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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2018287 An exploratory analysis of features of New Orleans charter schools associated with student achievement growth
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the number of charter schools in New Orleans has rapidly expanded. During the 2012/13 school year—the period covered by this study, of the 85 public schools in New Orleans, 75 were chartered, enrolling more than 84 percent of all public school students in the city in 92 different school campuses. This study explored organizational, operational, and instructional features of New Orleans charter schools serving grades 3–8 that are potential indicators of student achievement growth in English language arts (ELA), math, and science. The organizational characteristic of kindergarten provided as an entry grade was associated with higher levels of VAM on the ELA test. The operational characteristic of an extended school year also was associated with higher levels of ELA VAM. The instructional characteristics of a lower percentage of teachers with graduate degrees, more experienced teachers, and a lower student/teacher ratio were associated with higher levels of ELA VAM. The analysis revealed fewer potential key indicators of charter school effectiveness regarding VAM in math and science. The inclusion of kindergarten as an entry grade was the only school feature that was statistically significant in its association with math VAM; schools with kindergarten were correlated with higher math VAM scores. Having a lower student/teacher ratio and fewer staff in student support roles were the only school features that were statistically significant in their association with higher science VAM scores. None of these associations between potential key indicators and math and science VAM scores remained statistically significant when estimated using 2013/14 outcome data, indicating that the results are not robust to such an additional analysis. Offering kindergarten as an entry grade and having a lower teacher/student ratio were the only potential key indicators with statistically significant associations with more than one VAM outcome. Having kindergarten as an entry grade was positively associated with ELA and math VAM. Having a lower teacher/student ratio was associated with higher ELA and science VAM.
1/3/2018
REL 2018283 Trends in teacher mobility in Texas and associations with teacher, student, and school characteristics
This study provides updated information regarding teacher mobility—defined as teachers moving schools or leaving the public-school system—for Texas public schools during the 2011/12 through 2015/16 school years. Descriptive information on mobility rates is presented at the regional and state levels for each school year. Mobility rates are disaggregated further into destination proportions to describe the proportion of teacher mobility due to within-district movement, between-district movement, and leaving Texas public schools. This study leverages data collected by the Texas Education Agency during the pilot of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) in 57 school districts in 2014/15. Analyses examine how components of the T-TESS observation rubric are related to school-level teacher mobility rates. During the 2011/12 school year, about 18.7 percent of Texas teachers moved schools within a district, moved between districts, or left the Texas Public School system. By 2015/16, this mobility rate had increased to 22.0 percent. Moving between districts was the primary driver of the increase in mobility rates. Results indicate significant links between mobility and teacher, student, and school demographic characteristics. Teachers with special education certifications left Texas public schools at nearly twice the rate of teachers with other teaching certifications. School-level mobility rates showed significant positive correlations with the proportion of special education, economically disadvantaged, low-performing, and minority students. School-level mobility rates were negatively correlated with the proportion of English learner students. Schools with higher overall observation ratings on the T-TESS rubric tended to have lower mobility rates. Findings from this study will provide state and district policymakers in Texas with updated information about trends and correlates of mobility in the teaching workforce, and offer a systematic baseline for monitoring and planning for future changes. Informed by these findings, policymakers can formulate a more strategic and targeted approach for recruiting and retaining teachers. For instance, instead of using generic approaches to enhance the overall supply of teachers or improve recruitment, more targeted efforts to attract and retain teachers in specific subject areas (for example, special education), in certain stages of their career (for example, novice teachers), and in certain geographic areas are likely to be more productive. Moreover, this analysis may enrich the existing knowledge base about schools’ teacher retention and mobility in relation to the quality of their teaching force, or may inform policy discussions about the importance of a stable teaching force for teaching effectiveness.
12/19/2017
REL 2018282 Understanding the role of noncognitive skills and school environments in students' transitions to high school
The purpose of this study was to: examine differences in students' perceptions of their noncognitive skills and school environments by race/ethnicity, and explore whether students’ perceptions of their noncognitive skills and school environments were related to three outcomes that have been identified in the research as mattering most for a success transition to high school—grade 9 GPA, grade 9 absences, and grade 9 course failures. The study used administrative and survey data from students in 14 high schools in New Mexico. Regression analyses were used to investigate differences in students' responses on scales measuring their perceptions of their noncognitive skills and school environments. Structural equation modeling was used to assess relationships between students' perceptions of their noncognitive skills and school environments and their grade 9 outcomes. The results of this study revealed significant differences in students' perceptions of their noncognitive skills and school environment by race/ethnicity. The results also suggest that students' perceptions of their noncognitive factors and school environments are associated with the grade 9 outcomes. Although no casual relationships can be derived from this study, the results can help schools or districts to determine where they might want to focus some of their efforts with regard to helping students to make successful transitions to high school. Given that Hispanic and Native American students have lower graduation rates, improving the noncognitive skills or school environment factors that are strongly related to grade 9 performance for these groups may well provide a substantial return on investment in dropout prevention.
