Improving college readiness and enrollment for disadvantaged populations

This paper from the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness synthesises the evidence on the effectiveness of programmes designed to improve college readiness and enrollment for disadvantaged populations in the US. The purpose of the paper is to provide guidance for policymakers and practitioners implementing college access programmes, and to identify important gaps in the scientific evidence base that warrant further research.

The authors note that their findings are still preliminary. However, they do identify two early conclusions:

  • Measures of completed coursework are the best pre-college predictors of college graduation. The authors encourage evaluators to consider including these outcome measures in their evaluations of college access programmes.
  • The sharp differences in the size of estimated impacts between quasi-experimental designs (QEDs) and randomised controlled trials raise questions about the extent to which QEDs are identifying causal impacts.

Source:Effects of college access programs on college readiness and enrollment: A meta-analysis, Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness

What leads to positive change in teaching practice?

This report presents findings of a National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) study that looks at the research evidence about what leads to positive change in teaching practice in schools.

A literature review, which focused primarily on literature published in English since 2006, identified four factors that affect teaching practice: leadership, planning and preparation, practice development, and monitoring and evaluation. The report also highlights gaps in the evidence that may benefit from further research.

Source: What leads to positive change in teaching practice? (2012), National Foundation for Educational Research

Can technology help struggling readers?

A new research review co-written by the Institute for Effective Education’s Robert Slavin, examines the effectiveness of educational technology for improving the reading achievement of struggling readers in primary schools. Four major categories of education technology are reviewed: small-group integrated applications, comprehensive models, supplemental computer-assisted instruction (CAI) programmes, and the Fast ForWord programme.

Findings of the review indicate that educational technology applications produced a positive but modest effect on the reading skills of struggling readers in comparison to “business as usual” methods. Among the four types of educational technology applications reviewed, small-group integrated applications such as Lindamood Phoneme Sequence Program and Read, Write, and Type produced the largest effect sizes, but these were mostly small studies, which tend to overstate programme impacts.

Supplementary models, such as Lexia, had a larger number of studies and a more modest effect size. Comprehensive models and the Fast ForWord programme did not produce meaningful positive effect sizes. However, the results for these two categories of programmes should be interpreted with extreme caution because of the small number of studies involved.

Source: Effects of educational technology applications on reading outcomes for struggling readers: A best evidence synthesis (2012), Best Evidence Encyclopedia

The impact of Sure Start Local Programmes

This research report from the Department for Education presents findings of a longitudinal study that measures the impact of Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) on seven-year-olds and their families. The study looks at over 5,000 families in 150 SSLP areas and makes comparisons with children and families in similarly disadvantaged areas that do not have an SSLP.

The results show positive effects on family functioning and maternal well-being associated with living in an SSLP area. However, no impact was found on any of the child outcomes measured. The report demonstrates that SSLPs are extremely popular and have proved to be successful in engaging and supporting the poorest families. However, greater emphasis is needed on services that will directly improve child outcomes, particularly language development and children’s daily experiences.

Source: The impact of Sure Start Local Programmes on seven year olds and their families (2012), Department for Education

Raising expectations across the school

Talent Development Secondary (TDS) has been added to the Promising Practices Network’s (PPN) “Programs that Work” section, and is listed as a “Promising Program”. According to PPN’s programme overview, the TDS model seeks to enhance pupil achievement by raising expectations for both teachers and pupils. The goal of the model is to change the school climate by reorganising the school into smaller learning communities.

In these learning communities, pupils share a common set of peers and teachers across their time at secondary school, and course curricula are designed around a common, career-related theme. PPN has identified several evaluations of TDS that have shown the programme improves test scores, attendance, and course credits earned.

Source: Promising Practices Network (2012), Talent Development Secondary