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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2017226 Growth mindset, performance avoidance, and academic behaviors in Clark County School District
Previous research strongly suggests that beliefs regarding the nature of ability and the payoff to effort (academic mindsets) and the related actions (academic behaviors) play an important role in supporting student success. Not much is known about the distribution of these beliefs among teachers and students in different academic contexts. This study examined the distribution of reported academic mindsets and behaviors in Nevada’s Clark County School District. The analysis revealed that most students reported beliefs that are largely consistent with a growth mindset. However, reported beliefs and behaviors differed significantly depending on students' English learner status, race/ethnicity, grade level and prior achievement. For example, Black and Hispanic students reported lower levels of growth mindset than White students. English learner students reported significantly lower levels of growth mindset and higher levels of performance avoidance than their non-English learner counter parts. Lower achieving students reported significantly lower levels of growth mindset and significantly higher levels of performance avoidance than their higher achieving peers. Teachers reported greater beliefs in growth mindset than students, and their beliefs regarding growth mindset did not, for the most part, vary significantly depending on the characteristics of the students attending their schools.
4/5/2017
REL 2017253 Implementing the extended school day policy in Florida's 300 lowest performing elementary schools
Since 2014, Florida law has required the 300 elementary schools with the lowest reading performance to provide supplemental reading instruction through an extended school day. This study found that in 2014/15, on average, the lowest performing schools were smaller than other elementary schools and served higher proportions of racial/ethnic minority students and students eligible for the federal school lunch program. Schools reported using a variety of strategies to comply with the extended school day policy such as increasing reading instruction time each day, increasing staff, providing professional development for teachers, and providing instruction in the extra hour that differed from instruction during the rest of the day. Increased professional development and curricular and pedagogic changes were identified as indirect benefits of implementation.
3/28/2017
REL 2017267 Exploring district-level expenditure-to-performance ratios
Districts across the nation are seeking ways to increase efficiency by maintaining, if not improving, educational outcomes using fewer resources. One proxy for school district efficiency is an expenditure-to-performance ratio, for example a ratio of per pupil expenditures to student academic performance. Using state education department data from an example state in the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands Region, researchers created six different expenditure-to-performance ratios and investigated how districts' inclusion in the highest quartile on districts rankings varied according to the expenditure and performance measures used to calculate each ratio. By demonstrating the variability in district rankings depending on the ratio being examined, this guide provides states and districts with evidence to suggest that state policymakers should carefully consider the examination of expenditure and performance measures that are most relevant to their questions of interest when investigating district efficiency.
3/22/2017
REL 2017250 How well does high school grade point average predict college performance by student urbanicity and timing of college entry?
This report examines how well high school GPA and college entrance exams predict college grades for particular subgroups of students who enrolled directly in college math and English in the University of Alaska system over a four-year period. The report builds on a previous Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest study and examines whether high school GPA is less predictive for certain groups of students, such as students who come from different parts of the state or recent high school graduates versus older students. This study used regression analysis to assess the extent to which high school GPA and test scores predict college grades. Regressions were estimated separately for English and math course grades and within each subject area for students who took the SAT, students who took the ACT, and students who took ACCUPLACER. Overall, high school GPA surpassed test scores in explaining variance in college course grades regardless of where students were from in Alaska. High school GPA explained 9-18 percentage of variance in course grades for urban students, while test scores explained 1-5 percentage of variance. Similarly, high school GPA explained 7-21 percentage of variance in course grades for rural students, while test scores explain 0-3 percentage of variance in course grades. High school GPA was also more predictive of college course performance for students who directly entered college from high school compared to those who delayed entry. These findings provide evidence of the predictive power of high school GPA in explaining the readiness of college students for college English and math across different groups of students. Secondary and postsecondary stakeholders can use these findings to engage in conversations regarding whether and how to use high school grade point average as part of the placement process.
