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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2023145 Examining student group differences in Arkansas’ indicators of postsecondary readiness and success
Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest partnered with the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) to examine Arkansas’s middle and high school indicators of postsecondary readiness and success, building on an earlier study of these indicators (Hester et al., 2021). Academic indicators include attaining proficiency on state achievement tests, grade point average, enrollment in advanced courses, and community service learning. Behavioral indicators include attendance, suspension, and expulsion. Using data on statewide grade 6 cohorts from 2008/09 and 2009/10, the study examined the percentages of students who attained the readiness and success indicators and the percentages of students who attained postsecondary readiness and success outcomes by gender, race/ethnicity, eligibility for the National School Lunch Program, English learner student status, disability status, age, and district locale. The study also examined whether the predictive accuracy, specificity, and strength of the indicators varied by these student groups.

Three key findings emerged. First, the attainment of indicators of postsecondary readiness and success differed substantially for nearly all student groups, with the number of substantial differences on academic indicators exceeding those on behavioral indicators. The largest number of substantial differences in the attainment of academic indicators were between Black and White students, between students eligible and ineligible for the National School Lunch Program (an indicator of economic disadvantage), and between students who entered grade 6 before and after age 13. Second, attainment of postsecondary readiness and success outcomes varied substantially across student groups, with the largest differences between students with and without a disability. Third, predictive accuracy (the percentage of students with the same predicted and actual outcomes) and strength (the relative importance of a single indicator) were similar across student groups in most cases.

Leaders at ADE and in Arkansas districts can use these findings to identify appropriate indicators of postsecondary readiness and success and to target supports toward student groups who most need them. These findings can help leaders identify and address disparities such as inequitable access to resources and supportive learning environments.
11/21/2022
REL 2023144 English learner proficiency in Texas before and during the COVID-19 pandemic
This study examined levels of English proficiency before and during the COVID-19 pandemic among English learner students in grades 3–12 in Texas. In 2020/21, nearly 750,000 students in grades 3–12—approximately one in five Texas students—were English learner students. In accordance with Texas state law and the Every Student Succeeds Act, English proficiency is measured annually using a statewide assessment, the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS), which assesses English learner students’ listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in English. This study focused on TELPAS scores among students who took the test in 2020/21 and compared those scores with a matched cohort of similar students from 2018/19. The study found that, despite missing data because of pandemic-related disruptions to testing, students who took the TELPAS were representative of the overall Texas English learner student population in the years prior to and during the pandemic. The study also found that rates of reclassification from an English learner student to an English proficient student declined between 2017/18 and 2020/21, and trends in the characteristics of reclassified students changed, with lower percentages of students in major urban areas, eligible for the National School Lunch Program, who spoke Spanish at home, and who identified as Hispanic reclassified in 2020/21 than in 2017/18. On average, during the pandemic, English learner students in elementary grades earned meaningfully lower scores on the listening, speaking, and reading domains of the TELPAS than similar students earned before the pandemic, particularly in speaking. The findings for secondary grades were mixed; middle school students earned lower scores in listening and high school students earned higher scores in speaking. Finally, the study did not find evidence that English learner student program models, such as dual-language immersion or content-based English as a second language, were meaningfully associated with English proficiency in 2020/21. Leaders at the Texas Education Agency and Texas school districts could consider focusing recovery resources on elementary schools and to some degree on middle schools and identifying and supporting evidence-based strategies to cultivate proficiency. The Texas Education Agency may consider studying the effect of program models on language proficiency and the relationship between reclassification, shifting English proficiency levels, and changing reclassification standards.
11/3/2022
REL 2023142 An Examination of the Costs of Texas Community Colleges
Policymakers in Texas want to understand the funding levels necessary for community colleges to meet their promise of providing an affordable and accessible pathway to a postsecondary certificate or degree. Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest conducted this study to help leaders at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board better understand the extent to which Texas community colleges have adequate funding for reaching the desired levels of student success, as measured by success points milestones used in the state’s performance-based funding system. The study involved three types of analyses: a needs analysis, an equity analysis, and a cost function analysis. The needs analysis found that community colleges with higher percentages of first-generation college students, students who are economically disadvantaged, students who are academically disadvantaged, students older than 24 years, and English learner students earn fewer success points milestones per full-time equivalent student. The equity analysis found that community colleges with higher percentages of students who are academically disadvantaged spent less per full-time equivalent student, suggesting that there may be resource inequities for these students. The cost function analysis found that spending was not high enough to cover the cost of providing an equal opportunity for first-generation college students, students who are economically disadvantaged, students older than 24 years, and English learner students to achieve the same level of outcomes as students without these needs. The findings from this study can inform Texas policymakers’ efforts to distribute funding for community colleges to support equitable opportunities for all students to succeed in college.