12/19/2017
REL 2018281 Scientific evidence for the validity of the New Mexico Kindergarten Observation Tool
The purpose of this study was to determine whether there was scientific support for using the New Mexico Kindergarten Observation Tool (KOT) to measure distinct domains of children's knowledge and skills at kindergarten entry. The research team conducted exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses to identify the latent constructs (or domains) measured in the 2015 KOT field test. In addition, internal consistency analyses were conducted and Rasch modeling was applied to examine item functioning and differential item functioning among student subgroups. Correlational analyses were conducted to examine patterns of associations between validated KOT domains and an independent kindergarten assessment—the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). Finally, the research team examined the proportion of classroom-level variance in children's KOT scores by calculating the variance partition coefficient after fitting four-level unconditional models. Factor analyses provided support for a two-domain structure measuring children's knowledge and skills in two distinct areas: (1) cognitive school readiness (or academic knowledge and skills) and (2) noncognitive school readiness (or learning and social skills) as well as support for a one-domain structure measuring children's general school readiness. In addition, these KOT domains were moderately correlated with the DIBELS; the KOT cognitive domain was more strongly correlated with DIBELS than the KOT noncognitive domain. For each of the 26 KOT items, rating scale categories functioned appropriately. Three KOT items demonstrated differential item functioning for student subgroups, which signals potential bias for these items. Additional work is required to determine whether those items are truly unfair to certain student subgroups. Finally, classroom-level variation in children's KOT ratings was found. Although there was not scientific support for generating KOT scores based on the state's six intended domains (Physical Development, Health, and Well-Being; Literacy; Numeracy; Scientific Conceptual Understanding; Self, Family, and Community; Approaches to Learning), the 2015 KOT field test produced valid and reliable measures of children's knowledge and skills across two distinct domains and for one overall score that kindergarten teachers can use to better understand and plan for individual children's knowledge and skills at the beginning of kindergarten. Recommended next steps for New Mexico include replication of construct validity analyses with the most recent version of the KOT, consultation with a content expert review panel to investigate further the three items flagged for potential item bias, and further investigation of the sources of classroom-level variance.
12/5/2017
REL 2018279 Associations between predictive indicators and postsecondary science, technology, engineering, and math success among Hispanic students in Texas
This study sought to identify factors that predict positive STEM-related postsecondary outcomes for students in Texas, and to determine whether the association between predictive factors and outcomes differs between Hispanic and non-Hispanic White students. The research team linked K–12 student academic data to college enrollment data for Texas public high school students who enrolled in colleges and universities in Texas during a period from the 2004/05 to the 2010/11 school years (seven cohorts). Regression models examined relationships between possible indicators (e.g., number and level of math or science classes completed) with the outcomes of interest (declaring a STEM major, persisting in a STEM major, and completing a STEM degree), while controlling for nonmalleable student and school factors as well as for cohort fixed effects. Interaction terms added to the models provided a separate estimate, for Hispanic, Black, non-Hispanic White, and Other ethnicity students, of the association of each indicator with each postsecondary outcome. Measures of academic experiences and performance in math and science during high school were strongly associated with postsecondary STEM outcomes. These associations were generally consistent for Hispanic and non-Hispanic White students. Statistically significant indicators of positive postsecondary STEM outcomes included number of math and science courses completed, number of Advanced Placement courses taken, highest-level math or science course taken, and state assessment scores. This study demonstrates that Hispanic students reap the same benefits of taking higher-level math and science courses in high school as do non-Hispanic White students. Future studies should consider possible factors influencing the academic experiences of Hispanic students in high school science and math, such as access to rigorous courses.