2/28/2017
REL 2017179 A Guide to Calculating District Expenditure-to-Performance Ratios Using Publicly Available Data
Districts across the nation are seeking ways to increase efficiency by maintaining, if not improving, educational outcomes using fewer resources. One measure that is sometimes used as a proxy for school district efficiency is an expenditure-to-performance ratio, for example a ratio of per pupil expenditures to student academic performance. This guide shows states and districts how to use publicly available data about district-level expenditures and student academic performance to create six expenditure-to-performance ratios. By illustrating the steps needed to calculate different expenditure-to-performance ratios, the guide also provides states and districts with a straightforward strategy for exploring how conclusions about district efficiency may vary, sometimes substantially, depending on which types of expenditures and which measures of performance are considered. The guide is based on a recent Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northeast and Islands project conducted for the Northeast Rural Districts Research Alliance and uses state education department data from one state in the REL Northeast and Islands region. Through the illustration of the steps necessary for calculating expenditure-to-performance ratios, the guide provides states and districts with a set of steps they can use to explore districts' resource use. Particularly given the descriptive nature of the expenditure-to-performance ratios, the guide also summarizes both the implications for and the limitations of their use.
2/14/2017
REL 2017212 How are middle school climate and academic performance related across schools and over time?
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between school climate and academic performance in two different ways: (1) by comparing the academic performance of different schools with different levels of school climate and (2) by examining how changes in a school's climate were associated with changes in its students' academic achievement. To examine how school climate and academic performance are related, this study analyzed grade 7 student data from 2004/05 to 2010/11 from the California Healthy Kids Survey, the California Standardized Testing and Reporting program, and the California Basic Educational Data System for 978 middle schools in California. School climate was measured by a set of student survey questions that assessed students' perceptions about six domains of school climate. Schools with positive school climates were those in which students reported high levels of safety/connectedness, caring relationships with adults, and meaningful student participation, as well as low levels of substance use at school, bullying/discrimination, and student delinquency. Regression models were used to estimate the relationship between student-reported school climate and students' average academic performance across schools. Regression models were also used to estimate how, for a given school, academic performance changes as school climate changes. All models included controls for racial/ethnic composition, percentage of English learners, and percentage of students eligible for free/reduced-price meals. The study found that (1) middle schools with higher levels of positive student-reported school climate exhibited higher levels of academic performance; (2) increases in a school's level of positive student-reported school climate were associated with simultaneous increases in that school's academic achievement; and (3) within-school increases in academic achievement associated with school climate increases were substantially smaller than the academic performance differences across schools with different school climate levels. As positive school climate is continuing to gain more attention as a lever to improve student learning, there is increasing interest in how improvements in school climate are related to improvements in academic performance. Most studies examining the school climate-academic performance relationship compare the academic achievement across schools with different levels of school climate. Although the results of this study found that schools with high levels of positive school climate exhibited substantially higher levels of academic performance than their counterparts with low levels of positive school climate, such differences across schools were not an accurate guide for predicting the magnitude of school-specific gains in academic performance associated with increases in school climate.
1/31/2017
REL 2017167 A comparison of two approaches to identifying beating-the-odds high schools in Puerto Rico
The Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands conducted this study using data on public high schools in Puerto Rico from national and territory databases to compare methods for identifying beating-the-odds schools. Schools were identified by two methods, a status method that ranked high-poverty schools based on their current observed performance and an exceeding-achievement-expectations method that ranked high-poverty schools based on the extent to which their actual performance exceeded (or fell short of) their expected performance. Graduation rates, reading proficiency rates, and mathematics proficiency rates were analyzed to identify schools for each method. The identified schools were then compared by method to determine agreement rates—that is, the amount of overlap in schools identified by each method. The report presents comparisons of the groups of schools—those identified by each method and all public high-poverty high schools in Puerto Rico—on descriptive information. Using the two methods—ranking by status and ranking by exceeding-achievement-expectations—two different lists of beating-the-odds schools were identified. The status method identified 17 schools, and the exceeding-achievement-expectations method identified 15 schools. Six schools were identified by both methods. The agreement rate between the two lists of beating-the-odds schools was 38 percent. The analyses suggest that using both methods to identify beating-the-odds schools is the best strategy because high schools identified by both methods demonstrate high levels of absolute performance and appear to be achieving higher levels of graduation rates and percent proficiency than might be expected given their demographics and prior performance.
