IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

Effective Postsecondary Interventions: Early Colleges Combine High School and College to Benefit Students

Across a set of research grant programs, IES generates knowledge of how to increase students’ access to, progress through, and completion of postsecondary credentials and degrees. Funded projects develop and test a range of interventions from state-level policies to classroom practices, with an emphasis on strategies that promote college attainment for students historically underrepresented in postsecondary education. This new blog series called Effective Postsecondary Interventions highlights interventions with evidence of effectiveness generated through IES-funded research.

 

The Early College High School Model

The Early College High School (ECHS) model addresses barriers to college attainment commonly experienced by students historically underrepresented in higher education. Students from low-income families and minoritized racial and ethnic groups often attend high schools that lack rigorous pre-college courses, strong support for college enrollment, and established connections to colleges and universities. For those students, cost is an additional barrier to enrollment and persistence in college. The ECHS model addresses these barriers by combining secondary and postsecondary instruction within the same school, prioritizing college-preparatory high school courses, offering opportunities to enroll in college courses while in high school, and providing comprehensive supports for academic and social-emotional development—all at little or no cost to the students. Although concurrent enrollment in high school and college courses (dual enrollment) is a core component of the model, the ECHS model is more expansive than dual enrollment because it includes a broader set of intervention components and has a clear equity objective.

All early colleges reflect these four design principles:

  • Enrollment of students historically underrepresented in higher education
  • Partnerships including a local education agency, a higher education institution, and the surrounding community
  • An integrated program of secondary and postsecondary education with the goal of all students earning 1 to 2 years of college credit prior to high school graduation
  • A comprehensive support system for students to develop academic skills as well as social and behavioral skills.

 

Attending Early Colleges Increases Postsecondary Attainment

Four IES-funded projects have evaluated impacts of the ECHS model. Prior studies within these projects found that significantly larger percentages of early college students completed a college preparatory course of study during high school and enrolled in postsecondary education within six years of entering high school. The two most recent projects assess postsecondary attainment:

In addition, early college students earned associate degrees at rates that exceeded their counterparts in traditional high schools by 22% and 18%, respectively, while earning bachelor’s degrees at equal or higher rates. These impacts are substantial, and especially noteworthy because both evaluations studied early colleges across a range of settings. Moreover, the impacts are similar for different student subgroups, regardless of gender, race/ethnicity, or family income.

 

Why have early colleges been so effective?

Early colleges set high expectations, provide high-quality interactions between staff and students, and encourage college access and success for all students. Several studies confirm that early colleges substantially improve high school experiences and outcomes. Students in North Carolina early colleges reported higher expectations, more rigorous and relevant instruction, stronger academic and social supports, and better relationships with teachers than their counterparts in other high schools. Early college students in AIR’s five-state sample reported significantly higher levels of college-going culture and instructor support than their counterparts in traditional high schools. The combination of high expectations and supportive relationships promotes better outcomes for early college students beginning in ninth grade (compared with students in other high schools). For instance, early college students are more likely to persist in college-preparatory math courses, attain a significant number of college credits during high school, and graduate from high school. Importantly, these positive results hold for students from all racial and ethnic groups, including students who enter high school at low levels of math proficiency.


For more information about the studies, the SERVE Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has posted a brief of impact findings from their evaluation of North Carolina early colleges. The American Institutes of Research has posted a brief of impact findings from their five-state evaluation of early colleges.  

Written by James Benson (James.Benson@ed.gov), a Program Officer for Postsecondary Education within NCER’s Policy and Systems Division.

Teachers Should Not Be Left Wondering What Works

The past two school years have posed many new and unexpected challenges for students and teachers. One thing that has not changed much is that educators continue to need quick access to evidence on strategies that can best support students. The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, aims to meet these needs with ready-to-use practices supported by evidence. The WWC Practice Guides describe these practices and how to implement them, most recently in the new guide for assisting students struggling in mathematics. These Practice Guides contain the classroom strategies and tips that are most likely to help improve student outcomes.

