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Institute of Education Sciences

New Release: Forum Guide to Collecting and Using Disaggregated Data on Racial/Ethnic Subgroups

By the National Forum on Education Statistics’ Disaggregation of Racial/Ethnic Subgroups Working Group

Across the nation, our schools serve a diverse student population reflecting a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, interests, identities, and cultures. The more accurately education data reflect the diversity of the student population, the better prepared education practitioners will be to customize instructional and support services to meet those students’ needs.

Local and state members of the National Forum on Education Statistics (the Forum) convened a Data Disaggregation of Racial/Ethnic Subgroups Working Group to identify best practices for disaggregating data on racial/ethnic subgroups. The Forum Guide to Collecting and Using Disaggregated Data on Racial/Ethnic Subgroups is intended to identify some of the overarching benefits and challenges involved in data disaggregation; recommend appropriate practices for disaggregating racial/ethnic data in districts and states; and describe real-world examples of large and small education agencies disaggregating racial/ethnic data successfully. This resource will help state and district staff better understand the process of disaggregating data in the field of education. It can also help agency staff determine whether data disaggregation might be an appropriate analytical tool in their communities, and, if so, how they can successfully institute or advance a data disaggregation project in their agencies.

 

The guide is organized into the following chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Data Disaggregation in Education Agencies explains the purpose of the document; describes the concept of data disaggregation for racial/ethnic subgroups; discusses why the issue is becoming increasingly important in many communities; refers to current U.S. population data; and provides a case study of why this type of data collection can be important and advantageous in a school district.
  • Chapter 2: Strategies for Disaggregating Racial/Ethnic Data Subgroups recommends specific strategies for disaggregating data, including tasks undertaken during the two major phases of the effort: (1) needs assessment and (2) project implementation.
  • Chapter 3: Case Studies offers an in-depth look at how the disaggregation of racial/ethnic subgroup data is already being implemented through a wide range of state and district case studies.

Examples from the case studies and other education agencies are used throughout the document to highlight real-world situations. For instance, readers will learn how Highline (Wash.) Public School District changed the information it gathered on students to support its community’s commitment to equity and how the Springdale (Ark.) School District is using data to better serve its growing population of students from the Marshall Islands.

The recommendations in the resource are not mandates. Districts and states are encouraged to adapt or adopt any recommendations they determine to be useful for their purposes.


About the National Forum on Education Statistics

The work of the National Forum on Education Statistics is a key aspect of the National Cooperative Education Statistics System. The Cooperative System was established to produce and maintain, with the cooperation of the states, comparable and uniform education information and data that are useful for policymaking at the federal, state, and local levels. To assist in meeting this goal, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education, established the Forum to improve the collection, reporting, and use of elementary and secondary education statistics. The Forum addresses issues in education data policy, sponsors innovations in data collection and reporting, and provides technical assistance to improve state and local data systems.

Members of the Forum establish working groups to develop best practice guides in data-related areas of interest to federal, state, and local education agencies. They are assisted in this work by NCES, but the content comes from the collective experience of working group members who review all products iteratively throughout the development process. After the working group completes the content and reviews a document a final time, publications are subject to examination by members of the Forum standing committee that sponsors the project. Finally, Forum members (approximately 120 people) review and formally vote to approve all documents prior to publication. NCES provides final review and approval prior to online publication.

The information and opinions published in Forum products do not necessarily represent the policies or views of the U.S. Department of Education, IES, or NCES. For more information about the Forum, please visit nces.ed.gov/forum or contact Ghedam Bairu at Ghedam.bairu@ed.gov.

Financing Education: National and State Funding and Spending for Public Schools in 2014

By Stephen Q. Cornman and Lauren Musu-Gillette

Revenues and expenditures increased in public K-12 education for the 2013-14 school year, the most recent year data is available, according to a recently released report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The report shows that, nationally, spending on elementary and secondary education increased in school year 2013–14, reversing a decline in spending for the previous four years.

The First Look report, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2013–14 (Fiscal Year 2014) is based on data from the National Public Education Finance Survey (NPEFS), a component of the Common Core of Data (CCD).

The amount of money spent, per pupil, in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools rose to $11,066 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014.[i] That is a 1.2 percent increase over the previous year (FY 2013), after adjusting for inflation.  Although spending per student has increased overall from 2002–03 to 2013–14, it had decreased each year from 2008–09 to 2012–13  In order to compare spending from one year to the next, expenditures are converted to constant dollars, which adjusts figures for inflation.


NOTE: Spending is reported in constant 2014–15 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," 2002–03 through 2012–13. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 236.65


At the state level, spending per student ranged from a low of $6,546 in Utah to $20,577 in the District of Columbia (D.C.). In addition to the District of Columbia, current expenditures per pupil exceeded $15,000 in eight states: 

  • New York ($20,156); 
  • New Jersey ($18,780); 
  • Alaska ($18,466); 
  • Connecticut ($18,401); 
  • Vermont ($18,066); 
  • Wyoming ($15,903); 
  • Massachusetts ($15,886); and 
  • Rhode Island ($15,372). 

