Categories for Education Resources
August 8, 2017
A Meta-Analysis of Class Sizes and Ratios in Early Childhood Education Programs: Are Thresholds of Quality Associated With Greater Impacts on Cognitive, Achievement, and Socioemotional Outcomes?
This meta-analysis of early childhood education programs in the U.S. examines the impact of class size and child to teacher ratios on the cognitive, achievement, and socioemotional outcomes for children. The study found no socially significant relationship with cognitive and achievement effect size for either class size or child to teacher ratios. The only notable improvement in effect size was found when child to teacher ratios were lower than 7.5-1.
Citation: Bowne, J. B., Magnuson, K. A., Schindler, H. S., Duncan, G. J., & Yoshikawa, H. (2017). A Meta-Analysis of Class Sizes and Ratios in Early Childhood Education Programs: Are Thresholds of Quality Associated With Greater Impacts on Cognitive, Achievement, and Socioemotional Outcomes?. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 0162373716689489.
August 1, 2017
A Guide to Calculating District Expenditure-to-Performance Ratios Using Publicly Available Data
Efficient use of educational resources is a perennial challenge for school systems. Maximizing the impact of education interventions to magnify student achievement is an important goal for all school districts. This guide examines the use of expenditure-to-performance ratios as a critical indicator for school systems to help decide which interventions make sense when education dollars are at a premium. It describes how states and districts can use available data on district expenditures and student academic achievement to calculate six district-level expenditure-to-performance ratios.
Citation: Ryan, S., Lavigne, H. J., Zweig, J. S., & Buffington, P. J. (2017). A guide to calculating district expenditure-to-performance ratios using publicly available data. (REL 2017-179). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands.
July 13, 2017
Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report on Department of Education Staffing
A recently released report from the GAO finds that overall staffing in the Department of Education has fallen from a high of 6,391 in 1981 to 4,077 in 2015, while contracting levels have remained relatively stable. It is important to note that the workload for Department of Education has grown as the budget for the department has increased significantly during this same period. More eliminations of personnel are expected as the Trump administration has called for a further 13.5% reduction. It is interesting to note that the entire federal workforce has experienced a 4% reduction in staffing from 1991 through 2015, while the Department of Education lost 12% of it’s personnel.
Citation: Foxx, V., Guthrie, B., Rokita, T. and Rothmam, G. (2107). Department of Education: Staffing Levels Have Generally Decreased Over Time, While Contracting Levels Have Remained Relatively Stable. US Government Accountability Office GAO-17-669R.
June 15, 2017
School Lunch Quality and Academic Performance
Providing children with nutritious school meals continues to be a topic of interest in education policy. It has been argued that a healthy diet can have a positive impact on childhood obesity as well as student achievement. However, there is little empirical evidence to support this popular intervention. A working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research offers insights to help policy makers decide whether to select this option as a way to make a difference in children’s lives. The study, a natural experiment conducted in California public schools, uses a difference-in-difference regression statistical analysis of data from a treatment group and a control group at two or more different time periods, pre-treatment and post-treatment. The study found no evidence to support a reduction in obesity, but it did discover that introducing healthy meals was associated with a 0.036 standard deviation increase in test scores. The improved student achievement, although small, makes nutritious school lunches a viable cost-effective intervention that can boost test scores. It is important to remember that this is a correlational study and thus cannot establish a cause and effect relationship between healthy eating and student achievement.
Citation: Anderson, M. L., Gallagher, J., & Ritchie, E. R. (2017). School lunch quality and academic performance (NBER Working Paper No. 23218). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
June 2, 2017
In early February, the IDEA hosted website that provides special education resources disappeared prompting concern among some in the special education community and members of Congress that the new administration was permanently eliminating this support for special education. After a prolonged outage, the U.S. Department of Education Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) website, has been revamped and is now back online. The website offers useful information on special education law and policy, topic area reports, grants and funding resources, links to outside resources, and a blog for use by policy makers, parents and educators.