More than two dozen free Practice Guides address challenges educators face in teaching math, reading, and writing; supporting positive student behavior; and preventing dropout. The recommendations in Practice Guides are based on evidence from well-designed and well-implemented studies, the experiences of practitioners, and the expert opinions of a panel of nationally recognized experts.

Ann Jolly, an instructional program manager at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Program for Exceptional Children, has used WWC Practice Guides for years. She describes her experiences using the WWC resources below. Her experiences may help teachers or instructional leaders understand how to better incorporate evidence-based practices into their own practice.


The COVID-19 pandemic has us all wondering where the time goes. We want to use the most promising evidence-based practices to support our students. However, as expressed by one teacher who understands how easy it is to forget about trying out something new in the face of day-to-day demands, “Yeah, you just get busy teaching…

Whether you are a new teacher trying to figure out how to balance teaching, lesson planning, grading, and other duties, or a veteran who is “busy teaching,” you should check out the WWC. The WWC, created by the U.S. Department of Education, is an easy-to-navigate website with valuable resources. I know that, as teachers, we are constantly seeking out resources that will enable us to provide the best instruction to our students. The WWC can help by searching for research, reviewing studies for quality, and summarizing findings, so that busy teachers like us can focus on our students! Here’s a quick look at some of the WWC resources I have used to make a difference in my school and district as an instructional leader collaborating with teachers and families.

When I needed help boosting reading comprehension among my special education students, I used the WWC Practice Guide Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade. This guide provided me with recommendations of practices and other relevant information that the WWC gathered to support classroom instruction. For example, I was able to quickly see that teaching students how to use reading comprehension strategies had the strongest evidence, so I knew to focus on that. The guide gave me easy-to-understand resources about how to bring the strategies into my classroom, plus videos and reference tools with examples. These were easy to digest and I was able to immediately implement the recommendations in my classroom.

When I needed strategies to support literacy at home and in school, I used the WWC Practice Guide Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade and its supplemental resources. Not only does the guide include a wealth of information for teachers, but companion documents include a summary of recommendations, a Professional Learning Communities Facilitator’s Guide, and Tips for Supporting Reading Skills at Home. I used the last tool to develop a presentation for parents. Parents took notes and asked questions as they made connections between the guide and the practices they could use at home with their children. Finding opportunities like this one to build relationships between teachers and parents may be even more important now, during a pandemic, than it was when I held this workshop. 

When my school was looking for strategies to improve student behavior, I facilitated a book club with school staff using the WWC Practice Guide Reducing Behavior Problems in the Elementary School Classroom. I began the club after noticing that other teachers were coming to me for suggestions about a common pattern of behaviors interfering with student learning.  This WWC guide offered several strategies to share. Although we started by discussing a specific behavioral issue and a recommended practice to address it, we eventually worked through the whole guide, chapter by chapter. The WWC Practice Guide gave us a free resource with powerful evidence-based strategies and practices for us to try. Teachers across grade levels and content areas actively collaborated through the book club and were able to build a common language and understanding about schoolwide practices. One of the great embedded features in WWC Practice Guides are the “Obstacles” or “Roadblocks.” This feature acknowledges perceived and actual barriers to implementing evidence-based practices and suggests solutions to overcome them!

The WWC has created a wide range of other Practice Guides, covering students from early childhood through high school graduation (and beyond). The most recent products include Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Intervention in the Elementary Grades, a Practice Guide for educators in grades K to 6 that provides ready-to-use strategies for assisting struggling students. Some of my colleagues have used the guides on Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively, Teaching Math to Young Children, and Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision Making. So many more Practice Guides are available!

I also encourage you to sign up now for the WWC News Flash and add the WWC to your social media network on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube to easily keep up with the most current information. Research evidence on “what works” in education is there just for you. When you have a question, rely on the WWC…and don’t be left wondering what works!

This blog was written by Ann C. Jolly, Instructional Program Manager, Programs for Exceptional Children at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools with Data Rotz, Mathematica. 

