While many studies examine the effects of head teachers on pupil achievement, a recent study examined the effects of head teachers on pupil absenteeism. Brendan Bartanen of Texas A&M reviewed the statewide data in Tennessee between 2006-07 and 2016-17, correlating 3,800 head teachers in 1,700 schools to pupil attendance and achievement data. He describes how he translates this data into a “value added” determination of head teachers’ effects, meaning using a system to determine which head teachers add value to their school community.
Results showed that replacing a head teacher who had a poor value-added rate (25%) with a head teacher who had a higher value-added rate (75%) reduced absences of pupils who were chronically truant by 4 percentage points, and of pupils overall by .08 percentage points. He also found that the head teachers whose schools showed the greatest increases in attendance were not necessarily the ones whose pupils demonstrated the greatest gains in test scores.
Source: Principal quality and student attendance (March 2020), Educational Researcher, Volume 49 Issue 2
Research published by the RAND Corporation assesses the impact of the New York City Community Schools initiative (NYC-CS) on outcomes related to attendance, achievement, pupil behaviour, and school climate and culture.
Launched in 2014, the NYC-CS is a strategy to organise resources in schools and provide various services to address the comprehensive needs of pupils, families, and communities through collaboration with community agencies and local government. As part of the study, William R Johnston and colleagues assessed the effects of NYC-CS during the 2017–2018 school year to determine whether pupils were performing better than they would be had their schools not been designated as Community Schools, using average pupil outcomes in each school.
Among the key findings, the results indicate that NYC-CS had positive effects on most of the outcomes examined. In particular, NYC-CS had a positive impact on attendance for pupils in all grades, and these effects appeared to be increasing over time. There was also evidence that NYC-CS led to a reduction in disciplinary incidents for elementary and middle school pupils (Years 1–9) but not for high school students (Years 10–13).
Source: Illustrating the promise of Community Schools: An
assessment of the impact of the New York City Community Schools initiative
(January 2020), Rand Corporation, RR-3245-NYCCEO
School climate includes factors that serve as conditions for learning, and support physical and emotional safety, connection, support and engagement, as the US Department of Education suggests. In this study published in School Psychology Quarterly, George Bear and colleagues examined how pupils in China and the US perceive school climate differently and how it relates to their engagement in schools.
A total of 3,716 Chinese pupils from 18 schools in Guangzhou and
4,085 American pupils from 15 schools in Delaware were compared in the study.
All schools were suburban schools or urban schools. The sample of American pupils
was randomly selected from a larger dataset consisting of 37,255 pupils
prepared by the Delaware Department of Education to match the pupil numbers of
the Chinese pupil sample. Pupils who participated in this study were from
grades 3–5 (Years 4–6), 7–8 (Years 8–9), and 10–12 (Years 11–13). Grade 6 (Year
7) and grade 9 (Year 10) were excluded from this study since pupils in these
two grades were placed in different levels in Chinese and American schools.
Pupils were compared in their perceptions of school climate, which
included teacher-pupil relations, pupil-pupil relations, fairness of school
rules, clarity of behavioural expectations, respect for diversity, school
safety, engagement school-wide, and bullying school-wide. Pupils’ engagement
was measured by the Delaware Student Engagement Scale. The findings showed:
Chinese pupils perceived all aspects of school
climate significantly more positively than American pupils during middle school
and high (secondary) school.
The difference was smaller in elementary (primary)
schools, with no significant differences for fairness of rules, clarity of
behavioural expectations and school safety.
US pupils’ engagement was greater in
elementary schools, while Chinese pupils reported greater emotional engagement
in middle and high schools.
A significant relation between school climate
and engagement was found for American pupils but not Chinese pupils.
The authors suggest that the findings might encourage schools to
develop and promote those social-emotional competencies, values and norms which
have been shown to underlie the high academic achievement of Chinese pupils in
addition to school climate.
in school climate and student engagement in China and the United States (June
2018), School Psychology Quarterly, Vol
The authors present research from various journal articles, research briefs, policy guides and other sources. Key findings were as follows:
Supportive relationships, engagement, safety, cultural competence and responsiveness and academic challenge and high expectations create positive school climates that can help build social and emotional competence.
The relationship between positive school climate and SEL is interactive and co-influential, occurs in all settings and pupil-teacher-staff interactions and influences pupils and teachers directly and indirectly.
Rigorous evaluations of school climate and SEL approaches have provided some direct evidence that one can improve the other.
The authors say that the research and practice communities could benefit from greater clarity and alignment in definitions, goals, messaging and measurement of SEL and school climate and understanding of how each one can complement the other.
Source: School climate and social and emotional learning: the integration of two approaches. (January 2018), Edna Bennet Pierce Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University
The US Department of Education has published a guidance document for improving school climate and discipline. In response, Child Trends has released a new research brief on school discipline that provides five “things to know” and links to research evidence on various supports and policies. The brief considers, among other issues, the evidence supporting the use of zero tolerance policies.
This 2011 research brief found that there was a lack of rigorous research, but existing case studies and analyses of suspension and expulsion data suggest that zero tolerance policies are not deterring misbehaviour. In contrast, non-punitive programs that take a largely preventive approach to school discipline have been found to keep students and schools safe by reducing the need for harsh discipline. These programs include targeted behavioural supports for students who are at-risk for violent behaviour, character education programs, or positive behavioural interventions and supports that are introduced across a school.
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has posted a new tip sheet with five evidence-based strategies to help educators prevent and address behaviour problems. These strategies, which are based on reviews of research and recommendations from experts in the field, are as follows:
Modify the classroom environment to alter or remove factors that trigger problem behaviours (eg, revisit and reinforce expectations, modify the learning space to motivate pupils, and vary teaching strategies to increase academic success).
Identify, deliver, and reinforce explicit teaching in appropriate behaviour.
Learn about interventions that can help support pupils with an emotional/behavioural problem in making good choices. The WWC has identified four effective interventions.
Adapt teaching to maintain or increase pupil engagement in academics, preventing disruptive behaviour. The WWC offers strategies to engage pupils in reading, writing, maths, and out-of-school-time learning.
Enlist adult advocates to help pupils at risk of dropping out address academic and social needs.