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Institute of Education Sciences

The NCES Ed Tech Equity Initiative Framework

In a recent blog post, NCES announced the groundbreaking work of the NCES Ed Tech Equity Initiative. The Center’s efforts for this initiative focus on working with stakeholders to identify how NCES data collection, reporting, and dissemination efforts can better inform the relationship between technology and K–12 students’ educational experiences and outcomes. 

THE FRAMEWORK

As part of these efforts, NCES developed a framework to better understand the various facets that influence technology in K–12 education, as well as how these facets interact. The framework was created through extensive research and is designed to be revised over time to align with changes in the ed tech equity space.

The NCES Ed Tech Equity Framework, included below, is comprised of four critical components—Indicators (located in the center of the framework), Dimensions and Environments (the green and purple circle), and Change Agents (shown in the outer gray circle).

HOW IT WORKS

The interaction of the framework elements informs ed tech equity and NCES data collection:

  • Indicators represent the broad categories used to measure or assess education technology—relevant NCES survey questions will fit within at least one of the Indicator categories.
  • Dimensions are the key perspectives through which NCES focuses its ed tech equity data collection efforts.
  • Environments are the settings that facilitate educational experiences.
  • Finally, Change Agents are factors that impact or influence students’ educational experiences and outcomes.

Below, a few existing NCES items are mapped to the framework to illustrate how it will be used in NCES data collection:

  • TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES AND SUPPORT
  • TEACHING IN-SCHOOL: In this school year, did your school offer training for teachers on how to use computers or other digital devices?  —NAEP, 2017

  • TECHNOLOGY KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ATTITUDES
  • TEACHING OUT-OF-SCHOOL: During the last 12 months, which of the following activities have you or another family member done with [your 9th grader]?

- Worked or played on a computer together  —HSLS, 2009

  • INTEGRATION OF TECHNOLOGY
  • LEARNING IN SCHOOLDo you use the Internet to do any of the following tasks for schoolwork (including classroom tasks, homework, studying outside of class)?

- c) Collaborate with classmates on assignments or projects  —TIMSS, 2015‚Äč

NEXT STEPS

NCES recently convened an expert panel to assist with evaluating NCES’ existing technology-related efforts and provide recommendations on priorities for future NCES data collection, reporting, and dissemination. Feedback from the panel will assist us in our efforts to provide greater focus on the relationship between technology and K–12 students’ educational experiences and outcomes. We plan to share insights from the expert panel meeting in an upcoming blog post.

 

By Halima Adenegan, NCES, and Emily Martin, Hager Sharp

 

New Reports and Resources Around ELs and STEM

In recent months, several federal reports and resources related to English learner (EL) learning and education related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have been released.

First, the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) released its third “data story” about ELs in US schools. This story, which builds on two previously released stories about the characteristics and educational experiences of ELs, focuses specifically on ELs’ NAEP performance and high school graduation rates. Through interactive infographics (many of which are built on data from the National Center for Education Statistics), the story shows that higher percentages of ELs are proficient in math than in reading, but that nearly half of all states experienced declines in the number of ELs who scored proficient in math between 2009 and 2017. The story also shows that graduation rates for ELs improved by 10 percentage points between 2010-11 and 2015-16 (from 57 percent to 67 percent), but still fall well below the rates for non-ELs (84 percent). While interesting and informative, the data story also underscores the necessity of research and development to produce better resources and information to support EL learning.

In that vein, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released English Learners in STEM Subjects: Transforming Classrooms, Schools, and Lives. This report examines what we know about ELs’ learning, teaching, and assessment in STEM subjects and provides guidance on how to improve STEM learning outcomes for these students. It reflects the consensus of a committee of EL experts that was chaired by NCER and NCSER grantee Dr. David Francis and included past grantees Dr. Okhee Lee and Dr. Mary Schleppegrell alongside a dozen other experts in EL education, STEM education, and teaching. One of the report’s central conclusions is that ELs develop proficiency in both STEM subjects and language when their classroom teachers provide them with opportunities for meaningful interaction and actively support both content and language learning. Given that many STEM teachers do not receive preparation to teach in this way, the report provides several recommendations to improve pre-service and in-service training. It also includes recommendations for how developers and publishers might produce better instructional materials and assessments to help both teachers and EL students. 

Efforts of both types – instructional preparation and development of new materials – may be further supported by two new toolkits released by the Office of Education Technology. The toolkits are designed for educators and developers, and each is organized around five specific guiding principles to help the targeted group approach education technology with ELs’ unique needs in mind. The principles for developers emphasize the importance of thinking ahead about EL needs for those who wish to make products for this population. Meanwhile, the educator principles center on issues of awareness, and encourage teachers to learn more about the features, platforms, and resources that are available for ELs in the world of education technology. The principles also complement one another – for example, developers are encouraged to offer instruction-focused professional development, and educators are encouraged to seek out the same.