Recognizing Asian and Pacific Islander Educators with the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS)

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which celebrates the achievements of Asian/Pacific Islander Americans and immigrants and the many ways they have contributed to the United States.

In honor of Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander1 educators who help students learn every day, here are some selected facts and figures from the 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS). The NTPS collects data about public and private K–12 schools in the United States from the perspective of the teachers and principals who staff them. These data were collected in 2017–18, prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Composition of U.S. K12 Public and Private Schools: 201718

  • Although Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander teachers and principals are important members of school communities, they comprise a relatively small percentage of public and private school educators overall. Less than 1 percent of either public or private school teachers (0.2 and 0.1 percent,2 respectively) and principals (0.2 percent and 0.3 percent,3 respectively) were Native Hawaiian/Pacific islander.

Figure 1. Percentage distribution of all teachers and principals who are Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, by school type: 201718

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), "Public School Teacher and Private School Teacher Data File, Public School Principal and Private School Principal Data File," 2017–18


Community and K12 School Characteristics: 201718

  • A higher percentage of Asian teachers worked in city schools than in most other community types (i.e., suburb, town, and rural) in 2017–18. There were some differences by school type (i.e., public vs. private).4 For example, teacher employment patterns in both school types were similar at rural schools and city schools but different at suburban schools.
  • Higher percentages of Asian teachers worked in both public and private city schools (3.1 and 3.8 percent, respectively) than in public and private rural schools (0.5 and 0.8 percent, respectively) (figure 2).
  • Although a lower percentage of Asian private school teachers worked in suburban schools (2.3 percent) than in city schools (3.8 percent), there was no significant difference in the percentage of Asian public school teachers who worked in suburban versus city schools.

Figure 2. Percentage distribution of all teachers who are Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, by school type and community type: 201718

# Rounds to zero
! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
‡ Reporting standards not met. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is 50 percent or greater (i.e., the standard error is 50 percent or more of the estimate) or the response rate is below 50 percent.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), "Public School Teacher and Private School Teacher Data File," 2017–18


In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, NCES would like to thank Asian and Pacific Islander educators nationwide who play vital roles in our education system.

The data in this blog would not be possible without the participation of teachers, principals, and school staff in the NTPS. We are currently conducting the 2020–21 NTPS to learn more about teaching experiences during the pandemic. If you were contacted about participating in the 2020–21 NTPS and have questions, please email ntps@census.gov or call 1-888-595-1338.

For more information about the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), please visit https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ntps/. More findings and details are available in the NTPS schoolteacher, and principal reports.

 

[1] The NTPS definition of “Asian American or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander” is synonymous with the Library of Congress’ term “Asian/Pacific Islander.” The Library of Congress, one of the sponsors of the heritage month, states that Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island). Note that the Hawaiian Islands are included as “Pacific islands” in their definition but are named independently in the NTPS definition, and that only Asian or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander respondents who also indicated that they were not Hispanic, which includes Latino, are included in this definition.

[2] Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 percent and 50 percent (i.e., the standard error is at least 30 percent and less than 50 percent of the estimate).

[3] Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 percent and 50 percent (i.e., the standard error is at least 30 percent and less than 50 percent of the estimate).

[4] Given the size of the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander teacher and principal populations in the NTPS, granular differences about where Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander teachers and principals were more often employed is difficult to produce from a sample survey because of sample sizes.

 

By Julia Merlin, NCES

Identifying Virtual Schools Using the Common Core of Data (CCD)

With the sudden changes in education due to the coronavirus pandemic, virtual instruction is in the spotlight more than ever before. Prior to the pandemic, there were already increasing numbers of virtual public schools that offered instructional programs to those that may have difficulty accessing or attending traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Even before the pandemic, some schools and districts were using virtual instruction in new ways, such as switching to virtual instruction on snow days rather than cancelling school. Throughout the pandemic, schools and districts have been relying more heavily on virtual instruction than ever before.

Since school year (SY) 2013–14, the Common Core of Data (CCD) has included a school-level virtual status flag, which has changed over time. For SY 2020–21, the Department of Education instructed states to classify schools that are normally brick-and-mortar schools but are operating remotely during the pandemic as supplemental virtual (see table below).

