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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2017212 How are middle school climate and academic performance related across schools and over time?
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between school climate and academic performance in two different ways: (1) by comparing the academic performance of different schools with different levels of school climate and (2) by examining how changes in a school's climate were associated with changes in its students' academic achievement. To examine how school climate and academic performance are related, this study analyzed grade 7 student data from 2004/05 to 2010/11 from the California Healthy Kids Survey, the California Standardized Testing and Reporting program, and the California Basic Educational Data System for 978 middle schools in California. School climate was measured by a set of student survey questions that assessed students' perceptions about six domains of school climate. Schools with positive school climates were those in which students reported high levels of safety/connectedness, caring relationships with adults, and meaningful student participation, as well as low levels of substance use at school, bullying/discrimination, and student delinquency. Regression models were used to estimate the relationship between student-reported school climate and students' average academic performance across schools. Regression models were also used to estimate how, for a given school, academic performance changes as school climate changes. All models included controls for racial/ethnic composition, percentage of English learners, and percentage of students eligible for free/reduced-price meals. The study found that (1) middle schools with higher levels of positive student-reported school climate exhibited higher levels of academic performance; (2) increases in a school's level of positive student-reported school climate were associated with simultaneous increases in that school's academic achievement; and (3) within-school increases in academic achievement associated with school climate increases were substantially smaller than the academic performance differences across schools with different school climate levels. As positive school climate is continuing to gain more attention as a lever to improve student learning, there is increasing interest in how improvements in school climate are related to improvements in academic performance. Most studies examining the school climate-academic performance relationship compare the academic achievement across schools with different levels of school climate. Although the results of this study found that schools with high levels of positive school climate exhibited substantially higher levels of academic performance than their counterparts with low levels of positive school climate, such differences across schools were not an accurate guide for predicting the magnitude of school-specific gains in academic performance associated with increases in school climate.
REL 2017167 A comparison of two approaches to identifying beating-the-odds high schools in Puerto Rico
The Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands conducted this study using data on public high schools in Puerto Rico from national and territory databases to compare methods for identifying beating-the-odds schools. Schools were identified by two methods, a status method that ranked high-poverty schools based on their current observed performance and an exceeding-achievement-expectations method that ranked high-poverty schools based on the extent to which their actual performance exceeded (or fell short of) their expected performance. Graduation rates, reading proficiency rates, and mathematics proficiency rates were analyzed to identify schools for each method. The identified schools were then compared by method to determine agreement rates—that is, the amount of overlap in schools identified by each method. The report presents comparisons of the groups of schools—those identified by each method and all public high-poverty high schools in Puerto Rico—on descriptive information. Using the two methods—ranking by status and ranking by exceeding-achievement-expectations—two different lists of beating-the-odds schools were identified. The status method identified 17 schools, and the exceeding-achievement-expectations method identified 15 schools. Six schools were identified by both methods. The agreement rate between the two lists of beating-the-odds schools was 38 percent. The analyses suggest that using both methods to identify beating-the-odds schools is the best strategy because high schools identified by both methods demonstrate high levels of absolute performance and appear to be achieving higher levels of graduation rates and percent proficiency than might be expected given their demographics and prior performance.
REL 2017187 Advanced course enrollment and performance among English learner students in Washington state
Taking advanced high school courses (for example, honors, Advanced Placement, and dual-credit courses that offer college credits in high school) can help prepare students for postsecondary education and careers. English learner students, however, face unique obstacles to taking advanced courses because they must divide their time between acquiring English proficiency and learning academic content. This descriptive study examines patterns in advanced coursetaking among current and former English learner students and never-English learner students in Washington state. Using state data about students enrolled in Washington public schools between 2009/10 and 2012/13, this study analyzed advanced course enrollment patterns and performance among the groups of students. It finds that where students attend school and their academic preparation account for much of the difference in advanced coursetaking. Specifically, current and former English learner students take 0.5 to 1 fewer advanced courses per school year than their never-English learner peers but enroll in advanced classes at similar rates when they are similarly prepared. The study also found that, compared to never-English learner students, current and former English learner students are 40 to 50 percent less likely to complete algebra I in middle school and students who pass this course in middle school take more than twice as many upper-level math courses as students who pass algebra I in grade 9. Current, former, and never-English learner students earn similar grades in those upper-level math courses. In addition, schools with the lowest percentages of current and former English learner students offer more advanced courses than other schools, even after accounting for school characteristics such as average standardized math and reading test scores. To improve access to advanced courses, schools, districts, and state agencies could consider investigating why current and former English learner students with high grade point averages or state math test scores are not enrolling in advanced courses as often as never-English learner students. They also might address language barriers and restrictive policies that could deter otherwise qualified students from taking advanced courses and expand advanced coursetaking opportunities at schools with high percentages of English learner students.
