The U.S. is in the midst of an effort to intensify middle school mathematics curricula by enrolling more eighth-graders in Algebra. California is at the forefront of this effort, and in 2008 the state moved to make Algebra the accountability benchmark test for 8th-grade mathematics. As a result, between 2004 and 2013, the proportion of California eighth-graders enrolled in Algebra or more advanced math classes nearly doubled, to approximately 65 percent. This effort was predicated on the notion that students learn more in academically challenging educational environments and supported by findings showing that exposing a student to more rigorous curricula and instruction increased achievement.
Since Head Start’s creation in 1965 as part of the War on Poverty, its mission has been to improve the school readiness of low-income children. To encourage this goal, the Head Start program uses a “whole child” model, which aims to promote children’s transition to school by enhancing their development through the provision of educational, health, and nutritional services to children and families. Head Start also engages parents in their children’s learning and helps parents with their own educational, literacy, and employment goals with the belief that these too are important in promoting children’s preparedness for school.
One of the less prominent provisions of No Child Left Behind was one that set aside funds to allow low-income students in low-performing schools free access to tutoring, termed Supplemental Education Services (SEdS). While estimates of SEdS benefits for students have varied by location and provider one finding has been consistent—low attendance. In a recent randomized experiment, researchers at the National Center for Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development set out to test whether eligible students would attend more regularly for money or praise.
3.45 million U.S. students and 279,383 California students received one or more out-of-school suspensions during the 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 school years, respectively.. These figures create concern, considering studies that have linked school suspension to undesirable student outcomes including poorer academic achievement and increased school dropout. Although individual studies have made an important contribution to the field, ideally policy should be informed by trends emerging across studies. Meta-analysis is a research approach that has the potential to provide such evidence by aggregating results across studies in order to make overarching conclusions about the findings.
Schools’ primary mission is the education of children. However, for over one million children in California with special health care needs (e.g., asthma, diabetes, food allergies), schools also must provide health services to ensure their safety and access to the curriculum. Students with special health care needs (SHCN) are at higher risk than their peers for missing school, repeating a grade, and dropping out. Yet in many cases, schools are not aware of students’ health conditions and do not monitor them as a group at risk for school failure.
Test-based accountability has become the new norm in public education over the last decade. All states have established test-based performance benchmarks for students and meeting these standards is a prerequisite for grade promotion in many states. As of 2014, 16 states (including California) plus the District of Columbia require the retention of third-grade students who do not meet grade-level expectations in reading.
School districts across the United States have employed a variety of policies and programs to help close budget gaps. In particular, the four-day school week has been used to reduce overhead and transportation costs. The four-day week requires substantial schedule changes as schools must increase the length of their school day to meet minimum instructional hour requirements. This policy has been in place for many years in rural school districts in western states such as Colorado and Wyoming, and it appears to be gaining popularity nationwide.
The Effect of ACT College-Readiness Measures on Post-Secondary Decisions
Teny M. Shapiro
In the face of shrinking government budgets and a growing need to train a high-skilled labor force, policymakers have become increasingly interested in cost-effective measures that induce more students to pursue post-secondary education. A great deal of research has been done to understand the barriers of college entry, especially for low-income students.
School performance of children in the United States is a topic of great concern. Ever since the No Child Left Behind Act, there has been immense pressure on schools to show improvements in their test scores at earlier grades. Numerous factors can influence a child’s academic success, many starting before the child begins formal schooling. However, some children continue to fall behind expected levels of academic performance. One popular, yet controversial, policy implemented to improve children’s academic achievement is to retain students who appear to be falling behind in order to give them the chance to meet the requirements of their current grade level. Determining the factors that lead to grade retention help identify students who are at risk for grade retention.
A parent choosing a school needs information about schools, but she probably won’t consult a peer-reviewed education journal. Neither will a citizen voting in an election, a policymaker crafting legislation or myriad other Americans who make important decisions about schools. Instead, these audiences are more likely to use news media outlets to form impressions or seek information.
The United States has been struggling with the phenomenon of high school dropout, and public alternative schools are one of the strategies to solve the issue, specifically for at-risk high school students. Such schools play an important role in educating students who are expelled or suspended from regular schools due to their at-risk behaviors and placed in such schools to continue their learning. However, each alternative high school has its own school structure and process, which could be important factors for the effects on at-risk students.
California anti-bullying laws prohibit discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying at school. Despite this mandate, schools struggle with preventing the problem and helping affected students. We examined whether bullied and victimized students were accessing school health center (SHC) services, and found they were more likely to have accessed SHC services than students who were not bullied or victimized. Our findings suggest SHCs are an important place for identifying and supporting bullied and victimized youth.
High school graduation rates in California recently topped 80 percent – the highest they’ve ever been. It’s an accomplishment that has earned California educators some well-deserved praise. Unfortunately, in California and across the U.S., high school graduation is not yet a reliable indicator of postsecondary readiness. For example, 68 percent of students who successfully graduate high school and enter the California State University system still require remediation before they’re ready for entry-level, credit-bearing college coursework.