 

SY 201314 Through SY 201516

Virtual status is a Yes/No flag, meaning that a school was either virtual or not virtual based on the following definition: “A public school that offers only instruction in which students and teachers are separated by time and/or location, and interaction occurs via computers and/or telecommunications technologies. A virtual school generally does not have a physical facility that allows students to attend classes on site.”

 

SY 201617 and Onward

NCES changed the virtual status flag to be more nuanced. Rather than just a Yes/No flag, the reported value indicates virtual status on a spectrum using the following values:

 

Permitted Value Abbreviation

Definition

FULLVIRTUAL

Exclusively virtual. All instruction offered by the school is virtual. This does not exclude students and teachers meeting in person for field trips, school-sponsored social events, or assessment purposes. All students receive all instruction virtually. Prior to SY 2019–20, this value was labeled as “Fully virtual.”

FACEVIRTUAL

Primarily virtual. The school’s major purpose is to provide virtual instruction to students, but some traditional classroom instruction is also provided. Most students receive all instruction virtually. Prior to SY 2019–20, this value was labeled as “Virtual with face to face options.”

SUPPVIRTUAL

Supplemental virtual. Instruction is directed by teachers in a traditional classroom setting; virtual instruction supplements face-to-face instruction by teachers. Students vary in the extent to which their instruction is virtual.

NOTVIRTUAL

No virtual instruction. The school does not offer any virtual instruction.  No students receive any virtual instruction. Prior to SY 2019–20, this value was labeled as “Not virtual.”

 

Generally, data users should treat the value “FULLVIRTUAL” (exclusively virtual) under the new approach as the equivalent of Virtual=Yes in the old approach. The virtual flag is a status assigned to a school as of October 1 each school year. 

The number of exclusively virtual schools has increased in the past several years. In SY 2013–14, there were a total of 478 exclusively virtual schools reported in CCD (approximately 0.5% of all operational schools). In SY 2019–20 there were 691 schools (approximately 0.7% of all operational schools) that were exclusively virtual. The student enrollment in exclusively virtual schools also increased from 199,815 students in SY 2013–14 to 293,717 in SY 2019–20, which is an increase from 0.4% of the total student enrollment in public schools to 0.6%.

Of the 691 virtual schools in SY 2019–20, 590 were reported as “regular” schools, meaning they offered a general academic curriculum rather than one focused on special needs or vocational education, 218 were charter schools, and 289 were high schools. Of the 8,673 schools that were reported as either primary virtual or supplemental virtual, 7,727 were regular schools, 624 were charter schools, and 4,098 were high schools.

To see tables summarizing the above data, visit our Data Tables web page and select the nonfiscal tables.

To learn more about the CCD, visit our web page. For more information about how to access CCD data, including tips for using the District and School Locators and the Elementary and Secondary Information System, read the blog post “Accessing the Common Core of Data (CCD).” You can also access the raw data files for additional information about public elementary and secondary schools. Enrollment and staff data for SY 2020–21 are currently being collected, processed, and verified and could be released by spring 2022.

 

By Patrick Keaton, NCES

Making the Most of a Quarantine Year: Meet the IES Virtual Interns!

April is National Internship Awareness Month, and we want to take this opportunity to highlight the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) internship program that IES has been involved in this year and thank our wonderful interns for their contributions to the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER).

The two IES Centers hired four interns to work on communication and two interns to work on data science. We asked each of them to tell us a little about themselves, their future plans, and what interested them or surprised them about the internship with IES. Here’s what they said.

 

Alice Bravo is pursuing a PhD in special education in the College of Education at the University of Washington.

My research interests keep evolving but are rooted in early intervention for young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using applied behavior analysis and developmental science. Specifically, I am interested in the teaching of imitation and communication skills. In 5 years, I hope to be working as an applied researcher and practitioner, conducting research related to early intervention and ASD while providing training and coaching to caregivers and early intervention/early childhood special education professionals. During my internship with IES, I was really interested in and excited by the breadth of research supported by IES. Reading project abstracts related to virtual reality to support student learning was fascinating! 

