Categories for Policy Initiatives
October 15, 2019
The effect of charter schools on student achievement. Charter schools increasingly play a prominent role in educating students in the United States. Given the vast resources allocated to charter schools, it is imperative the question is asked, How effective are these schools in comparison to traditional public schools? This meta-analysis focuses on student math and reading performance. The authors found an overall effect size for elementary school reading and math of 0.02 and 0.05 and middle school math of 0.055. Effects were not statistically meaningful for middle school reading and high school math and reading. The study offers compelling evidence that charters under-perform traditional public schools in some locations, grades, and subjects, and out-perform traditional public schools in other geographical locations, grades, and subjects. The mixed results are not surprising as there is no set management model, quality of personnel, curricula, or pedagogy that distinguishes charter schools from public schools. The study did find a small positive effect size for KIPP charter schools. The absence of significant achievement gains attributed to charter schools should concern school systems considering expanding the number of charter schools as a solution to underperforming schools.
Citation: Betts, J. R., & Tang, Y. E. (2019). The effect of charter schools on student achievement. School choice at the crossroads: Research perspectives, 67-89.
October 7, 2019
Public Accountability and Nudges: The Effect of an Information Intervention on the Responsiveness of Teacher Education Programs to External Ratings. Teacher preparation programs (TEP) have received a great deal of research and policy attention as a potential driver of improvements in teacher quality and improved student outcomes. This paper presents research on external ratings of teacher education programs (TEPs) produced by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and the results of an experiment to improve school rankings by providing information and feedback to TEPs about how to improve their ratings. Research suggests that higher education institutions are responsive to feedback and public ratings. The college rankings published by U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) shows how powerful ratings can be in changing higher education practices such as admissions requirements, financial aid disbursements, and policies. NCTQ released the first ranking of TEP’s in 2014 as a part of an ongoing effort to rate teacher training nationally. The intervention relied upon providing targeted information about specific programmatic changes that would improve the rating for a randomly selected sample of elementary teacher education programs. Average program ratings improved between 2013 and 2016, but we find no evidence that the information intervention increased program responsiveness to NCTQ’s rating effort. The results show that the experimental group had lower ratings than the control group in 2016.
Citation: Goldhaber, D., & Koedel, C. (2019). Public Accountability and Nudges: The Effect of an Information Intervention on the Responsiveness of Teacher Education Programs to External Ratings. American Educational Research Journal, 0002831218820863.
October 1, 2019
Single‐track year‐round education for improving academic achievement in U.S. K‐12 schools: Results of a meta‐analysis. This Campbell Collaboration systematic meta-analysis examines the impact of reducing summer breaks on student academic performance. Research shows that students experience a loss in math and reading performance over summer breaks. Year‐round education (YRE) redistributes schooldays to shorten summer. This study finds that students at single‐track YRE schools show modestly higher achievement in both math and reading. The higher achievement is similar to estimates of summer learning loss. The effects were similar for all students. Given that summer learning loss is thought to be greater among students from disadvantaged groups, the estimated impact for low‐income and minority students were found to unexpectedly be about the same magnitude or smaller than for the full sample.
Citation: Fitzpatrick, D., & Burns, J. (2019). Single‐track year‐round education for improving academic achievement in US K‐12 schools: Results of a meta‐analysis. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 15(3), e1053.
Link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cl2.1053 and https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/cl2.1053
September 30, 2019
Do Pay-for-Grades Programs Encourage Student Cheating? Evidence from a randomized experiment. Pay-for-grades programs are designed to increase student academic performance. One of the claims of those opposing such incentive systems is monetary incentives may lead to academic cheating. This randomized controlled study of 11 Chinese primary schools examines the effects of pay-for-grades programs on academic fraud. The study found widespread cheating behavior for students regardless of being in the control or experimental group, but no overall increase in the level of cheating for students in the pay-for-grades program. The authors conclude that educators need to be on the lookout for academic dishonesty, especially on standardized tests, while using moderate incentives to encourage student learning did not lead to increased levels of gaming the system.
Citation: Li, T., & Zhou, Y. (2019). Do Pay-for-Grades Programs Encourage Student Academic Cheating? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment. Frontiers of Education in China, 14(1), 117-137.
August 29, 2019
The Feasibility of Collecting School-Level Finance Data: An Evaluation of Data from the School-Level Finance Survey (SLFS) School Year 2014–15. Few things are more complicated nor critical than collecting accurate and meaningful data on school finances at the individual school level. It is complicated because of the sheer size of the education system, diversity of spending categories, differing state laws and regulations governing finances, and accounting systems not designed for this task. It is critical because the education system puts high value on equitable and adequate funding for all students. Tracking spending at the individual school level is also a requirement of the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act.
This research and development report field-tested a new model for collection of finance data at the school level—the School- Level Finance Survey (SLFS). The pilot SLFS, collected for fiscal year (FY) 14 (school year 2013–14) and FY 15 (school year 2014–15), was designed to evaluate whether the survey is a viable, efficient, and cost-effective method to gather comparable school-level finance data. The results suggest that, regardless of the inherent challenges, it is highly feasible to collect and report on school-level finance data with acceptable accuracy. It also projects improved response rates and the increased availability of complete, accurate, and comparable finance data at the school level as the number of states participating in the SLFS increases and the collection continues to expand.
