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 Pub Number  Title  Date
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
REL 2017272 Getting students on track for graduation: Impacts of the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System after one year
Early warning systems that use research-based warning signs to identify students at risk of dropping out of high school have emerged as one strategy for improving graduation rates. This study tested the impact of one early warning system, the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System (EWIMS), on 37,671 students in grades 9 and 10 and their schools after one year of implementation. Seventy-three high schools were randomly assigned to implement EWIMS during the 2014/15 school year or to continue their usual practices for identifying and supporting students at risk of not graduating on time. Impact findings show that EWIMS reduced the percentage of students with risk indicators related to chronic absence and course failure but not related to low grade point averages, suspensions, or insufficient credits to graduate. At the school level, EWIMS did not have a detectable impact on school data culture, that is, the ways in which schools use data to make decisions and identify students in need of additional support. Findings suggest that overall implementation of the EWIMS seven-step process was low in nearly all EWIMS schools, and that implementation of EWIMS was challenging for participating schools. The authors hypothesize that other school-level processes, unmeasured in this study, also may have contributed to impacts on students. For example, effects might have emerged for chronic absence and course failure if schools prioritized encouraging students to show up and participate in their courses, even if they did not have a sophisticated set of interventions. Further research is needed to better understand the mechanisms through which EWIMS had an impact on chronic absence and course failure. This report provides rigorous, initial evidence that even with limited implementation during the first year of adoption, use of a comprehensive early warning system such as EWIMS can reduce the percentage of students who are chronically absent or who fail one or more courses. These short-term results are promising because chronic absence and course failures in grades 9 and 10 are two key indicators that students are off track for graduation.
4/25/2017
REL 2017271 What is the evidence base to support reading interventions for improving student outcomes in grades 1-3?
The goal of this report is to provide administrators, school psychologists, counselors, special educators, and reading specialists with a summary and analysis of the evidence that supports the use of reading interventions in grades 1-3. The review was limited to studies of Tier 2 interventions, those designed to provide preventive services to students at risk for reading difficulties. The initial literature search identified 1,813 articles and reports. After screening them for relevance and conducting a detailed What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) analysis of the rigor of the study designs, the review team determined that only 23 effectiveness studies met WWC evidence standards (Version 3.0). Of those, 22 resulted in either significant, positive, or potentially positive impacts in at least one area of reading. None produced negative outcomes. Twelve of the 13 grade 1 interventions and all seven interventions for grades 2 and 3 produced positive or potentially positive effects. Effects were strongest and most consistent in the area of word and pseudoword reading. Several also produced effects in reading comprehension and passage reading fluency. Reading vocabulary was rarely assessed. Both individually administered and small-group interventions resulted in positive or potentially positive outcomes, although especially in grade 1, more of the interventions were one-on-one. In all cases, the interventionist received some training prior to implementing the intervention. However, these studies differed from common school practice in that implementation was carefully monitored in virtually all instances and coaching or feedback was provided. It is unclear how generalizable these findings are when the typical amount of ongoing support for interventionists is far more limited in practice.
4/20/2017
REL 2017240 School discipline data indicators: A guide for districts and schools
Disproportionate rates of suspension for students of color are a local, state, and national concern. In particular, African American, Hispanic/Latino(a), and American Indian students experience suspensions more frequently than their White peers. Disciplinary actions that remove students from classroom instruction undermine their academic achievement and weaken their connection with school. This REL Northwest guide is designed to help educators use data to reduce disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion based on race or ethnicity. It provides examples of selecting and analyzing data to determine whether racial disproportionality exists in a school or district's discipline practices. The guide also describes how to apply the Plan-Do-Study-Act continuous improvement cycle to inform intervention decisions and monitor progress toward desired outcomes.
