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IES Grant

Title: A Study in Equity: Oregon's 9th Grade Transition
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Farley, Daniel Awardee: Oregon Department of Education
Program: Using Longitudinal Data to Support State Education Recovery Policymaking      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (09/01/2021 – 08/31/2024) Award Amount: $881,756
Type: Exploration and Efficacy Award Number: R305S210005

Co-Principal Investigators: Messer, Jason; Scalise, Kathleen; Tate, Benjamin; Zvoch, Keith

Partner Institutions: Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the University of Oregon

Purpose: The project team will  examine the implementation and impact of Oregon's On-Track to Graduation initiative.  This initiative  was implemented in 2016–2017 and provided funding for high school interventions, including a 9th grade dropout prevention program composed of data systems, awareness raising activities, and coaches.

Project Activities: The project team will use a simple and a Comparative Interrupted Time Series (CITS) design to examine whether the 9th grade program, which began in 2016, changed the extent to which students are on track to graduate at the end of ninth grade (overall and by implementation subgroups). In addition, they will conduct a survey to determine implementation of the initiative during the school years disrupted by COVID-19.

Products: The project team will provide a report and present the findings and recommendations to the Oregon State Board of Education, multiple departments within the ODE, Oregon's educational service districts, and other relevant boards and committees. The team will also present the findings to the public through briefs and develop presentations and publications to directly communicate with  parents and students as well as to researchers and other state and local policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project takes place in the state of Oregon.

Sample: This project includes Oregon's 198 school districts from 2013–2014 through 2021–2022

Key Issue, Program, or Policy: Oregon's On-Track to Graduation initiative includes a specific program for 9th grade that when fully implemented includes school data systems for tracking whether 9th grade students are on track to graduate; activities to raise teacher, student, parent, and other stakeholders' awareness of the importance of 9th graders being on track to graduate; and the funding and training of 9th grade coaches to support keeping 9th grade students on track to graduate. Some districts chose not to implement the 9th grade program while others chose to partially implement it by only using the data systems and awareness activities (not the 9th grade coaches).

Research Design and Methods: Using ITS and CITS designs, the project team will first compare 9th grade on track outcomes overall and for full, partial or no implementation from 2013–14 through 2018–19. Next, the team will examine whether any changes in ninth grade on-track outcomes found from 2016–2019 (attributed to the impacts of the 9th grade on track program) continued during 2019–2020 through 2021–2022 given the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project team will check on possible selection bias in the time series designs by analyzing a dependent variable not expected to be affected by the 9th grade on track program (involvement in a student leadership organization). The team will complete correlational studies to explore differences in the on-track outcomes by student and district characteristics.

Control Condition: The analyses will compare full implementation of the 9th grade program to partial implementation (no 9th grade coaches) and no implementation.

Key Measures: The primary outcome variable is ODE's 9th grade on track to graduate metric (9G-OTG). On-track to graduate is defined as enrolled on the first school day in May with full academic year status and having earned 25% of total credits required to graduate (6 credits) prior to the start of the next school year. For the implementation variable, the project team will code each district's plan for Oregon's On-Track to Graduation initiative by the project team as full, partial, or no implementation. In addition, they will conduct a survey to determine implementation during the school years disrupted by COVID-19.

Data Analytic Strategy: Analyses include multilevel piecewise growth modeling to specify two types of interrupted time series (ITS) models, simple and comparative (CITS).

State Decision Making: The findings will be useful as ODE considers

  • Whether support for the 9th grade coaches is required for improvements in ninth grade on-track to graduate or whether similar gains can be made without them,
  • Whether ODE's focus on equity is being addressed by the 9th grade intervention,
  • Whether the Comprehensive District Learning (CDL) COVID-19 Guidance is linked to maintaining gains under the 9th grade intervention (for full and partial implementation and for different subgroups), and
  • Whether the type of implementation of the 9th intervention is linked to maintaining gains under the COVID-19 Guidance.

Related IES Projects: The Oregon DATA Project: Direct Access to Achievement (R372A070026);Integration of Longitudinal Data Systems for Research and Practice (R372A090048); Project ALDER: Advancing Longitudinal Data for Educational Reform (R384A100053); National Research and Development Center on Assessment and Accountability for Special Education (R324C110004)