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 Pub Number  Title  Date
NCEE 20144013 A Focused Look At Rural Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants
The Study of School Turnaround is a set of case studies of the school improvement process in a purposive sample of 35 schools receiving federal funds through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program over a three-year period (school years 2010-11 to 2012-13). This evaluation brief focuses on the nine SIG schools that were in rural areas and how respondents in these schools perceived their rural context to influence specific turnaround activities. Key findings that emerged from the rural case study data collected in spring 2012 include:
  • Although rural SIG schools reported some challenges that nonrural SIG schools have also reported, such as low student motivation and staff morale, the rural schools reported additional challenges resulting from their schools' remote locations and large catchment areas. For example, respondents reported that these rural characteristics affected the recruitment or retention of teachers and, to a lesser extent, parents' involvement in the schools.
  • School and district administrators in eight of the nine schools suggested that long teacher commutes or isolated communities posed challenges to recruiting or retaining teachers. To counter these challenges, respondents in two schools reported offering direct support for teacher commutes (for example, gas stipends or vans), and respondents in three schools reported offering signing bonuses to incoming teachers.
  • School and district administrators and teaching staff in the nine schools mentioned multiple factors limiting parent involvement in school-based activities. Respondents from five schools perceived that a lack of access to transportation limited parent involvement, whereas respondents from three schools noted that the distance between schools and parents' homes was a contributing factor. Four schools focused on hiring or expanding the role of parent liaisons to increase parent involvement.
NCEE 20144010 Do Disadvantaged Students Get Less Effective Teaching?

Newly emerging research is beginning to shed light on the extent to which disadvantaged students have access to effective teaching, based on value added measures. "Value added" is a teacher's contribution to students' learning gains. Because individual researchers have varied in their presentation of this evidence, it is challenging for practitioners to draw lessons from the data. This brief highlights and summarizes three recent IES studies.

The brief found that:

  • Disadvantaged students received less-effective teaching on average. Based on data from 29 districts in grades 4-8 and two states in grades 4 and 5, disadvantaged students received less-effective teaching in a given year than other students in those grades. The average disparity in teaching effectiveness was equivalent to about four weeks of learning for reading and two weeks for math. For context, the overall achievement gap for disadvantaged students in grades four through eight is equivalent to about 24 months in reading and 18 months in math. Study authors estimate differences in teaching effectiveness for one year represent 4 percent of the existing gap in reading and 2 to 3 percent in math.
  • Access to effective teaching varied across districts. The size of the differences in effective teaching in a given year between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students varied across the 29 districts studied. The disparities for each district ranged from no statistically significant difference to a difference equivalent to 13 weeks of learning in reading and math in grades 4 through 8.
NCEE 20144008 Operational Authority, Support, and Monitoring of School Turnaround
The federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, to which $3 billion were allocated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), supports schools attempting to turn around a history of low performance. School turnaround also is a focus of Race to the Top (RTT), another ARRA-supported initiative, which involved a roughly $4 billion comprehensive education reform grant competition for states. Given the size of these federal investments, in 2010 the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), began to conduct a large-scale evaluation of RTT and SIG to better understand the implementation and impacts of these programs. The SIG component, in particular, focuses on a purposive sample of SIG-eligible schools, including (1) a group of schools that received SIG to implement one of four intervention models specified by the U.S. Department of Education and (2) a comparison group of schools from the same districts that were not implementing one of these four intervention models with SIG support. Though the results from this evaluation of SIG are not necessarily generalizable to SIG schools nationwide, they are nonetheless important because they add to the limited knowledge base about the implementation and impacts of SIG-funded school turnaround efforts.
NCEE 20134020 Instructional Practices and Student Math Achievement: Correlations from a Study of Math Curricula
This evaluation brief is directed to researchers and adds to the research base about instructional practices that are related to student achievement. Additional evidence on these relationships can suggest specific hypotheses for future study of instruction practices, which, in turn, will provide research evidence that could inform professional development of teachers and the writing of instructional materials.
NCEE 20134019 After Two Years, Three Elementary Math Curricula Outperform a Fourth
The purpose of this report is to generate hypotheses for future research. The pattern of relationships between instructional patterns and student achievement is largely consistent with earlier research, but not in every case. Results that are less consistent with earlier research include lower achievement associated with: higher frequency of teachers eliciting multiple strategies and solutions; higher frequency of prompting a student to lead the class in a routine; and higher frequency of students asking each other questions.
NCEE 20134018 Addressing Teacher Shortages in Disadvantaged Schools: Lessons From Two Institute of Education Sciences Studies
Two IES studies evaluated teachers from two highly selective alternative routes--Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows programs--and less selective alternative routes that accept nearly all applicants. An evaluation brief discusses the following lessons learned from these two studies:
  • Teachers who enter teaching through alternative routes to certification can help fill teacher shortages in hard-to-staff schools and subjects without reducing student achievement.
  • Coursework taken while teaching appears to decrease teachers' effectiveness.
  • Predicting teacher effectiveness at the time of hiring appears to be difficult.
NCEE 20094055 NCEE Evaluation Brief: Professional Development for Early Reading Teachers
Research-based professional development for early reading teachers increased their knowledge of reading content and recommended instructional practices and their use of one of those practices (explicit instruction). But it did not improve student reading achievement. For the full evaluation report visit:
NCEE 20124022 What Are Districts' Written Policies Regarding Student Substance-Related Incidents?
Recent events have increased interest in district policies relating to student substance use and whether they best serve the needs of their communities and students. To better understand the nature of the policies that may be in use around the country, the Institute of Education Sciences commissioned a study to examine the features of the written substance-related policies for the 100 largest school districts in the country. Key findings include:
  • A large majority of districts indicate that students may or will be reported to law enforcement for incidents involving the possession or use (86 percent of districts) or sale or distribution (87 percent of districts) of alcohol or drugs.
  • Other responses include principal-determined suspensions (98 percent of districts indicate that students may or will be subject to a principal-determined suspension for possession or use; 84 percent of districts indicate that students may or will be subject to a principal-determined suspension for sale or distribution), recommendation for an expulsion hearing (90 percent for possession or use; 94 percent for sale or distribution), placement in an alternative schooling program (80 percent for possession or use; 71 percent for sale or distribution), and parent conference or notification (85 percent for possession or use; 82 percent for sale or distribution).
  • Nearly one-third of districts (30 percent) report having graduated sanctions for repeat offenses. For example, 15 percent of districts explicitly allow principals to increase the duration of a suspension for possession or use if it is the student’s second offense.
NCEE 20114016 NCEE Evaluation Brief: Do Low-Income Students have Equal Access to the Highest-Performing Teachers?
Analyses using data from ten selected districts describes the prevalence of teachers ranked in the top 20 percent (highest-performing teachers). The overall patterns indicate that low-income students have unequal access, on average, to the districts’ highest-performing teachers at the middle school level but not at the elementary level. Within the ten districts studied, some have an under-representation of the highest-performing teachers in high-poverty elementary and middle schools. However, other districts have such under-representation only at the middle school level, and one district has a disproportionate share of the district’s highest-performing teachers in its high-poverty elementary schools.