REL 2016162 How to use the School Survey of Practices Associated with High Performance
Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest, in partnership with its School Turnaround Research Alliance, developed a survey that state education departments and school districts can use to measure the degree to which schools are engaging in practices associated with high performance. An extensive literature review was conducted to determine key domains of practices and policies (for example, effective leadership, curriculum, professional development, positive school culture, data practices) in which high-performing schools engage, and a search was conducted to assess existing surveys that measured similar key dimensions and supporting constructs. The psychometric validation of the survey was completed using classical test theory and item response theory analyses. The guide includes information regarding ways that principals and educators can use the survey, as well as the development of the survey and its psychometric validation. Educators can utilize the survey to identify and describe practices associated with high performance, compare practices across subgroups of schools, target schools for specific interventions, and design interventions to improve school performance.
REL 2016144 Measurement instruments for assessing the performance of professional learning communities
This annotated bibliography is a compilation of valid and reliable measures of key performance indicators of teacher professional learning communities (PLCs). The research team employed a rigorous process of searching and screening the scientific literature and other sources for relevant qualitative and quantitative instruments, followed by a careful review and evaluation of each instrument against established standards of measurement quality, such as reliability and validity, as well as the instrument’s ability to detect a variable’s change over time. This resource, which is organized according to key elements of a PLC logic model (i.e., a model that describes how PLCs are expected to operate to achieve their goals), is intended for researchers, practitioners, and education professionals who seek to engage in evidence-based planning, implementation, and evaluation of teacher PLCs. The PLC-related measurement instruments identified in this project include 31 quantitative and 18 qualitative instruments that assess a range of teacher/principal-, team-, and student-level variables.
NCEE 20164004 Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After Three Years
The Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), now named the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program, provides grants to support performance-based compensation systems for teachers and principals in high-need schools. The study measures the impact of pay-for-performance bonuses as part of a comprehensive compensation system within a large, multisite random assignment study design. The treatment schools were to fully implement their performance-based compensation system. The control schools were to implement the same performance-based compensation system with one exception—the pay-for-performance bonus component was replaced with a one percent bonus paid to all educators regardless of performance. The report provides implementation and impact information after three years. Implementation was similar across the three years, with most districts (88 percent) implementing at least 3 of the 4 required components for teachers. In a subset of 10 districts participating in the random assignment study, educators' understanding of performance measures continued to improve during the third year, but many teachers still did not understand that they were eligible for a bonus. They also underestimated the maximum amount they could earn. The pay-for-performance bonus policy had small, positive impacts on students' reading and math achievement.
REL 2016131 State policies for intervening in chronically low-performing schools: A 50-state scan
Recent federal initiatives such as School Improvement Grants and Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility emphasize the role of state education agencies (SEAs) in improving our nation’s lowest performing schools. However, the actions that SEAs can take are limited by the policies in place in their states. This report provides a summary of current policies in all 50 states related to state interventions with chronically underperforming schools. Laws and regulations were classified into six broad categories of interventions related to: school improvement plans, staffing, closing a school, financial incentives or interventions, the day-to-day operation of the school, and the entity that governs or operates a school. State policies show a great deal of consistency in approaches to supporting the lowest-performing schools, perhaps because many of the interventions align closely with federal guidance for improving chronically low-performing schools. Despite strong alignment of state policies with federal guidance, state policies vary in terms of the breadth of interventions they allow states to implement. About a third of states have policies related to all six categories of interventions. Seven states have policies allowing interventions falling into only two or three of the six categories. State policies also vary in the specific interventions allowed within each category. This report can help state education leaders and policymakers learn how other states are approaching the challenge of turning around their lowest-performing schools, which can facilitate communication among states considering similar approaches.
REL 2016141 School reading performance and the extended school day policy in Florida
Beginning with the 2012/13 school year, Florida law required that the 100 lowest-performing elementary schools in reading extend the school day. This study examined how the lowest performing schools implemented the extended school day policy and the trends in school reading performance among the lowest performing schools and other elementary schools. The lowest-performing schools were located throughout Florida and on average, were smaller but served higher proportions of minorities and higher proportions of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch compared to other elementary schools. The lowest-performing schools reported increasing the number of minutes of reading instruction provided to students, increasing staff, and providing different instruction in the extra hour than during other reading instructional blocks. An increase in reading performance was observed for the lowest-performing schools the year the extended school day was implemented. However, this increase did not exceed what would have been expected in the absence of the required increase in reading instruction.
