Monday, June 17, 2019

The Impacts of Principal Turnover

Nationally, 18% of principals turn over each year, yet research has not yet credibly established the effects of this turnover on student and teacher outcomes. Using statewide data from Missouri and Tennessee, this study finds that principal turnover lowers school achievement by .03 SD in the next year, on average. Effects vary by transition type, with larger negative effects for transfers to other schools but no or even positive later effects of demotions of (presumably lower-performing) principals. Principal turnover also increases teacher turnover, but this does not explain the drop in student achievement. Replacement with an experienced successor can largely offset negative principal turnover effects.

New study examines the association between race, ethnicity and exclusionary discipline practices

Discipline and how it is administered in schools across the U.S. continues to be a hotly debated topic. Now a University of Kentucky doctoral graduate's expansive research on the subject has been published in the Journal of School Psychology and is gaining widespread attention from teachers, administrators, and researchers.
Albert Ksinan, who earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Family Sciences in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment last year, is principal investigator on the study and completed the most comprehensive analysis of the topic to date while still at UK. Currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Ksinan is lead author on the paper, "National Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Disciplinary Practices: A Contextual Analysis in American Secondary Schools." Co-authors are Alexander T. Vazsonyi, John I. & Patricia J. Buster Endowed Professor of Family Sciences (UK); Gabriela Ksinan Jiskrova, also a UK Ph.D. graduate in Family Sciences and now a postdoctoral fellow at VCU's School of Social Work; and James L. Peugh, associate professor of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati.
The project analyzed how ethnicity and race are associated with school exclusionary discipline practices, which refer to students being removed from school as a form of punishment. Previous studies have found ethnic and racial disparities in the rates of school discipline actions, where ethnic and racial minority students (particularly African American youth) were found to be overrepresented among students that are disciplined.
"Exclusionary discipline can be particularly harmful during adolescence, because in many cases, it leaves adolescents without any real possibility to finish high school," said Ksinan. "Given that adolescence is the developmental period associated with the highest rate of delinquent behaviors, it is can be argued that school expulsion during this 'window of vulnerability' leads to an increased risk of engaging in substance abuse and violent crime, and an associated increased likelihood of contact with the juvenile justice system."
The data for the project included the universe of all U.S. public middle and high schools collected in 2013-14 by the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). It is the most comprehensive study thus far to provide estimates of ethnic/racial discrepancies in who gets disciplined for 7 ethnic/racial groups (African American, Asian, Native American, Hawaiian, Hispanic, Two or more races, or White), with a dataset including almost 16,000 middle schools and more than 18,000 high schools, representing more than 22 million adolescents. Furthermore, the study assessed whether certain school characteristics (school size, percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch, ethnic/racial diversity of the student body, whether the school is urban/suburban/rural, the U.S. region in which the school is located) affect the rates of exclusionary discipline practices as well as the ethnic/racial discrepancy.
"The results showed robust evidence of persistent discrepancies in disciplinary practices across ethnic/racial groups, with African American students and students indicating two or more races found to be at increased risk for being suspended/expelled compared to White students in both middle and high schools," said Ksinan. "Further, the risk for African American students and students indicating two or more races were higher in schools with higher poverty rates and a greater ethnic/racial diversity of the student population. Schools with students characterized by higher poverty and ones smaller in size reported higher rates of school discipline actions."
There was a result which surprised the researchers, according to Ksinan.
"Schools in the Midwest had significantly higher rates for most disciplinary measures as compared to Southern schools," he said.
With a focus on ethnic/racial discrepancies, the study provides evidence of systematic differences in how school disciplinary actions are applied, with African American youth and students indicating two or more races at increased risk for being disciplined; in turn, this can lead to a variety of problematic consequences. Thus, this research is instrumental in providing renewed impetus to the broader discussion on disciplinary actions and practices in America's middle and high schools.

Text-messaged-based parenting curricula– How Timing Matters

The time children spend with their parents affects their development. Parenting programs can help parents use that time more effectively. Text-messaged-based parenting curricula have proven an effective means of supporting positive parenting practices by providing easy and fun activities that reduce informational and behavioral barriers. These programs may be more effective if delivered during times when parents are particularly in need of support or alternatively when parents have more time to interact with their child. 

This study compares the effects of an early childhood text-messaging program sent during the weekend to the same program sent on weekdays. 

