Categories for Structural Interventions

Are current reading practices bridging the reading gap for student with disabilities?

May 30, 2019

Are Students with Disabilities Accessing the Curriculum? A Meta-analysis of the Reading Achievement Gap between Students with and without Disabilities. A critical goal of federal education policy is improving students with disabilities participation in grade level curriculum. This meta-analysis examines 23 studies for student access to curriculum by assessing the gap in reading achievement between general education peers and students with disabilities (SWD). The study finds that SWDs performed more than three years below peers. The study looks at the implications for changing this pictures and why current policies and practices are not achieving the desired results.

Citation: Gilmour, A. F., Fuchs, D., & Wehby, J. H. (2018). Are students with disabilities accessing the curriculum? A meta-analysis of the reading achievement gap between students with and without disabilities. Exceptional Children. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1177/0014402918795830




How does attending a charter school impact success in college?

April 17, 2019

Do Charter Middle Schools Improve Students’ College Outcomes? This study examines the impact of Charter schools on college enrollment. The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) used college enrollment and completion data for students who (more than a decade ago) entered lotteries to be admitted to 31 charter middle schools across the United States. College outcomes were compared for 1,723 randomly selected “lottery winners” and 1,150 randomly selected “lottery losers”. The results show that admission to a charter middle school did not affect college outcomes. Additionally, the study finds no consistent relationship between the impact a charter middle school achievement and the school’s impact on college outcomes

Citation: Place, K., & Gleason, P. Do Charter Middle Schools Improve Students’ College Outcomes? (Study Highlights) (No. 61bd53574633412b9136328cb4e143ef). Mathematica Policy Research.




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. 




What are the negative health impacts of student absenteeism?

February 1, 2019

The Link Between School Attendance and Good Health. The American Academy of Pediatrics just released a policy statement regarding the negative impact that chronic student absenteeism has on children’s health.  They cite numerous ways the two are linked.  First, evidence clearly documents that chronic absenteeism puts children at a much higher risk of dropping out of school and not graduating. There is a significant amount of research associating poor school performance (resulting in lower education attainment) and poor adult health outcomes, including increased mortality risk and lower life expectancy.  The act of missing school itself is also linked to increased risk behaviors, including alcohol consumption, drug use, smoking and risky sexual behavior.  Also, children with chronic absenteeism are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested or referred to the juvenile justice system.  The policy statement finishes with a discussion of roles the medical community can play working with schools and families to help address this problem.  It reviews the evidence regarding possible physical and mental health interventions, including:  infection prevention programs, school nurses, school-based health centers, mental health care, health awareness school policies and programs, parent interventions, and coordinated school health models.

Citation: Allison, M. A., & Attisha, E. (2019). The Link Between School Attendance and Good Health. Pediatrics, e20183648.




Digest of Education Statistics 2017 Released

January 31, 2019

Digest of Education Statistics 2017: The Digest of Education Statistics 2017was just released by The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This annual publication is thedefinitive compendium of data on virtually every aspects of education from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. Its chapters include: All Levels of Education, Elementary and Secondary Education, Postsecondary Education, Federal Funds for Education and Related Activities, Outcomes of Education, International Comparisons of Education, and Libraries and Use of Technology. It draws from a wide range of government and private sources and applies rigorous review to everything published. 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. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics 2017 (NCES 2018-070). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.




2016-17 High School Graduation Rates Show Continued Improvement

January 31, 2019

Digest of Education Statistics 2017. The most recent high school graduation rate data were just released for the 2016-17 school year. The following graph shows consistent improvement in this critical student and school performance metric. Student graduation increased by 12 percentage points during the fifteen years from 2002 and 2017.  While there is still much work to be done to identify and implement graduation standards that translate into meaningful and life long benefits, this type of consistent performance improvement should be acknowledged.

AFGR:   The Average Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) was used by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) from 2002 through 2013.

•ACGR: The Four-Year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) was established by DOE in 2008, establishing a uniform and more accurate measure for calculating the rate at which students graduated from high school. 

Both models co-existed for threes years and had comparable graduate rate data during that time.

A second area of the report disaggregates graduation rate data by students from different ethnic backgrounds.  There remains an unacceptable graduation rate gap between White and Black students, and White and Hispanic students.  The resulting graduation rate for Black students (77.8%) and Hispanic students (80.0%) are failures of the system.  While progress will always be too slow in this area, the data do show steady progress in closing the gap over the last six years.  The graduation gap between White and Black students decreased by 6.2 percentage points (from 17% in 2010-11 to 10.8% in 2016-17).  The graduation gap between White and Hispanic students decreased by 4.4 percentage points (from 13% in 2010-11 to 8.6% in 2016-17). 