Current expenditures per pupil increased by 1 percent or more in 25 states between FY 13 and FY 14.


Current Expenditures per pupil for public elementary and secondary education, by state: Fiscal Year 2014

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


The report also presents national and state level data on public school funding by source.[ii] In FY 2014, total revenues per pupil averaged $12,460 nationally, an increase of 1.1 percent from FY 2013. This reversed a decrease of 1.1 percent between FY 2012 and FY 2013. Total revenues increased by 1.6 percent (from $613.2 to $623.2 billion) from FY 13 to FY 14, local revenues increased by 0.5 percent (from $279.0 to $280.5 billion), state revenues increased by 3.9 percent (from $277.5 to $288.2 billion), and federal revenues decreased by 3.9 percent (from $56.7 to $54.5 billion), after adjusting for inflation.

The percentage of total funding from federal sources accounted for 9 percent of total funding in both 2002–03 and 2012–13; however, there were notable fluctuations during this period. The federal percentage increased from 8 percent of funding 2007–08 to 13 percent of funding in 2010–11. This increase reflects, in part, the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As the funds from the program were spent, the federal percentage of total funding decreased to 10 percent in 2011–12 and to 8.7 percent in 2013–14. Local sources accounted for 45 percent of total funding in 2013–14. The percentage of total funding from state sources decreased from 49 percent in school year 2002–03 to 46 percent in school year 2013–14.


SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," 2002–03 through 2012–13. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 235.10.


[i] 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. 

[ii] 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.

 

 

An IES-funded “Must Read” on Writing and Reading Disabilities

A paper based on an IES-funded grant has been recognized as a “must read” by the Council for Learning Disabilities.

IES-funded researcher, Stephen Hooper, and his colleagues were recently recognized by the Council for their paper: Writing disabilities and reading disabilities in elementary school students: Rates of co-occurrence and cognitive burden (PDF). The paper was written by Lara-Jeane Costa, Crystal Edwards, and Dr. Hooper and published in Learning Disability Quarterly. Every year, the Council for Learning Disabilities acknowledges outstanding work published in its journals and selected this paper as one of two Must Read pieces for 2016. The authors will present on the paper at the Council's annual conference in San Antonio this week (October 13-14, 2016).

This paper was funded through a grant from the National Center for Education Research (NCER) to examine written language development and writing problems, and the efficacy of an intervention aimed at improving early writing skills. The results of the paper found that the rate of students with both writing and reading disabilities increased from first to fourth grade and these students showed lower ability in language, fine motor skills and memory compared with students with neither disability or only a writing disability.  

The team continues their IES-funded work by looking at the efficacy of the Self-Regulated Strategy Development intervention on struggling middle school writers’ academic outcomes.

Written by Becky McGill-Wilkinson, Education Research Analyst, NCER

Enhancing Reading Instruction for Children with Down Syndrome

In February, President Obama named two Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grantees as recipients of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Christopher Lemons (Peabody College of Vanderbilt University) and Cynthia Puranik (Georgia State University) were honored in Washington, DC at a White House ceremony this past May, along with 103 other recipients of the award.

Dr. Lemons and Dr. Puranik have recently completed an IES-funded project, Enhancing Reading Instruction for Children with Down Syndrome: A Behavioral Phenotypic Approach. They served as the Co-Principal Investigators of this study to develop an intervention for improving reading for children with Down syndrome (DS). The intervention is a supplemental, 16-week reading curriculum that incorporates critical components of early reading (e.g., vocabulary, decoding skills, fluency) and has been adapted and modified to align with the Down syndrome behavioral phenotype—a set of characteristics commonly shared by children with the syndrome. The characteristics of focus for this intervention include the ability to process visual information and challenges with auditory and expressive language, using working and short-term memory, and motivation. Kim Sprague, program officer in the National Center for Special Education Research, spoke with Dr. Lemons (pictured right) about the project and next steps.   

Why do we need this reading intervention?

Over the last decade, research has demonstrated that students with DS can do better in school than we ever imagined in the past. The purpose of our intervention is to increase reading outcomes by adapting instruction that targets phonological awareness and phonics so that it is more closely aligned with the Down syndrome behavioral phenotype in an attempt to make the instruction more effective for children with Down syndrome.

What is the purpose of studying phenotype?

This is something I am often asked. We were looking for ideas to improve reading interventions for students with DS and there is evidence in the literature base that students with DS have a heightened probability of sharing certain characteristics—a behavioral phenotype. So we sought to develop an intervention based on this specific phenotype and our goal was to determine whether adapting instruction for a group who share common features may hold promise.

What was the intervention that was implemented for children?

Through the iterative process for this development grant, we experimented with applying several adaptations to evidence-based phonological awareness and phonics instruction. Our primary adaptation was to teach students a key word for each letter sound. We selected words that students were likely to know—like “dog.” In each lesson, we focused on three letter sounds paired with a picture and taught the student to match the picture to the printed word. We then used this word-picture pair to support the other components of the lesson that were focused on phonological awareness, alphabetic principle, decoding and scaffolding working memory. We worked with the paraprofessionals and teachers to train and support their implementation of the developed intervention.

