Categories for Societal Outcomes

What We know About Literal and Inferential Comprehension

March 8, 2018

What We Know About Literal and Inferential Comprehension in Reading

In 2000, the National Reading Panel identified five practice elements with a sufficient evidence base to be deemed essential for mastery of reading (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000). These elements consist of systematic teaching of phonemic awareness, phonics instruction, vocabulary, fluency, and exposure to reading comprehension strategies. Of these skill sets, reading comprehension has received far less attention in the literature, but is indispensable for success as student’s progress through the grades and use reading in almost every course. Being able to make effective inferences from materials that a student read is considered central to effective reading comprehension. This meta-analysis of 25 studies evaluates the impact of inference instruction in grades K-12. The study reported that inference instruction had an effect size d=0.58 on general comprehension and d= 0.68 on literal comprehension. These are “moderate to large” effects of instruction on general comprehension and to making inferences for both skilled and less skilled readers. The pattern differed for the literal measure, however, with skilled readers showing almost no gain but unskilled readers showing sizable gains. These findings support work by Daniel Willingham and Gail Lovette titled, “Can Reading Comprehension be Taught”? Their interpretation of the effect of comprehension instruction is that it signals to students the significance of inferential thinking. Willingham and Lovette conclude that practicing inferences does not lead to increases in general inferencing for the following reasons; inferencing depends on the particular text, and whatever cognitive processes contribute to inferencing are already well practiced in oral language as we are constantly drawing inferences in daily conversation.

Citation: Elleman, A. M. (2017). Examining the impact of inference instruction on the literal and inferential comprehension of skilled and less skilled readers: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(6), 761-781.

Willingham, D. T., & Lovette, G. (2014). Can reading comprehension be taught. Teachers College Record116, 1-3




High School Dropout and Completion Rates

March 2, 2018

Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2014 Report Released

The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) just released Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2014.  This annual report provides descriptive data on long-term trends in dropout and completion rates.  It also reviews the characteristics of students in these categories including race/ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, disability status, immigration status, and outcomes in the labor force.  Results show improvement in overall outcomes, but continued and significant disparity among children of different races.  The 2014 ACS status dropout rate was lower for 16- to 24-year-olds who were Asian (2.5 percent), White (4.4 percent), and of two or more races (5.0 percent) than for those who were Black (7.9 percent), Pacific Islander (10.6 percent), Hispanic (10.7 percent), and American Indian/ Alaska Native (11.5 percent).   There was also significant disparity between individual states, ranging from 2.7 percent status dropout rates in Vermont to 10.6 percent in Louisiana.  High School graduation rates showed the same pattern of overall improvement but continued disparity by student race and individual states.

Citation:  McFarland, J., Cui, J., and Stark, P. (2018). Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2014 (NCES 2018-117). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.




Annual Report Provides Descriptive Data on Demographics, Programs and Outcomes for K-12 and College Education

February 28, 2018

Digest of Education Statistics 2015 Report Released

News Summary:  The Digest of Education Statistics 2015 was just released by The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).  This annual publication provides a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of education from prekindergarten through graduate school. Topics include: the number of schools and colleges; teachers; enrollments; graduates; educational attainment; finances; federal funds for education; employment and income of graduates; libraries; technology; and international comparisons. It has been published annually since 1962, providing over 50 years of data with which to benchmark education performance at the system level in this country.

Citation:  Snyder, T.D., de Brey, C., and Dillow, S.A. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics 2016 (NCES 2017-094). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.




What interventions in schools have a positive impact on racially equitable disciplinary actions?

February 7, 2018

Promoting teachers’ implementation of culturally and contextually relevant class-wide behavior plans

News Summary: Research suggests students of differing racial groups are unequally impacted by school disciplinary interventions. This study examines whether teachers who self-assessed their own use of culturally and contextually relevant practices would implement a class-wide behavior plan with high levels of implementation fidelity. Results indicated that teachers who engaged in self-assessment and training did implement the plan with high levels of implementation fidelity, particularly when given performance feedback.

Citation: Fallon, L. M., Cathcart, S. C., DeFouw, E. R., O’Keeffe, B. V., & Sugai, G. Promoting teachers’ implementation of culturally and contextually relevant class‐wide behavior plans. Psychology in the Schools.




How effective are Tier 1 Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) reading instruction interventions?

January 22, 2018

The impact of tier 1 reading instruction on reading outcomes for students in Grades 4–12: A meta-analysis

This meta-analysis examines the impact of 1st tier reading instruction on reading outcomes for students in grades 4-12 in an Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) service delivery model. 37 studies met criteria for inclusion in the meta-analysis. The study finds small, but positive effects for 1st tier reading instruction on comprehension, vocabulary, and indicates minimum evidence for struggling readers maintaining or improving reading comprehension over struggling students receiving typical instruction. Hedges’s g was used calculating effect sizes. Because of the limited number of studies examining phonics/word recognition and fluency instruction, it was not possible these critical instruction areas in this meta-analysis.

Citation: Swanson, E., Stevens, E. A., Scammacca, N. K., Capin, P., Stewart, A. A., & Austin, C. R. (2017). The impact of tier 1 reading instruction on reading outcomes for students in Grades 4–12: A meta-analysis. Reading and Writing30(8), 1639-1665.




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.





High School Graduation Rates Reach Record High Levels

December 14, 2017

U.S. Graduation Rate Hits New All-Time High, With Gains in All Student Groups

The National Center on Education Statistics has released graduation rate data for the school year 2015-2016 (the most recent year in which data are available).  The graduation rate for this school year is 84% making it the highest level reported since all states began using a standard measure for reporting graduation rates in the 2010-2011 school year.  Not only is the overall graduation rate higher but there were improvements in each of the sub-groups as well.

Citation: Education Week, December 5, 2017





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.




What Is the Impact of Career and Technical Training?

October 18, 2017

The Effect of Career and Technical Education on Human Capital Accumulation: Causal Evidence from Massachusetts

Twenty percent of high school students take four or more courses in career and technical education (CTE). Despite this high rate of participation, little is known about what constitutes high-quality CTE and whether high-quality CTE allows participants to accumulate meaningful knowledge and skills to succeed in a career. This study from the Association for Education Finance and Policy examined the impact of participating in CTE on high school attendance, high school completion, professional certifications, and performance on standardized test scores. The evidence suggests that a high-quality CTE program boosts on-time graduation for higher income students and for lower income .

Citation: Dougherty, S. M. (2016). The effect of career and technical education on human capital accumulation: Causal evidence from Massachusetts. Education Finance and Policy. doi:10.1162/EDFP_a_00224.