Virtual School Meanderings

May 1, 2017

REL Southeast Director’s Email – May 2017

From Friday’s inbox…

May 2017
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Greetings from the REL Southeast!

We are pleased to announce the release of six new products:

More information regarding these research-based publications may be found in this email or on our website.

We look forward to delivering additional insightful, research-based products and resources in the future, and as always, thank you for helping to improve education in the Southeast.

Barbara Foorman, Ph.D.
Director, REL Southeast

What is the evidence base to support reading interventions for improving student outcomes in grades 1–3?

The goal of this report is to provide administrators, school psychologists, counselors, special educators, and reading specialists with a summary and analysis of the evidence that supports the use of reading interventions in grades 1–3. The review was limited to studies of Tier 2 interventions, those designed to provide preventive services to students at risk for reading difficulties. The initial literature search identified 1,813 articles and reports. After screening them for relevance and conducting a detailed What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) analysis of the rigor of the study designs, the review team determined that only 23 effectiveness studies met WWC evidence standards (Version 3.0). Of those, 22 resulted in either significant, positive, or potentially positive impacts in at least one area of reading. None produced negative outcomes. Twelve of the 13 grade 1 interventions and all seven interventions for grades 2 and 3 produced positive or potentially positive effects. Effects were strongest and most consistent in the area of word and pseudoword reading. Several also produced effects in reading comprehension and passage reading fluency. Reading vocabulary was rarely assessed. Both individually administered and small-group interventions resulted in positive or potentially positive outcomes, although especially in grade 1, more of the interventions were one-on-one. In all cases, the interventionist received some training prior to implementing the intervention. However, these studies differed from common school practice in that implementation was carefully monitored in virtually all instances and coaching or feedback was provided. It is unclear how generalizable these findings are when the typical amount of ongoing support for interventionists is far more limited in practice.

The full report may be accessed at http://bit.ly/2pMTdhZ.

Educator outcomes associated with implementation of Mississippi’s K–3 early literacy professional development initiative

This study examined changes in teacher knowledge of early literacy skills and ratings of quality of early literacy skills instruction, student engagement during early literacy skills instruction, and teaching competencies between winter 2014 and fall 2015. During the time frame examined, the Mississippi Department of Education began providing early literacy professional development to K–3 teachers through a series of online and face-to-face workshops. Over the course of the study, average teacher knowledge started in the 48th percentile and ended in the 59th percentile. In targeted high-need schools, during observations conducted by state literacy coaches, ratings of quality increased from the 31st percentile to the 58th percentile, student engagement increased from the 37th percentile to the 53rd percentile, and teaching competencies increased from the 30th percentile to the 44th percentile. While this study was not intended to determine if the professional development was effective or caused the observed changes, the changes appeared to be associated with teachers’ participation in the professional development. At the end of the study, teachers who had not yet started the professional development were in the 54th percentile for teacher knowledge, and teachers who had completed the professional development were in the 65th percentile. Similarly, at the end of the study, teachers who had not yet started the professional development were in the 42nd percentile for quality, 39th for engagement, and 38th for teaching competencies, where as teachers who had completed the professional development were in the 59th percentile for quality, 53rd for engagement, and 54th for teaching competencies.

The full report may be accessed at http://bit.ly/2p3qGEm.

Impact of Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI) Professional Development in Fractions for Grade 4 Teachers and Students

The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of the Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI) professional development program on grade 4 teachers’ in-depth knowledge of fractions as well as their students’ understanding and proficiency with fractions. The study was conducted during the 2014/15 school year. A total of 84 schools from eight school districts in three states (Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina) agreed to participate. Participants included 264 grade 4 teachers and their 4,204 students. The study utilized the “gold standard” methodology involving random assignment of schools to either DMI or the control condition. Teachers in the DMI condition participated in 24 hours of professional development on fractions during fall 2014. They attended eight 3-hour sessions conducted over four days (two 3-hour sessions per day; one day per month). DMI did not demonstrate any impact on student knowledge of fractions. Students of DMI teachers performed at almost the same level as those taught by control teachers; the difference was not statistically significant. The impact of the DMI on teachers’ knowledge of fractions was inconclusive. DMI teachers performed slightly better than teachers who did not participate in DMI, but the result was not statistically significant. It was, however, close to the threshold of statistical significance (p = .051).

