Categories for Education Resources

Chronic Student Absenteeism: A Significant and Overlooked Obstacle to Student Achievement

April 12, 2019

Decades of research document the significant negative impacts of student absenteeism on academic achievement, emotional development, graduation, health, and long-term success (Gottfried, 2015). Yet, until just a few years ago, the U.S. K–12 education system was virtually unaware that it had a chronic student absenteeism problem. Prior to that time, chronic absenteeism was never tracked by school systems, let alone addressed. A recent analysis of the data revealed that a significant number of students (one in seven) were chronically absent, defined as missing 10% of school days (Balfanz & Brynes, 2012). And that was the threshold number. Many students identified as chronically absent missed more than 10%. The corresponding negative impacts worsen with every additional day of school missed. 

This overview looks at the best available evidence on chronic student absenteeism in the context of (1) the scale of the problem at all levels of the education system: national, state, school, and grade; (2) the impact on student academic performance, graduation, health, and financial impact on school districts; (3) impact multipliers that exacerbate chronic absenteeism, such as poverty, student mobility, homelessness, and disciplinary suspensions; and (4) interventions utilizing a public health tiered model for different levels of action depending on need, a performance feedback system to track and modify the results of each intervention, and coordination of resources across a wide range of education stakeholders.

Citation: Keyworth, R., Detrich, R. & States, J. (2019). Overview of Chronic Student Absenteeism: A Significant and Overlooked Obstacle to Student Achievement. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




Evaluation of a Principal Development Model: the Principal Pipeline

April 11, 2019

Principal Pipeline:  A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools. The Rand Corporation just released its report evaluating the impact of the Principal Pipeline Initiative (PPI),a project supported by the Wallace Foundation to create and implement a strategic process for school leadership talent management.  PPI was operated from 2011 to 2016 in six large school districts. It was composed of leadership standards, pre-service preparation opportunities for assistant principals and principals, selective hiring and placement, and on-the-job induction, evaluation and support.  The Rand Study evaluated PPI’s feasibility, effectiveness, and affordability.  It concluded that the model was feasible as each participating district was able to implement all components of the model at scale in different ways depending on the unique aspects of the district. From an effectiveness standpoint, newly placed principals in PPI districts had a greater statistically significant impact on student reading and math scores than non-PPI principals, they were more likely to stay ion their schools for at least two years, and the novice principals rated the program’s hiring, evaluation, and support process higher than non-participating principals rated the baseline model. And finally, the study found the model affordable at $ 42 per student per year, which represented a significant return on investment.  Note:  It is hoped that future studies will include outcome measure such as teacher retention, effectiveness, and satisfaction in the context of principal development.  

Citation: Gates, Susan M., Matthew D. Baird, Benjamin K. Master, and Emilio R. Chavez-Herrerias, Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, RR-2666-WF, 2019. 




An examination of one program designed to increase teacher praise.

February 26, 2019

Increasing Teachers’ Use of Behavior-Specific Praise with the Teacher vs. Student Game. Research has long supported the importance of teacher behavior specific praise in the classroom. This study examines the impact of a Teacher Versus Student Game, a program that is based upon The Good Behavior Game (GBG). GBG has been in use since 1967 and is an evidence-based behavioral classroom management strategy that helps children learn how to work together to create a positive learning environment. Pressure for teachers to show academic results is hindered by challenging student conduct. Maintaining control of student behavior is a critical factor in teacher’s ability to effectively deliver instruction that results in increased student academic outcomes. Using group contingencies found in the Teacher Versus Student Game provides teachers another program designed to accomplish this important goal. This paper found that the game increased teachers rates of praise; however, the teachers gradually decreased their use of BSP over time.

Two additional papers on practices to increase teacher praise are identified under citations.

