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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2021063 Virginia High School Graduates' Career and Technical Education Credentials: Top Credentials Over Time and Across Student Groups
In Virginia, all high school students can earn either a Standard diploma or an Advanced Studies diploma, the latter being a college preparatory diploma. Starting in 2017, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) began requiring students graduating with the Standard diploma to earn a career and technical education (CTE) credential to encourage them to pursue opportunities that enhance their career readiness. This is likely to be particularly important for students graduating with the Standard diploma, as they have been shown to have limited success in postsecondary education.

This study examined the CTE credentials Virginia high school graduates most commonly earned from 2011 through 2017. The five most commonly earned CTE credentials in Virginia remained the same during this time period, but the percentage of students earning the Workplace Readiness Skills (WRS) and W!se Financial Literacy Certification credentials increased. Both of these credentials cover broad skills relevant to a wide range of jobs, as opposed to a specific occupation or industry. Although the new CTE requirement applies only to Standard diploma graduates, there were few differences in the top 10 credentials by diploma type, both in terms of which credentials were most common as well as the rates at which students earned these credentials. Regardless of diploma type, in 2017, 9 of the top 10 credentials were broad credentials that were not narrowly aligned to a specific occupation or industry. This study also looked at the top 10 credentials earned by 2017 Standard diploma graduates across a variety of student subgroups, including English learner students, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, and racial/ethnic subgroups. English learner students and students with disabilities earned the top 10 credentials at lower rates than other Standard diploma graduates. Student credential-earning rates differed the most by geographic region, both in terms of which credentials appeared in the top 10 and the percentage of students earning the top 10 credentials.

This study highlights the need for additional analyses to help CTE stakeholders and policymakers understand the value of different types of CTE credentials. In particular, Virginia and other states might explore the relative value of broad CTE credentials that apply to a wide range of jobs and have become increasingly prevalent in Virginia compared with CTE credentials that are more narrowly aligned with a specific occupation or industry.
1/11/2021
REL 2021051 District Changes in Student Achievement and Local Practice under Georgia’s District and School Flexibility Policy
Georgia instituted a flexibility policy in 2007 that provided districts with waivers from state education rules, provisions, and guidelines. Granted waivers and annual accountability targets are agreed upon in district performance contracts with the state. The performance contracts are meant to encourage districts to implement innovative practices to increase achievement for all students in Georgia. Between 2008/09 and 2016/17, 178 of Georgia’s 180 districts entered into performance contracts with the state. The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) asked Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast to analyze how districts’ achievement changed after the start of their performance contracts and factors related to those changes. GaDOE also requested information on districts’ implementation of and experiences with the state’s flexibility policy, focusing on how districts have used their performance contracts to prioritize local innovations in practice. Overall, the study found little evidence of that changes in academic achievement coincided with performance contract adoption but significant variation in changes in achievement across districts, after adjusting for other factors. Changes in achievement were largely unrelated to district characteristics, including urbanicity, timing of performance contract adoption, and district type, as well as features of the performance contract. District leaders indicated prioritizing innovations related to college and career readiness, teacher certification requirements, instructional spending, and funding for school improvement. Leaders perceived broad benefits from the priority innovations they identified, especially in relation to staff and school climate, but they also indicated that, in many cases, waivers were not required to implement the innovations they identified as priorities. Despite the perceived benefits, changes in achievement were largely unrelated to the academic, human resources, and financial innovations that districts indicated prioritizing after implementing their performance contracts.
12/17/2020
REL 2021044 Participation in State-Funded Prekindergarten in Oklahoma
Oklahoma offers state-funded prekindergarten (preK) to all 4-year-old children. The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest Early Childhood Education Research Partnership members in Oklahoma requested more comprehensive evidence on disparities in student participation in state-funded preK by student characteristics and geographic locale. Such disparities in participation can indicate challenges in access to or use of the program. Using administrative records from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, REL Southwest calculated the percentages of first-time public school kindergarten students who participated in Oklahoma’s state-funded preK program in the prior year for five cohorts (2014/15 through 2018/19). In addition to describing unadjusted participation rates, the study also used multivariate statistical models to estimate relationships between student characteristics, the local availability of preK options (measured as estimated travel time), and students’ participation in state-funded preK. Across the five years examined, 74 percent of public school kindergarten students had attended state-funded preK in the prior year. Participation varied across the state, and a substantially greater percentage of students in rural districts participated than students in nonrural (that is, urban or suburban) districts. In addition, the study identified groups of students by student characteristics that participated less often, including students eligible for free lunch, Black/African American students, and Pacific Islander students. The study also examined relationships between participation and geographic measures of access to early learning and care. Students who lived further from a state-funded preK site were less likely to participate, and students who lived further from a Head Start Center were more likely to participate in state-funded preK. The differences in student participation across geographic areas and student characteristics indicate an opportunity for policies and strategies to promote greater awareness of, and enrollment in, state-funded preK or other early learning and care opportunities.