Fun fact: I love road trips – I have driven up and down the West Coast and across the country twice! 

 

Bonnie Chan is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in statistics and machine learning at Carnegie Mellon.

I am interested in data science and modeling of data. I am interested in applying these approaches to research in the field of medicine or psychology because it has the most potential to help people and one of the most applicable uses of these approaches. As part of my virtual internship, I have learned how to use PANDAs Python package when cleaning data to prepare to create a visualization of grants funded by NCSER on a U.S. map. In addition, I learned a lot about how grants are funded by the department and the types of projects that are funded. In the future, I would like to pursue a master’s degree in machine learning or other statistical approaches for data science and modeling of data. I think working in the federal government would be a great experience and more rewarding in terms of outcomes than in the public sector or at an institution.

Fun Fact: I really like to dance. I have been dancing since I was 3, so that is 17 years. Right now, I mostly do contemporary dance, but I have done ballet, tap, jazz and other types of dance including competitive dancing in high school. 

 

Chandra Keerthi is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in data science at the Wilfrid Laurier University.

I’m interested in applying statistical models of previous credit ratings to future ones in order to help model human behavior in the area of financial data analysis. I am also really interested in sports analytics, specifically basketball, and in understanding how analytics can help make or sometimes, unintentionally, break teams. In 5 years, I hope to use my skills to help create or innovate a product that will have a positive impact on the world.

Fun fact: I enjoy playing and watching basketball and am a huge fan of sci-fi movies and books (I’m currently reading the first book in the Dune series). In addition, I recently made a program that uses a photo taken from your phone and turns it into 'art' using another art piece (like van Gogh’s The Starry Night) as a reference.

 

Thomas Leonard is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business at Georgetown University.

 

My research interest is in the area of finance. As a virtual intern, I had the opportunity to work on editing and examining abstracts across many different fields of education research, and this has sharpened my technical and analytical skills. In addition, it was interesting to see some of my experiences as a student actually being studied in schools across the country as part of the research that IES funds.

Fun fact: I’m an avid poker player. 

 

 

 

Yuri Lin is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

I am most interested in cancer genomics, immunology, and psychology. The most surprising detail that I had never thought about before this internship was how government entities like the Department of Education change and are influenced by different presidential administrations. In one of our monthly gatherings, we talked about how each administration has differing visions and values for education, and it struck me that while I saw myself as just a tired college student plinking away at blogs and abstracts in my bedroom, I was actually helping in small ways to fulfill a larger vision for education that sustains across administrations. That was a surprising and rewarding realization to have.

Fun fact: I love music, especially pop music and Russian classical music. There’s so much great music out there, but my favorite would have to be Shostakovich Symphony 5, Movement 4. Nothing feels quite like playing that piece in a huge orchestra with the cymbals crashing, and I hope everyone who hasn’t heard it before can go give it a listen.

 

Shirley Liu is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English with a double minor in philosophy and data science at Lafayette College.

My research interests are in the areas of communication and data and information science. During this internship, I learned a lot about the human and community aspect of research. I have always viewed research and academia as very solitary fields. They are, but after talking to researchers about the friendships they’ve made in the field, I’ve learned that research is a lot more fruitful (and fun) when you’re doing it with someone whose company you enjoy. I really loved learning about Plain Language Principles! I have already started applying that to my own writing. For example, I am probably the only person in my friend group who knows what nominalization is and why it should be avoided.

Fun fact: My favorite hobby is writing! I have won an undergraduate-level prize for my poetry.

 


In addition to working on abstracts, entering data, creating data visualizations, and helping to update compendia of IES-funded research, our interns have also been busy writing blogs. Here are some recent blogs written by our interns: Autism Awareness & Acceptance Month; What Does This Mean for Me? A Conversation about College and ADHD; and Gender Stereotypes in STEM: Emergence and Prevention.