Brought together, these resources provide a snapshot of ELs’ mathematics achievement, a summary of research evidence about learning and instruction for ELs in STEM, and a set of principles to guide instruction and development efforts in the technology space moving forward. They also make a clear case for continued investment in R&D efforts to support STEM learning for both EL students and their teachers. Since 2010, the National Center for Education Research has invested nearly $20 million across 13 research and researcher-practioner partnership grants that have focused on STEM learning and ELs. Several such grants are coming to a close in the 2019 fiscal year; watch this space for future blog posts about the products and findings from these projects.

 

Increasing Access to Education Research

by Erin Pollard, ERIC Project Officer

IES funds approximately $237 million of research a year in order to provide practitioners and policymakers with the information they need to improve education. But what good is that research if it sits behind a paywall and the people who need it the most can’t access it? That is the thought behind IES’s Public Access Policy. It requires all of our grantees and contractors to make the full text of any peer reviewed work that we funded freely available through ERIC within a year of publication.

Before the policy was adopted in 2011, the majority of the work funded by the National Center for Education Research and National Center for Special Education Research appeared in peer reviewed journals. These journals are largely subscription based; meaning only those who had access to a library with a subscription could access the articles. Given that journal subscriptions are frequently over $1,000 per journal per year and annual subscriptions for academic databases start at close to $10,000 per year, many smaller schools and districts simply cannot afford to purchase access to high quality research. Their teachers and administrators must rely on freely available resources.

IES wanted to change the model. We believe that because IES-supported research is publicly funded, the results should be publicly available. We have worked with publishers, editors, and grantees to find a way to make our policy mutually beneficial.

We are not alone in this effort. IES is part of a larger federal initiative to make most research findings publicly available. Federal agencies are coordinating to adopt similar policies all across the government to increase the availability of good science and to improve evidence-based decision making.

Since we adopted the policy 5 years ago we have been able to make more than 600 publications freely available in ERIC and will be able to release 250 more in the next year. This is just the beginning. We expect more and more work to become available each year. Because ERIC powers other search engines and academic databases with its metadata, we are disseminating these full text articles widely, wherever users are looking for their research. By giving teachers, administrators and policymakers access to high quality research, we are able to get our work into the hands of the people who can use it to build a brighter future for our Nation’s students.

CAPR: Answers to Pressing Questions in Developmental Education

Since 2014, IES has funded the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) to answer questions about the rapidly evolving landscape of developmental education at community colleges and open-access four-year institutions. CAPR is providing new insights into how colleges are reforming developmental education and how their reforms are impacting student outcomes through three major studies:

  • A survey and interviews about developmental education practices and reform initiatives
  • An evaluation of the use of multiple measures for assessing college readiness
  • An evaluation of math pathways.

Preliminary results from these studies indicate that some reforms help more students finish their developmental requirements and go on to do well in college-level math and English.

National Study of Developmental Education Policies and Practices

CAPR has documented widespread reform in developmental education at two- and four-year colleges through a national survey and interviews on developmental education practices and reforms. Early results from the survey show that colleges are moving away from relying solely on standardized tests for placing students into developmental courses. Colleges are also using new approaches to delivering developmental education including shortening developmental sequences by compressing or combining courses, using technology to deliver self-paced instruction, and placing developmental students into college-level courses with extra supports, often called corequisite remediation.

Developmental Math Instructional Methods in Public Two-Year Colleges (Percentages of Colleges Implementing Specific Reform Strategies)

Notes: Percentages among two-year public colleges that reported offering developmental courses. Colleges were counted as using an instructional method if they used it in at least two course sections. Categories are not mutually exclusive.

Evaluation of Developmental Math Pathways and Student Outcomes

CAPR has teamed up with the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin to evaluate the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) curriculum at four community colleges in Texas. The math pathways model tailors math courses to particular majors, with a statistics pathway for social science majors, a quantitative reasoning pathway for humanities majors, and an algebra-to-calculus pathway for STEM majors. DCMP originally compressed developmental math into one semester, though now the Dana Center is recommending corequisite models. Instructors seek to engage students by delving deeply into math concepts, focusing on real-world problems, and having students work together to develop solutions.

Interim results show that larger percentages of students assigned to DCMP (versus the traditional developmental sequence) enrolled in and passed developmental math. More of the DCMP students also took and passed college-level math, fulfilling an important graduation requirement. After three semesters, 25 percent of program group students passed a college-level math course, compared with 17 percent of students assigned to traditional remediation.

Evaluation of Alternative Placement Systems and Student Outcomes (aka Multiple Measures)

CAPR is also studying the impact of using a combination of measures—such as high school GPA, years out of high school, and placement test scores—to predict whether students belong in developmental or college-level courses. Early results from the multiple measures study show that, in English and to a lesser extent in math, the multiple measures algorithms placed more students into college-level courses, and more students passed those courses (compared to students placed with a single test score).

 

College-Level English Course Placement, Enrollment, and Completion in CAPR’s Multiple Measures Study (Percentages Compared Across Placement Conditions)

 

College-Level Math Course Placement and Completion in CAPR’s Multiple Measures Study

Looking Ahead to the Future of Developmental Education

These early results from CAPR’s evaluations of multiple measures and math pathways suggest that those reforms are likely to be important pieces of future developmental education systems. CAPR will release final results from its three studies in 2019 and 2020.