12/6/2016
REL 2017187 Advanced course enrollment and performance among English learner students in Washington state
Taking advanced high school courses (for example, honors, Advanced Placement, and dual-credit courses that offer college credits in high school) can help prepare students for postsecondary education and careers. English learner students, however, face unique obstacles to taking advanced courses because they must divide their time between acquiring English proficiency and learning academic content. This descriptive study examines patterns in advanced coursetaking among current and former English learner students and never-English learner students in Washington state. Using state data about students enrolled in Washington public schools between 2009/10 and 2012/13, this study analyzed advanced course enrollment patterns and performance among the groups of students. It finds that where students attend school and their academic preparation account for much of the difference in advanced coursetaking. Specifically, current and former English learner students take 0.5 to 1 fewer advanced courses per school year than their never-English learner peers but enroll in advanced classes at similar rates when they are similarly prepared. The study also found that, compared to never-English learner students, current and former English learner students are 40 to 50 percent less likely to complete algebra I in middle school and students who pass this course in middle school take more than twice as many upper-level math courses as students who pass algebra I in grade 9. Current, former, and never-English learner students earn similar grades in those upper-level math courses. In addition, schools with the lowest percentages of current and former English learner students offer more advanced courses than other schools, even after accounting for school characteristics such as average standardized math and reading test scores. To improve access to advanced courses, schools, districts, and state agencies could consider investigating why current and former English learner students with high grade point averages or state math test scores are not enrolling in advanced courses as often as never-English learner students. They also might address language barriers and restrictive policies that could deter otherwise qualified students from taking advanced courses and expand advanced coursetaking opportunities at schools with high percentages of English learner students.
11/2/2016
REL 2016162 How to use the School Survey of Practices Associated with High Performance
Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest, in partnership with its School Turnaround Research Alliance, developed a survey that state education departments and school districts can use to measure the degree to which schools are engaging in practices associated with high performance. An extensive literature review was conducted to determine key domains of practices and policies (for example, effective leadership, curriculum, professional development, positive school culture, data practices) in which high-performing schools engage, and a search was conducted to assess existing surveys that measured similar key dimensions and supporting constructs. The psychometric validation of the survey was completed using classical test theory and item response theory analyses. The guide includes information regarding ways that principals and educators can use the survey, as well as the development of the survey and its psychometric validation. Educators can utilize the survey to identify and describe practices associated with high performance, compare practices across subgroups of schools, target schools for specific interventions, and design interventions to improve school performance.
9/8/2016
REL 2016144 Measurement instruments for assessing the performance of professional learning communities
This annotated bibliography is a compilation of valid and reliable measures of key performance indicators of teacher professional learning communities (PLCs). The research team employed a rigorous process of searching and screening the scientific literature and other sources for relevant qualitative and quantitative instruments, followed by a careful review and evaluation of each instrument against established standards of measurement quality, such as reliability and validity, as well as the instrument’s ability to detect a variable’s change over time. This resource, which is organized according to key elements of a PLC logic model (i.e., a model that describes how PLCs are expected to operate to achieve their goals), is intended for researchers, practitioners, and education professionals who seek to engage in evidence-based planning, implementation, and evaluation of teacher PLCs. The PLC-related measurement instruments identified in this project include 31 quantitative and 18 qualitative instruments that assess a range of teacher/principal-, team-, and student-level variables.
