Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

New Resources from the Afterschool Investments Project

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

 Are you a grant writer this is a great resource!

New Resources from the Afterschool Investments Project 

The Afterschool Investments Project (AIP), a service of the Office of Child Care, provides technical assistance to Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) grantees and other state and local leaders to support afterschool efforts. AIP is pleased to announce several new resources on the project website: http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/afterschool/.

 New State and Territory Afterschool Profiles

AIP has added territories to its State Afterschool Profiles series, which provides a snapshot of the “state of afterschool” in every state and territory as well as an opportunity to compare afterschool activities across the country. Profiles highlight key data and descriptions of the afterschool landscape, which include a range of out-of-school time programming that can occur before and after school, on weekends, and during summer months. Profiles are searchable by state/territory or type of initiative –including professional development, financing, and other topics. Updated profiles for all fifty states, five territories, and the District of Columbia are now available at: http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/afterschool/statep.html.

 Users can also access key national school-age data through the National Afterschool Profile, available at: http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/afterschool/PDFDocs/National.pdf.

 Interactive State-by-State Comparison Tables

Drawing from information found in the State and Territory Afterschool Profile series, this new interactive feature includes data for all states, territories, and the District of Columbia, when available. Users can view individual state data or compare data across multiple states/territories (max 10) or for all states within two Regions at a time. This section offers users the ability to compare data between states or ACF Regions for the following data categories: school-age population, Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) dollars received, percent of children receiving CCDF that are school-age, settings for school-age children, and provider reimbursement rate information. The tables can be accessed at: http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/afterschool/sbscomp/index.cfm?do=viewSbsComp

New from Harvard Family Research Project and the National PTA

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Teaching the Teachers:
Preparing Educators to Engage families for Student Achievement

Margaret Caspe, M. Elena Lopez, Ashley Chu, & Heather B. Weiss

Harvard Family Research Project and the National PTA® have teamed up to bring you the third brief in our ground-breaking series about family engagement policy, highlighting the need for teacher education programs to prepare teachers to better work with families.

To be effective, teachers must be prepared to collaborate with families to support student success. Many studies confirm that strong parent–teacher relationships relate to positive student outcomes, such as healthy social development, high student achievement, and high rates of college enrollment. Thus, by giving teachers the support they need to work with families, teacher education programs can have an even greater impact on student achievement.

For this reason, some institutions of higher education are already taking innovative steps to prepare teachers to work with families through coursework and hands-on experience in schools during preservice and into their early years of teaching. Teaching the Teachers highlights those promising strategies through five case studies, and examines how teacher education programs can create the foundation for meaningful and effective family engagement. This brief describes five core elements necessary for a system of teacher training and professional development in support of family engagement, distilled from the case studies of existing teacher preparation programs. The brief also addresses the policies needed to support this type of teacher preparation system. The five core elements in the system are:

  • Standards for family engagement
  • Curriculum that advances the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that teachers need to engage families
  • Collaborations among various stakeholders
  • Continuing professional development around family engagement
  • Evaluation for learning and continuous improvement

With current public policy and philanthropic investments focused on teacher quality and overall effectiveness, the time is ripe for new models and approaches to preparing teachers for meaningful and effective family engagement

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE


Mixed messages on longer school day?More time is no quick fix !!

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Mixed Messages On Longer School Days

BY: Michael Jonas
May 21, 2010

Longer school days lead to big gains in student achievement.  Or maybe they don’t.  It’s easy to scratch your head and wonder which is true after reading two new studies that look at the issue and come up with very different findings. The truth is it’s not that simple.

Last week, the Boston Foundation released a report suggesting one of the main reasons why Boston charter school students outperformed their peers at district schools in a 2009 study is their longer school day.  Boston charters are in session for an average of 378 more hours per year than district schools, the equivalent of an additional 62 traditional school days. Longer school days – and often a longer school year – are a hallmark of many charter schools, which are publicly funded but operate independent of local districts and enjoy great autonomy over scheduling, curriculum, and teacher staffing decisions.

The report drew knowing nods from many in the education world who view longer school days as one of the key things charter schools do differently that ought to be adopted more broadly, especially at schools striving to close the achievement gap. “We need to be willing to redesign our school programs to meet the needs of students, and that does mean more time,” Mitchell Chester, the state education commissioner, told the Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh in reaction to the study. “The traditional public schools have to be willing to open their eyes to the practices that are making a difference.”

That is exactly what a handful of Massachusetts schools have been doing through a four-year old state initiative to test longer school days in Massachusetts district schools. Today, 22 schools are part of the state’s Expanded Learning Time program, which provides an extra $1,300 per student so that schools can add 25 to 30 percent more time to their school day.

Another new study – this one quietly tucked away on the state education department website – has looked at results of the effort to date, and the findings suggest an extended day isn’t making much of a difference. The study, carried out for the department by researchers at Abt Associates, found higher MCAS science scores for fifth graders in expanded learning time (ELT) schools than at matched comparison schools.  Apart from that, however, the report says “no other statistically significant differences were found between ELT and matched comparison schools on MCAS scores.”