The full report may be accessed at http://bit.ly/2nVTJG8.

Examining school-level reading and math proficiency trends and changes in achievement gaps for grades 3–8 in Florida, Mississippi, and North Carolina

The purpose of this study was to use growth curve modeling to investigate school-level reading and mathematics achievement trends on the state accountability assessment in Florida, Mississippi, and North Carolina for grades 3–8. In addition, this study investigated school-level achievement trends for race/ethnicity subgroups and for free or reduced-price lunch eligibility to determine if significant changes in achievement gaps occurred over the 4-6 years studied for each state. Results indicated that in general, average school-level proficiency increased for most subgroups across grades and subjects in all three states. In addition, reductions in achievement gaps were observed for most grades in reading and mathematics. However, achievement gaps remained large despite the observed reductions. The use of growth curve modeling in the current study provides stakeholders in Florida, Mississippi, and North Carolina with a more in-depth understanding of trends in school-level proficiency than would have been possible using just the sample mean.

The full report may be accessed at http://bit.ly/2pZkRVN.

Implementing the extended school day policy in Florida’s 300 lowest performing elementary schools

Since 2014, Florida law has required the 300 elementary schools with the lowest reading performance to provide supplemental reading instruction through an extended school day. This study found that in 2014/15, on average, the lowest performing schools were smaller than other elementary schools and served higher proportions of racial/ethnic minority students and students eligible for the federal school lunch program. Schools reported using a variety of strategies to comply with the extended school day policy such as increasing reading instruction time each day, increasing staff, providing professional development for teachers, and providing instruction in the extra hour that differed from instruction during the rest of the day. Increased professional development and curricular and pedagogic changes were identified as indirect benefits of implementation.

The full study may be accessed at http://bit.ly/2pegxma.

Characteristics and Career Paths of School Leaders in North Carolina

This study examines the demographics, educational attainment, licensures, and career paths of those who were assistant principals or principals (“school leaders”) in North Carolina from 2001/02 through 2003/2004. The career path analyses focus specifically on retention and recruitment. The retention analyses describe the top-10 paths that school leaders took, starting from their initial leadership position and over the 10 year period examined. The recruitment analyses describe the top-10 paths for school leaders before they took on their leadership roles during the 10 year period examined. Finally, the study describes and compares the demographics, educational attainment, educational licensure, and career paths of school leaders in rural and non-rural schools over the 10 year period.

Results from the study show that demographic make-up of North Carolina’s principal workforce has largely remained stable from 2001/02 through 2012/12, including in rural schools. Also, overall school leaders have largely earned the same degrees and hold the same licenses. The majority of assistant principals and principals spent time as a classroom teacher prior to becoming a school leader. From 2001/02 through 2012/13, leaders in rural schools were generally similar, in terms of demographics, educational attainment, licenses, and positions held to their peers in non-rural schools. The descriptive study provides a deeper understanding of the backgrounds andc professional paths of school leaders, including in rural schools. North Carolina stakeholders might consider study findings when contemplating their next steps towards increasing the number and improving the quality of school leaders in rural and non-rural schools. Information from the study can also potentially support efforts to enhance retention and succession planning in these schools.

The full study may be accessed at http://bit.ly/2nrKWiz.

You are receiving this email because you opted in at our website or provided your information at a REL Southeast sponsored event.

Our mailing address is:

REL Southeast at Florida State University

2010 Levy Avenue
Suite 100

Tallahassee, FL 32310

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