11/21/2017
REL 2018280 Time to proficiency for Hispanic English learner students in Texas
This study examined the time it took for English learner students in Texas public schools to reach key educational outcomes for the first time, including attaining English proficiency and satisfactory performance on reading and mathematics state assessments. The study also estimated the probability of attaining these outcomes based on several student characteristics (e.g., initial English language proficiency, receipt of special education services, and being overaged at grade 1 entry) and educational experiences (e.g., the type of English learner program: English as a Second Language or bilingual). Historical data from the Texas Education Agency was used to construct a cohort of Hispanic students who entered Texas public schools in grade 1 as English learner students in the 2005/06 school year (85,611 students). Students were followed for up to eight years, through the 2012/13 school year, including while classified as English learner students and after exit from English learner status. Discrete-time survival analyses were used to estimate the probability of attaining outcomes over time.
11/3/2017
REL 2018276 Advanced course offerings and completion in science, technology, engineering, and math in Texas public high schools
The purpose of this study was to explore advanced STEM course offerings in Texas high schools and advanced STEM course taking among high school students to investigate variation in availability and enrollment for different school contexts and student groups. Using statewide longitudinal student records from 2007/08 to 2013/14 the research team examined patterns of course offerings using descriptive statistics from more than 1,500 public high schools in Texas, and student course completion patterns for close to one million students. Analyses revealed that access to advanced STEM courses in Texas has increased over this time period for schools in all locales, for schools with high and low proportions of economically disadvantaged students, and for schools with high proportions of minority students. High schools in urban and suburban areas and schools serving the highest proportions of Black and Hispanic students offered the greatest number of advanced STEM courses. In fact, a larger proportion of Hispanic and Black students in the state attended schools with the highest number of advanced STEM course offerings, compared to White students. However, despite this access to advanced STEM coursework, smaller proportions of Hispanic and Black students completed three or more advanced STEM courses than their White counterparts, even among a subgroup of high performing students based on math state standardized test scores in 8th grade. The findings from this study show that while Hispanic and Black students do lag White students in advanced STEM course completion, it is likely not because of lesser access to these courses. These findings point to a need for increasing Hispanic and Black student enrollment in those advanced courses and identifying mechanisms other than increasing course offerings to do so.
10/25/2017
REL 2018274 The Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System rubric: Properties and association with school characteristics
The purpose of this study was to examine the data from the 2014/15 pilot implementation of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) in order to understand certain properties of the T-TESS rubric, which consists of 16 dimensions classified within 4 domains of teacher effectiveness. The dataset included over 8000 teachers across 251 schools and 51 districts that participated in the pilot. Descriptive statistics were reviewed to assess the extent to which the T-TESS rubric ratings differentiate teacher effectiveness. Correlational analysis was performed to determine the internal consistency of the rubric. Uniqueness values, which resulted from a factor analysis of T-TESS’s 16 dimensions, were examined to determine whether each dimension makes some unique contribution. Lastly, regression analysis was conducted to explore the relationships between T-TESS performance ratings and school characteristics. Results indicate that in the 2014/15 pilot of T-TESS, 1.6 percent of teachers were rated as improvement needed, 24.9 percent as developing, 68.3 percent as proficient, 3.7 percent as accomplished, and 1.5 percent as distinguished based on the T-TESS rubric for teacher effectiveness. The T-TESS rubric is internally consistent at both the domain and dimension levels. All dimension-to-dimension within domains and domain-to-domain correlations are positive, suggesting that none of the domains or dimensions stand out as unrelated or contradictory to the rest of the system. Findings also suggest that the T-TESS rubric is efficient. None of the domains or dimensions are clearly redundant, as supported by findings that no correlation is close to one. In addition, an analysis of uniqueness reveals that each dimension makes some unique contribution. Although statistically significant relationships are found between observation ratings and school characteristics, the combination of observed student and school characteristics explains, at most, approximately 8 percent of the variation in overall observation ratings for high schools, and explains even less for elementary and middle schools. One area for future research is the validation of the ratings with other measures of teacher effectiveness, such as student growth. However, the validity of a teacher evaluation system itself may not necessarily translate into improvements in teacher effectiveness or into long-term outcomes, such as teacher retention and greater student achievement. Therefore, further research could explore whether the implementation of such systems do in fact relate to the more distal measures.