12/16/2020
NCEE 2021002 The Transition to ESSA: State and District Approaches to Implementing Title I and Title II-A in 2017-18
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) retained certain K-12 schooling federal requirements under prior law while shifting many decisions to states and districts. This report, based on national surveys administered in 2018, describes state and district policies and practices in the law’s core areas of content standards and assessments, identification of and support for low-performing schools, and educator effectiveness (Title I and II-A). The report also compares the policies and practices in 2018 to 2014, prior to ESSA. Between 2014 and 2018, most states made few substantive changes to their content standards while broadening the measures used to identify low-performing schools and increasingly using performance data to support effective teaching. Districts increasingly provided supports to implement state content standards, and a larger share of districts reported specific improvement activities in their low-performing schools in 2018 compared to 2014. Districts also increasingly used performance measures such as evaluation results to identify and support low-performing teachers.
12/8/2020
REL 2021043 College Enrollment and Completion among Texas High School Graduates with a Disability
Higher education stakeholders often have limited information about the extent to which their institutions serve students with different types of disabilities and the pipeline of students with disabilities from high school to college entry and completion. This study used longitudinal administrative data from Texas to examine college enrollment and completion among four statewide cohorts of Texas public high school graduates (2006/07 through 2009/10) by disability status in high school, type of disability, and other student characteristics. The population included 106,736 high school graduates with disabilities and 902,672 graduates without disabilities. The findings demonstrate that 30.6 percent of graduates with designated disabilities in grade 12 enrolled in a Texas institution of higher education within two years. A large majority of the high school graduates with disabilities who enrolled in higher education (90.2 percent) initially enrolled in a public two-year institution. Enrollment in four-year institutions was substantially lower for graduates with disabilities than for graduates without disabilities. Within four years of initial enrollment in a two-year institution, 16.5 percent of the graduates with disabilities who enrolled had attained a certificate or associate degree, or transferred to a four-year university. Within seven years of initial enrollment in a two-year or four-year institution, 15.6 percent of the high school graduates with disabilities who enrolled had attained a baccalaureate degree. Attainment of college credentials and degrees was substantially lower for graduates with disabilities than for graduates without disabilities, particularly for baccalaureate degrees. College enrollment and attainment among high school graduates with disabilities was substantially lower for students eligible for the federal school lunch program and substantially lower for Hispanic and Black students compared to White students. College enrollment and attainment also varied by type of primary disability, higher for students with auditory, speech, visual, orthopedic and other health impairments than for students with intellectual and learning disabilities. These findings can inform efforts to identify students with disabilities in college and explore providing different services to support transition from high school and college success, particularly at two-year institutions, where most of the Texas students with disabilities enrolled.
11/23/2020
REL 2021040 Supply and Demand for Middle‑Skill Occupations in Rural California in 2018–20
The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which the workforce supply in four rural California regions aligned with the occupational demand in "middle-skill" jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor's degree from 2017-2020. The study team used historical degrees and certificate awards to calculate the average annual number of credential completions between 2017 and 2020 and projected occupational demand during this period by using data from the Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) data system. The report includes analysis at the regional level and across all four regions. The report found that 83,756 middle-skill workers annually are needed to fill available jobs in the four rural regions, but education institutions granted credentials to meet only 24 percent of the employer demand. The study also found that most of the available "middle skill" jobs pay a living wage at the entry level, and that the demand for most middle-skill occupations in rural California are projected to increase over time. The authors recommend that educational institutions identify opportunities to prepare more students for credentials in the programs that are aligned with in-demand occupations, such as expanding existing programs or starting new ones. They also recommend that local government, workforce investment boards, and chambers of commerce identify alternate sources of qualified labor to fill open positions such as "overqualified" local workers or qualified workers from outside each region.
11/17/2020
REL 2021034 Are Neighborhood Factors Associated with the Quality of Early Childhood Education in North Carolina?
The purpose of this study was to examine whether and how geographic, demographic, and socioeconomic characteristics of the neighborhood (that is, census tract) in which an early childhood education (ECE) site is located within North Carolina is associated with aspects of the quality of these sites, as characterized by their 2017 Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) measures. The study used data on 5,254 licensed early childhood sites from numerous publicly-available data sources, including the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education, the American Community Survey, and the National Center for Education Statistics. The strength of association between neighborhood characteristics and quality rating scores among ECE sites was determined using multilevel structural equation modeling to account for the way in which ECE sites are nested within neighborhoods. After taking into consideration characteristics of the ECE sites themselves, the nature of the neighborhood did not help further explain why some sites earned higher quality rating scores than other sites. Findings suggest that geographic location and the socio-demographic characteristics of a neighborhood need not be seen as impediments to providing or ensuring access to higher quality ECE, as represented by higher scores on the states’ QRIS measures. Neighborhood-related predictors, such as socioeconomic characteristics, were only weakly associated with the quality rating scores. Moreover, the analyses also indicated that high-quality sites are available in most neighborhoods in the state. Some site-level variables, such as accepting child care subsidies and the age groups served by the site, were associated with quality rating scores among ECE sites. Sites that served fewer different age groups had higher quality rating scores, on average. More research is needed to understand what characteristics of sites, and their contexts, may best predict whether an ECE site will be of higher or lower quality.
10/23/2020
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 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 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 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 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
NFES 2020083 Forum Guide to Data Governance
The Forum Guide to Data Governance highlights the multiple ways that data governance programs can benefit education agencies. It addresses the management, collection, use, and communication of education data; the development of effective and clearly defined data systems and policies to handle the complexity and necessary protection of data; and the continuous monitoring and decisionmaking needed in a regularly shifting data landscape. The Guide also features 12 case studies from state and local education agencies that have implemented effective data governance programs.
7/7/2020
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