Citation: Lastrapes, R. E., Fritz, J. N., and Hasson, R. C., (2019). Increasing Teachers’ Use of Behavior-Specific Praise with the Teacher vs. Student Game. Retrieved from Researchgate:

Gage, N. A., MacSuga-Gage, A. S., & Crews, E. (2017). Increasing teachers’ use of behavior-specific praise using a multitiered system for professional development. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions19(4), 239-251.

White, K. (2018). Increasing Teachers’ Use of Behavior Specific Praise Via a Smart Watch.




Do students benefit from longer school days?

December 12, 2018

Do students benefit from longer school days? Regression discontinuity evidence from Florida’s additional hour of literacy instruction: This research examines the impact of longer school days on student achievement. The amount of time available for instruction has a role to play in student learning. Insufficient instruction would appear to have an effect on learning, but the current knowledge-base on this topics is insufficient. This study attempts to fill in gaps in the evidence-base on this topic. The results indicate significant positive effects of additional literacy instruction on student reading achievement. Although this study finds positive outcomes for additional reading instruction, it is important to note that for achieving maximum results it is important to pair evidence-based reading instruction practices with the additional instruction time in order to achieve maximum results.

Citation:Figlio, D., Holden, K. L., & Ozek, U. (2018). Do students benefit from longer school days? Regression discontinuity evidence from Florida’s additional hour of literacy instruction. Economics of Education Review67, 171-183.





What is the impact of small group tutoring on student math achievement?

November 14, 2018

Tutor Trust: Affordable Primary Tuition: Evaluation report and executive summary November 2018

The purpose of this study is the examination of low-cost interventions to improve the performance of disadvantaged students. The intervention was designed to improve the performance of students by providing small-group tutoring sessions. The selected students who participated in tutoring received 12 hours of additional instruction for 12 weeks. The students were tutored in groups of three by trained university students and recent graduates. Students in the control schools continued with normal teaching. The research found that children who received tutoring progressed more in math compared to children in control schools (effect size = +0.19). Students eligible for free reduced school meals benefited even more with an 0.25 effect size.

Citation:Torgerson, C. J., Bell, K., Coleman, E., Elliott, L., Fairhurst, C., Gascoine, L., Hewitt, C. E., & Torgerson, D. J. (2018). Tutor Trust: Affordable Primary Tuition. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).




How does teacher pay compare to other professions?

October 29, 2018

The teacher pay penalty has hit a new high: Trends in the teacher wage and compensation gaps through 2017

Given that evidence clearly shows teachers as having the single greatest school-based impact on student learning, it becomes crucial that schools recruit and retain high quality teachers.  A key component to this involves teacher wage and benefit packages.   This study concludes that teacher compensation is falling further and further behind that of comparable career opportunities each year.  One metric that can be used to study this issue over time is “relative teacher pay”—teacher pay compared with that of other career opportunities for potential and current teachers.  This is referred to as the “teacher wage penalty” which calculates wage gaps as a percentage of difference.  The study concludes:  The teacher pay penalty has been steadily worsening over the last two decades, increasing from a -1.8% wage gap in 1994 to a wage gap of -18.7% in 2017.  While weekly wages for comparable jobs increased from $ 1,339 to $ 1,476 over this period of time, teacher weekly wages actually decreased $ 27 from $ 1,164 to $ 1,137.  This gap varies significantly between the genders (-15.6% for women and -26.8% for men), across states (from a .3.1% for Wyoming to -36.4% Arizona).  The study also downplays the impact of the recent recession on this trend, highlighting the impact of state government decisions on reducing education funding.

 Citation:  Allegretto, S.& Mishel, L. (2018). The teacher pay penalty has hit a new high: Trends in the teacher wage and compensation gaps through 2017. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute.

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How Powerful Is Parent Involvement in Improving Student Achievement?

September 10, 2018

A Review of the Relationship Between Parental Involvement Indicators and Academic Achievement

This review examines the relationship between parental involvement and student academic achievement. The definition of parental involvement isn’t always clear and encompasses a wide range of parental interventions and involvement in a child’s education. Two types of parental involvement are generally examined in the available research: home-based strategies, such as providing structure and support for learning and education at home, and school-based strategies, such as communicating with teachers and attending school events.

