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High School Closures in New York City: Impacts on Students' Academic Outcomes, Attendance, and Mobility

November 19, 2015

In the first decade of the 21st century, the NYC Department of Education implemented a set of large-scale and much debated high school reforms, which included closing large, low-performing schools, opening new small schools and extending high school choice to students throughout the district. The school closure process was the most controversial of these efforts. Yet, apart from the general sense that school closures are painful, there has never been a rigorous assessment of their impact in NYC.To begin to fill this gap, the Research Alliance undertook a study of the 29 low-performing high schools that were designated for closure in New York City between 2002 and 2008, looking particularly at the impact of these closures on students' academic performance, attendance, and mobility.

The Condition of New York City HIgh Schools: Examining Trends and Looking Toward the Future

March 28, 2013

Until the turn of the 21st century, high school graduation rates in New York City hovered at or below 50 percent, much lower than state and national averages. There was widespread agreement about the need to reform the City's high schools and produce better results for students. This paper presents an independent analysis of how the high school landscape changed in New York City between 1999 and 2011 and, importantly, the extent to which key student outcomes improved during that time. The paper describes dramatic shifts in the supply of high schools, most notably a trend toward smaller, more mission-driven schools of choice. It also reports steady improvement across many indicators of high school performance and engagement, including attendance, credit accumulation, graduation, and college readiness rates. The paper highlights stubborn gaps in performance as well -- between groups of students, and between current achievement levels and the aspirations that the public and school leaders have for New York City high schools. Drawing on these findings, the paper outlines several directions for future policy and practice. This paper is the first in a series examining the structure and performance of New York City's high schools.

Assessing the Early Impact of School of One: Evidence from Three School-Wide Pilots

June 20, 2012

For more than 150 years, education has been organized around classrooms in which one teacher attempts to meet the needs of a large group of students who have a wide range of prior experiences, knowledge, and ways of learning. This structure makes it exceedingly difficult to ensure that all students meet the same standards of performance. School of One (SO1) is an innovative, technology-enhanced math program that seeks to "meet students where they are," by creating individual learning plans, offering multiple teaching strategies, and using daily assessments to monitor progress and adapt lessons as needed. This report evaluates SO1's impact on students' state test scores during the first year of school-wide implementation in three New York City middle schools. It also presents exploratory analysis examining whether exposure to more SO1 material, or mastery of SO1 skills, is associated with improved math performance. Given the early stage of the program's development, the authors caution that the evaluation should not be interpreted as a definitive assessment of SO1's effectiveness. Rather, the findings provide a preliminary assessment of SO1's initial impact on students' math achievement and offer insights that may contribute to the program's development and inform future research.

The Enhanced Reading Opportunities Study: Findings from the Second Year of Implementation

November 1, 2008

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a majority of ninth-graders in low-performing high schools begin their freshman year with significant reading difficulties. Poor reading ability is a key predictor of academic disengagement and, ultimately, dropping out. This report presents findings from the second year of the Enhanced Reading Opportunities (ERO) study, a demonstration and random assignment evaluation of two supplemental literacy programs -- Reading Apprenticeship Academic Literacy and Xtreme Reading -- that aim to improve the reading comprehension skills and school performance of struggling ninth-grade readers.

Career Academies: Long-Term Impacts on Labor Market Outcomes, Educational Attainment, and Transitions to Adulthood

June 27, 2008

Eight-year findings on Career Academies -- a popular high school reform that combines academics with career development opportunities -- show that the programs produced sustained employment and earnings gains, particularly among young men. Career Academy participants were also more likely to be living independently with children and a spouse or a partner.

Reading First Impact Study: Interim Report

May 1, 2008

This report, written by Abt Associates and MDRC and published by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, finds that Reading First increased the amount of time that teachers spent on the five essential components of reading instruction, as defined by the National Reading Panel. While Reading First did not improve students' reading comprehension on average, there are some indications that some sites had impacts on both instruction and reading comprehension. An overview puts these interim findings in context.

The Enhanced Reading Opportunities Study: Early Impact and Implementation Findings

January 30, 2008

This report presents early findings from a demonstration and random assignment evaluation of two supplemental literacy programs that aim to improve the reading comprehension skills and school performance of struggling ninth-grade readers. On average, the programs produced a positive, statistically significant impact on reading comprehension among students.