The Education Endowment Foundation has published an evaluation of an inquiry-based learning intervention – CREST Silver Award.
Delivered by the British Science Association, the CREST
programme aims to help pupils engage with science, technology, engineering and
maths (STEM) subjects by allowing them to develop their own project ideas.
Eighty secondary schools in London and the south east took part in the trial,
involving 2,810 Year 9 pupils (ages 13–14). While CREST can normally be
delivered by any STEM department in the school, for the trial, CREST was
delivered by the science department in each school. Schools had the flexibility
to decide how they would deliver CREST (for example, as a whole class activity
or as a STEM club) and when they would run the programme (during school, after
school, lunch break, or during class time). Pupils were expected to complete 30
hours of project work in total.
The independent evaluation by NatCen found that pupils who took
part in the programme made no additional progress in science achievement (as
measured by the Progress Test in Science) compared to similar pupils who were
not offered the programme (effect size = -0.01). Nor was there any evidence
that the CREST Silver Award improved self-efficacy in science or increased the
percentage of pupils aspiring to a STEM career; however, small positive impacts
were found for pupil confidence and attitudes toward school.
Silver: Evaluation report (December 2019), Education
Out-of-school suspensions have typically been used as punishment for pupils who are truant (absent from school without parental consent) or chronically absent (missing 10% or more of school days). Given that the goal is to keep pupils in school and academically engaged, a few US states have banned this practice. A recent JESPAR article examined the effects of this ban on absence rates in Arkansas, which established a law in 2013 banning out-of-school suspensions. The state offered no training to schools, and each was left to make its own way with the policy change. Although out-of-school suspensions were banned, other punishments were allowed to continue, including in-school suspension, which takes a pupil out of the regular classroom for a time but allows them to continue their work elsewhere.
data from all Arkansas state
schools, researchers compared the attendance of truant and non-truant pupils between 2012–13 (pre-policy) and 2013–14
(post-policy) to see if there were any dramatic changes in attendance for
truant pupils that did not occur with non-truant pupils. Subjects were limited
to grades 7–12 (Years 8–13), in which 96% of truancy occurs.
found that compliance with the law was low, particularly in
disadvantaged schools, with only a third of all schools complying. Among
schools that did comply, there was no evidence of change in student behaviour
after the policy went into effect. Three key findings were:
Policy alone is not enough to change behaviour—implementation
of a policy must be overseen and reinforced.
When policies change, schools must be evaluated
regarding whether their resources are sufficient to enforce this change, or
whether they need support or training in order to be able to comply.
High-level policy changes need to be followed by
quantitative and qualitative evaluation to assess key outcomes and compliance.
In addition, researchers reflected that, perhaps because
there was still other punishment, truancy continued. They stated that
punishment does not address the root causes as to why pupils are truant, and
that pupil outcomes might not
change if schools simply replace out-of-school suspensions with other types of
Source: Discipline reform: The impact of a statewide
ban on suspensions for truancy (January 2019), Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR), Volume 24,
Several studies have related the benefits of future planning to academic achievement, but not many have examined whether academic achievement also influences how pupils plan their future. Zhao and colleagues from Shandong Normal University conducted a longitudinal study to examine the relationship between Chinese middle school pupils’ academic achievement and future planning in educational and occupational domains.
The study included three
assessments six months apart from spring 2014 to spring 2015 in Shandong
Province in eastern China. A total of 775 pupils from sixth to eighth grade (Years
7–9) participated in the first assessment wave. The questionnaire measured pupils’
future explorations, commitments, and affects concerning future education and
occupations. Data on their academic achievement were collected from school
records of their scores in Chinese, English and maths. The relationships were
analysed with data collected at different times.
The analysis showed that:
were reciprocal relationships between academic achievement and pupils’ future
relationships were not seen between academic achievement and future planning in
the occupational domain.
relationship to achievement was more robust than that of exploration to
relationships were the same for both boys and girls.
