Privileged graduates get the top jobs

New research funded by the UK’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has found that socio-economic status and private schooling still affect an individual’s chance of securing a top job, even when comparing students from the same institution type, taking the same subjects, and with the same degree class.

The study looked at the destinations of over 20,000 young people who graduated from university in England, Scotland, and Wales in 2006/07. It found that socio-economic background was not associated with an increased chance of securing a top job six months after graduation, although graduates who attended private schools were more likely to have secured a top job by this point.

However, three years after graduation those from more advantaged socio-economic backgrounds and those who attended private schools were more likely to be in top jobs, including top administrative, professional, and managerial roles in professions such as law.

Source: Mapping the occupational destinations of new graduates (2013), Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.

The impact of alternative teacher training programmes on pupil achievement

New research by Mathematica Policy Research has assessed the mathematics achievement of pupils taught by teachers from two highly selective recruitment and training schemes that run in the US – Teach for America (TFA) and Teaching Fellows. TFA works with graduates from some of the best universities and places them for two years. Teaching Fellows recruits both graduates and professionals looking to change careers, and expects participants to make a long-term commitment to teaching. Both schemes place their teachers in hard-to-staff schools in deprived areas.

The study took place in 2009/10 and 2010/11 in schools identified as having two or more classes that would be teaching the same maths course. At the beginning of the year, pupils in each school (n=8,689) were randomly allocated either to a class taught by a TFA or Teaching Fellow teacher, or to a class taught by a comparison teacher (who entered teaching through traditional or other, less selective programmes). Exams taken at the end of the year showed that TFA teachers produced gains significantly greater than teachers who came through traditional teaching programmes or other alternative but less selective certification schemes, but the effect size (ES=+0.07) was very small. Still, this was estimated to be the equivalent of an additional 2.6 months of school for the average pupil nationwide. In contrast, there were no differences in maths outcomes between Teaching Fellows and their controls.

In the UK, Rebecca Allen from the Institute of Education (IOE) presented findings of new research into Teach First at the BERA Conference. Like TFA, Teach First places graduates with good degrees in challenging classrooms. The IOE study found that the introduction of Teach First teachers produced no school-wide gain in the first year, but in years two and three there were gains equivalent to a boost of one grade in one of a pupil’s eight best subjects.

Source: The Effectiveness of Secondary Math Teachers from Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows Programs (2013), Institute of Education Sciences.

Helping pupils with disabilities transition from secondary school

A new report from the US National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) reviews the research on programmes that aim to help young people with disabilities make successful transitions beyond secondary school. Two promising approaches are identified:

  • community-based work programmes, which were found to have mixed effects on pupils’ employment outcomes and potentially positive effects on post-secondary education outcomes; and
  • functional life-skills development programmes, which were found to have potentially positive effects on independent living outcomes (although the extent of evidence was small).

NCEE’s search for transition research studies spanned the past two decades; however, relatively few studies (16) were found that met the What Works Clearinghouse standards for evidence of effectiveness. The authors offer several recommendations to researchers to try and help strengthen the evidence base.

For more on what works for children with disabilities, look out for the autumn issue of Better: Evidence-based Education magazine. It focuses on special education, including an article on functional skills, and will be available in September.

Source: Improving Post-High School Outcomes for Transition-Age Students with Disabilities: An Evidence Review, Institute of Education Sciences (2013).

How teachers use Web 2.0 technologies makes a difference

A new review from the National Institute of Education in Singapore has explored evidence-based pedagogical approaches related to the use of Web 2.0 technologies in both schools and higher education settings. Web 2.0, which is also known as the read-write web, allows two-way communication between a website and users.

The review suggests that actual evidence regarding the impact of Web 2.0 technologies on pupil learning is fairly weak, though generally positive. However, positive effects are not necessarily attributed to the technologies per se but to how the technologies are used.

The review included empirical studies that examined the impact of Web 2.0 technologies on learning, excluding anecdotal studies and studies only focusing on pupil self-reported data and interviews.

Source: Use of Web 2.0 Technologies in K-12 and Higher Education: The Search for Evidence-based Practice (2013), Educational Research Review, 9.

Roadblocks to university

A study conducted by The Strategic Society Centre compares the university-going aspirations and behaviour of a group of academically qualified and interested English pupils who considered not applying to university and those who never had any such hesitation. Data for the study was collected from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England for the years 2004-2009. The research focused on pupils who expressed motivation to go to university, but answered positively to the question: “Have the financial aspects of going to university, that is the costs of fees and living expenses, ever made you think about not applying?”

Findings revealed that 34% of 16-year-olds who had shown the potential and expressed a motivation to go to university reported that the financial aspects made them think about not applying. Several factors were significantly associated with those pupils who were concerned about cost ultimately deciding against going to university. These were:

  • Ethnicity (being white, Caribbean black or mixed race);
  • Houshold income (£10-£15k or £41.6-£46.8k per year);
  • Parental education (to GCSEs or A levels);
  • Not having friends who applied to university;
  • Not feeling informed about financial support; and
  • Not receiving information and advice on university from a teacher.

Source: Access for All: An investigation of young people’s attitudes to the cost of higher education using the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (2013), The Strategic Society Centre.

Improve school performance to get more disadvantaged children to university

New research from the Institute of Education compares how well England, Canada, Australia, and the US do in terms of getting children from disadvantaged homes into university. The authors used longitudinal data from each country, and found that socio-economic gaps in university participation are substantial in all four countries. However, they are more pronounced in England and Canada.

Prior academic achievement is found to play a key role, and one major recommendation of the report is that initiatives designed to boost school performance will be pivotal in reducing socio-economic inequality in university participation, rather than lowering the costs of university through bursaries and fee waivers. The authors argue that this is where the vast majority of governments’ “widening access” funds should be spent.

Source: University access for disadvantaged children: A comparison across English speaking countries (2012), Department of Quantitative Social Science