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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2020022 Investigating the Relationship between Adherence to Connecticut’s Teacher Education and Mentoring Program Requirements and Teacher Retention
This study examined data from Connecticut’s induction and mentoring program for beginning teachers, called the Teacher Education and Mentoring (TEAM) Program. The TEAM Program requires beginning teachers to complete five instructional modules, submit reflection papers, and meet with a mentor. This study explored fidelity of implementation of the TEAM Program, how fidelity of implementation varied across schools and districts, and examined relationships between fidelity of implementation and teacher retention. Fidelity of implementation refers to the extent to which the program was delivered as planned. Researchers calculated fidelity scores for beginning teachers based on whether they completed essential TEAM Program requirements. The sample consisted of 7,708 teachers from four cohorts of beginning teachers in the 170 Connecticut districts who entered TEAM between school years 2012/13 and 2015/16. Researchers used statistical models to examine the relationship between fidelity of implementation and one- and three-year teacher retention. Fidelity of implementation varied across the six TEAM requirements studied, which were grouped into three types: hours of contact between the teacher and mentor, module completion, and reflection paper submission. Fidelity was highest for module completion. Fidelity was lowest for documented contact hours between teachers and mentors. The state’s 30 lowest performing districts had higher fidelity on two out of six requirements of the TEAM Program than higher performing districts in the state; the two requirements were documented contact hours between teachers and mentors and completing five modules. Teachers who completed TEAM requirements with higher fidelity were more likely to stay in the same district and in the Connecticut public school system.
9/21/2020
REL 2020036 Are State Policy Reforms in Oregon Associated with Fewer School Suspensions and Expulsions?
In 2013 and 2015, Oregon enacted legislation that shifted school discipline policies from a zero-tolerance approach to one that emphasizes preventing behavioral problems and reducing unnecessary suspensions and expulsions. These types of discipline are often referred to as exclusionary because they remove students from classroom instruction. This study examines the association between state-level policies and suspension and expulsion rates in Oregon.

Study findings suggest that the policy shift has led to some short-term progress on two of the state’s main goals: reducing unnecessary removal of students from classroom instruction for disciplinary reasons and reducing exclusionary discipline for weapons offenses that do not involve firearms. Across all grade spans, the use of exclusionary discipline declined from 2008/09 to 2016/17 in Oregon schools, with higher reductions in the secondary grades. The declining rates of exclusionary discipline indicate progress, but growth in out-of-school suspensions in recent years suggests the need for further monitoring and additional support. For example, strengthening efforts to reduce suspensions for minor infractions, especially in secondary grades, could help reduce unnecessary suspensions overall&mdash:a priority of Oregon’s school discipline policy reforms.
9/18/2020
REL 2020037 Teacher Turnover and Access to Effective Teachers in the School District of Philadelphia
Concerned about the expense of teacher turnover, its disruption to schools and students, and its potential effect on students' access to effective teachers, the School District of Philadelphia partnered with the Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic to better understand students' access to effective teachers and the factors related to teacher turnover. This analysis of differences in teacher effectiveness between and within schools in the district found that teachers of economically disadvantaged, Black, and Hispanic students had lower evaluation scores than teachers of non–economically disadvantaged and White students but similar value-added scores (a measure of teacher effectiveness based on student academic growth). The study also found that each year from 2010/11 through 2016/17, an average of 25 percent of the district’s teachers left their school and 8 percent left the district. During the first five years of teaching, 77 percent of teachers left their school and 45 percent left the district. Turnover rates were highest for teachers who taught middle school grades, teachers who missed more than 10 days of school a year, teachers who identified as Black, teachers who had previously changed schools, and teachers who had low evaluation ratings. Teacher turnover was higher in schools where teachers had a less positive view of the school climate. School climate mattered more for teachers with higher evaluation ratings than for teachers with lower evaluation ratings.