Guest blog by Nikki Edgecombe and Alexander Mayer

Nikki Edgecombe is the principal investigator of the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness, an IES-funded center led by the Community College Research Center (CCRC) and MDRC, and a senior research scientist at CCRC. Alexander Mayer is the co-principal investigator of CAPR and deputy director of postsecondary education at MDRC.

National Spending for Public Schools Increases for Third Consecutive Year in School Year 2015-16

Spending on elementary and secondary education increased in school year 2015–16 (Fiscal Year 2016). At the national level, education spending has recovered from the economic downturn between 2009 and 2013. This is the third consecutive year spending increased, reversing a decline in spending for the prior four years after adjusting for inflation. These findings come from a recently released report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The First Look report, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2015–16 (Fiscal Year 2016) is based on data from the National Public Education Finance Survey (NPEFS), a component of the Common Core of Data (CCD).  

The amount spent per student for the day-to-day operation of public elementary and secondary schools rose to $11,841 in Fiscal Year (FY) 16.[1] Current expenditures per student increased by 2.9 percent between FY 15 and 16, following on the heels of an increase of 3.2 percent from the prior year, after adjusting for inflation.[2]  Although spending per student was higher in FY 16 than in FY 07, it had decreased each year from FY 09 to FY 13.


NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 16 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2007 through 2016.


Salaries and wages make up the largest proportion of current expenditures, but have increased at a much slower rate than employee benefits or other expenditures.[3]  After peaking at $7,047 per pupil in FY 09, salaries and wages declined to a low of $6,452 per pupil in FY 2013, and increased to $6,748 per pupil in FY 16.

The proportion of salaries and wages in current expenditures per pupil decreased from 60.2 percent in FY 09 to 57.0 in FY 16. In contrast, the proportion of employee benefits in current expenditures per pupil increased from 20.4 percent in FY 09 to 22.9 percent in FY 16.


NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 16 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2007 through 2016.


At the state level, spending on current expenditures per student ranged from a low of $7,006 in Utah to a high of $22,231 in New York. Current expenditures per student were at least 40 percent higher than the national average in the following states and jurisdictions:

  • New York ($22,231)
  • District of Columbia ($21,135)
  • Connecticut ($19,615)
  • New Jersey ($19,041)
  • Vermont ($19,023)
  • Alaska ($17,510)
  • Massachusetts ($16,986)

Current expenditures per student for public elementary and secondary education, by state: Fiscal year 2016

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal year 2016


Between FY 14 and FY 16, current expenditures per student increased by 3 percent or more in 29 states, and by 1 to less than 3 percent in 15 states. Increases in current expenditures per student from FY 14 to FY 16 were highest in California (16.4 percent), Washington (9.9 percent), Hawaii (9.3 percent), New York (8.8 percent), and Pennsylvania (8.2 percent).  


NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 16 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2014 and 2016. 


The recently released report also presents national and state data on public school funding by source.[4] Total education funding increased by 4.0 percent (from $652.1 to $678.4 billion) from FY 15 to FY 16 following an increase of 3.3 percent from FY 14 to FY 15.  Local funding increased by 3.7 percent (from $291.1 to $303.8 billion), state funding increased by 4.9 percent (from $303.6 to $318.6 billion), and federal funding slightly increased by 1.1 percent (from $55.4 to $56.0 billion).


SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2007 through 2016.


The percentage of total funding from federal sources accounted for approximately 9 percent of total funding in both FY 07 and FY 16; however, there were notable fluctuations during this period. The federal percentage increased from 8.2 percent of funding in FY 08 to 12.5 percent of funding in FY 11. In part, this increase reflects the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As the funds from the program were spent, the federal percentage decreased from 10.2 percent of total funding in FY 12 to 8.3 percent in FY 16.

Local sources accounted for 44.8 percent of total funding in FY 16, and have been relatively stable over the past 10 years. The percentage of total funding from state sources decreased from a high of 48.3 percent in FY 08 to 43.4 percent in FY 10, and has since increased to 47 percent in FY 16.

 


[1] Spending refers to current expenditures. Current expenditures are comprised of expenditures for the day-to-day operation of schools and school districts for public elementary and secondary education, including expenditures for staff salaries and benefits, supplies, and purchased services. Current expenditures include instruction, instruction-related, support services (e.g., social work, health, and psychological services), and other elementary/secondary current expenditures, but exclude expenditures on capital outlay, other programs, and interest on long-term debt. 

[2] In order to compare spending from one year to the next, expenditures are converted to constant dollars, which adjusts figures for inflation.

[3] Other expenditures include current expenditures other than salaries, wages, and employee benefits, such as purchased services, tuition, supplies, etc.

[4] Funding refers to revenues. Revenues are comprised of all funds received from external sources, net of refunds, and correcting transactions. Noncash transactions, such as receipt of services, commodities, or other receipts in kind are excluded, as are funds received from the issuance of debt, liquidation of investments, and nonroutine sale of property.