Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Two teacher support programs have no discernible effect, Head Start has on reading


The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) released several new intervention reports this week. Two reports systematically summarize the existing research on programs and methods designed to support the work of teachers and school leaders. The third report summarizes the research on Head Start, a national, federally funded program that provides services to promote school readiness for children from predominantly low-income families from birth to age 5.

TAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement (TAP™) is an educator effectiveness program that aims to improve student achievement through supports and incentives for teachers, including professional development, leadership opportunities, and performance bonuses. The WWC reviewed all of the existing research on TAP™ and its impacts on students in grades 4 through 8. Based on the research, TAP™ teachers were found to have no discernible effects on student achievement in science, English language arts, or mathematics during the first year of implementation. See the full report for more details.

The New Teacher Center (NTC) Induction Model is a systemic approach to support beginning teachers (i.e., teachers new to the profession). The induction model aims to accelerate the effectiveness of beginning teachers by providing mentoring and professional development in a supportive school environment. The WWC reviewed the research on the NTC Induction Model and its impacts on beginning elementary school teachers. Based on the research, the NTC Induction Model was found to have no discernible effects on teacher retention in the school district, teacher retention in the profession, or teacher retention at the school after one year of implementation. Read the full report.

The WWC recently reviewed the existing research on Head Start and its impacts on 3- to 5- year-old children who are not yet in kindergarten and are attending a center-based program with a primary focus on cognitive, language, and behavioral competencies associated with school readiness. Based on this review, Head Start was found to have potentially positive effects on general reading achievement and no discernible effects on mathematics achievement and social-emotional development for 3- and 4-year-old children. Read the full report.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Targeted math acceleration has potential to increase college readiness among disadvantaged populations but insufficient by itself




To better prepare students for college-level math and the demands of the labor market, school systems have tried to increase the rigor of students' math coursework.  The failure of universal "Algebra for All" models has led recently to more targeted approaches.  

This study involves one such approach in Wake County, North Carolina, which began using prior test scores to assign middle school students to an accelerated math track culminating in eighth grade algebra.  The policy has reduced the role that income and race played in course assignment.  

A regression discontinuity design exploiting the eligibility threshold shows that acceleration has no clear effect on test scores but lowers middle school course grades.  

Acceleration does, however, raise the probability of taking and passing geometry in ninth grade by over 30 percentage points, including for black and Hispanic students.   

Nonetheless, most students accelerated in middle school do not remain so by high school and those that do earn low grades in advanced courses.  This leaky pipeline suggests that targeted math acceleration has potential to increase college readiness among disadvantaged populations but that acceleration alone is insufficient to keep most students on such a track. 

Teachers entering the profession during recessions are significantly more effective in raising student test scores



This study provides uses business cycle conditions at career start as a source of exogenous variation in the outside options of potential teachers.  Unlike prior research, this study directly assess teacher quality with value-added measures of impacts on student test scores, using administrative data on 33,000 teachers in Florida public schools.  

Consistent with a Roy model of occupational choice, teachers entering the profession during recessions are significantly more effective in raising student test scores.  Results are supported by placebo tests and not driven by differential attrition.  


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chess training = improvement in math


Chess is thought to be a game demanding high cognitive abilities to be played well. Although many studies proved the link between mastery in chess and high degree of intelligence, just few studies proved that chess practice can enhance cognitive abilities. 

Starting from these considerations, the main purpose of the present research was to investigate the potential benefits of in-presence chess lessons and on-line training on mathematical problem-solving ability in young pupils (8 to 11 years old). 

Five hundred sixty students were divided into two groups, experimental (which had chess course and on-line training) and control (which had normal school activities), and tested on their mathematical and chess abilities. 

Results show a strong correlation between chess and math scores, and a higher improvement in math in the experimental group compared with the control group. These results foster the hypothesis that even a short-time practice of chess in children can be a useful tool to enhance their mathematical abilities.

New York City high school performance based on principal and/or student gender, boroughs, and other factors


A mixed-methods study enabled the exploration of New York City high school data, analyzing performance/demographic scores based on principal and/or student gender, boroughs, and other factors found the following: Significant differences in boroughs’ college and career readiness scores, χ2(4, N = 369) = 26.830, p = .00, with (a) the highest mean rank of 251 for Staten Island, and the lowest mean rank of 156 for Brooklyn; (b) larger socioeconomically integrated schools more successful; (c) failure in small Manhattan and Bronx segregated/poverty female-majority schools; and (d) male students, F(4, 359) = 2.49, p = .043, partial η2 = .027, attained significantly lower scores. Enrollment was significant, F(1, 457) = 7.215, p < .05 partial η2 = .940, with male principals (M = 746.40, SD = 903.58) leading larger schools. Recommendations include the following: gifted vocational education school, gauging for feminization, more Black/Hispanic principals; and assurance of licensed vocational educators.

