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IES Grant

Title: Providence Public Schools District and Education Development Center: Developing a Researcher-Practitioner Partnership to Improve Achievement among Minority Students
Center: NCER Year: 2014
Principal Investigator: Riordan, Julie Awardee: Education Development Center, Inc.
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (7/1/20146/30/2016) Award Amount: $399,918
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H140118

Award Number: Co-Principal Investigator: Marco Andrade (Providence Public Schools District)

Partner(s): Providence Public Schools District (PPSD)

Education Issue: Providence Public Schools District (PPSD) serves a culturally diverse student population and the largest English language learner (ELL) student population in Rhode Island. A recent audit of ELL student achievement in PPSD revealed that although the achievement gap between reclassified English language learners and their native-English speaking peers has substantially narrowed, the gap between students who have not exited ELL status and non-ELLs has widened. Further, the achievement of ELL students on the state assessment in reading and mathematics has been extremely low, generally lower than their ELL peers in other districts in the state. Finally, there are ELL students whose parents choose to opt out of ELL programming. These students are considered Eligible but Not Enrolled (ENE) in any ELL programs and represent a growing number of students in the district. The pattern of achievement among this population of ELL students is not well understood. PPSD seeks to understand patterns of achievement among its ELL student population and the relationship of ELL programs to academic outcomes.

Partnership Goal: The EDC-PPSD partnership will utilize the grant to develop a broader consortium to be known as the Providence Education Research Consortium (PERC). Institutions of higher education, foundations, and community organizations located in Rhode Island will be recruited to serve as members of PERC. The goal of establishing PERC is to (1) facilitate collaborative research between PPSD and education researchers who investigate student learning outcomes; (2) ensure that research conducted in PPSD is aligned with district priorities and needs; (3) build the capacity of PPSD to use research to inform district-level decisions; (4) create mechanisms by which findings from research can be translated to action; and (5) help to leverage existing local resources and intellectual capital to conduct research analyses that will inform PPSD policies and programs designed to improve student learning.

During the two-year grant period, the initial goal of the EDC-PPSD partnership is to relate patterns of ELL student achievement and aspects of the programs that support ELLs as a means to improving their educational outcomes.

Partners and Partnership Activities: The EDC-PPSD partnership will expand during the two year grant period to include institutions of higher education, foundations, and community organizations located in Rhode Island to serve as members of PERC. An initial partnership activity will include conducting an inventory of current and past research studies using PPSD data. This inventory will examine content areas addressed, datasets used, funders of the studies, institutions conducting the studies, analysis methods used, year(s) conducted, content of final reports, and whether results were published. To begin coordinating and streamlining requests for data, the EDC and PPSD will then revise an existing application for external researchers. Finally, a Researcher Database will be designed and launched. This database will be used to identify researchers for specific projects and to keep a record of researcher expertise and background.

Setting: This project will take place in the Providence Public Schools, the largest urban district in Rhode Island.

Population/Sample: PPSD enrolls approximately 3,400 ELL students (14% of overall enrollment), and almost half of the ELLs in Rhode Island attend school in the district.

Initial Analysis: In this project, researchers will catalog available data elements related to ELL students, including demographic characteristics, English language acquisition, achievement on state and district assessments, ELL program enrollment, and information about when students complete and exit these programs. Information about ENE students will also be gathered. Researchers will document data sources, determine the quality of data collected, the rationale for inclusion of each data element, and changes to the data element over time. A number of descriptive analyses of student and school data from 2010/11 through 2013/14 will be carried out so as to characterize the demographic and programmatic landscape of ELL students and programs. After completing these initial descriptive analyses, the project will examine differences in English language proficiency between ELL and ENE students. This will be done by estimating propensity scores for the students in the cohort and then using the estimated propensity scores to create a matched sample of ELL and ENE students who will be included in a growth curve analysis. After forming a matched sample of students based on propensity scores, the research team will compare the English proficiency growth trajectories for ENE and ELL students in the matched sample by fitting a series of hierarchical growth curve models. Data elements will include home language, current versus former ELL status, the number and types of ELL programs offered at each PPSD school, and participation and mobility rates for ELLs.