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Effects of a state-defined restart strategy for low-performing schools in Texas




Description: Beginning with the 2017/18 school year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) established grant programs to provide applicant districts with financial support to design and implement strategic school improvement actions for Title I schools. School restart is one type of strategic action districts may implement with these grants. TEA requires a whole-school improvement model for district grantees that select to implement a district-managed restart strategic action for schools. In this model, the schools develop a new academic program and replace school leadership and instructional staff.

REL Southwest is using longitudinal administrative data, program records, and interviews with district and school leaders to study the school restart model and evaluate the effects on student, teacher, and principal outcomes. The study will provide evidence on whether school restart improved student and educator outcomes, and whether the characteristics of students and staff changed after implementation. Results from this research will help TEA in determining whether to continue expansion of the district-managed restart model as a strategy for improving schools. Informed by the study findings, TEA may revise funding requirements, provide closer monitoring of the implementing schools, or modify the supports and options provided to districts to implement a district-managed restart strategic action.

Research Questions:

  1. What was the effect of a school restart model on school-level student achievement, attendance, demographic characteristics, and mobility after one and two years of implementation?
  2. What was the effect of a school restart model on teacher and principal turnover after one and two years of implementation?
  3. How were schools selected by the districts and what key activities were implemented in the first and second year?
  4. What percentage of schools implementing the school restart model met accountability standards within the first, second, and third years of implementation?
  5. What were the professional experience and demographic characteristics of teachers and principals who stayed in restart schools compared to the experience and demographic characteristics of teachers and principals who left the schools?
  6. What percentage of teachers who taught in schools the year prior to restart remained teaching in the school or taught in a different school or district during the first two years of implementation?
    1. Among teachers who left restart schools and were subsequently employed in teaching positions in other Texas schools, how were the teachers distributed by school performance rating?

Study Design: The study is examining outcomes for schools that implemented the district-managed restart model in three cohorts: 2015/16, 2017/18, and 2018/19. This school sample comprises 29 urban and suburban elementary and middle schools, plus a set of comparison schools. The study is using 10 years of administrative data prior to restart and up to two years of data following implementation. The study team is analyzing the data using a comparative interrupted time series design to determine the changes in school-level test scores, attendance, and mobility rates relative to comparison schools. This quasi-experimental study design allows estimation of the effect of the restart model by comparing changes over time in the outcomes of restart schools with changes in the outcomes in a comparison group of matched schools during the same time period. Outcomes include school-level student test scores, attendance, demographic characteristics, and mobility, as well as teacher and principal turnover. The study also uses interview data to explore implementation of the restart model and descriptive statistics to examine changes in school contexts during the study years.

Projected Release Data: Summer 2022

Research Alliance: Southwest School Improvement Research Partnership

Study Related Products: The study will produce a public report and a one-page study snapshot.

View, download, and print Data management plan as a PDF file (162 KB)

Principal Investigators & Affiliation:

Angelica Herrera, American Institutes for Research
Marshall Garland, Gibson Consulting