The researchers find that sending the texts on the weekend is, on average, more beneficial to children’s literacy and math development. This effect is particularly strong for initially lower achieving children, while the weekday texts show some benefits for higher achieving children on higher order skills. Results are consistent wit! h the hypothesis that the parents of lower achieving students, on average, face such high barriers during weekdays that supports are not enough to overcome these barriers, while for parents of higher achieving students, weekday texts are more effective because weekdays are more challenging, but not so difficult as to be untenable for positive parenting.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Higher Education Staff See Modest Salary Increase, Little Growth

The median salary increase for staff over the past year was 1.88 percent, according to CUPA-HR’s newest Staff in Higher Education Annual Report. This is a slight decline from the 1.93 percent median salary increase in 2018. The median salary increase was highest at baccalaureate institutions (1.99 percent) and lowest at associate’s institutions (1.52 percent).

The position of graphic design paraprofessional experienced the most job growth this year (26 percent increase), whereas building control systems technician saw the largest decline (24 percent decrease). Overall, the number of staff reported by higher education institutions grew minimally, only increasing by 0.4 percent from 2018 to 2019.
Other findings from the 2019 CUPA-HR Staff in Higher Education Annual Report include:
  • Skilled craft lead positions were paid many of the highest staff salaries, with electrician lead making the highest median salary overall ($56,691).
  • At present, 15 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation enacting future minimum wage increases. In these places, 11 percent of higher ed staff overall currently earn below these future state minimums and may require pay increases in the next several years.
  • A combined 75 percent of higher ed staff work in either office/clerical (41 percent) or service/maintenance positions (34 percent). The two most common positions are custodian/housekeeper and administrative assistant, each making up around 14 percent of the staff workforce.
  • Women make up 61 percent of higher ed staff overall, and minorities make up 31 percent of staff — both figures are unchanged from last year. Women are paid less than equitably compared to men in all staff areas except for office/clerical positions. Minorities (except Asians) are paid less in the same position than are White staff across all areas.
  • Salaries for higher ed staff differ considerably by state and region. Median salaries in the Northeast ($39,756) and West ($39,408) are higher than in the Midwest ($36,649) and South ($35,000).
A total of 857 higher education institutions provided incumbent-level data for over 205,000 staff in 153 positions for this year’s survey. This is the sixth year of CUPA-HR’s data collection on higher education staff, who are primarily in non-exempt positions. The survey collects data on salaries and demographics for each individual incumbent, including sex, race/ethnicity, age and years in position.
To learn more about the Staff in Higher Education Survey, read the overview. Salaries, demographic comparisons and detailed trend information are available in the full report.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Monitoring educational equity

A centralized, consistently reported system of indicators of educational equity is needed to bring attention to disparities in the U.S. education system, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Indicators - measures used to track performance and monitor change over time - can help convey why disparities arise, identify groups most affected by them, and inform policy and practice measures to improve equity in pre-K through 12th grade education.
Societal inequities influence nearly every aspect of students' education - including their academic performance, the classes they take, their access to enrichment opportunities, and their school's approach to discipline.

The system should include indicators that fall into two categories, says the report, Monitoring Educational Equity. The first category of indicators should measure and track disparities in student outcomes such as kindergarten academic readiness, coursework performance, and on-time graduation. The second category should measure and track disparities in students' access to resources and opportunities, such as high-quality pre-K programs, effective teachers, rigorous curriculum, and non-academic supports.

The purpose of a system of equity indicators, says the report, is not to simply track progress toward educational goals, but to identify differences in critical outcomes and opportunities across key subgroups. The report discusses gender, race and ethnicity, English-language fluency, family income, and disability status. Additionally, educational disparities may not be attributable to only the school environment, but also to circumstances in students' homes and neighborhoods.

"We imagine public education to be America's great engine of upward mobility and, ultimately, equality," said Christopher Edley, Jr., professor and former dean at the University of California, Berkeley Law School, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. "A good system of indicators can help measure how much we repair--or reinforce--the great divides in opportunity. Indicators help us understand how opportunities affect outcomes, and whether we match those opportunities with student needs."
The committee argues that educational equity is as important, if not more important, as other measures of a country's wellbeing, including economic and employment progress. The monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Situation Summary, known as the "monthly jobs report," is well known, well publicized, and regularly used to inform policy decisions. Similarly, an annual "Education Equity Summary" could systematically inform national, state, and local stakeholders about the status of educational equity in the U.S., says the report. Such information would help target interventions, research, and policy initiatives to reduce disparities.

The committee proposes 16 indicators of educational equity.