  1. Parental involvement and early childhood academic achievement(22 studies)

The majority of studies reported small to medium positive effect sizes on achievement for parental interventions in early childhood. When parents engage with preschoolers in learning activities at home, academic achievement improves. Research suggests that enriching activities such as telling stories, teaching letters and numbers, engaging in problem-solving activities, singing songs, and playing games improve children’s literacy skills. Research on parental involvement in school revealed mixed results depending on the type of involvement.

  1. Parental involvement and academic achievement for elementary school children(22 studies)

The majority of studies of elementary school children that examined the link between parental involvement and school achievement found a small to medium impact in math and reading. Not all studies reported positive outcomes and a small number reported a negative relationship to student achievement. It is important to note that outcomes for parental involvement varied according to the form of parental activity being examined.

This review found that parents’ educational expectations were the strongest predictor of academic achievement for elementary school children. Negative outcomes were associated with parents applying academic pressure in the form of commands, punishment, or coercive interactions. On the other hand, positive parental engagement, such as praising children’s performance, progress, and efforts and letting children know they cared about them and their school performance, was related to improved academic performance.

  1. Parental involvement and academic achievement at middle school, high school, and beyond(31 studies)

The majority of the studies investigated the link between parental involvement and student achievement in math and literacy. Most reported small to medium positive effect sizes associated with parental involvement and academic achievement.

Parental expectations were generally reported to have a positive correlation with academic achievement, or higher GPA. Valuing academic achievement and then reinforcing it produced significant positive outcomes in mathematics among high school students. Parent-child discussions about school activities and educational planning produced positive outcomes and reduced truancy. Parental control and interference resulted in negative academic achievement. Parents attending school events, meeting with teachers, and/or volunteering at school produced no improvement in academic performance.


The strongest associations with improved student performance across all grades were parental expectations and aspirations. The review also concluded that parental involvement and academic achievement do not diminish as children grow into young adulthood. What does change is how parents engage with their child over time; direct involvement in learning diminishes, but the value of fostering conditions for academic success increases. Parents seem to affect their children’s academic outcomes by setting high academic expectations and by creating, in ways not considered intrusive or controlling, a comfortable space for the children to develop their own academic motivations. The review also found that the benefits of school-based involvement by parents are not strong or produce mixed results.

Citation:Boonk, L., Gijselaers, H. J., Ritzen, H., & Brand-Gruwel, S. (2018). A review of the relationship between parental involvement indicators and academic achievement. Educational Research Review24, 10–30.




What is the impact of school vouchers and what lessons can be learned from the available research on this topic?

July 10, 2018

The Effect of Voucher Programs on Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis

News Summary: This meta-analysis examines the effectiveness of school voucher programs for improving student achievement. The research is of special interest for three important reasons; (1) it examines an important policy issue relevant to educators and the public, (2) it is an example of a study designed to replicate previous research on an important topic, and (3) it highlights the importance of examining the cost effectiveness associated with implementing practices in real world settings.

The use of school vouchers as a means to improve the quality of education has been an attractive, although controversial. It has been touted as a way to use public funding to overcome academic deficits in school systems. Enabling parents to exercise choice as to where to send a child to school is enticing. It appeals to the belief that exercising “control” over where your child can go to school will have an impaction the quality of education. The important question is, does this type of structural intervention produce both statistically significant, but more importantly do school vouchers produce socially significant academic gains?

This study tries to answer this question by replicating a previous meta-analysis of school voucher programs by Shakeel, Anderson, and Wolf (2016). The studies included in both meta-analyses required that to be included in the research individual studies must use randomized control trials of school voucher programs reporting quantitative measures of reading and/or math performance. The Wing Institute chose to include this new item to feature the need for replicating research as means to increase confidence in the results and broaden our knowledge base on a topic. The results indicated that, compared to the original study, this meta-analysis obtained smaller effect sizes with larger standard errors. This is not surprising as most replication of original research report smaller effects. The results of this research although somewhat smaller are consistent with the Shakeel, Anderson, and Wolf (2016) study. More importantly, both studies found that although the effects were for the most part positive they were very small ranging from 0.080 effect size on reading to 0.135 effect size on math.