9/16/2020
REL 2020029 Teacher Preparation and Employment Outcomes of Beginning Teachers in Rhode Island
Many states want to better understand the extent to which teachers move across schools or leave the state's public school system, as teacher turnover can have adverse effects on student achievement and local education budgets (Guin, 2004). Leaders at the Rhode Island Department of Education are specifically interested in understanding factors related to teacher mobility, retention, and attrition. This study examines these employment outcomes among 1,164 teachers in Rhode Island who completed a teacher preparation program in the state between 2012/13 and 2016/17, and went on to teach for at least one year in the state’s public school system by the 2017/18 academic year. Researchers compared teacher retention, mobility, and attrition rates across different types of preparation programs and used statistical models to examine relationships between the teacher preparation institution and the employment outcomes of interest. After three years, about one-third of beginning teachers were still teaching in their first school. Another third had changed schools, and a third were no longer teaching in Rhode Island public schools. These rates varied by teacher preparation area and field of certification. There was no relationship between the program in which a beginning teacher was prepared in Rhode Island and that teacher's mobility, retention, attrition, and out-of-field teaching status, except for teachers prepared in alternative programs, who were more likely than teachers prepared in other programs to stay in their school after one year and more likely to leave after three years. Stakeholders can use the information in this report to inform policies and supports for beginning teachers, especially those identified in fields with higher rates of attrition or prepared in alternative programs.
9/15/2020
REL 2020039 The Reliability and Consequential Validity of Two Teacher-Administered Student Mathematics Diagnostic Assessments
Several school districts in Georgia currently use two teacher-administered diagnostic assessments of student mathematical knowledge as part of their multi-tiered system of support in grades K-8. These assessments are the Global Strategy Stage (GloSS; New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2012) and the Individual Knowledge Assessment of Number (IKAN; New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2011). However, little is known about the inter-assessor reliability and consequential validity of these assessments. Inter-assessor reliability indicates whether two teachers obtain the same score for a student after administering the test on two occasions, and consequential validity explores perceptions of the value of using the assessments. Rather than rely on occasional testimonials from the field, decisions about using diagnostic assessments across the state should be based on psychometric data from an external source. Districts not currently using the GloSS and IKAN have indicated that they would consider using them to assess students’ current level of mathematical understanding and determine appropriate levels of instruction and intervention, if they were proven to be reliable and valid diagnostic assessments. This study found that the inter-assessor reliability for the GloSS measure and the IKAN Counting Interview is adequate. The inter-assessor reliability for the IKAN Written Assessment (one of the two components of the IKAN) is inadequate, and additional attention must be directed toward improving training for this measure so that reliability can be established. Teachers indicated that they found the data from the GloSS and IKAN assessments more useful than screening data currently in use for guiding decisions about how to provide intervention. Although teachers interviewed in the study’s focus groups expressed strong support for using both assessments, they reported in the study survey that the GloSS is more useful than the IKAN because it addresses students' solution strategies, which most other mathematics measures do not assess. Teachers did express some criticisms of both assessments; for example, they felt the IKAN Written Assessment should be untimed and that the GloSS should include familiar vocabulary.
9/14/2020
REL 2020026 Relationships between Schoolwide Instructional Observation Scores and Student Academic Achievement and Growth in Low‑Performing Schools in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), like other state education agencies and districts, recognizes that a key lever to turning around low-performing schools is the quality of instruction (Hill & Harvey, 2004; Hopkins, Harris, Watling, & Beresford, 1999). As part of the annual monitoring of state-designated low-performing schools, DESE’s external low-performing school monitors use Teachstone’s Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) tool to conduct observations. DESE’ external monitors rated low-performing schools on three domains of instruction—Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support. This paper examines the relationships between these observation scores and academic growth and achievement within a school, after adjusting for the percentage of students with low incomes and the grade levels in these low-performing schools. Results show statistically significant positive relationships between schoolwide average observation scores for each instructional domain and school-level academic growth in both English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. On a 7-point scale, a 1-point increase in a school’s overall observation rating was associated with an increase in student growth of 4.4 percentile points of growth in ELA and 5.1 percentile points of growth in mathematics. For schoolwide achievement, which is measured by the percentage of students who met or exceeded expectations on the state assessment, results show a significant positive relationship between the classroom organization domain and ELA schoolwide achievement. There was no significant relationship between observation scores and schoolwide achievement in ELA for any other domain or for mathematics schoolwide achievement. The relationship between observation scores and current achievement levels may be weak because achievement levels may be influenced by many other factors including students’ prior achievement and the economic and social challenges their families face.