10/26/2022
REL 2023141 Early Progress and Outcomes of a Grow Your Own Grant Program for High School Students and Paraprofessionals in Texas
The Texas Education Agency launched the Grow Your Own (GYO) grant program in 2018 to encourage districts to develop or expand existing high-quality education and training courses for high school students and to support district-employed paraprofessionals (including instructional aides and long-term substitute teachers) to pursue certifications that would allow them to enter full-time teaching roles. This study aimed to help state education leaders in Texas understand the progress of districts in implementing the GYO program and the early outcomes of participants. This study analyzed data from 2015/16 through 2020/21 for districts that received GYO funding in the first two grant cycles and districts in the same geographic locales within the same regions that did not receive GYO funding (comparison districts). The study found that the majority of districts awarded a GYO grant were in rural areas and small towns. GYO districts were more likely to have a smaller enrollment and had a higher average percentage of Hispanic students than comparison districts. The findings suggest that the program appeared to meet the Texas Education Agency’s goal of providing opportunities to students and paraprofessionals in rural and small school settings and students of color to participate in GYO activities. The study also found that the percentage of students completing education and training courses in GYO districts was low (about 10 percent) during the grant years, and the percentage was similar in comparison districts before and after the grant awards. A disproportionate share of students who completed education and training courses in GYO districts were female. Although it is too soon to tell whether the GYO program will, over time, increase the size and diversity of the state’s teacher pool, leaders at the Texas Education Agency can use these early findings to both understand the progress of districts in achieving the GYO grant program aims and help identify aspects of the program that might need further investigation.
10/24/2022
REL 2023139 Practical Measurement for Continuous Improvement in the Classroom: A Toolkit for Educators
This toolkit is designed to guide educators in developing and improving practical measurement instruments for use in networked improvement communities (NICs) and other education contexts in which principles of continuous improvement are applied. Continuous improvement includes distinct repeating processes: understanding the problem, identifying specific targets for improvement, determining the change to introduce, implementing the change, and evaluating if and how the change led to improvements. This toolkit is intended for a team of educators who have already identified specific student learning needs and strategies to improve instruction to address those needs and are ready to test these strategies using continuous improvement processes. The toolkit aims to help the team with the final step in the cycle, which includes collecting data to measure implementation of changes and intended outcomes and using those data to inform future action. Measures for continuous improvement should be closely aligned to student learning goals and implementation of instructional strategies driving the continuous improvement effort, and they should be practical to use in a classroom setting. A team of educators can use this toolkit to proceed through a series of steps to identify what to measure, consider existing instruments, draft instruments, evaluate and refine instruments, plan data collection routines, and plan for data discussions to interpret the data and inform action. Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest developed the resources in the toolkit in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education team working with the Oklahoma Excel NICs.
10/11/2022
REL 2022138 Effects of Reclassifying English Learner Students on Student Achievement in New Mexico
This study examined how attaining English proficiency and being reclassified as fluent English proficient affected achievement in English language arts and math in the first year after student reclassification in grades 3–8 in New Mexico. State policy in New Mexico bases student reclassification decisions on whether students attain a minimum overall English language proficiency level score of 5.0 on the ACCESS for ELLs (ACCESS) assessment. The study focused on achievement among English learner students in 2014/15–2018/19, a time when the ACCESS underwent a standards setting process to better align its language proficiency scoring scale with the expectations of college- and career-ready standards. After the standards setting, a smaller percentage of English learner students in New Mexico attained English proficiency and were reclassified each year. At the same time, students who scored near the English proficiency level required for reclassification performed above the statewide average in English language arts and math and were more likely to meet state content proficiency standards. However, the study found no effects of reclassification on student achievement either before or after the ACCESS standards setting. In addition, the study found no effect of reclassification on next-year English language arts and math achievement among most groups of students with different characteristics and among most districts in the study. Leaders at the New Mexico Public Education Department could use the findings of this study to consider maintaining the current reclassification threshold. In addition, the state and its districts might want to identify opportunities to strengthen the supports provided to English learner students. This could begin by collecting more systematic information on the education services and supports that English learner students receive leading up to and after they attain English proficiency.
9/1/2022
NCEE 2022007 The Effects of an Academic Language Program on Student Reading Outcomes
Helping English learners and economically disadvantaged students read as well as their more advantaged peers is a struggle for many schools. This study tested a promising program to improve fourth- and fifth-grade students' ability to understand the academic language used in school and support their reading achievement. The supplemental program included reading, speaking, and writing activities for students and training for teachers. About 60 schools were randomly assigned to implement the program for one school year or to continue using their typical strategies. The study compared the average reading performance of the two groups to assess the program's effectiveness.
