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IES Grant

Title: Equitable Rostering Solution: A Project on Evidence-Based Teacher-Student Assignment
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Springer, Matthew G. Awardee: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Program: Improving Education Systems      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (07/01/2021 – 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $1,722,596
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A210356

Co-Principal Investigators: Cohen-Vogel, Lora: Domina, Thurston; Halpin, Peter; Stuit, David

Purpose: Equitable Rostering Solution (ERS) is a computerized student-teacher rostering tool intended to optimize the match between student and teacher by using profiles of both student and teacher needs and strengths. The research team will further develop ERS and validate its ability to: (a) increase student equity in access to effective instruction; (b) reduce opportunity and achievement gaps between high and low-performing students; (c) improve all students' academic achievement and growth; and (d) augment school leaders' professional judgment when producing classroom rosters.

Project Activities: The project team will carry out three activities. First, the team will examine current practices in student-teacher assignment through an analysis of statewide assignment practices in North Carolina using state administrative data and a series of focus groups and interview of leaders, teachers, and other key stakeholders tasked with classroom rostering in Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). Second, the project team will further develop the ERS including the underlying analytics used to optimize student-teacher assignment and a visual application to inform the rostering process at key decision points for use by rostering personnel. Third, the project team will implement a pilot study with 10 elementary schools in either WCPSS or CMS to examine the implementation, impacts, and costs of ERS.

Products: The project team will produce a commercially available version of the ERS along with user guides and training materials, papers on current student-teacher assignment practices in North Carolina, and a paper summarizing the implementation, impact, and cost findings from the pilot study. These findings will be directly provided to both the state and district education agencies through briefings and publicly available briefs.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in North Carolina. One research activity will use state administrative data while the other activities will use information from one to two urban school districts.

Sample: The analyses of administrative data and the pilot study will focus on 4th and 5th grade. The research team will conduct the pilot study with 4th and 5th grade teachers working in self-contained classrooms in 10 elementary schools (about 60 teachers and 1,500 students) within a North Carolina urban school district.

Intervention/Factors/Assessment: The Equitable Rostering Solution (ERS) is an automated student rostering system intended to increase student equity in access to effective instruction. increase the number of students matched to a teacher with an established track of record of success serving students with similar profiles (student-teacher complementarity), and augment personnel's judgement when rostering students to teachers. The project team will evaluate a set of candidate measures for inclusion in the development of a Teacher Quality Index and a Student Index. Based on their index, students will be matched to teachers using the Gates-Shapley Matching Algorithm (G-SSM).

Research Design and Methods: The research team will use multi-level models to analyze the administrative data to identify the relative contribution to classroom sorting of student-level characteristics and teacher characteristics. Semi-structured interviews will be done with school leaders and other personnel responsible for classroom rostering in the schools and district to obtain similar information. The pilot study will use a clustered-randomized design with five schools (30 teachers) receiving ERS classroom rosters and five schools (30 teachers) using the classroom rosters produced via their normal course of practice.  

Control Condition: The control condition in the pilot study is the normal practice that schools use for assigning students to classroom teachers in 4th and 5th grade.

Key Measures: The research team will examine the operational and social feasibility of ERS using a variant of the Hexagon Discussion and Analysis Tool; the impact of ERS on student attendance, disciplinary actions, year-end test scores, and differential access to highly effective instruction; and school leaders' perceptions about the ERS.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use multi-level models to estimate for the North Carolina administrative data. They will develop a coding taxonomy and then complete content analysis on the transcript data from the focus groups and interviews. The research team will also make simple conditional mean comparisons between the ERS and control group schools for the pilot study.

Cost Analysis: For the cost analysis, researchers will use the perspective of schools and districts and will account for opportunity costs of training personnel to use the ERS. The analysis will use the ingredients method and the CostOut tool for organizing and facilitating data collection.