9/8/2020
REL 2020033 Retention, Mobility, and Attrition among School and District Leaders in Colorado, Missouri, and South Dakota
Educators from Colorado, Missouri, and South Dakota share concerns about changes in school and district leadership. They have expressed interest in better understanding school and district leader mobility and attrition, and related factors. This report describes the proportions of school and district leaders who remained in leadership positions in the same schools or districts (stayers), transferred to leadership positions in different schools or districts (movers), or took nonleadership positions or left the state public school system (leavers) in Colorado, Missouri, and South Dakota. The report also describes the extent to which characteristics of principals, schools, and districts were associated with the likelihood of principals being movers or leavers rather than stayers. The authors used administrative data from 2015/16 to 2018/19, provided by the state education agencies. Results suggest that the proportions of school and district leaders who were stayers after one year ranged from 77 to 82 percent and that the proportions of stayers after three years ranged from 51 to 56 percent. After three years, younger principals were more likely to be movers and older principals were more likely to be leavers, compared to their peers. Principals who identified as a racial/ethnic minority and those who earned lower salaries were also more likely to be movers or leavers. In addition, principals were more likely to move from or leave schools that the state identified as needing additional support for improvement and schools in lower-performing districts. Findings suggest that decisionmakers may wish to better understand the causes of leader mobility and attrition and enhance supports for younger principals, principals who identify as a racial/ethnic minority, and principals in low-performing schools.
8/31/2020
REL 2020030 Identifying North Carolina Students at Risk of Scoring below Proficient in Reading at the End of Grade 3
This study examines how students’ performance on North Carolina’s assessments taken from kindergarten to the beginning of grade 3 predicts reading proficiency at the end of grade 3. The study used longitudinal student-level achievement data for 2014/15–2017/18. The sample consisted of students in grade 3 who took the 2017/18 grade 3 end-of grade assessment in reading for the first time and had reading assessment data when they were in kindergarten in 2014/15. The analyses modeled associations between student performance on grade-level interim assessment measures and proficiency on the grade 3 end-of-grade assessment in reading using classification and regression tree analyses. The results indicated that less than 80 percent of students who failed the grade 3 state assessment were correctly identified as being at risk. The only exception to this finding was when a test better aligned to the end-of-grade state assessment was used as a predictor. These results suggest that more information is needed to use test score data from grades K–2 to reliably identify who is at risk of not being proficient on the grade 3 end-of-grade assessment. Educators may want to consider supplementing screening and progress monitoring assessments with informal, curriculum-based assessments that measure student vocabulary, syntax, and listening comprehension skills because research has identified these skills as important predictors of reading comprehension.