These analyses were conducted as part of the implementation of an impact evaluation (Impact Evaluation Of Moving High-Performing Teachers to Low-Performing Schools) carried out by Mathematica Policy Research for the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance within the Institute of Education Sciences. The analyses are in support of NCEE’s work to advance our understanding of teacher quality and strategies to improve it. The districts that are the subject of this evaluation brief include eight of the ten districts currently participating in the impact evaluation and two additional districts. The impact evaluation is looking at using monetary incentives to attract higher-performing teachers into low-achieving schools. For both this evaluation brief and the impact study, the highest-performing teachers in the tested grades and subjects within school districts are identified by conducting value-added analyses using student test scores. In the impact study, teachers are offered a series of bonus payments totaling up to $20,000 over two years for transferring into and remaining in targeted low-achieving schools within their district. A report from the first year of data collection from the impact evaluation is expected in 2012.
NCEE 20094074 NCEE Evaluation Brief: Impact of the Federal School-based Student Mentoring Program
School-based mentoring programs can provide at-risk students with guidance, academic assistance, and new experiences. But mentoring programs under the federal competitive Student Mentoring Program grants had no statistically significant impacts on student-level outcomes after one school year. For the full evaluation report visit:
NCEE 20094075 NCEE Evaluation Brief: Relative Achievement Effects of Four Early Elementary School Math Curricula
With greater attention being given to the need for all students to meet state proficiency targets, educators are increasingly looking for effective curricula to boost achievement, especially among more disadvantaged students. After one year this study demonstrated that math achievement for grade 1 students was significantly higher among schools using the Math Expressions and Saxon Math curricula than among those using Investigations in Number, Data, and Space and Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics. For the full evaluation report visit:
NCEE 20094076 NCEE Evaluation Brief: The Effect of Supplemental Reading Comprehension Curricula on Grade 5 Students
Educators are looking for ways to improve reading comprehension across content areas in late elementary years, especially among more disadvantaged students who increasingly fall behind. But first-year results from this study of four grade 5 supplemental reading comprehension curricula show no effects for three of the curricula and a negative effect for the fourth. For the full evaluation report visit:
NCEE 20094069 NCEE Evaluation Brief: Comprehensive Teacher Induction
Supporting beginning teachers with a comprehensive induction program could compensate for their inadequate preparation and reduce high turnover. But after the first year, comprehensive induction made a difference only in the kind of support beginning teachers received. It had no impact on teacher practices, student test scores, teacher retention, or the characteristics of a district's teaching force. For the full evaluation report visit:
NCEE 20094070 NCEE Evaluation Brief: The Effects of Teachers Trained through Different Routes to Certification
Do students have different learning outcomes when teachers complete their certification requirements before they start teaching-rather than after? Apparently not. Nor do classroom practices vary for teachers who choose different routes. For the full evaluation report visit:
NCEE 20094054 NCEE Evaluation Brief: Reading First's Impact
Reading First did not improve student reading comprehension in grades 1, 2, or 3. But it did improve first grader's skills in decoding unfamiliar words. And it produced changes in several instructional practices, such as the amount of time spent on five essential components of reading instruction and the amount of professional development in reading instruction. For the full evaluation report visit:
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