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Evidence Says

What the Evidence Says

Here we present Summaries and Synthesis of the evidence base for high school improvement and Significant Individual Studies on key redesign and improvement practices. We organize the evidence base into four key drivers of student and school outcomes:

 

Organizing Adults

Summaries & Synthesis


  • Global Best Practices: An Internationally Benchmarked Self-Assessment Tool for Secondary Learning created by the Research Summary as prepared by the New England Secondary School Consortium.
    Click to Download (PDF)
    Click to View Web-based Version
  • School Organizational Contexts, Teacher Turnover, and Student Achievement: Evidence From Panel Data by Matthew A. Kraft, Brown Univeristy; William H. Marinell; and Darrick Shen-Wei Yee, Harvard University studies the relationship between school organizational contexts, teacher turnover, and student achievement in New York City (NYC) middle schools.
    Download the Report (PDF)

 


High School Redesign/Improvement Components


  • Examining Integrated Leadership Systems in High Schools: connecting principal and teacher leadership to organizational processes and student outcomes this study examines how leadership pathways are related in the context of high schools and compare findings to research in elementary schools.
    Download the Study (PDF)

A Better 9th Grade: Early Results from an Experimental Study of the Early College High School Model Funded through a federal grant from the Institute of Education Sciences, this five-year study is the first to rigorously examine the impact of the early college high school model.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

 

  • The Students in Front of US: Reform for the Current Generation of Urban High School StudentsSAGE an article produced by journals which examines the impact of PP on the performance of students, who met dropout predictive criteria established by Balfanz, Herzog, and MacIver. Study results suggested that PP students at risk of dropout realized meaningful and statistically significant achievement gains.
    Download the Article (PDF)
  • Improvement Research Carried Out Through Networked Communities: Accelerating Learning about Practices that Support More Productive Student Mindsets this paper from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching discusses the function of networked communities engaged in improvement research and illustrates the application of these ideas in promoting greater student success in community colleges.
    Download the Paper (PDF)
  • Fostering the Capacity for Distributed Leadership: A Post-Heroic Approach to Leading School Improvement this article examines the specific practices of six high school principals who fostered the leadership capacities of 18 other leaders in their respective schools. Our findings illustrate the key steps these principals undertook in identifying potential leaders, creating leadership opportunities for them, facilitating their role transitions and providing them with continuous support.
    Download the Article (PDF)
  • Department-Head Leadership for School Improvement this review of research was prompted by the widespread belief
    that at least in a significant number of secondary schools, department heads are an underutilized, if not untapped, source of instructional leadership, the type of leadership critical to secondary-school improvement initiatives.
    Download the Report (PDF)

 

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Students at the Center

Summaries & Synthesis


 

Preventing Dropout in Secondary Schools This report was prepared for the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

 

The Role of Risk: Mentoring Experiences and Outcomes for Youth with Varying Risk Profiles presents findings from the first large-scale study to examine how the levels and types of risk youth face may influence their relationships with program-assigned mentors and the benefits they derive from these relationships. Carla Herrera, David L. DuBois, Jean Baldwin Grossman
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

A National and Across-State Profile on Adverse Childhood Experiences Among U.S. Children and Possibilities to Heal and Thrive Issue Brief  this issue brief offers hope and a way forward so that all children and their families can attain optimal physical, social, and emotional development and well-being.
Download the Report (PDF)

  • School-Based Mentoring Programs: Using Volunteers to Improve the Academic Outcomes of Underserved Students the overarching aim of this paper is to enrich the field’s understanding of how volunteer mentors can best support the academic mission of schools. Amanda Bayer, Swarthmore College; Jean Grossman, Princeton University; and David DuBois, University of Illinois at Chicago
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Falling Off Track During the Transition to High School: What We Know and What Can Be Done by Ruth Curran Neild examines four theories about why ninth grade poses difficulties for some students.
    Download the Report (PDF)

 

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High School Redesign/Improvement Components


The Predictive Power of Ninth-Grade GPA high schools in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) emphasize the importance of freshman year, specifically the need for students to earn passing grades. There are two important aspects of this focus: its emphasis on freshman year, and its targeting of grades rather than test scores. A large body of research supports this approach. Much of the research has been conducted in Chicago, but has also been widely replicated across the country.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

Going to school is optional: Schools need to engage students to increase their lifetime opportunities is a report featured on the Brookings website by authors Jing Liu, Doctoral student, Economics of Education – Stanford Graduate School of Education and Susanna Loeb Nonresident Senior Fellow – Economic Studies, Center on Children and Families.
Click to Read the Report

 

Meeting the Challenge of Combating Chronic Absenteeism from the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins Univeristy School of Education examines the extent and nature of chronic absenteeism in New York City in schools with above‐average rates of chronic absenteeism which were the focus of the task force’s efforts. It investigates the impact of entering and exiting chronic absenteeism on academic outcomes. Finally, it examines the impact of the task force’s chronic absenteeism prevention and intervention programs on reducing chronic absenteeism and increasing school attendance – and what that means for other cities.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