The authors suggest that
understanding the importance of educational performance led middle school pupils
to invest more effort into improving achievement. The social status brought by
high academic achievement in Chinese society might also trigger positive
affects concerning future planning.
Source: Longitudinal relations between future planning and adolescents’ academic achievement in China (August 2019), Journal of Adolescence, Volume 75
The findings of an MDRC evaluation of a growth mindset intervention have suggested a positive impact on pupils’ academic performance.
To test whether a growth mindset intervention could improve pupils’ academic performance, the National Study of Learning Mindsets implemented a randomised controlled trial of a low-cost growth mindset intervention specifically designed for ninth grade (Year 10) pupils. A total of 11,888 pupils from 63 high schools across the US took part in the intervention, which included two 25-minute self-administered online training modules on the topic of brain development. Pupils in the intervention group were given modules about growth mindset and were asked to answer reflective questions in a survey. Instead of learning about the brain’s malleability, pupils in the control group learned about basic brain functions, and they were also asked to answer survey questions.
The results of the evaluation found a positive impact on pupils’
average grade point average (GPA) (effect size = +0.04), as well as their maths
GPA (effect size = +0.05). Other results from the evaluation suggest that:
The intervention changed pupils’ self-reported
mindset beliefs, their attitudes towards efforts and failure and their views on
Immediately after the intervention, students
were more likely to attempt more challenging academic tasks.
Pupils who were lower performing at pre-test benefited
more than their higher-performing peers.
Source: Using a growth mindset
intervention to help ninth-graders: An independent evaluation of the National
Study of Leaning Mindsets (November 2019), MDRC
A study published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness reports on the impact of Word Generation on academic language, vocabulary and reading comprehension outcomes for pupils in grades 4 to 7 (Years 5 to 8).
Word Generation (WG) is a vocabulary programme designed to
teach academic vocabulary words through English, maths, science and social
studies classroom activities. For this study, 7,725 fourth to seventh grade pupils
from 25 schools in the northeast US were randomised within pairs to either
treatment or business-as-usual control conditions. In treatment schools, the
programme was implemented throughout the school year. In grades 4 and 5 (Years
5 and 6), this involved 12 ten-day long units of 45-50 minutes per day. For
grades 6 and 7 (Years 7 and 8), the programme was implemented in six-week long
units designed to take 45 minutes each day in science and social studies
At the end of the first year, pupils in grades 4 and 5 also
made improvements on their academic language skills (ES = +0.06), and in their
reading comprehension at the end of the second year (ES = +0.15). Reading
comprehension also improved at the end of the second year for pupils in grades
6 and 7 (ES = +0.10).
The study also showed gains on tests of the specific words
emphasised in the programme, but these effects are considered potentially
Experimental effects of Word Generation on vocabulary, academic language,
perspective taking and reading comprehension in high-poverty schools (August
2019), Journal of Research on Educational
This Campbell systematic review looks at the effect of continuing professional development (CPD) approaches for education professionals on educational and social outcomes for children, and also any effects on professional practice.
The review summarises evidence from 51 studies, including 48
randomised controlled trials, however, only 26 studies were included in the
meta-analysis. The 51 studies were grouped into three CPD areas: social and
emotional development interventions, language and literacy development
interventions, and stress reduction interventions.
The main findings of the review were:
No effect of CPD on social and emotional
development interventions on pupil academic outcomes. The weighted average
effect size = +0.05.
No effect of CPD language and literacy
development interventions on pupil academic outcomes. The weighted average
effect size = +0.04.
It was not possible to draw any conclusions
concerning the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of CPD on social and emotional
development or language and literacy development interventions on teacher
As there was only one study in the CPD category
of stress reduction interventions, it was not possible to draw any conclusions.
The researchers conclude that there is insufficient evidence
for conclusions to be drawn, with the exception of language and literacy
development interventions. For this type of CPD, there seems to be no positive
impact on pupil academic outcomes.
of continuing professional development training of welfare professionals on
outcomes for children and young people: A systematic review (November 2019), Campbell Systematic Reviews