March 24, 2017
Endrew F., A Minor, By And Through His Parents And Next Friends, Joseph F. Et Al. V. Douglas County School District
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on March 22, 2017 that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to provide education programs that enable students to make progress from year to year. Delivering the opinion for the Court, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that an education program must be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” This ruling does not require an ideal individualized education program (IEP), but it does charge schools to provide services that will enable a student to make progress achieving passing marks and advancing from grade to grade. Roberts also wrote that for a child for whom a regular classroom is not appropriate, an education program must be “appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances.” This overturns the previous lower standard. The ruling continued, “But whatever else can be said about it, this standard is markedly more demanding than the ‘merely more than de minimis’ test applied by the Tenth Circuit.”
February 28, 2017
Reimagining the School Day: Innovative Schedules for Teaching and Learning
A new report from the Center for American Progress suggests that American students would be better served if teachers were allowed more time to collaborate with colleagues, plan lessons, and review the effects of instruction. Education reform efforts in the United States have resulted in notable increases in the average length of the school day and the school year, expanding total instructional time for students. This means that teachers spend about 27 hours per week in face-to-face time teaching. Disappointingly, these efforts have not increased student achievement scores. An unintended consequence has been that American teachers typically spend significantly less time planning lessons than peers in nations such as Singapore and Finland, which are achieving better results. This report examines scheduling options that increase educator time to plan lessons. Examples of school schedules from across the United States are offered as a resource for schools systems looking to improve performance in this critical area of instruction.
Benner, M., & Partelow, L. (2017). Reimagining the School Day: Innovative Schedules for Teaching and Learning. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.
February 23, 2017
1 in 5 Public School Students in the Class of 2016 Passed an AP Exam
The number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests has grown to more than 2.5 million students annually. Overall test scores have remained relatively constant despite a 60% increase in the number of students taking AP exams since 2006. In school year 2015–16, 20% of students taking an AP test passed and were eligible for college credit. The College Board also reports a continuing trend in the significant increase in the number of low-income students participating in the program. Unfortunately, this trend may be negatively impacted by changes in funding. The federal grant program subsidizing AP tests for low-income students has been replaced by block grants in the Every Student Succeeds Act. These funds may still be applied to subsidize low-income populations but are not mandated for this purpose as in the past.
Zubrzycki, J. (2017). 1 in 5 Public School Students in the Class of 2016 Passed an AP Exam. Education Week.
College Board Advance Placement Data: https://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data/participation/ap-2016
February 16, 2017
A study released on February 16, 2017, finds that online charter schools perform worse than traditional public or brick and mortar charter schools. The study by New York University and RAND Corporation (Ahn & McEachin, 2016) concludes that Ohio students who are enrolled in virtual charter schools spend significantly less time engaged in instruction and are less likely to pass the Ohio Graduation Test. A second study from Mathematica Policy Research (Gill et al., 2015) reports that online charter students experience weaker overall academic growth than comparable traditional public and charter school students. These findings, along with those of a study from Johns Hopkins University (Balfanz et al., 2014) suggesting that virtual charter school graduation rates are worse than those of traditional public and charter schools, strongly support a closer examination of the model and indicate a need for caution regarding online charter schools.
Ahn, J, and McEachin, A. (2017). Student enrollment patterns and achievement in Ohio’s online charter schools. Education Researcher, Vol. XX No. X, pp. 1–14.
Gill, B., Walsh, L., Wulsin, C. S., Matulewicz, H., Severn, V., Grau, E., … & Kerwin, T. (2015). Inside online charter schools. Cambridge, MA: Mathematica Policy Research.
Balfanz, R., Bridgeland, J. M., Fox, J. H., DePaoli, J. L., Ingram, E. S., & Maushard, M. (2014). Building a grad nation: Progress and challenge in ending the high school dropout epidemic. Annual Update 2014. Baltimore, MD: Everyone Graduates Center, School of Education, Johns Hopkins University
February 15, 2017
The Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University has announced a February release for a website that reviews every math and reading program for grades K to 12 to determine which meet the strong, moderate, or promising levels of evidence defined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This web site is designed to provide education decision-makers at the state, district and school levels, teachers, parents, and the public with the information to ascertain which programs meet the ESSA evidence standards.
Additional commentary on this topic is available from Robert Slavin