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Identifying early school improvement indicators: Examining the association between school turnaround indicators and improved school outcomes in Massachusetts' lowest performing schools

Northeast & Islands

Description: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) uses a monitoring system and research-based turnaround practices and indicators (TP&I) continuum for schools identified as low performing. The TP&I continuum includes 26 indicators within four turnaround practices: (1) leadership, shared responsibility, and professional collaboration; (2) intentional practices for improving instruction; (3) student-specific instruction and supports to all students; and (4) school climate and culture. This study will examine the TP&I ratings collected during monitoring visits to low-performing Massachusetts schools across five years, and will examine the extent to which schools' TP&I indicator ratings are related to school-level student achievement growth in mathematics and English language arts (ELA), and to schoolwide chronic absenteeism rates.

Results from this study will help DESE deepen its understanding of the turnaround indicators that are associated with improved student outcomes and inform efforts to support the state's lowest performing schools. Findings will help district and school staff interpret their own ratings and inform decisions about refining strategies for improving their turnaround practices.Research Questions:

  1. Within each turnaround practice area, what is the distribution of the TP&I continuum indicator ratings in Massachusetts' low-performing schools, overall and by school level?
  2. Within each turnaround practice area, to what extent are the TP&I continuum indicator ratings correlated with school-level student achievement growth in mathematics and ELA, and with schoolwide chronic absenteeism rates?

Study Design: First, REL Northeast & Islands researchers will conduct a series of descriptive analyses to examine the distributions of indicator ratings across 93 low-performing schools, overall and by school level, for five school years. In addition, researchers will examine the percentage distributions of the four-point rating on each indicator from the most recent school year, overall and by school level. Finally, for each of the turnaround practice areas, researchers will use a hierarchical linear regression model (HLM) to examine the unique relationship between each indicator rating and each outcome. Models will account for grade span, percentages of student race/ethnicity, English Learners, students with disabilities, and students with economic disadvantage.

Projected Release Date: Fall 2021

Partnership or Research Alliance: Massachusetts School Turnaround Research Partnership

Related Products: Making Connections report

This study builds on another study already in progress: Examining the association between schoolwide instructional measures and school-level student outcomes in Massachusetts' low performing schools

Principal Investigators & Affiliation:

Jingtong Pan, Ph.D., American Institutes for Research
Jill Walston, Ph.D., American Institutes for Research