  • WWC Intervention Report: My Teaching Partner–Secondary by the Institute of Education Sciences is a professional development program that aims to increase student learning and development through improved teacher–student interactions.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • The Significance of High School Practices on Students’ Four-Year College Enrollment from the Research Alliance for New York City Schools outlines there are two major challenges facing both research and policy related to accountability for postsecondary outcomes. First, we know relatively little about the conditions under which students are successful in getting college and career ready. Second, we do not yet know in the New York City context to what extent school-level differences in college-going rates are the function of compositional differences.
    Download the Paper (PDF)
  • The Association Between Student Reports of Classmates’ Disruptive Behavior and Student Achievement this study examines the relation between student reports regarding disciplinary infractions to student achievement, with a special focus on classroom disruptions.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Student Trust in Teachers and Student Perceptions of Safety this study examined the effects of student trust in teacher and student perceptions of safety on identification with school. Data was collected from one large urban district in an eastern state.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Too Scared to Learn? The Academic Consequences of Feeling Unsafe in the Classroom using a unique panel data set of survey responses from New York City middle school students, this article provides insight into the relationship between feelings of safety in the classroom and academic achievement.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Authoritative School Climate and High School Student Risk Behavior this study tested the hypothesis that an authoritative school climate characterized by strict but fair discipline and supportive teacher–student relationships is conducive to lower risk behavior for high school students.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Lessons Learned in Massachusetts High School Turnaround a resource for high school leaders produced by Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the American Institutes for Research.
    Click to Download (PDF)

 

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Teaching & Learning

Summaries & Synthesis


The Evidence Base for How We Learn Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development by the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development The Aspen Institute. A 20 page report that shows compelling research demonstrates what parents have always known—the success of young people in school and beyond is inextricably linked to healthy social and emotional development. Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

Free to Fail or On-track to College  these studies suggest that increasing the challenge (rigor) of high school curriculum is unlikely to improve student achievement without concurrent improvements in teachers’ abilities around classroom management and academic support; asking students to do more challenging work can have both beneficial and adverse effects, depending on elements of the classroom instructional environment.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

  • Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology improving educational outcomes will require efforts on many fronts, but a central premise of this monograph is that one part of a solution involves helping students to better regulate their learning through the use of effective learning techniques. Produced by the Association for Psychological Science.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Effective Teacher Professional Development A 2017 research brief from the Learning Policy Institute reporting on teacher professional learning is of increasing interest as one way to support the increasingly complex skills students need to succeed in the 21st century.
    Download the Report (PDF)
    Read the Full Report Online
  • Science of Learning and Development: A Synthesis human development derives from the continuous interaction between the individual and the context of each individual’s relationships and experiences. Development is shaped by a convergence of individual, biological, contextual, cultural, and historical factors.
    Download the Report (PDF)

Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively from the Institute of Education Sciences offers educators specific, evidence-based recommendations that address the challenges of teaching students in grades 6–12 to write effectively. This guide synthesizes the best publicly available research and shares practices that are supported by evi-dence. It is intended to be practical and easy for teachers to use.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

  • Project-Based Learning A Literature Review The concept of project-based learning (PBL) has garnered wide support among a number of K-12 education policy advocates and funders. This working paper published by MDRC builds on and updates a seminal literature review of PBL published in 2000.
    Download the Report (PDF)

 

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High School Redesign/Improvement Components


The Influence of Teaching Beyond Standardized Test Scores: Engagement, Mindsets, and Agency comissioned by the Raikes Foundation, the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard Universtiy conducted over 300,000 Tripod surveys across 16,000 sixth and ninth grade classrooms offers an unparalleled opportunity to learn from what’s working in teachers’ classrooms.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduation in Chicago Public High Schools a report prepared by CCSR which looks closely at students’ performance in their coursework during their freshman year, how it is related to eventual graduation, and how personal and school factors contribute to success or failure in freshman-year courses.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

  • What Do Test Scores Miss? The Importance of Teacher Effects on Non-Test Score Outcomes issued by Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research. The paper extends the traditional test-score value-added model of teacher quality to allow for the possibility that teachers affect a variety of student outcomes through their effects on both students’ cognitive and noncognitive skill.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • WWC Intervention Report: My Teaching Partner–Secondary by the Institute of Education Sciences is a professional development program that aims to increase student learning and development through improved teacher–student interactions.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Not Too Late: Improving Academic Outcomes for Disadvantaged Youth from the Institute for Policy Research reports on a randomized controlled trial of a school-based intervention that provides disadvantaged youth with intensive individualized academic instruction.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Supporting English Learners and Students with Disabilities strategies From Turnaround Schools in Massachusetts.
    Download the Report (PDF)

 

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Post-Secondary Options

Summaries & Synthesis


  • WWC Intervention Report: Career Academies this report by the Institute of Education Sciences focuses on Career Academies with a school-within-a-school structure. Each academy has a career theme, such as health care, finance, technology, communications, and public service.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • WWC Intervention Report: Dual Enrollment in the five studies that meet WWC group design standards, students were able to accumulate college credits either through a dual enrollment program or an early college high school program. Report issued by the Institute of Education Sciences
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • New Pathways to Careers and College Examples, Evidence, and Prospects is an April, 2015 report MDRC which describes some of the most prominent CTE (career-technical education) “pathway” models.
    Click to download (PDF).

