating in the study. The quasi-experimental portion of the study meets WWC evidence standards with reservations; although the KIPP students and traditional public school students included in the analysis were well-matched, other differences may have existed between the groups that could have influenced student achievement.
11/19/2013
WWC SSR10030 WWC Review of the Report "The Role of Application Assistance and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment"
The 2012 study, The Role of Application Assistance and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment, examined the impact of two interventions related to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on postsecondary outcomes of low- to moderate-income individuals. The two interventions included (1) providing an estimate of need-based aid compared against tuition costs for nearby colleges and assistance in completing the FAFSA, and (2) only providing an estimate of need-based aid. Outcomes included the likelihood of filing the FAFSA, college enrollment, receipt of a Pell Grant, and retention in college after 2 years. Researchers presented results for three distinct subgroups: (a) 17-year-old high school seniors and recent graduates who were dependent on their parents; (b) independent adults aged 24 to 30 years with no college experience; and (c) independent adults aged 24 to 30 years with some college, but no degree. The research described in this report meets WWC evidence standards with reservations. This study is a well-executed randomized controlled trial; however, impacts were presented for three distinct subgroups, and attrition for each of the subgroups cannot be calculated due to unknown subgroup information at baseline.
11/19/2013
WWC SSR10022 WWC Review of the Report "School Turnarounds: Evidence From the 2009 Stimulus"
The 2012 study, School Turnarounds: Evidence From the 2009 Stimulus, examined the effects of being eligible for and receiving School Improvement Grants (SIGs) on schoolwide achievement of students in 2,892 low-performing California public schools. SIGs are federally funded and offered to schools that are identified as persistently lowest achieving. The study used a regression discontinuity design in which average test score levels and changes on California's Academic Performance Index (API) defined which schools were eligible to receive a SIG. Because the study schools were not shown to be equivalent on all variables related to school level achievement, the research meets WWC regression discontinuity design standards with reservations. Changes in API may have been influenced by improved student learning, the movement of students from one school to another, or a combination of these factors. Additionally, the study analyzed school-level effects, and the magnitude of these effects cannot be directly compared to the magnitude of an effect from an intervention that uses student-level data for the analysis. Finally, as a result of the design used for the study, the reported impacts are only valid at the thresholds that define the eligibility criteria, and do not generalize to all SIG-eligible schools.
11/19/2013
WWC SSR10052 WWC Review of the Report "Assessing the Effectiveness of First Step to Success: Are Short-term Results the First Step to Long-term Behavioral Improvements?"
The 2013 study, Assessing the Effectiveness of First Step to Success: Are Short-term Results the First Step to Long-term Behavioral Improvements?, examined the effects of First Step to Success (First Step), a school- and home-based program intended to improve outcomes for students with moderate to severe behavior problems who may be at risk for academic failure. Researchers randomly assigned 48 elementary schools from across five states to either an intervention group that received the First Step program or a comparison group that received regular instruction. Study authors measured the effects of First Step by comparing parent, teacher, and researcher assessments of student behavior for students in the intervention and comparison groups. While 10 outcomes were measured, only three met WWC evidence standards with reservations: academic engaged time (the proportion of time a student is academically involved), problem behavior, and academic competence. Although the schools were randomly assigned to the intervention and comparison groups, the students who were selected to participate in the study may have differed systematically across the schools. In particular, teachers' selection of the students for the study and the parental consent process both occurred after randomization and, therefore, both of these processes could have been affected by knowledge of the school's research condition. Because of these selection and consent issues, the study was reviewed as a quasi-experimental design by the WWC. The research for the remaining seven outcomes measured did not meet WWC standards.
9/10/2013
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