4/14/2017
REL 2017235 Examining school-level reading and math proficiency trends and changes in achievement gaps for grades 3-8 in Florida, Mississippi, and North Carolina
The purpose of this study was to use growth curve modeling to investigate school-level reading and mathematics achievement trends on the state accountability assessment in Florida, Mississippi, and North Carolina for grades 3-8. In addition, this study investigated school-level achievement trends for race/ethnicity subgroups and for free or reduced-price lunch eligibility to determine if significant changes in achievement gaps occurred over the 4-6 years studied for each state. Results indicated that in general, average school-level proficiency increased for most subgroups across grades and subjects in all three states. In addition, reductions in achievement gaps were observed for most grades in reading and mathematics. However, achievement gaps remained large despite the observed reductions. The use of growth curve modeling in the current study provides stakeholders in Florida, Mississippi, and North Carolina with a more in-depth understanding of trends in school-level proficiency than would have been possible using just the sample mean.
4/13/2017
REL 2017270 Educator outcomes associated with implementation of Mississippi's K-3 early literacy professional development initiative
This study examined changes in teacher knowledge of early literacy skills and ratings of quality of early literacy skills instruction, student engagement during early literacy skills instruction, and teaching competencies between winter 2014 and fall 2015. During the time frame examined, the Mississippi Department of Education began providing early literacy professional development to K-3 teachers through a series of online and face-to-face workshops. Over the course of the study, average teacher knowledge started in the 48th percentile and ended in the 59th percentile. In targeted high-need schools, during observations conducted by state literacy coaches, ratings of quality increased from the 31st percentile to the 58th percentile, student engagement increased from the 37th percentile to the 53rd percentile, and teaching competencies increased from the 30th percentile to the 44th percentile. While this study was not intended to determine if the professional development was effective or caused the observed changes, the changes appeared to be associated with teachers' participation in the professional development. At the end of the study, teachers who had not yet started the professional development were in the 54th percentile for teacher knowledge, and teachers who had completed the professional development were in the 65th percentile. Similarly, at the end of the study, teachers who had not yet started the professional development were in the 42nd percentile for quality, 39th for engagement, and 38th for teaching competencies, where as teachers who had completed the professional development were in the 59th percentile for quality, 53rd for engagement, and 54th for teaching competencies.
4/12/2017
REL 2017214 Workshop on Survey Methods in Education Research: Facilitator's guide and resources
Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest has developed a tool for state and local education agencies to use to organize and conduct training for their staff members who design and conduct surveys. Surveys are often used by education agencies to collect data to assess needs, inform policy decisions, evaluate programs, or respond to legislative mandates. The workshop presentation materials draw from evidence-based research from the field of survey research methodology and offer guidance on designing and administering high-quality surveys. The materials provide practical advice and examples drawn from experiences in developing surveys for local, state, and national education applications. The workshop includes eight modules that describe the steps of survey design and administration—from planning to data collection—and covers the following topics: planning for a survey, exploring existing item sources, writing items, pretesting survey items, sampling, data collection methods, response rates, and focus groups. The facilitator's guidebook includes the goals for each module, considerations for adapting the materials for various purposes, an annotated agenda, and participant handouts (slide decks and accompanying notes, activities, and handouts). Individuals and groups who are developing surveys can use these materials to facilitate workshops, guide a survey project, or ensure that they are adhering to best practices for designing and conducting surveys. Although this guide is intended to help survey researchers in state and local education agencies organize and conduct a training for their staff, the materials also can be used as a stand-alone resource for anyone wishing to learn the basics about survey design and administration in education settings.
4/11/2017
REL 2017266 Puerto Rico school characteristics and student graduation: Implications for research and policy
The purpose of the study is to examine the relationship between Puerto Rico’s high school characteristics and student graduation rates. The study examines graduation rates for all public high schools for students who started grade 10 in 2010/11 (in Puerto Rico high school begins in grade 10) and were expected to graduate at the end of the 2012/13 school year, which were the most recent graduation data available. Using data provided by the Puerto Rico Department of Education as well as publicly available data, this study first examined the correlational relationships between graduation rates and two types of variables: student composition characteristics, which are not amenable to change or intervention but help to improve the description of graduation trends in Puerto Rico (for example, the percentage of students who are living in poverty); and school characteristics, which are amenable to change or intervention by officials (for example, the ratio of students per teacher). Regression analyses were used to estimate the conditional association between various characteristics and on-time graduation in Puerto Rico high schools after controlling for other factors. The percentage of students proficient in Spanish language arts was associated with higher graduation rates, after controlling for other school characteristics both overall and by subgroup (males, females, students below poverty, and special education students). After controlling for other characteristics, the percentage of students proficient in mathematics was not associated with graduation rates. Lower student-to-teacher ratios were associated with higher graduation rates for males, students living in poverty, and special education students, after controlling for other school characteristics. The percentage of highly qualified teachers was associated with lower graduation rates overall and for all subgroups except females, after controlling for other school characteristics. Correlations between each school characteristic and graduation rates are also presented in the report. The findings from this study provide a starting point for stakeholders in Puerto Rico who are interested in addressing the low rates of graduation in their high schools and communities through the use of data-driven decision-making.