10/24/2017
REL 2018275 Indicators of successful teacher recruitment and retention in Oklahoma rural school districts
The purpose of this study was to identify factors associated with successful recruitment and retention of teachers in Oklahoma rural school districts, in order to highlight potential strategies to address Oklahoma’s teaching shortage. The study was designed to identify teacher-level, district-level, and community characteristics in rural Oklahoma that predict which teachers are most likely to be successfully recruited (as defined in this study as having completed a probationary period of employment in a district for three years and obtained tenure status in their fourth year of teaching) and retained (as defined in this study as the duration of employment of tenured teachers in a given school district). For context, the study also explores patterns of teacher job mobility in Oklahoma in rural and nonrual schools. This correlational study covers a 10-year period, the 2005/06 to 2014/15 school years, and uses data from Oklahoma State Department of Education, Office of Educational Quality and Accountability, and community characteristics from data in federal noneducation sources. The study found that teachers who are male, those who have higher postsecondary degrees, and those who have more teaching experience are harder than others to recruit and retain in Oklahoma schools. Another key finding is that for teachers in rural schools, total compensation and increased responsibilities in job assignment (as measured by full-time equivalent and additional nonteaching assignments) are positively associated with successful recruitment and retention. The exploration of the patterns of teacher job mobility in Oklahoma showed that teachers at rural schools have a 70 percent chance of reaching their fourth year of teaching in the same district and, therefore, reaching tenure; this rate is slightly lower than the rates for teachers in nonrural areas. Also, rural school districts in Oklahoma had consistently lower rates of success in recruiting teachers than nonrural school districts from 2006/07 to 2011/12. In conclusion, the evidence provided by this study can be used to inform incentive schemes to help retain certain groups of teachers and increase retention rates overall. In addition, the results of this study could inform the design of more rigorous studies, such as impact evaluations, of such incentive schemes.
10/11/2017
REL 2018278 Advanced course completion rates among New Mexico high school students following changes in graduation requirements
In an effort to promote college and career readiness, the state of New Mexico passed a law in 2008 requiring high school students to complete at least one unit of advanced coursework (for example, Advanced Placement [AP], gifted and talented, honors, and International Baccalaureate courses) in order to graduate. The purpose of this was to study examine the completion of advanced coursework during the period following the legislative change for all high school students in New Mexico who were freshmen in 2009/10, 2010/11, and 2011/12 and were in a New Mexico high school for four years. Descriptive statistics were used to examine differences by student subgroups (White, Hispanic, and American Indian students) and other characteristics (student performance on the 8th grade standards-based exam, free-reduced price lunch status, and English learner status), and by school characteristics (school size, school performance rating, Title I status, and urbanicity). The study finds that over 56 percent of students in New Mexico completed one or more advanced courses in high school. Results indicate that a higher percentage of White students completed one or more advanced courses than Hispanic and American Indian students. This gap in course completion across racial and ethnic groups was smaller, though persisted, when examining high-performing students. Results show that a higher percentage of students in larger schools completed one or more advanced courses than in smaller schools, and this gap persisted even when examining high-performing students. Education agencies could improve supports aimed at increasing advanced course access (for example, staff development efforts, teacher quality, and paying AP exam fees) and the supply of advanced course offerings in schools with low advanced course completion rates in order to help improve advanced course participation and completion rates.
10/3/2017
REL 2018277 Graduation exam participation and performance, graduation rates, and advanced course-taking following changes in New Mexico graduation requirements, 2011–15
New Mexico students who were in grade 9 in 2009/10 and were expected to graduate in 2013 were the first cohort to be required to meet increased math and science course requirements and to take a new graduation exam. The purpose of this study was to describe graduation exam performance of the 2011–2015 cohorts, enrollment in Algebra II and lab science for the 2014–2015 cohorts, and the relationship of exam performance and enrollment with graduation outcomes. Grade 11 and 12 exam results for five cohorts of students–2011 cohort through 2015 are compared. Among students who took an exam in grade 11, the percentages who scored proficient or above on the reading, math, and science components of the exams by grade 12 are compared across cohorts and by gender, race/ethnicity, free or reduced-price lunch eligibility status, and English learner status. Percentages of student subgroups in cohort 2014 and cohort 2015 who took Algebra II and two lab sciences are also compared. The report describes the percentage of students in different subgroups who go on to graduate for those with various levels of performance on the exams and for those who are and are not taking Algebra II and two lab science courses. The results indicate that among students who stayed in school to grade 11, more scored proficient or higher on the math and science components of the graduation exam than before the change in requirements. The increase in proficiency rates for reading, math, and science between 2011 and 2015 was particularly large for Hispanic students and low for Native American students. Among those who stayed in school for four years, the percentage of students enrolling in Algebra II and two lab science courses increased between the 2014 cohort and the 2015 cohort, and Native American students in these cohorts had the highest rates of enrollment in these courses. Students who were proficient in more sections of the exam and students who took Algebra II and two lab science courses had higher rates of graduation than other students. The overall direction of change is positive on these measures, but differences were found in exam performance, course enrollment, and related graduation outcomes by subgroups. These differences may have implications for targeting resources and services for students most in need of support for staying in school and fulfilling requirements necessary to graduate.