Citation: Cornman, S.Q., Reynolds, D., Zhou, L., Ampadu, O., D’Antonio, L., Gromos, D., Howell, M., and Wheeler, S. (2019). The Feasibility of Collecting School-Level Finance Data: An Evaluation of Data From the School- Level Finance Survey (SLFS) School Year 2014–15 (NCES 2019-305). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
August 29, 2019
Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States: Results From the 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey First Look: The National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) collects data from public and private K-12 schools, principals, and teachers across the United States. Its data provides critical data on core topics such as school characteristics and services, principal and teacher demographics, and teacher preparation. The most recent 2017-18 report examined public (traditional), charter, and private school principals in terms of: race/ethnicity, age, highest college degree, salary, years experience (as a principal and at their current school), level of influence on decision-making, and experience with evaluations. A few of the more notable points include:
• Twenty-seven percent of school principals are 55 or older. This represents a significant number of principals who likely to retire in five years.
• The average salary for school principals is $ 92,900.
• Over ninety percent (91.7%) of school principals have a Master’s Degree or higher.
• Almost half (44.3%) of school principals have less than three years experience in their current schools.
• Seventy percent of school principals received evaluations in the selected year (79% in traditional public schools, 69% in charter schools, and 51% in private schools).
Citation: Taie, S., and Goldring, R. (2019). Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States: Results From the 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey First Look (NCES 2019- 141). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
August 27, 2019
Matching the availability of teachers to demand constantly evolves. During recessions schools are forced to layoff teachers. As economic times improve, schools acquire resources and rehire personnel. Currently, American schools are faced with the most severe shortages in special education; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and bilingual education. Shortages vary across the country and are most acute in areas with lower wages and in poor schools. Starting in the 1980’s schools began filling vacancies with under-qualified personnel hired on emergency or temporary credentials to meet needs. A 35% drop in pre-service enrollment and high teacher attrition currently impact the supply. Candidates and veteran teachers are influenced to leave teaching due to low compensation, stressful working conditions, and a perceived decline in respect. The demand side is influenced primarily by fluctuations in population, finances, and education policy. Matching supply to demand is a challenge but can be accomplished through better planning, procuring less volatile funding sources, and improving working conditions through improved pay and effective training.
Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R. Keyworth, R., & States, J., (2019). Teacher Retention Analysis Overview. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/teacher-retention-turnover-analysis.
August 15, 2019
Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools in the United States: Results From the 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey First Look. The National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) collects data from public and private K-12 schools, principals, and teachers across the United States. Its data provides critical data on core topics such as school characteristics and services, principal and teacher demographics, and teacher preparation. The most recent 2017-18 report examined public (traditional), charter, and private schools in terms of their participation in the federal free or reduced-price lunch programs (FRLP), special education, English-language learners (ELLs) or limited-English proficient (LEP), extended school days, school start times, special emphasis schools, and minutes of instruction. One of the takeaways from the data is that public (traditional) and charter schools have almost identical statistics in these categories. Included in this data are the following:
- Approximately 12% of all K-12 students have IEPs or formally identified disabilities: public (traditional) 13% schools, charter schools 11%, and private schools 7.5%. Ten percent of all K-12 students required ELL/LEP services: public (traditional) 10.6% schools, charter schools 10.2%, and private schools 2.6%.
- The majority of public schools (96.6% of traditional public schools and 83.6% of charter schools) participated in the FLRP, with over half of all students receiving these services (55% of total students in each). Private schools were much less likely to participate, with only 18.8% of private schools and 8.7% of the served population receiving FRLP.
Citation: Taie, S., and Goldring, R. (2019). Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools in the United States: Results From the 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey First Look (NCES 2019-140). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
August 6, 2019
Teacher turnover has been a persistent challenge; while the national rate has hovered at 16% in recent decades, more teachers are leaving the profession, contributing to teacher shortages in hard-to-staff subjects and schools. Higher attrition rates coupled with disproportionate teacher movement away from schools in economically disadvantaged communities has resulted in inequitable distributions of high-quality teachers across schools. Teacher turnover is quite costly, and primarily has negative consequences for school operations, staff collegiality, and student learning. Turnover rates are highest among minority teachers working in high-need schools, beginning teachers, and those who are alternatively certified; higher rates are also found for those teaching math, science, and English as a foreign language, and for special education teachers. Teachers are less likely to be retained in schools with poor working conditions, particularly those led by principals perceived to be less effective, and in schools where they are paid less. Teacher retention may be improved with combinations of targeted financial incentives and improved working conditions (e.g., better principal preparation), and through better supports for early career teachers through effective induction and mentoring programs. Linking financial incentives with enhanced leadership opportunities and career paths also offer potential for retaining effective teachers in classrooms where they are most needed.
Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R., Keyworth, R., & States, J. (2019). Teacher Retention. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/quality-teachers-retention
July 29, 2019
Answering the Bell: High School Start Times and Student Academic Outcomes. Research in the area of health and sleep has encouraged educators and policymakers to look to delaying school starting times as an intervention with the potential to improve achievement and other relevant student outcomes. At this time, studies conducted on starting school days at a later time show mixed results. Although, a sufficient number of studies exist to suggest that moving back the start time of school can contribute to improving lagging student performance. This research finds starting school later is associated with reduced suspensions and higher course grades. These studies suggest disadvantaged students may especially benefit from delayed starting times. This study attempts to fill in the research gap on the topic of later start times as much of the earlier research has been conducted using small sample sizes. To increase the sample size needed to confirm previous research, Bastin and Fuller use statewide student-level data from North Carolina to estimate start time effects for all students and traditionally disadvantaged students. Statewide achievement results were mixed, with positive and negative associations found between start times and high school students’ test scores. Bastin and Fuller counsel for further research to increase confidence that later start times predictably produce desired outcomes. Studies of sufficient rigor, using multiple populations, and across different settings are required to address remaining issues and possible unintended consequences associated with changing start times.
Citation: Bastian, K. C., & Fuller, S. C. (2018). Answering the Bell: High School Start Times and Student Academic Outcomes. AERA Open, 4(4), 2332858418812424.