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Prekindergarten Through Grade 12 Recovery Research Network


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FY Awards


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Mitigating the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic Through Curriculum-Based Approaches to Learning Acceleration in Grades K-2 in Chicago

Year: 2022
Name of Institution:
University of Chicago
Goal: Exploration and Measurement
Principal Investigator:
Allensworth, Elaine
Award Amount: $2,763,929
Award Period: 3 years (09/01/22 – 08/31/25)
Award Number: R305X220033


Co-Principal Investigators: Davis, Laura; Fleming, Jane; Gwynne,Julia

Education Agency: Chicago Public Schools

Related Network Teams: This research project is part of the Prekindergarten Through Grade 12 Recovery Research Network, which includes the following other projects — PreK-12 RESTART Network Lead (Research on Education Strategies to Advance Recovery and Turnaround) (R305X220009), Evaluation of the Learning Renewal-Social Emotional Learning Programs (LR-SEL) for Supporting Pandemic Recovery with Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) (R305X220015), A Researcher-Practitioner Partnership to Improve Pandemic Recovery Efforts in California (R305X220028), Assessing the Long-Term Impacts of School Extension Programs on Student Re-Engagement and Learning Recovery (R305S220003), Lessons from the Pandemic: The Effects of Remote Instructional Delivery and Recovery Strategies on Student Outcomes (R305A230400)

Purpose: In school year (SY) 2020–21, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) sought to accelerate post-pandemic K–2 literacy outcomes by providing teachers with a comprehensive curriculum system with aligned professional learning (PL), called Skyline+PL. This network project team ill examine the ongoing implementation of Skyline+PL and gather information regarding improvements in the quality of instruction, student engagement and student literacy achievement outcomes, especially for students whose learning was most disrupted by the shift to remote learning during the pandemic, including Black and Latinx students in the communities with the highest economic hardship, English learners, and students who begin kindergarten with the fewest literacy skills.

Project Activities: This research team will use quantitative and qualitative analyses to determine (1) how to compare the different measures of K-2 literacy used in CPS, (2) the implementation of Skyline+PL, (3) teacher perceptions of Skyline+PL, (4) whether student subgroups are catching up to other students over time, (5) which of the Skyline+PL resources are associated with stronger acceleration of student outcomes, and (6) the costs associated with Skyline+PL. Ongoing partnership meetings will ensure that the findings are accessible, actionable, and relevant to the needs of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The partnership will provide support to CPS on how to connect research to ongoing recovery work.

Products: The partnership will provide the findings in multiple formats for a set of audiences including the CPS Departments of Literacy and Curriculum and Instruction & Digital Learning, the Consortium Steering Committee, the Mayor's Office of Equity and Inclusion, Kids First Chicago, the Chicago Teachers' Union, philanthropic donors, schools, teachers, parents, and researchers. The formats will include infographics, articles, posts, practitioner and policymaker briefs, Consortium reports, three journal submissions, workshops and webinars, small group briefings, public briefings, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This research will take place in Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Sample: The primary sample is nine cohorts of students who were in kindergarten in CPS from SY 2013–2014 to 2021–2022 (and followed into second to fourth grade through SY 2023–24). These include four pre-pandemic cohorts (two of which remained pre-pandemic in third and fourth grade) and five pandemic-disrupted cohorts.

Factors: The Skyline K–2 ELA curriculum pairs instruction in foundational skills (phonics, phonological awareness, morphology, and fluency) with units featuring contemporary and culturally relevant texts to support growth in language arts. Each Skyline course includes scopes and sequences, unit plans, formative and summative assessments, lesson-level teacher facilitation guides, and lesson-level student facing materials and is intended to be all-inclusive, eliminating the need for teachers to supplement with additional materials. Schools adopting Skyline could also receive Professional Learning (PL) of four types: PL solely on the foundational components of Skyline; PL on the full ELA K-2 Skyline curriculum, PL on the full Skyline curriculum combined with teacher participation in cross-school professional learning communities (PLCs), and PL on the full Skyline curriculum with the option to take part in PLCs along with onsite support, teacher planning time, and additional PL sessions to support culturally responsive educational practices.

Research Design and Methods: The proposed research team will use mixed methods and combine quantitative analyses of administrative and survey data with qualitative analyses of interviews with teachers and instructional leaders, as well as classroom observations. The team will complete psychometric analyses to determine if four different literacy assessments used in the district can be on the same scale. They will use the ingredients method to calculate the costs of the different types of Professional Learning.

Control Condition: The research will be mainly exploratory and there is no control condition. Associations between Skyline+PL and school and student outcomes will involve comparisons across the different PL types and levels of implementation of the Skyline curriculum.

Key Measures: Student and teacher surveys plus administrative data on attendance will provide information on student engagement. The research team will determine student literacy outcomes from administrative data on test scores and grades. They will confirm the Skyline+PL implementation using the Skyline data base, district records on PL attendance, teacher surveys, classroom observations, and teacher and leadership interviews. The team will determine teacher perceptions of their working conditions using teacher surveys.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use quantitative analyses of administrative and survey data for hierarchical models, latent class analysis, and difference-in-difference models with school and student fixed effects. They will conduct qualitative analyses using data from interviews with teachers and instructional leaders, and classroom observations.

Cost Analysis: The project team will calculate the incremental costs and effects of each of the three tiers of ELA K–2 Skyline Curriculum PL as compared to PL on only the foundational components of the K–2 Skyline literacy resources and identify which tier is most cost-effective.