10/3/2017
REL 2017273 Opportunities for teacher professional development in Oklahoma rural and nonrural schools
The purpose of this study was to fill the gap in statewide information about teacher professional development opportunities in Oklahoma and compare the opportunities in rural and nonrural schools. The Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest, along with members of the Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance, developed a survey that measured how professional development is structured, how it is planned, and what supports and barriers teachers may face in accessing professional development. The sampling frame was obtained from the website of the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Principals from 1,609 public elementary and secondary schools in Oklahoma were invited to participate in the online universe survey. The Office of Educational Quality and Accountability administered the survey in spring 2016, and 51.3 percent of the principals completed the survey. A nonresponse bias analysis was conducted, and nonresponse weights were created. All the results were adjusted by the nonresponse weights. In the descriptive results, Oklahoma schools are divided into rural versus nonrural schools using the urban-centric locale classification in the 2013/14 Common Core Data. The results report differences between rural and nonrural schools if they are significant at the p < .05 level based on a t-test and if the difference is at least 5 percentage points. Results indicate that the majority of rural schools in Oklahoma offer multiple types of professional development structures for teachers, such as conferences and workshops. However, rural schools offer fewer types than do nonrural schools. The biggest barrier that keeps both rural and nonrural teachers from attending any type of professional development is scheduling conflicts with other school or professional activities, and the barrier is more prevalent for rural teachers. The findings of this study show that rural schools provide a substantial amount of support for their teachers’ professional development, but the support is less likely in rural schools than in nonrural schools to be provided by peers (e.g., common planning and collaboration time, teacher-led coaching and mentoring, and collaborative learning). Rural schools could look for ways to increase collaborative learning between teachers so that teachers can support and mentor each other. Taking greater advantage of online resources could help rural schools supplement local, in-person professional development.
9/19/2017
REL 2017274 The Critical Importance of Costs for Education Decisions
This brief provides guidance to decision makers in schools, districts, state education departments, and intermediary organizations about ways that cost analyses can help inform their decisions about program choices, budgets, and strategies. It addresses questions about: (1) why cost information matters in education; (2) what cost metrics are available to inform decision making; (3) how cost analyses can inform decision making; (4) what resources exist to help calculate the costs of education programs; and (5) what types and uses of cost analysis are available for decision making. Finally, the brief discusses the purposes, advantages, disadvantages, and possible applications for four types of cost analyses.
6/20/2017
REL 2017269 Comparing enrollment, characteristics, and academic outcomes of students in developmental courses and those in credit-bearing courses at Northern Marianas College
This study reports on the academic outcomes of full-time first time freshman seeking associate degrees who entered Northern Marianas College from fall semester 2008 through fall semester 2010. In English, 80.1 percent of these students enrolled in developmental courses; in math, 91 percent enrolled in developmental courses. To determine their academic outcomes, these students were tracked for eight semesters after their first year in college. The study found that students who initially enrolled in credit-bearing English or math classes had consistently more positive outcomes than students who initially enrolled in non-credit developmental English or math courses.
4/26/2017
REL 2017268 Using high school data to understand college readiness in the Northern Mariana Islands
This report examines the college readiness of public high school graduates in the Northern Mariana Islands as measured by whether the graduates were placed in developmental college courses or credit bearing college courses at Northern Marianas College. The study examined the high school records of recent graduates of the public school system in the Northern Mariana Islands who entered Northern Marianas College from fall semester 2010 through spring semester 2014. Demographic information was available about students' gender, ethnicity, primary language spoken at home, and economic need (based on whether or not students received Pell grants). The study found that 19.6 percent of students placed into credit-bearing English courses. Nearly 23 percent of female students, compared to about 16 percent of male students, placed into credit-bearing English courses. In math, 7.8 percent of students placed into credit-bearing courses. Students who did not receive Pell grants were more likely to place into credit-bearing math courses.
4/26/2017
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