Are pupils paying the price for regulation of teachers’ salaries?

A paper from the Centre for Market and Public Organisation at the University of Bristol investigates the relationship between regulated teacher salaries and school performance and finds that regulated wages could be having a negative impact on pupils’ achievement.

The study analysed school performance data from around 3,000 state secondary schools in England and matched it with data on local wages. They identified a loss of approximately one GCSE point per pupil – the equivalent of dropping one GCSE grade in one subject per pupil – when average outside wages increased by 10 per cent. The study accounted for variances in schools’ intake to allow for different levels of difficulty in educating pupils of varying backgrounds.

Source: Does wage regulation harm kids? Evidence from English schools (2012), Centre for Market and Public Organisation

Employer engagement in schools

The National Foundation for Educational Research has released this report that explores the best available evidence on ways employers engage with schools, the features and principles of successful employer involvement, and the impact of employers’ involvement on young peoples’ progression. Overall, the involvement of employers with schools is considered to be beneficial to all involved; however, there is a lack of evidence on the impact employer involvement has on pupils’ achievement and progression.

  • There are ten key features to successful employer involvement, which include good communication, commitment, flexibility, and a focus on the curriculum.
  • There is some evidence of a positive impact on pupils’ vocational skills, knowledge, and understanding; academic and learning outcomes; health and well-being; and enjoyment and engagement, but a lack of robust evidence on the impact on harder outcomes such as achievement and continuing education.
  • There is little evidence of the impact on specific groups of young people who might be at risk of becoming “NEET” (not in education, employment, or training).

Source: Employer involvement in schools: A rapid review of UK and international evidence (2012), National Foundation for Educational Research

Do scholarships to private primary schools increase college enrolment?

This randomised study examines the post-secondary education (college) enrolment of pupils in New York who participated in a voucher experiment at elementary (primary) school. In the spring of 1997, the New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation Program offered scholarships to low-income families to support their elementary-age children to attend private schools.

For the current study, researchers from the Brown Center on Eduation Policy at the Brookings Institute and Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance obtained pupil information that allowed them to identify over 99 per cent of the pupils who participated in the original experiment and follow up on their college enrolment. Findings showed no overall impacts of the scholarships on college enrolment, but did find large, statistically significant positive impacts on the enrolment rate of African-American pupils in the study. Specifically, the researchers report significant increases in full-time college attendance, enrolment in private four-year colleges, and enrolment in selective four-year colleges for this group of pupils.

Source: The effects of school vouchers on college enrollment: Experimental evidence from New York City (2012), Brookings

How parental involvement affects a child’s academic performance

This meta-analysis published in Urban Education;examines the relationship between school-based parental involvement programmes and the academic achievement of children aged four to 18. Findings of the study indicate that overall there is a significant relationship between parental involvement programmes and academic outcomes, but that further research is needed to examine why some types of programmes have a greater impact on educational achievement than others.

The types of parental involvement programmes examined are:

  • Shared reading programmes, which show the strongest relationship with improvement in educational outcomes (effect size = .51, p< .01).
  • Emphasised partnership programmes, which involve parents and teachers working together as equal partners to help improve pupils’ academic or behavioural outcomes. This type of programme has the second largest effect size on educational outcomes (ES=.35, p< .05).
  • Communication between parents and teachers has an effect size of .28 (p< .05).
    Checking homework produced the smallest effect size of the four programmes (ES=.27, p< .05).

A 2008 meta-analysis, published in the Review of Educational Research, found similar results. Parents who taught their children to read had a much larger impact than those that only listened to their children reading; suggesting that giving parents practical means of helping their children succeed in school is important in improving their children’s achievement.

Sources:A meta-analysis of the efficacy of different types of parental involvement programs for urban students (2012), Urban Education , 47(4),

The effect of family literacy interventions on children’s acquisition of reading from kindergarten to grade 3: A meta-analytic review (2008), Review of Educational Research, 78(4)

Evaluation of children’s centres in England

The Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England (ECCE) is a six year study, commissioned by the Department for Education and undertaken by NatCen Social Research, the University of Oxford and Frontier Economics, that aims to provide an in-depth understanding of children’s centre services, their effectiveness and cost efficiency in delivering different types of services. In this first report from the study, children’s centres in the most deprived areas are examined using the responses from a survey of children’s centre leaders conducted in July and September 2011.

The report shows the changing environment in which children’s centres operate with 40 per cent experiencing recent cuts in services or staffing, and many leaders managing two or more centres. The subsequent outputs from this study will examine children’s centres’ service delivery, multiagency working and reach, impact analysis, cost benefit analysis, and the families using them.

Source: Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England (2012), Department for Education

Pupil motivation and school reform

The Center on Education Policy in the US offers a series of papers that examines topics related to pupils’ academic motivation. The summary paper, Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, summarises findings from a wide array of studies by academics in a range of disciplines, as well as lessons from programmes intended to increase motivation.

Topics include: why motivation is important and how it might be defined and measured; whether rewarding pupils can result in higher motivation; whether pupils can be motivated by goal-setting; the role of parental involvement, family background, and culture; strategies schools might use to motivate pupils; and non-traditional approaches to motivating otherwise unenthusiastic pupils.

A few of the many suggestions that the authors offer for schools to consider are:

  • Programmes that reward academic accomplishments are most effective when they reward pupils for mastering certain skills or increasing their understanding rather than rewarding them for reaching a performance target or outperforming others.
  • Tests are more motivating when pupils have an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through low-stakes tests, performance tasks, or frequent assessments that gradually increase in difficulty before they take a high-stakes test.

Source:S tudent Motivation: An overlooked piece of school reform (2012), Center on Education Policy