What were the study results? 

We have learned that our intervention is effective at increasing reading outcomes for many students with DS who enter the program at the lowest reading levels. These children appear to have benefited from our adaptations. This said, there were some children with DS who needed additional individualization, so special education teachers need to understand how to provide this type of ongoing adaptation. Also, we demonstrated that many students’ who had already “broken the code”—students who already understand and can apply the alphabetic principle—didn’t need adapted instruction. They benefited from the standard version of the phonics intervention.

What are the next steps based on this work?

We still have a lot of work to do. I think we have had success in helping students improve phonological awareness and decoding skills. We need to more strongly focus on comprehension. So, how do we provide assistance to help them answer who, what, where, and when questions? How can we support students’ abilities in interpreting the meaning of texts independently? And, more specifically for students with DS, we need a better understanding of the variability that exists related to characteristics associated with the phenotype. We need stronger empirical work to explore potential aptitude-by-treatment effects that may result from this line of work and continue to explore interventions that are feasible and effective.

For reading instruction provided to students with DS, ensuring that paraprofessionals are appropriately trained and supported to deliver the reading intervention as well as to adapt to the individual needs of the student is critical. Doing so may offer the greatest hope to improve outcomes because paraprofessionals are often able to provide one-on-one instruction more frequently than the special education teacher. During the study, special education teachers and paraprofessionals were willing to provide one-on-one instructional time to participating students for four or five days per week. However, most of the teachers indicated that they would not be able to maintain this level of intensity after the study was over.

We are beginning work to explore how to better support teachers of students with intellectual disabilities as they implement data-based individualization, or DBI, as a method to enhance reading outcomes. We think this approach holds promise. Readers of your blog can learn more about this approach at the National Center on Intensive Intervention at www.intensiveintervention.org.

Wendy Wei, a program assistant in the National Center for Education Research, and Diane Mechner, who worked as an IES intern, contributed to this blog post.

Pinning Down the Use of Research in Education

There are plenty of great ideas to be found on Pinterest: recipes for no-bake, allergen-friendly cookies; tips for taking better photos; and suggestions for great vacation spots in Greece. Lots of teachers use Pinterest as a way to share classroom ideas and engaging lessons. But where do teachers, education leaders and decision makers turn when they need evidence-based instructional practices that may work to help struggling readers, or want to use research to address other educational challenges?

Since 2014, the National Center for Education Research (NCER) has funded two National Research and Development Centers on Knowledge Utilization in an effort to find out. They are well on their way to answering questions about how and why teachers and schools use—or do not use—research in their decision making. They are also exploring ways the research community can increase interest in and actual use of research-based practices.

We are beginning to see the first results of their efforts to answer two key questions. First, are educators and schools using education research in their decision making, and if they aren’t, why not? The second question is: If educators are not using evidence as a part of their work, what can the research community do to make it more likely they will?

The National Center for Research in Policy and Practice (NCRPP) was awarded to the University of Colorado Boulder and is led by Principal Investigator Bill Penuel (University of Colorado Boulder), and Co-Principal Investigators Derek Briggs (University of Colorado Boulder), Jon Fullerton (Harvard University), Heather Hill (Harvard University), Cynthia Coburn (Northwestern University), and Jim Spillane (Northwestern University).

NCRPP has recently released their first technical report which covers the descriptive results from their nationally-representative survey of school and district leaders. Results from the report show that school and district leaders do use research evidence for activities such as designing professional development, expanding their understanding of specific issues, or convincing others to agree with a particular point of view on an education issue. Instrumental uses of research, when district leaders apply research to guide or inform a specific decision, were most commonly reported. Overall, school and district leaders were positive about the relevance and value of research for practice. When asked to report what specific piece of research was most useful, school and district leaders named books, policy reports, and peer-reviewed journal articles. You can get more information on the center's website, http://ncrpp.org. They are also very active on Twitter.

The Center for Research Use in Education (CRUE) was awarded to the University of Delaware and is led by Principal Investigator Henry May (University of Delaware), and Co-Principal Investigator Liz Farley-Ripple (University of Delaware). This team is currently working on drafting their measures of research use, which will include a set of surveys for researchers and another set for practitioners. They are especially interested in understanding which factors contribute to deep engagement with research evidence, and how gaps in perceptions and values between researchers and practitioners may be associated with frequency of deep research use. You can learn more about the work of CRUE on their website, http://www.research4schools.org/ and follow them on Twitter

While the Centers were tasked with tapping into use of research evidence specifically, both are interested in understanding all sources of evidence that practitioners use, whether it’s from peer-reviewed research articles, the What Works Clearinghouse, a friend at another school, or even Pinterest. There is certainly a wealth of research evidence to support specific instructional practices and programs, and these two Centers will begin to provide answers to questions about how teachers and leaders are using this research.

So, it’s possible that, down the road, Pinterest will become a great place for homemade, toxic-free finger paint and evidence-based practices for improving education.

Written by Becky McGill-Wilkinson, NCER Program Officer for the Knowledge Utilization Research and Development Centers