8/16/2022
NCEE 2022008 Study of Training in Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Behavior: Impacts on Elementary School Students' Outcomes
To prevent and address students’ problem behaviors and support their learning, the Department of Education and many states have promoted the use of multi-tiered systems of support for behavior (MTSS-B). This study evaluated one promising, intensive program of MTSS-B training and technical assistance. The MTSS-B approach seeks to change the school learning environment by consistently teaching and reinforcing good behavior for all students and identifying and providing supplemental support to students who need it. About 90 elementary schools were randomly assigned either to participate in the program or to continue with their usual strategies for supporting student behavior. The study compared student and teacher experiences in the two sets of schools to measure the effectiveness of the program.
7/14/2022
NCEE 2022006 Study of Teacher Coaching Based on Classroom Videos: Impacts on Student Achievement and Teachers' Practices
Helping teachers become more effective in the classroom is a high priority for school leaders and policymakers. This study examined one promising strategy for improving teachers’ effectiveness: providing individualized coaching using videos of teachers’ instruction for reflection, practice, and feedback. The coaching focused on general, rather than subject specific, teaching practices. About 100 elementary schools were randomly divided into three groups: one where teachers received five highly structured cycles of focused, professional coaching during a single school year, one where teachers received more coaching (eight cycles), and one that continued with its usual strategies for supporting teachers. The study compared teachers’ experiences and their students’ achievement across the three groups to determine the effectiveness of the two versions of the coaching.
6/6/2022
REL 2022135 English Language Development Among American Indian English Learner Students in New Mexico
New Mexico’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan set the goal for all English learner students to attain English proficiency within five years. The Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest English Learners Research Partnership conducted this study to better understand progress toward English proficiency among American Indian English learner students. The study examined two statewide cohorts of American Indian students identified as English learner students at initial kindergarten entry in 2013/14 or 2014/15 in New Mexico public schools. The study found that most American Indian English learner students were not reclassified as English proficient within five years. Similarly, most American Indian English learner students did not meet grade-level standards on New Mexico state assessments in English language arts and math in grades 3 and 4, regardless of whether they attained English proficiency and were reclassified within five years. However, considerably higher percentages of American Indian English learner students who were reclassified as English proficient met grade-level standards in both English language arts and math compared with students who were not reclassified. Finally, students who attended a school with a bilingual multicultural education program (BMEP) for at least four years were reclassified as English proficient and met grade-level standards on state assessments in English language arts and math at higher rates than students who never attended a school with a BMEP. Staff at the New Mexico Public Education Department, district and school leaders, and teachers can use the findings from this study to determine how best to support English language development among American Indian English learner students.
5/16/2022
NCEE 2022005 The BASIE (BAyeSian Interpretation of Estimates) Framework for Interpreting Findings from Impact Evaluations: A Practical Guide for Education Researchers
BASIE is a framework for interpreting impact estimates from evaluations. It is an alternative to null hypothesis significance testing. This guide walks researchers through the key steps of applying BASIE, including selecting prior evidence, reporting impact estimates, interpreting impact estimates, and conducting sensitivity analyses. The guide also provides conceptual and technical details for evaluation methodologists.
4/25/2022
WWC 2022007 Providing Reading Interventions for Students in Grades 4-9
The What Works Clearinghouse(TM) (WWC) developed this practice guide in partnership with a panel of experts on reading interventions. The panel distilled recent reading intervention research into four easily comprehensible and practical recommendations that educators can use to deliver reading intervention to meet the needs of students in grades 4-9. The four recommendations in this practice guide will be useful for special educators, general education teachers, reading specialists/coaches, administrators, and parents.
3/30/2022
NCEE 2022004 Sharing Study Data: A Guide for Education Researchers
Open science envisions that researchers will make their study data available to other investigators to facilitate research transparency and accelerate the development of knowledge. This guide describes key issues that education researchers should consider when deciding which study data to share, how to organize the data, what documentation to include, and where to share their final dataset. The guide also provides strategies for addressing related challenges and includes links to other resources, a checklist aligned to each section, and appendices that contain templates and samples.
3/28/2022
NCEE 2022003 Enhancing the Generalizability of Impact Studies in Education
This guide will help researchers design and implement impact studies in education so that the findings are more generalizable to the study’s target population. Guidance is provided on key steps that researchers can take, including defining the target population, selecting a sample of schools—and replacement schools, when needed—managing school recruitment, assessing, and adjusting for differences between the sample and target population, and reporting information on the generalizability of the study findings.
2/28/2022
WWC 2022005 Social Belonging Intervention Report
This What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) intervention report summarizes the research on Social Belonging interventions that support postsecondary success. Social Belonging interventions for college students aim to reduce the impacts of negative stereotypes that may burden students in underrepresented groups and affect their persistence in college. Examples of such groups are racial or ethnic minority groups, women in engineering, and first-generation college students. There are different variations of Social Belonging interventions, but they all have in common a goal of influencing students' sense that they could be successful within a college setting. Based on the research, the WWC found that Social Belonging interventions have mixed effects on academic achievement and progressing in college, and have no discernible effects on college enrollment.
1/19/2022
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