Protections for LGBT Students Lacking in Most District Anti-Bullying Policies


GLSEN, the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students, has released From Statehouse to Schoolhouse: Anti-Bullying Policy Efforts in U.S. States and School Districts, a report that examines anti-bullying policies in all 13,181 school districts across the country, and how state law and guidance affect policies at the district level. The report includes five major findings:     

  • The vast majority of school districts do not have anti-bullying policies that explicitly protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. Only one in 10 districts has a policy that includes explicit protections for students based upon actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Nearly three in 10 (29.5%) have no anti-bullying policy at all.     
  • Many district policies fail to align with state law. In states with anti-bullying laws, over a quarter (26.3%) of districts did not have district anti-bullying policies. In states with anti-bullying laws that explicitly protect students based u­­­­pon actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, many district policies do not include the same protections (38.7% failed to include sexual orientation; 60.3% failed to include gender identity/expression).     
  • LGBT-inclusive district policies have a positive effect on school climate for LGBT youth. LGBT students in districts with LGBT-inclusive policies report greater feelings of safety and lower rates of victimization.     
  • Only two in 10 school districts require professional development for educators on bullying. Only two in 10 require district accountability for reporting of bullying incidents.     
  • Law and guidance at the state level strongly influence the presence and content of district policies. Having a state anti-bullying law doubles the likelihood that a district has an anti-bullying policy.If state policy guidance that gives districts a framework for creating its own local policies for schools includes explicit protections for students based upon gender identity/expression, the odds are 10 times greater that a district policy includes those protections. For state guidance that includes sexual orientation, the odds are two times greater that a district will include those protections in its local policy.  
“From Statehouse to Schoolhouse reinforces our long-held and proven belief that LGBT-inclusive laws and policies lead to improvements in the experiences of LGBT students,” said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard.  “The report also illustrates the gap that can emerge between the intentions of a law and the actual implementation – arguably the most critical component of the passage of any law. There remain far too many school districts that have failed to institute policy protections, even in states which require them by law. As a result, these schools continue to fail our students.” 

Based on the findings in From Statehouse to Schoolhouse, GLSEN has a number of recommendations to better protect all students through anti-bullying policy efforts including:  At the state level, adopt anti-bullying laws that include explicit protections for students based upon actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity/expression along with race/ethnicity and other personal characteristics. These laws should also require professional development for educators on bullying and district accountability for incident reporting that specifically include these protected characteristics.  At the district level, ensure districts comply with state laws and adopt anti-bullying policies that include explicit protections.

Despite Positive Effect on School Climate, Protections for LGBT Students Lacking in Most District Anti-Bullying Policies
New GLSEN Report Examines Policies of Every School District in All 50 States and D.C.
NEW YORK (July 15, 2015) – GLSEN, the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students, today released From Statehouse to Schoolhouse: Anti-Bullying Policy Efforts in U.S. States and School Districts, a report that examines anti-bullying policies in all 13,181 school districts across the country, and how state law and guidance affect policies at the district level. The report includes five major findings:
  • The vast majority of school districts do not have anti-bullying policies that explicitly protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. Only one in 10 districts has a policy that includes explicit protections for students based upon actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Nearly three in 10 (29.5%) have no anti-bullying policy at all.
  • Many district policies fail to align with state law. In states with anti-bullying laws, over a quarter (26.3%) of districts did not have district anti-bullying policies. In states with anti-bullying laws that explicitly protect students based u­­­­pon actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, many district policies do not include the same protections (38.7% failed to include sexual orientation; 60.3% failed to include gender identity/expression).
  • LGBT-inclusive district policies have a positive effect on school climate for LGBT youth. LGBT students in districts with LGBT-inclusive policies report greater feelings of safety and lower rates of victimization.
  • Only two in 10 school districts require professional development for educators on bullying. Only two in 10 require district accountability for reporting of bullying incidents.
  • Law and guidance at the state level strongly influence the presence and content of district policies. Having a state anti-bullying law doubles the likelihood that a district has an anti-bullying policy.If state policy guidance that gives districts a framework for creating its own local policies for schools includes explicit protections for students based upon gender identity/expression, the odds are 10 times greater that a district policy includes those protections. For state guidance that includes sexual orientation, the odds are two times greater that a district will include those protections in its local policy.
From Statehouse to Schoolhouse reinforces our long-held and proven belief that LGBT-inclusive laws and policies lead to improvements in the experiences of LGBT students,” said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. “The report also illustrates the gap that can emerge between the intentions of a law and the actual implementation – arguably the most critical component of the passage of any law. There remain far too many school districts that have failed to institute policy protections, even in states which require them by law. As a result, these schools continue to fail our students.”
Based on the findings in From Statehouse to Schoolhouse, GLSEN has a number of recommendations to better protect all students through anti-bullying policy efforts including:
At the state level, adopt anti-bullying laws that include explicit protections for students based upon actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity/expression along with race/ethnicity and other personal characteristics. These laws should also require professional development for educators on bullying and district accountability for incident reporting that specifically include these protected characteristics.
At the district level, ensure districts comply with state laws and adopt anti-bullying policies that include explicit protections.
The full From Statehouse to Schoolhouse report can be found at www.glsen.org/article/state-and-school-district-anti-bullying-policies.
- See more at: http://www.glsen.org/article/most-anti-bullying-policies-do-not-protect-lgbt-students#sthash.XJTMSpjL.dpuf

Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Report on Race, Class, and College Access


American Council on Education's Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS) has released findings a ew report, Race, Class, and College Access: Achieving Diversity in a Shifting Legal Landscape.

The report, co-authored by Pearson’s Center for College & Career Readiness and the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), examines contemporary admissions practices at four-year colleges and universities across a wide range of selectivity in the context of recent legal challenges to race-conscious admissions, including the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The report offers insight into evolving practices institutions employ as they seek to further access and diversity.

“Now more than ever, institutional leaders require the knowledge and tools needed to meet mission-critical diversity goals. This first-of-its-kind study reflects on-the-ground practices by admissions and enrollment management offices at 338 institutions enrolling 2.7 million students nationally,” said Lorelle Espinosa, assistant vice president of CPRS. “Our aim is to complement the great work being done by our partners and others to ensure institutions are in the best position to further diversity goals now and in the future.”

Following a presentation of findings by the authors, a series of panel discussions will be led by distinguished diversity scholars, legal experts, admissions and student affairs practitioners and institutional leaders. Click here for a full agenda.

“Diversity matters to higher education institutions. It matters across sectors, selectivity ranges, and university contexts. Our data are clear on that point,” said Matthew Gaertner, senior research scientist at Pearson’s Center for College & Career Readiness. “But we also see that the diversity strategies institutions are pursuing most frequently are not always the initiatives receiving attention from researchers and the press. We need better alignment across those constituencies—practitioners, scholars and the media—if we hope to move best practices forward and help institutions advance access and diversity.”

The report is structured around three key findings:

  • The most widely used diversity strategies receive the least attention. Strategies such as reduced emphasis on legacy admissions, test-optional admissions and percentage plans are the least widely used yet receive the most media and research attention. More common strategies include targeted outreach and recruitment to minority, low-income, and community college students, yet these do not receive equal press or research attention.
  • Striving for racial/ethnic diversity is not an “either-or” but a “both-and” proposition. Institutions that consider race in admissions decisions use other race-conscious and race-neutral diversity strategies more often and find them more effective than institutions that use race-neutral strategies alone. Race-conscious and race-neutral approaches can and do coexist. Some of the most widely used and effective diversity strategies at institutions that consider race include targeted recruitment and yield initiatives for minority and low-income students, summer enrichment programs and targeted financial aid awards.
  • Reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 Fisher decision are still evolving, and more research is needed. Post-Fisher changes in how admissions offices approach enrollment data, admissions factors and diversity strategies have been modest among institutions that currently consider race in admissions decisions. Some have placed increased importance on the recruitment of community college transfers and students from low-income backgrounds. Institutions across the selectivity spectrum require research and guidance in the post-Fisher context. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision to rehear the Fisher case signifies that these issues are far from settled.

“One of the challenges for American higher education in the wake of the Fisher decision has been the lack of effective exchange of research, data and plans,” said Gary Orfield, distinguished professor and co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. “Advancing equal educational opportunity requires sharing lessons learned in pursuit of promising diversity strategies. The story of affirmative action law and policy is still unfolding and researchers must respond to the needs of institutions. Our data show how the more selective institutions, of which 60 percent consider race in admissions, need additional research and guidance on critical mass.”