One possible explanation raised by the authors is that, when it comes to time allotted to English and math, two key outcomes on which schools were compared, the ELT and matched comparison schools may not have been that different. The researchers were able to carry out interviews with administrators at a subset of 16 pairs of schools. The idea behind longer school days is to beef up core academic studies while still having time for arts and other so-called “enrichment” activities. The comparison schools, however, may have simply decided to squeeze out other subjects in favor of more core academic time, as they reported spending as much or nearly as much time on English and math instruction as did ELT schools.  Such “ELT-like practices,” write the study authors, could have diluted any observed effect of longer school days.

The findings must be disappointing for those convinced of the need for longer school days, particularly for students on the low end of the achievement curve.  Yet the study certainly doesn’t prove the folly of extending the school day, either.  The longer day at these schools “would appear to be not having a huge amount of impact at this point,” says JC Considine, a spokesman for the state education department. “But that’s the average. There are some schools that are having a pretty strong improvement and others where we aren’t seeing much at this point.”  Such a conclusion can’t be drawn from report itself, as it doesn’t report data for individual schools.

But supporters of the initiative, led by the Boston nonprofit Massachusetts 2020, which helped develop the program, have long pointed to examples of what’s possible at individual schools when committed teachers and top-notch school administrators are given more time. The Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, where 90 percent of students come from low-income households and more than a quarter enter with limited English proficiency, has made dramatic gains under the extended day initiative. The school has narrowed the gap between its students’ MCAS scores and statewide averages by two-thirds in science and more than 80 percent in English.  In math, Edwards students now outperform the state average.

“Execution is always critical,” says Chris Gabrieli, Mass. 2020’s founder.  “Policies for change have to combine, at a minimum, the three big levers of people, data, and time.” Which is another way of saying you need the right people in place and a relentless focus on using data to structure the curriculum and deliver instruction to each student in a way that takes advantage of the longer school day.

Leaders of high-achieving charter schools almost universally believe more time makes a big difference. “It is integral to our success because it allows for the additional instruction time needed to accomplish our goals,” says William Austin, co-director of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School. The Boston school, which has an all-minority, predominantly low-income student population, outperforms 80 percent of all other middle schools in the state on the MCAS exam. On last year’s eighth-grade math test, the school ranked number one in the state, with 96 percent of its students scoring advanced or proficient. But Austin cautions that a longer day – Roxbury Prep runs from 7:45 to 4:15 – in no way guarantees such results. “Institutions and people matter,” he says. You need the “ability and the human capital” to make full use of the extra time.

So perhaps the Abt study simply reveals a shortage at ELT schools of the “ability and human capital” to make good on the promise that a longer school day holds. To test that question, Abt researchers are planning further studies that will create an index assessing how effectively the schools are implementing components of the extended day program and then examine how these scores line up with student achievement gains.

Meanwhile, state education officials are implementing performance agreements with the 22 extended-day schools, setting out clear targets for improved student outcomes and other goals. The strength of the agreements will rest on officials making it clear that the grant money will only continue flowing to schools that demonstrate that they are getting results with the added time.

There seem to be parallels here to the debate over charter schools.  There was lots of trumpeting of last year’s study of Boston charter schools as proof of the superior student achievement at charter schools. Some national studies, however, have concluded that charters do no better, on average, than traditional public schools.  How to reconcile the findings?

Massachusetts is regarded as having one of the most stringent review processes for approving charter school proposals, and Boston has attracted a particularly dynamic group of charter school leaders and teachers.  What that all suggests is that the charter school model – with autonomy over staffing and curriculum and often with a longer school day – has features that can help deliver extraordinary results in the hands of the right people. There may simply not be enough of the right people running well-designed charter schools throughout the country.

The single biggest challenge facing education reform efforts is taking innovative practices and conditions that show remarkable results in a handful of schools and bringing them to scale.  What we’re learning is that this is incredibly hard to do well.  That’s not an argument against trying.  It means trying even harder, but with a clear understanding that a lot of ingredients are necessary for success.

CommonWealth

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Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Welcome Summer!

This weekend we are officially in Summertime!

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New From The Wallace Foundation

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

April 2010

OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME

Two new studies shed light on a crucial challenge for those concerned about tweens and teens: how to get them to participate regularly in after-school programs.

Engaging Older Youth: Program and City-level Strategies to Support Sustained Participation in Out-of-School Time uses statistical techniques to uncover five key factors behind success.
READ FULL REPORT CLICK HERE

AfterZones: Creating a Citywide System to Support and Sustain High-Quality After-School Programs examines a nationally watched Providence, Rhode Island venture to provide after-school programs for middle-schoolers. Despite challenges, the effort has made “enormous progress” since its launch.

READ FULL REPORT  CLICK HERE

In coming months, we’ll be posting a number of new reports, all free of charge at www.wallacefoundation.org.
In the meantime, let us know what you think of our offerings: Emailalerts@wallacefoundation.org

On behalf of The Wallace Foundation,

Lucas Held

Lucas Held
Director of Communications

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