8/31/2016
NCEE 20164004 Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After Three Years
The Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), now named the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program, provides grants to support performance-based compensation systems for teachers and principals in high-need schools. The study measures the impact of pay-for-performance bonuses as part of a comprehensive compensation system within a large, multisite random assignment study design. The treatment schools were to fully implement their performance-based compensation system. The control schools were to implement the same performance-based compensation system with one exception—the pay-for-performance bonus component was replaced with a one percent bonus paid to all educators regardless of performance. The report provides implementation and impact information after three years. Implementation was similar across the three years, with most districts (88 percent) implementing at least 3 of the 4 required components for teachers. In a subset of 10 districts participating in the random assignment study, educators' understanding of performance measures continued to improve during the third year, but many teachers still did not understand that they were eligible for a bonus. They also underestimated the maximum amount they could earn. The pay-for-performance bonus policy had small, positive impacts on students' reading and math achievement.
8/24/2016
REL 2016131 State policies for intervening in chronically low-performing schools: A 50-state scan
Recent federal initiatives such as School Improvement Grants and Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility emphasize the role of state education agencies (SEAs) in improving our nation’s lowest performing schools. However, the actions that SEAs can take are limited by the policies in place in their states. This report provides a summary of current policies in all 50 states related to state interventions with chronically underperforming schools. Laws and regulations were classified into six broad categories of interventions related to: school improvement plans, staffing, closing a school, financial incentives or interventions, the day-to-day operation of the school, and the entity that governs or operates a school. State policies show a great deal of consistency in approaches to supporting the lowest-performing schools, perhaps because many of the interventions align closely with federal guidance for improving chronically low-performing schools. Despite strong alignment of state policies with federal guidance, state policies vary in terms of the breadth of interventions they allow states to implement. About a third of states have policies related to all six categories of interventions. Seven states have policies allowing interventions falling into only two or three of the six categories. State policies also vary in the specific interventions allowed within each category. This report can help state education leaders and policymakers learn how other states are approaching the challenge of turning around their lowest-performing schools, which can facilitate communication among states considering similar approaches.
6/28/2016
REL 2016141 School reading performance and the extended school day policy in Florida
Beginning with the 2012/13 school year, Florida law required that the 100 lowest-performing elementary schools in reading extend the school day. This study examined how the lowest performing schools implemented the extended school day policy and the trends in school reading performance among the lowest performing schools and other elementary schools. The lowest-performing schools were located throughout Florida and on average, were smaller but served higher proportions of minorities and higher proportions of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch compared to other elementary schools. The lowest-performing schools reported increasing the number of minutes of reading instruction provided to students, increasing staff, and providing different instruction in the extra hour than during other reading instructional blocks. An increase in reading performance was observed for the lowest-performing schools the year the extended school day was implemented. However, this increase did not exceed what would have been expected in the absence of the required increase in reading instruction.
6/16/2016
REL 2016138 Summary of research on the association between state interventions in chronically low-performing schools and student achievement
This report presents a summary of research on the associations between state interventions in chronically low-performing schools and student achievement. The majority of the research focused on one type of state intervention: working with a turnaround partner. In this type of intervention, states assign an individual or team to work with a school to identify strengths and weaknesses, develop a school improvement plan, and provide technical assistance as the school implements the plan. In some cases, additional funding is also provided to support implementation of the school improvement efforts. Most of the studies were descriptive, which limits conclusions about the effectiveness of the interventions. Results of studies of turnaround partner interventions were mixed, and suggested that student achievement was more likely to improve when particular factors were in place in schools such as strong leadership, use of data to guide instruction, and a positive school culture characterized by trust and increased expectations for students. Although researchers sought to include research on a variety of state intervention types, few studies were identified that examined other types of interventions such as school closure, charter conversion, and school redesign.
4/27/2016
NCEE 20164002 Case Studies of Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants: Final Report
This evaluation report tracks the implementation of School Improvement Grants (SIG) by examining the actions and reactions of 25 SIG schools as they attempt to turn around a history of low performance.
4/14/2016
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