A third area of disaggregated data was that of graduation rates by individual states.  The variation between states continues to be extreme with the top ten states averaging a 89.7% graduation rate and the bottom ten states averaging 77.4%.  

Improving graduation rates continue to be a clear focus of the education system, and while there is a long way to go, it is one of the few areas where progress is being made.

Citation: Snyder, T.D., de Brey, C., and Dillow, S.A. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics 2017 (NCES 2018-070). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.




High School Dropout and Completion Rates (SY 2016)

December 21, 2018

“Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2018”. Dropping out of high school has significant negative impacts on students. Statistically, they will have lower earnings than high school graduates, are more likely to be unemployed, have poorer health, and have a higher rate of incarceration.  This report provides a detailed analysis of long-term dropout and completion trends and student characteristics of high school dropouts and completers.  The first measure examined was the “event dropout rate” which is the percent of students who drop out in grades 10-12 without a high school diploma or alternative credential. The event dropout rate for SY 2015-16 was 4.8%, which translated into 532,000 students.

The 40 year trend show an alarming lack of progress.  While 2015-16 was lower than in 1976 (5.8%), it reflects a worsening over the last ten years (increasing from 3.8% to 4.8%).  Of all of the student demographic data, the clearest impact was that of family income. Students from the lowest income families had a 7.2% dropout rate compared to 3.9% for highest income families. The “adjusted cohort graduation rate” for 2015-16 was 84% which showed steady improvement over the past five years.  The main problem is the significant differences in graduate rates across race, economic status, states, and disabilities.  For example, graduation rates for white students ranged from 76% in New Mexico to 94% in New Jersey; black students from 57% in Nevada to 88% in West Virginia; Hispanic students from 65% in Minnesota to 89 % in Vermont.


McFarland, J., Cui, J., Rathbun, A., and Holmes, J. (2018). Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2018 (NCES 2019-117). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved December 14, 2018 from




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.





The Myth of Learning Styles

December 6, 2018

The Learning Styles Educational Neuromyth: Lack of Agreement Between Teachers’ Judgments, Self-Assessment, and Students’ Intelligence. The issue of learning styles (LS) have been overwhelmingly embraced by teachers and the public for over forty years. International surveys of teachers have shown more than 90% believe that grouping students into categories, like auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners, or concrete versus abstract learners will enhance student achievement. This study examined the hypothesis that teachers’ and students’ assessment of preferred LS correspond. The study found no relationship between pupils’ self-assessment and teachers’ assessment. Teachers’ and students’ answers didn’t match up. The study suggests that teachers cannot assess the LS of their students accurately. This is important because if teachers cannot accurately identify which style is preferred, they cannot assign the appropriate curriculum to each student. For a thorough summary on research on this topic the article by Daniel Willingham, “Does Tailoring Instruction to Learning Styles Help Student Learn?” offers arguments for and against LS. At this time the preponderance of evidence finds learning styles to have no basis in fact, despite the very strong and persistent preference teachers and the public have for the concept.

Citation:Papadatou-Pastou, M., Gritzali, M., & Barrable, A. (2018). The Learning Styles Educational Neuromyth: Lack of Agreement Between Teachers’ Judgments, Self-Assessment, and Students’ Intelligence. Front. Educ. 3:105. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2018.00105




What obstacles do teachers face in using data for decision making?

December 5, 2018

Accountability policies and teacher decision making: Barriers to the use of data to improve practice. Underlying many accountability policies is the assumption that standardized test data and other common sources of data will be used to make decisions that will result in changes to instructional practices. This study examines longitudinal from nine high schools nominated as leading practitioners of Continuous Improvement (CI) practices. The researchers compared continuous improvement best practices to teachers actual use of data in making decisions. The study found teachers to be receptive, but also found that significant obstacles were interfering with the effective use of data that resulted in changes in instruction. The analysis showed cultural values and practices inconsistent with accountability policies and continuous improvement practices impede implementation. The researchers identify barriers to use of testing and other data that help to account for the less than successful results. Given the current understanding of the importance on implementation science in the effective application of any new practice, these findings are not a surprise. As our colleague, Ronnie Detrich, is quoted as saying, “Implementation is where great ideas go to die”.

Citation: Ingram, D., Louis, K. S., & Schroeder, R. G. (2004). Accountability policies and teacher decision making: Barriers to the use of data to improve practice. Teachers College Record106(6), 1258-1287.

LinkAccountability policies and teacher decision making: Barriers to the use of data to improve practice