It is important to note these results are also similar to those found in the Yeh, S. S. (2007) research on this topic. Yeh goes beyond reporting on effect size to examine the importance of putting effect size in the context of cost-effectiveness. It becomes quite clear when one asks the question, are school vouchers a cost effective intervention designed to deliver significant change, this intervention is found wanting. Yeh in his research concludes that educators and the public will be better served by adopting a practice such as formative assessment, that has a greater effective size (0.90) and can be implemented at a much smaller cost.


(1) Bennett, M., Banerjee, H. L.,  Doan, L. N., Geib, T., and Burley, A. (2018). The Effect of Voucher Programs on Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis. AERA Conference New York, NY. 10.302/1302823.

(2) Shakeel, M., Anderson, K., & Wolf, P. (2016). The participant effects of private school vouchers across the globe: A meta-analytic and systematic review.

(3) Yeh, S. S. (2007). The cost-effectiveness of five policies for improving student achievement. American Journal of Evaluation28(4), 416-436.







How much does it cost to go to college?

July 2, 2018

Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance in 2017-18; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred, 2016-17; and 12-Month Enrollment, 2016-17

News Summary: The purpose of this preliminary report is examine the most recent data on the cost of sending students to college in the Unities States. During the 2017–18 academic year, there were 6,642 Title IV institutions of this total, 2,902 were classified as 4-year institutions, 1,932 were 2-year institutions, and the remaining 1,808 were less-than-2-year institutions. Average tuition and required fees for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates at 4-year institutions increased across all institutional controls except private for-profit institutions from 2015-16 to 2017–18. Public institutions reported a roughly 2 percent increase for in-state students (to approximately $8,300) and for out-of-state students (to approximately $18,700). Private nonprofit institutions reported an increase of approximately 3 percent (to about $28,000). Private for-profit institutions reported average tuition and required fees of approximately $16,200 for 2017–18. This represents a decrease of over 1 percent when compared with the inflation-adjusted figure from 2015–16. Approximately 3.3 million students received degrees or certificates at 4-year degree-granting institutions with more than 58 percent obtained a bachelor’s degree.

Citation:Ginder, S. A., Kelly-Reid, J. E., & Mann, F. B. (2018). Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance in 2016-17; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred, 2015-16; and 12-Month Enrollment, 2015-16: First Look (Provisional Data). NCES 2017-075rev. National Center for Education Statistics.




Large Scale Study Supports Effectiveness of Reading Recovery

June 26, 2018

The Impact of Reading Recovery at Scale: Results From the 4-Year i3 External Evaluation

A recent large-scale evaluation of Reading Recovery, a supplemental reading program for young struggling readers, supports previous research that found it to be effective.  In a 4 year, federally funded project, almost 3,500 students in 685 schools found that generally students benefitted from the intervention. Students receiving Reading Recovery receive supplemental services in a 1:1 instructional setting for 30 minutes 5 days a week from an instructor trained in Reading Recovery.  In the study reported here, students who received Reading Recovery had effect sizes of .35-.37 relative to a control group across a number of measures of reading.  These represent moderate effect sizes and account for about a 1.5 month increase in skill relative to the control group.  Even though the research supports the efficacy of the intervention, it also raises questions about its efficiency.  The schools that participated in the study served about 5 students and the estimated cost per student has ranged from $2,000-$5,000.  These data raise questions about the wisdom of spending this much money per student for growth of about a month and a half.

Citation: Sirinides, P., Gray, A., & May, H. (2018). The Impacts of Reading Recovery at Scale: Results From the 4-Year i3 External Evaluation. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 0162373718764828.