4/11/2017
REL 2017226 Growth mindset, performance avoidance, and academic behaviors in Clark County School District
Previous research strongly suggests that beliefs regarding the nature of ability and the payoff to effort (academic mindsets) and the related actions (academic behaviors) play an important role in supporting student success. Not much is known about the distribution of these beliefs among teachers and students in different academic contexts. This study examined the distribution of reported academic mindsets and behaviors in Nevada’s Clark County School District. The analysis revealed that most students reported beliefs that are largely consistent with a growth mindset. However, reported beliefs and behaviors differed significantly depending on students' English learner status, race/ethnicity, grade level and prior achievement. For example, Black and Hispanic students reported lower levels of growth mindset than White students. English learner students reported significantly lower levels of growth mindset and higher levels of performance avoidance than their non-English learner counter parts. Lower achieving students reported significantly lower levels of growth mindset and significantly higher levels of performance avoidance than their higher achieving peers. Teachers reported greater beliefs in growth mindset than students, and their beliefs regarding growth mindset did not, for the most part, vary significantly depending on the characteristics of the students attending their schools.
4/5/2017
REL 2017264 Establishing and sustaining networked improvement communities: Lessons from Michigan and Minnesota
The purpose of this report is to share lessons learned by Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest researchers as they worked with educators in Michigan and Minnesota to establish and sustain two networked improvement communities (NICs). A NIC is a type of collaborative research partnership that uses principles of improvement science within networks to learn from variation across contexts. At the request of the Michigan Department of Education, REL Midwest worked with educators at the school, district, intermediate school district, and state levels to establish the Michigan Focus NIC, with the goal of reducing disparities in student achievement within schools. At the request of the Minnesota Department of Education, REL Midwest worked with educators at the state and regional levels to establish the Minnesota Statewide System of Support NIC. This NIC aimed to improve the supports that the Minnesota Department of Education provides to its six Regional Centers of Excellence, which implement school improvement strategies in the schools in the state with the lowest performance and largest achievement gaps. Although there is practical guidance for how NICs should structure their work, few published accounts describe the process of forming a NIC. Through its experience working with educators to form two NICs, REL Midwest learned that it is important to: build a cohesive team with members representing different types of expertise; reduce uncertainty by clarifying what participation would entail; build engagement by aligning work with ongoing efforts; use activities that are grounded in daily practice to narrow the problem of practice to one that is high leverage and actionable; and embed capacity building into NICs to build additional expertise for using continuous improvement research to address problems of practice. This report offers guidance to researchers and educators as they work to establish and sustain NICs. The lessons learned come from efforts to establish NICs in two specific contexts and therefore may not be generalizable to other contexts.
4/4/2017
REL 2017258 Stated Briefly: The relative effectiveness of two approaches to early literacy intervention in grades K-2
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the findings from another report (REL 2017-251). This randomized controlled trial of early literacy interventions examined whether using a stand-alone intervention outside the core curriculum leads to better outcomes than using the embedded curriculum for small group intervention in grades K-2. Fifty-five schools located across Florida were randomly assigned to stand-alone or embedded interventions delivered daily throughout the school year for 45 minutes in small groups of four or five students. Students below the 30th percentile in reading-related skills and/or vocabulary were eligible for intervention. One-third of participating students were English language learners. Both interventions were implemented with high fidelity and, on average, students showed improvement in reading and language skills in both interventions. The stand-alone intervention significantly improved grade 2 spelling. However, impacts on other student outcomes were comparable. The two interventions had relatively similar impacts on reading and language outcomes among English learners and non-English learners, with the exception of some reading outcomes in kindergarten. Implications for future research are discussed.
4/4/2017
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