In the United States, recent national estimates show that more than 15% of adolescents reported serious consideration of suicide, 12.8% reported making a plan, and 7.8% reported making an attempt in the preceding 12 months. Suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts during adolescence have been linked to completed suicides and greater psychosocial difficulties in adulthood. Presently, a growing body of research demonstrates that mental health problems, including suicidal ideation in addition to depression and other internalizing and externalizing symptoms, arise more frequently among military-connected youth in the United States as compared to their non-military connected peers.
Increased learning time is a strategy that has proliferated in the era of No Child Left Behind, as a way to bolster the literacy and numeracy outcomes of K-12 students, particularly for students whose initial performance was below average. Research evidence has documented that double dose strategies have been effective at improving math outcomes, especially for lower-performing students, but the evidence is less numerous and less conclusive for literacy. Furthermore, there is little evidence on whether and how such strategies can improve outcomes for average or above-average students as a way to improve their college readiness.
In elementary school, chronic absenteeism is highest in kindergarten. Consequently, a growing body of research has sought to identify factors driving such high rates of early absences. Most research has focused on student- and family-level drivers. At the student level, significant factors have been identified as educational disengagement and alienation from school. At the family level, significant factors have been identified as family structure, maternal employment, household size, parental involvement, parental mental health, and socioeconomic status.
Analyzing the Motivational Potential of Financial Awards in a TIF Program
Kathleen Mulvaney Hoyer
Jennifer King Rice
Fueled in part by the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), a federal grant program that promotes the implementation of incentive pay in local contexts, compensation reforms have become prominent strategies for improving human capital in schools. The theory of action undergirding these programs assumes that financial incentives will motivate individuals to behave in certain ways (e.g. make certain career decisions, expend greater effort, engage in capacity-building professional development) that will increase human capital and, ultimately, improve performance.
Many students choose not to attend college continuously from matriculation to graduation. Reasons for breaks in collegiate tenure abound. One such reason is to participate in a professional internship program, either one found and offered to the student by their academic institution or one the student has discovered and applied to on their own. These programs are methods of on-the-job training which often take place in white collar or professional settings where students work in a field that they are considering as a career. Prior research on such programs has focused on labor market effects, generally finding positive outcomes such as an increased employment probability, higher wages, and a shortened unemployment period immediately following graduation.
Across the country, states and districts are adopting new policies to evaluate teachers based in part on objective measures of student performance and on teacher classroom observations. LAUSD’s recent overhaul of its teacher evaluation system, including the implementation of an observational framework for teaching and the use of student growth trajectories, exemplifies these changes to teacher evaluation.
Immigration has increased sizably in the United States and worldwide over the last decade. In addition to moving to traditional immigrant destinations such as California and Texas, recent waves of immigrants are arriving in states that have had only modest amounts of immigration for the last 50 years if not more. One potential consequence of this increased immigration is that sizable numbers of Limited English Proficient (LEP) children attend public schools. LEP students speak a language other than English at home and have sufficiently low levels of English proficiency to make them eligible for additional services to improve their English skills.
On September 30th, 2010, then-governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that would move the birthday cutoff for enrolling children in kindergarten from December 2 to September 1, making the minimum kindergarten starting age five years rather than four and three quarters. The law brought California in line with many other states that had adopted a September cutoff decades earlier. In order to mitigate the impact of raising the entry age on pupils born between the old and new cutoffs, who would otherwise have to delay entering kindergarten by a year, the legislation established a “transitional kindergarten” to take the place of regular kindergarten for those affected children.
The increasing demand for a STEM workforce and the insufficient supply produced by American educational institutions has led many researchers and policy analysts to focus on the shortage of women in these important fields. Although women are the majority of college students they represent a distinct minority of STEM degree holders. Too few female students appear interested in pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, and even if they have a strong interest, too few remain in STEM majors once they arrive in college.
Enrichment programs in K-12 schools, such as the arts, are frequently cut to drive student performance in language arts and mathematics—the focal points of most standardized exams. However, a mounting body of evidence suggests that the arts have positive long-term impacts on college access, academic success, and civic involvement. One way to keep the arts in schools is to integrate them into curricula, but there are few studies on the impact of arts integration and models that could be implemented on a large scale.
In recent years, federal, state, and local government initiatives have focused on ways to increase walking and cycling by making routes to school safer, offering encouragement to walkers and bikers, and providing safety education. The rationale behind these initiatives, such as the Safe Routes to School program, is to improve public health by reducing injuries and increasing physical activity. While numerous studies have shown that the SRTS program has been effective at meeting these goals, few analyses have looked at how increasing walking and cycling can reduce student transportation costs for school districts and families.
Despite declining in recent decades, dropping out of high school continues to be a vexing problem in public education because the personal and societal costs associated with leaving high school without a diploma are high and disproportionately borne by low-income and minority students. This is of particular concern in states such as California, where declining dropout rates have recently stagnated. Evidence indicates that the most promising dropout prevention programs target ways to increase student engagement.