Categories for Policy Initiatives

How Can Schools Intervene to Reduce Sexual Harassment and Dating Violence?

December 18, 2017

A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Interventions Aimed to Prevent or Reduce Violence in Teen Dating Relationships

The issue of sexual harassment has been front page news this past year. What does the research tell us about school interventions designed to reduce sexual harassment? This meta-analysis examines research on the topic and provides insight into how effective current efforts are at stemming incidents of this serious problem. This review provides a quantitative synthesis of empirical evaluations of school-based programs implemented in middle and high schools designed to prevent or reduce incidents of dating violence. This meta-analysis of 23 studies indicates school-based programs having no significant impact on dating violence perpetration and victimization; however, they can have a positive influence on dating violence knowledge and student attitudes.

Citation: De La Rue, L., Polanin, J. R., Espelage, D. L., & Pigott, T. D. (2017). A meta-analysis of school-based interventions aimed to prevent or reduce violence in teen dating relationships. Review of Educational Research87(1), 7-34.


For more information on this topic please examine a Campbell Collaboration Systematic Review by the same authors:



What Are The Long-term Consequences Of Offering Early Childhood Education On Key Student Outcomes?

December 14, 2017

Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium-and Long-Term Educational Outcomes

This meta-analysis examines over 50 years of data on the impact of early childhood interventions designed to improve student performance. As schools look for initiatives that can make a difference improving important social outcomes, early childhood education (ECE), as a structural intervention, appears to offer results that last beyond the first few years of elementary school. This study finds ECE has a positive effect on reducing special education placements (effect size = 0.33), reduces grade retention (effect size = 0.26), and increases high school graduation rates (effect size = 0.24). Although, these are considered to be small effect sizes they have an impact improving large numbers of student’s education experiences while reducing overall education expenditures.

Citation: McCoy, D. C., Yoshikawa, H., Ziol-Guest, K. M., Duncan, G. J., Schindler, H. S., Magnuson, K., Yang, R., Koepp, A., & Shonkoff, J. P. (2017). Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium-and Long-Term Educational Outcomes. Educational Researcher46(8), 474-487.





Multitiered System of Support (MTSS) Overview

December 4, 2017

Framework for Improving Education Outcomes

Multitiered system of support (MTSS) is a framework for organizing service delivery. At the core of MTSS is the adoption and implementation of a continuum of evidence-based interventions that result in improved academic and behavioral outcomes for all students. MTSS is a data-based decision making approach based on the frequent screening of progress for all students and intervention for students who are not making adequate progress.

Citation: States, J., Detrich, R., and Keyworth, R. (2017). Multitiered System of Support Overview. Oakland, Ca. The Wing Institute.




What Explains the Persistent Gap in Achievement in American Schools?

November 15, 2017

Two Models of Learning and Achievement: An Explanation for the Achievement Gap?

A 2015 paper by Stuart Yeh offers evidence on how to improve the performance of all students and close the achievement gap between students of different socioeconomic statuses and races. A persistent gap in student achievement between disadvantaged minority students and their middle-class peers has existed in the United States for over 50 years. This gap continues despite decades of education reform. Yeh hypothesizes that the conventional school system is structured in a way that reduces student motivation to succeed. Students become disengaged after experiencing repeated failure, resulting in depressed achievement and grades. This cycle continues to feed on itself as low achievement and poor grades further decrease motivation, engagement, and achievement. Yeh’s research suggests that two critical factors may account for the phenomenon of substandard student achievement: lack of a system for individualizing task difficulty and insufficient rapid performance feedback. These factors appear to be significantly more powerful than sociocultural circumstances (socioeconomic status or race), lack of accountability, lack of choice and competition, and low teacher quality. The implication is that letter grades are not merely an indicator of performance but potentially a causal factor in perpetuating the achievement gap.

Citation: Yeh, S. S. (2015). Two models of learning and achievement: An explanation for the achievement gap? Teachers College Record117(12), 1–48.




How to Use Expenditure-to-Performance Ratios to Boost Student Achievement Cost Effectively

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.




New Individuals with Disabilities Act Website

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.




Can Providing Each Child With a Computer Improve Academic Performance?

May 31, 2017

Learning in One-to-One Laptop Environments: A Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis

A recently released paper on the impact of computers on student achievement has concluded that providing each student with a computer has a modest but positive effect on student achievement. This meta-analysis included 10 studies from more than 15 years of research on the topic. The researchers found that one-to-one laptop programs have a statistically significant positive role in improving student test scores in English/language arts, writing, math, and science. This research runs counter to previous studies, which viewed computer impact as overstated and computers as underused in schools. The new study found that providing students with their own computers has a positive impact by making it easier to share drafts of projects and thus increasing access to feedback. The researchers also concluded that more research is needed as only 10 rigorous studies were available for inclusion in the meta-analysis.

Citation: Zheng, B., Warschauer, M., Lin, C. H., & Chang, C. (2016). Learning in one-to-one laptop environments: A meta-analysis and research synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 1052–1084.




What Is the Impact of Special Education Inclusion on General Education Students?

May 15, 2017

Academic achievement of students without special educational needs in inclusive classrooms: A meta-analysis

A newly released multi-national meta-analysis examined the impact of including special education needs students (SEN) in classrooms with students without special needs. Inclusion of SEN students in general education classrooms has been broadly practiced for more than 30 years and is seen as a method for improving SEN student performance. Previous research on the impact of the practice on non-SEN students produced mixed results, prompting the authors to conduct a meta-analysis to estimate the effect size of the relationship between inclusion education and academic achievement of students without special needs. A total of 47 studies with more than 4,800,000 students met the criteria for the meta-analysis. The studies had to be quantitative, assess academic achievement, and measure student academic achievement in at least one of the following subjects: language, mathematics, science, biology, or a foreign language. Also, the participants had to be in grades K–12. The meta-analysis concluded that attending inclusive classrooms is positively, though weakly, associated with the academic achievement of students without special needs. The effect size was determined to be 0.12. This compares with the effect sizes John Hattie found for many popular structural interventions: educational expenditure (0.23), class size (0.21), ability grouping (0.12), within-class grouping (0.16), and charter schools (0.20).

Citation: Szumski, G., Smogorzewska, J., & Karwowski, M. (2017). Academic achievement of students without special educational needs in inclusive classrooms: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 21, 33–54.




How Effective Is Teacher Merit Pay?

April 17, 2017

Teacher Merit Pay and Student Test Scores: A Meta-Analysis

Teacher merit pay has garnered significant attention as a promising reform method for improving teacher performance and, more importantly, student achievement scores. This meta-analysis, which examined findings from 44 studies of teacher merit pay, found that merit pay is associated with a modest, statistically significant, positive effect on student test scores. The research also found that not all merit pay programs are equal. The best results are dependent on constructing efforts that incorporate sound, evidence-based practice elements. The authors of the meta-analysis concluded that while a merit pay program has the potential to improve student test scores, success hinges on school administrators and policymakers paying close attention to how the program is structured and implemented. The meta-analysis also recognized the need for additional research to better delineate features and practice elements that produce the best results.

Citation: Pham, L., Nguyen, T., & Springer, M. (2017). Teacher Merit Pay and Student Test Scores: A Meta-Analysis. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University.




Supreme Court Unanimously Expands Special Education Rights

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.”