8/24/2020
REL 2020024 Progress of Arizona Kindergartners toward English Proficiency in Grade 3 by English Learner Student Classification
This study was prompted by the Arizona Department of Education’s interest in learning more about the progress of English learner students toward English proficiency in the early grades. The study examined the English language proficiency and English language arts (ELA) proficiency (reading and writing at grade level) of non-native English speaker students in kindergarten and in grade 3. About 11 percent of 2013/14 kindergartners in Arizona were initially classified as English learner students. At the end of that school year, Arizona retested all non-native English speaker kindergartners after setting a higher threshold for English language proficiency. After reassessment, the proportion of kindergartners classified as English learner students rose to 18 percent. Students initially classified as English language proficient and reclassified as English learner students at the end of kindergarten were no more likely to achieve proficiency by the end of grade 3 than were students initially classified at the basic/intermediate (below proficient) level. This finding suggests that students who were reclassified likely needed English learner services at kindergarten entry. One group of students outperformed native English speakers on grade 3 proficiency assessments: non-native English speakers who were proficient when they entered kindergarten and confirmed as proficient when reassessed at the end of the school year. This finding increases confidence that these non-native English speaker students were appropriately classified as not needing English learner services. A small amount of the variation in English language proficiency and ELA proficiency in grade 3 was attributable to school characteristics, but most of the variation in outcomes was attributable to student characteristics. This suggests that practitioners and policymakers might want to investigate how to reduce gaps in achievement within schools in addition to increasing students’ achievement levels overall. Student characteristics associated with lower outcomes in grade 3 included lower English language proficiency level at kindergarten entry, being eligible for special education services, being a racial/ethnic minority student, and being male. Being socioeconomically disadvantaged was associated with a lower probability of achieving ELA proficiency by the end of grade 3 but not with reaching English language proficiency.
8/12/2020
REL 2020023 What Grade 7 Foundational Knowledge and Skills Are Associated with Missouri Students' Algebra I Achievement in Grade 8?
Algebra I is considered a gateway course for advanced math. Consequently, there has been a trend toward enrolling students in Algebra I earlier in the middle grades in order to increase opportunities for students to take more advanced math courses in high school. The challenge for educators lies in determining which students are ready to take Algebra I in middle school and which students need more time to develop foundational knowledge and skills before taking Algebra I. To inform strategies that address this challenge, educators from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education partnered with Regional Educational Laboratory Central to investigate the specific foundational knowledge and skills that are associated with achievement in Algebra I. This study examined whether student knowledge in five domains of math assessed in grade 7 was associated with Algebra I achievement. The study found that students’ scores in all five of the grade 7 domains were related to Algebra I achievement, but their performance in the expressions, equations, and inequalities domain was most strongly related. The number sense and operations domain was more strongly associated with Algebra I achievement for English learner students than it was for students without this designation. No clear differences in these associations were found between students who were receiving special education services and those who were not.
8/4/2020
REL 2020031 How Legacy High School Students Use Their Flexible Time
Legacy High School in Bismarck Public Schools, North Dakota, personalizes education through flexible time, which allows students to choose how they spend a portion of the school day, outside of their regularly scheduled classes. This report describes how students at Legacy High School used their flexible time and whether their use of flexible time varied by demographic characteristics and academic achievement level. The study used data that Legacy High School collected through a survey tool. Results show that students had approximately 80 minutes of flexible time on average per day and spent 19 percent of this time on academic pursuits. These findings did not vary significantly by academic achievement level or demographic characteristics.
7/21/2020
REL 2020020 Implementation of Career- and College‑Ready Requirements for High School Graduation in Washington
The Washington State Board of Education recently developed career- and college-ready (CCR) graduation credit requirements that are more aligned with career pathways and with admissions standards at the state’s universities. The requirements took effect for the class graduating in 2019, though some districts implemented them earlier and others received waivers to delay implementation until the class of 2021. Local and state education leaders in Washington state asked Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest to conduct a study of districts’ progress toward implementing the CCR graduation credit requirements from 2018 to 2019. The study looked at student groups from the class of 2018 that did and did not meet the CCR graduation credit requirements and also examined changes in student outcomes when districts increased fine arts, science, world languages, or total graduation credit requirements in any year between 2012/13 and 2017/18. The study found that the percentage of districts implementing all CCR graduation credit requirements increased from 9 percent in 2018 to 56 percent in 2019. The districts that adopted the new requirements by 2018 tended to have fewer students per teacher in required content areas than districts that did not meet all the requirements. About 27 percent of all 2018 graduates met the CCR graduation credit requirements, with gaps that suggest additional barriers exist for students of color, students eligible for the national school lunch program, current English learner students, and students who have low scores on grade 8 state assessments. Finally, past district-level increases in fine arts, science, world languages, and total graduation credit requirements showed little impact on student academic outcomes.
