WWC review of this study

Sustained progress: New findings about the effectiveness and operation of small public high schools of choice in New York City.

Bloom, H., & Unterman, R. (2013). New York: MDRC. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED545475

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    14,969
     Students
    , grades
    9-12
At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: September 2017

Completing school outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

4-year graduation rate

Dropout Prevention vs. Business as usual

0 Years

Full sample;
14,969 students

64.6

56.1

Yes

 
 
9
 

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 83% Free or reduced price lunch
  • Race
    Black
    46%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    46%
    Not Hispanic
    54%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
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    • F
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    New York

Setting

The study took place in New York City's public schools among SSC. The randomized sample included 84 SSCs with students participating in a total of 199 lotteries.

Study sample

The analytic sample includes 3 consecutive cohorts of 9th graders enrolled between 2004 and 2006. The treatment and comparison samples consisted primarily of black and Hispanic students. Black students represented 45-46% and Hispanics represented 44-45% of the treatment and comparison samples. Approximately 83% of the treatment and comparison students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Reading and math proficiency levels were fairly equal among the two groups; about 69% of the students failed to fully meet 8th grade reading proficiency standards and about two-thirds of the students failed to fully meet the 8th grade math proficiency standards. Compared to district non-SSC schools, all SSC schools served a higher proportion of minority students. Blacks and Hispanics accounted for 93% and 78% of the student population at the SCC and non-SCC schools respectively. Income was fairly comparable with about three quarters of the student body eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Non-SCC students were more proficient in English and Math than SCC students. Seventy-eight percent of SCC students and 65% of non-SCC students scored below grade level in English. Seventy-one percent of SCC students scored below grade level in math, compared to 55% of the non-SCC students (see table A.2, p. 42)

Intervention Group

The intervention condition is enrollment in an SSC through the HSAPS lottery system for 9th grade. SSC are small, academically non-selective schools. SSCs had four other essential features: school were (1) located predominantly in disadvantaged communities whose neighborhood high schools were closing; (2) established via a demanding and competitive proposal process that emphasized the common design principles of academic rigor, personalization, and community partnerships; (3) infused with outside resources, such as new principals, teachers, partnerships with intermediary organizations with expertise in starting new schools, and start-up funding from the district and its philanthropic partners; (4) received policy protections during their start-up period, including opening with only 1 founding grade of students (9th grade) and having access to supports to facilitate procurement and hiring, such as special training for school principals and teachers; an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement, which gave principals more hiring discretion; and conversion from a management system of regional offices to one in which schools had greater control over their budget and educational programs.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition was business as usual. It is defined as assignment to non-SSC schools in New York City public schools.

Support for implementation

About 70% of schools received support from an intermediary partner, such as New Visions for Public Schools, Institute for Student Achievement, and the Urban Assembly.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Bloom, H. S., Thompson, S. L., & Unterman, R. (2010). Transforming the high school experience: How New York City’s new small schools are boosting student achievement and graduation rates. New York: MDRC.

  • Bloom, H. S., Thompson, S. L., & Unterman,. (2011). Transforming the high school experience: How New York City’s new small schools are boosting student achievement and graduation rates. Evanston, IL: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness.

  • Bloom, H. S., & Unterman, R. (2012). Sustained positive effects on graduation rates produced by New York City’s small public high schools of choice (MDRC Policy Brief). New York, NY: MDRC.

  • Bloom, H. S., & Unterman, R. (2014). Can small high schools of choice improve educational prospects for disadvantaged students?. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 33(2), 290–319.

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: February 2014

Completing school outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

Graduated from high school

Small Schools of Choice (SSCs) vs. Business as usual

Posttest

SSC lottery participants;
12,130 students

0.7

0.64

Yes

 
 
6
 
General Mathematics Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

College readiness in Math

Small Schools of Choice (SSCs) vs. Business as usual

Posttest

SSC lottery participants;
12,130 students

0.24

0.25

No

--
Literacy achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

College readiness in English

Small Schools of Choice (SSCs) vs. Business as usual

Posttest

SSC lottery participants;
12,130 students

0.4

0.35

Yes

 
 
4
 

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 6% English language learners

  • 83% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 54%
    Male: 46%
  • Race
    Asian
    3%
    Black
    45%
    Native American
    1%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    45%
    Not Hispanic
    55%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
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    • u
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    • w
    • y

    New York
 

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