 

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High School Redesign/Improvement Components


 

Access & Equity in Linked Learning a report issued by Linked Learning on pathway access and academic outcomes for traditionally under-served students. Click to download (PDF).

 

 

 

 

Taking Stock of the California Linked Learning District Initiative the Executive Summary from the Seventh-Year Evaluation Report prepared by the James Irvine Foundation in November, 2016. Click here to download (PDF).

 

 

 

 

Taking Stock of the California Linked Learning District Initiative the complete Seventh-Year Evaluation Report prepared by the James Irvine Foundation in November, 2016. Click here to download (PDF).

 

 

 

 

 

Career Academies from MDRC examines the evidence of career academies and their long-term impacts on the labor market outcomes, educational attainment, and transitions to adulthood.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

 

  • Linking the Timing of Career and Technical Education Coursetaking With High School Dropout and College-Going Behavior from the American Educational Research Journal  reports that CTE course taking in high school was linked to lower chances of dropout and increased chances of on-time graduation, especially when these courses were taken later in high school.
    Download the Report (PDF)

 

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Whole-School Improvement Efforts

We also offer a section which looks at what as been learned from efforts to implement evidence-based high school redesign and improvement efforts in a comprehensive manner.


Comprehensive Evidence-Based Improvement Efforts


 

Addressing Early Warning Indicators: Interim Impact Findings from the Investing in Innovation (i3) Evaluation of Diplomas Now from MDRC and ICF International which conducted an independent, experimental evaluation of 62 secondary schools in 11 school districts on the impact and implementation of Diplomas Now.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

ISA Outcome Evaluation This report summarizes key findings from Academy for Educational Development’s external evaluation of the Institute for Student Achievement (ISA). The six-year evaluation investigated the following key questions: 1) What are the outcomes for ISA students in terms of high school and college achievement?, and 2), How do outcomes for ISA students compare with those of similar students in non-ISA schools?
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

Early College, Continued Success: Early College High School Initiative Impact Study This study from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) focuses on the impact of Early Colleges. It addressed two questions: 1. Do Early College students have better outcomes than they would have had at other high schools? 2. Does the impact of Early Colleges vary by student background characteristics (e.g.,
gender and family income)?
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

Diplomas Now: Findings from the First Decade and What’s Next examines how an evidence-based, collaborative, whole-school improvement model, leveraging its partners, members and early warning systems can accelerate student and school success in the highest-need schools.
Download the Report (PDF)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Reforming Underperforming High Schools from MDRC outlining how urban high schools are in trouble — high dropout rates, low student academic achievement, and graduates who are unprepared for college are just some of the disappointing indicators. However, recent research points to a select number of approaches to improving student outcomes and reforming underperforming schools.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Making Progress Toward Graduation: Evidence from the Talent Development Secondary Model from MDRC demonstrates how Talent Development Secondary, which targets some of the most troubled schools in the country, seeks to raise the expectations of teachers and students, with the ultimate goal of preparing all students for post secondary education and employment.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Sustained Positive Effects on Graduation Rates: Produced by New York City’s Small Public High Schools of Choice from MDRC Between fall 2002 and fall 2008, New York City undertook a district-wide high school reform that is perhaps unprecedented in its scope, scale, and pace. The school district closed 23 large failing high schools (with graduation rates below 45 percent),1 opened 216 new small high schools (with different missions, structures, and student selection criteria), and implemented a centralized high school admissions process that assigns over 90 percent of the roughly 80,000 incoming ninth-graders each year based on their school preferences.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Headed to College: The Effects of New York City’s Small High Schools of Choice on Postsecondary Enrollment Since 2010, MDRC has released three research reports on the New York City Department of Education’s multi-year initiative to create small public high schools that are open to any student who wants to attend. This brief adds evidence from a fourth cohort on high school graduation and presents MDRC’s first results with respect to these schools’ effects on postsecondary enrollment.
    Download the Report (PDF)
  • Small High Schools and Student Achievement: Lottery-Based Evidence from New York City This detailed report shows results of more than 150 unselective small high schools created between 2002 and 2008 have enhanced autonomy, but operate within-district with traditional public school teachers, principals, and collectively-bargained work rules. Lottery estimates show positive score gains in mathematics, English, science, and history, more credit accumulation, and higher graduation rates.
    Download the Report (PDF)

 

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