School and District Reform

How Racial Segregation and Tracking Cumulatively Disadvantage Middle School Achievement

Middle schools are a critical stage in students' educational careers. Recent investigation of Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) 8th graders' experiences with racially segregated schools and classrooms showed both types of segregation had a negative relationship to their standard test scores. Findings suggest middle school segregation launches youth onto inequitable trajectories for the remainder of their formal educations.

Science Test Score Gaps by Gender and Race/Ethnicity in Elementary and Middle School: Trends and Predictors

Using nationally representative data, we find that racial/ethnic and gender test score gaps in science exist by third grade and generally narrow slightly or remain constant as students progress to eighth grade.  Eighth grade science test score gaps are greatly reduced and not statistically significant when controlling for students’ socioeconomic status, fifth grade math and reading achievement, and science classroom.

Does Head Start Differentially Benefit Children with Risks Targeted by the Program’s Service Model?

Head Start has evolved into a comprehensive service delivery program designed to serve poor children at risk in the targeted domains of cognitive development, socio-emotional development, health, and family functioning. We tested whether the program is meeting its conceptual goals of promoting school readiness outcomes for children whose risk profiles matched those targeted by its service model. Head Start did not differentially benefit high-risk children's pre-academic skills, but differential effects on high-risk children's behavior varied by the respondent. Interactions were detrimental for maternal-report, but positive for teacher-report.

School Suspensions’ Positive Link to Drop-Out and Negative Link to Achievement

Meta-analysis of multiple studies shows a statistically significant relationship between different forms of suspension and academic achievement, and between out-of-school suspension and dropout, suggesting that schools may want to reconsider the use of high levels of suspension, particularly for minor or non-violent offenses.

At Risk for School Failure: Students with Special Health Care Needs

For over one million children in California with special health care needs, schools must address the health services they require during schools hours to ensure their safety and access to an education. Students with special health care needs are at higher risk than their peers for missing school, repeating a grade, and dropout. 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.

The Effects of Grade Retention on Student Misbehavior

In many states and school districts nationwide, student performance on standardized tests plays an important role in high-stakes decisions such as grade retention. A recent study examines the adverse effects of grade retention in Florida, which requires students with reading skills below grade level to be retained in the 3rd grade. The results indicate that grade retention increases the likelihood of disciplinary problems in the short run, yet these effects dissipate over time. The findings also suggest that these short term adverse effects are concentrated among economically disadvantaged and male students.

Does Shortening the School Week Impact Student Performance? Evidence from the Four-Day School Week

To save on transportation and overhead costs, more and more schools are switching from the traditional Monday through Friday school week to a four-day-week schedule. However, it is unknown whether the shortened school week impacts student performance. Results from recent research indicate a positive relationship between the four-day week and performance in reading and mathematics, suggesting that moving to a four-day week does not compromise student academic achievement.

Fostering academic skills early on shows most promise for preventing grade retention

The literature on predictors and effects of grade retention is vast, with known predictors of grade retention including gender, ethnicity, poverty, parental education, and academic skills. Still, what is lacking in the grade retention literature is the use of advanced methodologies to examine the occurrence and timing of grade retention, and to analyze predictors at the school- as well as the child-level. The current study found grade retention was most likely by third grade, and also found school readiness predictors, specifically low early academic skills (i.e. reading, math, and general knowledge skills), were the strongest predictors of grade retention at both the school- and child-level.

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