REL 2016138 Summary of research on the association between state interventions in chronically low-performing schools and student achievement
This report presents a summary of research on the associations between state interventions in chronically low-performing schools and student achievement. The majority of the research focused on one type of state intervention: working with a turnaround partner. In this type of intervention, states assign an individual or team to work with a school to identify strengths and weaknesses, develop a school improvement plan, and provide technical assistance as the school implements the plan. In some cases, additional funding is also provided to support implementation of the school improvement efforts. Most of the studies were descriptive, which limits conclusions about the effectiveness of the interventions. Results of studies of turnaround partner interventions were mixed, and suggested that student achievement was more likely to improve when particular factors were in place in schools such as strong leadership, use of data to guide instruction, and a positive school culture characterized by trust and increased expectations for students. Although researchers sought to include research on a variety of state intervention types, few studies were identified that examined other types of interventions such as school closure, charter conversion, and school redesign.
NCEE 20164002 Case Studies of Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants: Final Report
This evaluation report tracks the implementation of School Improvement Grants (SIG) by examining the actions and reactions of 25 SIG schools as they attempt to turn around a history of low performance.
REL 2015097 Development and Examination of an Alternative School Performance Index in South Carolina
The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which the measures that make up each of the three separate accountability indices of school performance in South Carolina could be used to create an overall, reliable index of school performance. Data from public elementary, middle, and high schools in 2012/13 were used in confirmatory factor analysis models designed to estimate the relations between the measures under different specifications. Four different factor models were compared at each school level, beginning with a one-factor model and ending with a bi-factor model. Results from the study suggest that the measures which currently are combined into three separate indices of school performance can instead be combined into a single index of school performance using a bi-factor model. The reliability of the school performance general factor estimated by the bi-factor model ranged from .89 to .95. Using this alternative school performance rating, the study found that approximately 3 percent of elementary schools, 2 percent of middle schools, and 3 percent of high schools were observed to statistically outperform their predicted performance when accounting for the school’s demographic characteristics. These schools, referred to as schools beating the odds, were found in most of the demographic profiles which represent South Carolina schools. The results of this study can inform decisions related to the development of new accountability indices in South Carolina and other states with similar models.
NCES 2015075 Gender Differences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Interest, Credits Earned, and NAEP Performance in the 12th Grade
This Statistics in Brief describes high school graduates’ attitudes toward STEM courses (specifically, mathematics and science), credits earned in STEM fields, and performance on the NAEP mathematics and science assessments in 2009.
NCEE 20144019 Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Early Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After One Year
The Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) provides grants to support performance-based compensation systems for teachers and principals in high-need schools. The study measures the impact of pay-for-performance bonuses as part of a comprehensive compensation system within a large, multisite random assignment study design. The treatment schools were to fully implement their performance-based compensation system that included four required components. The control schools were to implement the same performance-based compensation system with one exception—the pay-for-performance bonus component was replaced with a one percent bonus paid to all educators regardless of performance. This first of four planned reports provides implementation information prior to educators receiving annual performance measure information or payouts. Fewer than half of all 2010 TIF districts reported implementing all four required program components, although 85 percent reported implementing at least three of the four. In a subset of 10 districts who participated in the random assignment study, educators' reporting of the program indicated most misunderstood the performance measures and the amount of pay-for-performance bonus that they were eligible for. Most educators were satisfied with their professional opportunities, school environment, and the TIF program. Educators in those schools that offered the pay-for-performance aspect of TIF tended to be less satisfied than those in schools that did not offer such bonuses. However, educators in schools offering pay-for-performance bonuses were more satisfied with the opportunity to earn additional pay, and a greater percentage indicated feeling increased pressure to perform due to the TIF program.
WWC SSR232 WWC Review of the Report "The Short-Term Effects of the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship on Student Outcomes"
Researchers examined the impacts of the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship program on academic and behavioral outcomes of students in grades 9–12 in Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS). The Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship program offers college scholarships to graduating high school students in the KPS district. The percentage of tuition and fees covered is dependent on how long a student has attended school in the district. Students attending since kindergarten receive the full 100% of tuition and fees. Students attending since ninth grade receive a scholarship covering 65%. Students who enter KPS in tenth grade or later are not eligible to receive the scholarship. To assess the program’s impacts, researchers compared the academic and behavioral outcomes of students in high school, before and after the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship program was introduced. Student outcomes that were included in the study were: student grade point averages, whether students earned course credits, the number of course credits earned, incidence of and number of days spent in suspension, and incidence of and number of days spent in in-school detention. This study uses a quasi-experimental design in which baseline equivalence of the groups cannot be demonstrated. Therefore, the research does not meet WWC group design standards.
WWC QR1221 Charter School Performance in New Jersey
The study examined whether students in grades 3-8 attending charter schools in New Jersey made more gains in math and reading achievement than similar students attending traditional public schools. Based on an analysis across charter schools, the authors reported that charter school students made significantly greater year-to-year gains in math and reading than similar students in non-charter schools. The authors also reported that the impact of attending a charter school on student math and reading achievement gains varied from school to school. Although students at some charter schools showed significantly higher or significantly lower achievement gains compared to students in non-charter schools, most charter schools had student gains that were not different from the gains of students in non-charter schools.
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