7/20/2020
REL 2020027 Using Data from Schools and Child Welfare Agencies to Predict Near-Term Academic Risks
This study provides information to administrators, research offices, and student support offices in local education agencies (LEAs) interested in identifying students who are likely to have near-term academic problems such as absenteeism, suspensions, poor grades, and low performance on state tests. It describes an approach for developing a predictive model and assesses how well the model identifies at-risk students using data from two LEAs in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It also examines which types of predictors—including those from school, social services, and justice system data systems—are individually related to each type of near-term academic problem to better understand the causes of why students might be flagged as at risk by the model and how best to support them. The study finds that predictive models which apply machine-learning algorithms to the data are able to identify at-risk students with a moderate to high level of accuracy. Data from schools are the strongest predictors across all outcomes, and predictive performance is not reduced much when excluding social services and justice system predictors and relying exclusively on school data. However, some out-of-school events are individually related to near-term academic problems, including child welfare involvement, emergency homeless services, and juvenile justice system involvement. The models are more accurate in a larger LEA than in a smaller charter network, and they are better at predicting low GPA, course failure, and below basic performance on state assessments in grades 3-8 than they are for chronic absenteeism, suspensions, and below basic performance on end-of-course high-school standardized assessments. Results suggest that many LEAs could apply machine-learning algorithms to existing school data to identify students who are at-risk of near-term academic problems that are known to be precursors to dropout.
7/6/2020
REL 2020019 Assessing the Alignment between West Virginia’s High School Career and Technical Education Programs and the Labor Market
To help students leave high school on a path toward success in the labor market, education policymakers and practitioners often focus on improving career and technical education (CTE) opportunities in high school. Understanding the alignment between high school CTE programs and the labor market is an important step in this process. To support CTE improvement efforts, this study quantitatively assessed the alignment between West Virginia’s high school CTE programs and the labor market, with a focus on alignment to regional high-demand occupations that require moderate occupational preparation. These “high-demand study occupations” are the 20 occupations in each region of West Virginia with the largest number of long-term projected employment openings from 2014 to 2024 that require more than a high school diploma (for example, a license or work-related experience) but less than a bachelor’s degree. The study found that 70 percent of West Virginia’s long-term projected employment openings typically require some occupational preparation beyond a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. Further, 93 percent of the regional long-term projected employment openings in high-demand study occupations were served by at least one aligned CTE program in the same region. However, students in only 53 percent of the state’s CTE programs were in a program that aligned to at least one high-demand study occupation within their region. West Virginia stakeholders can use the findings to improve their CTE system’s alignment and better prepare students for a postsecondary career. This study also serves as an example for policymakers and practitioners in other states who are interested in quantifying their CTE system’s alignment in order to make data-informed decisions.
5/11/2020
REL 2020015 Enrollment rates of children in universal prekindergarten programs in Vermont in 2016/17
The purpose of this study was to examine the enrollment patterns in Vermont's universal, mixed-delivery prekindergarten (preK) program and the child characteristics associated with the likelihood of being enrolled in different program types. This study describes the characteristics of children enrolled in universal preK programs in 2016/17, which was the first year of full implementation of universal preK in Vermont. Secondary data for 5,662 children enrolled in 282 preK programs were analyzed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression. Results showed that vulnerable children in preK—that is, those with individualized education programs and those identified as eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—were more likely to enroll in public school programs and in programs with higher quality ratings than their peers. While most children enrolled in a program within the geographic boundaries of their local education agency, children with individualized education programs and those identified as eligible for free or reduced-price lunch were more likely to do so. Overall, these findings indicate higher proportions of higher-needs students were enrolled in public school programs compared to private programs. In future efforts to examine how changes to Vermont’s preK program may affect families’ access to preK, Vermont could conduct additional research on how families make decisions about enrolling their children in different preK programs.
1/2/2020
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