Seven of those 16 indicators are related to disparities in student outcomes. They are grouped across the stages of K-12 education:

Kindergarten Readiness
  • Indicator 1: Disparities in Academic Readiness
  • Indicator 2: Disparities in Self-Regulation and Attention Skills
K-12 Learning and Engagement
  • Indicator 3: Disparities in Engagement in Schooling
  • Indicator 4: Disparities in Performance in Coursework
  • Indicator 5: Disparities in Performance on Tests
Educational Attainment
  • Indicator 6: Disparities in On-Time Graduation
  • Indicator 7: Disparities in Postsecondary Readiness
The remaining nine indicators are related to access to opportunities and resources:
Extent of Racial, Ethnic, and Economic Segregation
  • Indicator 8: Disparities in Students' Exposure to Racial, Ethnic, and Economic Segregation
Equitable Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Education
  • Indicator 9: Disparities in Access to and Participation in High-Quality Early Childhood Education
Equitable Access to High-Quality Curricula and Instruction
  • Indicator 10: Disparities in Access to Effective Teaching
  • Indicator 11: Disparities in Access to and Enrollment in Rigorous Coursework
  • Indicator 12: Disparities in Curricular Breadth
  • Indicator 13: Disparities in Access to High-Quality Academic Supports
Equitable Access to Supportive School and Classroom Environments
  • Indicator 14: Disparities in School Climate
  • Indicator 15: Disparities in Nonexclusionary Discipline Practices
  • Indicator 16: Disparities in Nonacademic Supports for Student Success
A national system of indicators would enable valid comparisons of school, district, and state performance across a number of important student outcomes and resources. The report recommends that the federal government - under the guidance of an advisory board -- work with states, school districts, and educational intermediaries to develop a national equity indicator system and incorporate it into their relevant data collection.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Early childhood education reaction to new limits on expulsions

Nationwide, preschoolers are being expelled at alarming rates, upwards of 250 a day by some accounts. Given the critical role of early childhood education (ECE) in supporting children’s school readiness, there is a grave concern that these children are being excluded. Furthermore, there is consistent evidence of racial and gender disparities in who gets expelled. Recently, Illinois became one of only a handful of states to pass legislation to curtail the overall rates and disproportionality of early child hood expulsion. 

As of January 1, 2018, programs funded by the Illinois State Board of Education or licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services must make every possible effort to retain a child, document their use of any and all available resources, services, and interventions. Additionally, programs are required to report on the characteristics of all children served by their program, turnover, and separations, as well as utilization of resources. If and when a program has exhausted all avail able resources and made substantial efforts to retain a child, only then, and with parental permission, is it now permitted to transfer the child to another program. 

Unlike in other states and municipalities, this new law, Public Act 100 -0105, represents unprecedented coordination across state agencies, advocacy groups, and service providers. However, it remains to be seen whether this coordination will continue throughout the implementation process and dissemination of information regarding the law. To that end, The researchers sought to conduct a preliminary investigation of Illinois early childhood programs’ current and prior expulsion practices, in addition to their understanding of and responses to the new law. 

This investigation leveraged a coalition of ECE community partners who informed the design, implementation, and interpretation phases. Findings broadly point towards systematic variance in programs’ level of knowledge of the law, comfort, and confidence complying with its stipulations, perceived benefits, and unintended consequences, as well as past and expected disciplinary procedures and experiences accessing evidence- based resources and supports.

Arts Education and Social-Emotional Learning

Complete report

Social and emotional learning is a topic of increasing focus in the education sector. Though definitions and terminology vary, at its core this trend reflects an increased interest among educators, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders in students’ development of individual and interpersonal skills beyond the realm of academic achievement.
This project, conducted in partnership with Ingenuity, consists of two components: a review of literature on this topic and an interview-based fieldwork component with educators, administrators, students, and parents in Chicago Public Schools. The authors reviewed more than 200 studies on arts education spanning six decades. They also conducted focus groups and interviews with key participants in the arts education process—including educators, administrators, students, and parents—to evaluate evidence of the effects of arts education on social-emotional development in school and after-school settings. They found a widespread belief that arts education contributes to children’s and adolescents’ social-emotional development. Specifically that:
  • Exposure to arts opportunities allows students and teachers to engage with one another in a way that often stands in contrast to how they engage with each other in the context of regular academic instruction and that provides rich opportunities for social-emotional learning.
  • Arts education has social-emotional effects regardless of instructor intent—and these effects can be either positive or negative. Though arts education can be a powerful force in supporting students’ social-emotional development, the report’s findings caution educators to be intentional in the social-emotional contexts they create through their lessons to, as much as possible, promote positive interactions and help students process challenges and disappointments so they don’t end up feeling alienated or ashamed by their arts experiences.
Developmental experiences are at the core of social-emotional learning, and while the arts tend to lead in this regard—providing opportunities for young people to engage in experiences—educators at large could explore ways to translate arts education strategies to their own classrooms.

Key Takeaways for Educators

  • Be intentional about integrating social and emotional growth into an academic discipline. How an instructor teaches often matters more than what they teach.
  • Create safe spaces in which students feel comfortable taking productive risks, opening up to expose their own vulnerabilities, and being challenged.
  • Provide opportunities for students to engage in cycles of action (encountering, tinkering, choosing, practicing, and contributing) and reflection (describing, evaluating, connecting, envisioning, and integrating).