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How Can Educators Prepare for Teaching Controversial Issues? Cross-National Lessons

September 1, 2021

A report from the National Council for the Social Studies offers educators a research-based approach to teaching controversial issues known as "contained risk-taking," which encourages inquiry and discussion while proactively addressing risks. Funded by the the Spencer Foundation, the report, How Can Educators Prepare for Teaching Controversial Issues? Cross-National Lessons, outlines the framework and its eight components: cultivate a supportive environment; prepare thoroughly; think through the teacher's stance and roles; communicate proactively with parents, other teachers, and administrators; carefully select timing, framing, and authentic issues; choose creative resources and group activities that allow many voices to be heard and align with the discussion issues and students' identities; guide the discussion and facilitate exchanges among students; and provide a space to process emotions.

Black Education in the Wake of COVID-19 and Systemic Racism: Toward a Theory of Change and Action

July 20, 2021

This report presents findings from a research study the Black Education Research Collective (BERC) conducted to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism have impacted Black education from the perspectives of Black parents, teachers, students, educators, and community leaders. Findings underscored the historical and systemic nature of trauma in Black communities as a result of racism in U.S. institutions, including schools and school systems. Participants expressed concern over the fact that schools are ill-equipped to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of their children and that COVID-19 and increasing racial violence have revealed further their lack of capacity or willingness to meet the educational needs of Black students or expectations of Black parents.

Research-Practice Partnerships in Education: The State of the Field

July 19, 2021

Research-practice partnerships (RPPs) are an important part of the educational ecosystem that connects research, policy, practice, and community work in the United States. They are a prime example of how long-term collaborative approaches to research can address persistent challenges and systemic inequities in our schools and communities.Research-Practice Partnerships in Education: The State of the Field expands on the 2013 white paper Research-Practice Partnerships: A Strategy for Leveraging Research for Educational Improvement in School Districts by scanning the current landscape of partnerships, identifying points of variation, and outlining shared principles.

Investigating Causal Effects of Arts Education Experiences: Experimental Evidence from Houston’s Arts Access Initiative

February 1, 2019

The recent wave of test-based accountability reforms has negatively impacted the provision of K-12 arts educational experiences. Advocates contend that, in addition to providing intrinsic benefits, the arts can positively influence academic and social development. However, the empirical evidence to support such claims is limited. We conducted a randomized controlled trial with 10,548 3rd8th grade students who were enrolled in 42 schools that were assigned by lottery to receive substantial influxes of arts education experiences provided through school-community partnerships with local arts organizations, cultural institutions, and teaching-artists. We find that these increases in arts educational experiences significantly reduce the proportion of students receiving disciplinary infractions by 3.6 percentage points, improve STAAR writing achievement by 0.13 of a standard deviation, and increase students' compassion for others by 0.08 of a standard deviation. For students in elementary schools, which comprise 86 percent of the sample, we find that these arts educational experiences also significantly improve school engagement, college aspirations, and arts-facilitated empathy. These findings provide strong evidence that arts educational experiences can produce significant positive impacts on student academic and social development. Policymakers should consider these multifaceted educational benefits when assessing the role and value of the arts in K-12 schools.

Closing the Opportunity Gap 2016: A Project of The Saguaro Seminar

April 25, 2016

The Saguaro Seminar is a research initiative that brings together leading thinkers and practitioners to develop actionable ideas for civic renewal. In 2015, the Seminar launched the Closing the Opportunity Gap initiative. The initiative convened five working groups of roughly a dozen of the country's leading experts in each of five areas: family and parenting, early childhood, K-12 education, community institutions, and "on-ramps," like community college or apprenticeships. These non-partisan white papers distill the best evidence-based ideas for narrowing the opportunity gap.

Public Research Universities: Recommitting to Lincoln's Vision - An Educational Compact for the 21st Century

April 4, 2016

This is the fifth and final report of "The Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education", an initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Since it began its work in January 2013, the Lincoln Project has examined the causes and results of reduced state investment in public research universities. A distinguished and diverse project committee met frequently over the past three years to discuss the challenges and opportunities for these important institutions, which educate millions of students, support the cultural and economic vitality of their states, and generate research that creates new knowledge and technology. Project leaders also convened regional forums in Charlottesville, Virginia; Austin, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; New York, New York; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to share ideas with leaders from academia, business, philanthropy, government, and the media. This publication is the culmination of the Lincoln Project committee's work. It draws from previous publications and presents new recommendations for stabilizing and strengthening public research universities at an inflection point in their history. This report calls on the federal government, state governments, corporations, foundations, philanthropists, and, of course, public research universities to come together -- to share responsibility for maintaining these institutions so that they continue to serve their states and the nation for generations to come.

Beyond the hashtags: #Ferguson, #Blacklivesmatter, and the online struggle for offline justice

February 29, 2016

In 2014, a dedicated activist movement--Black Lives Matter (BLM)--ignited an urgent national conversation about police killings of unarmed Black citizens. Online tools have been anecdotally credited as critical in this effort, but researchers are only beginning to evaluate this claim. This research report examines the movement's uses of online media in 2014 and 2015. To do so, we analyze three types of data: 40.8 million tweets, over 100,000 web links, and 40 interviews of BLM activists and allies.

In Search of a Match: A Guide for Helping Students Make Informed College Choices

March 31, 2015

This guide is designed for counselors, teachers, and advisers who work with high school students from low-income families and students who are the first in their families to pursue a college education. It offers strategies for helping these students identify, consider, and enroll in "match" colleges -- that is, selective colleges that are a good fit for students based on their academic profiles, financial considerations, and personal needs. Many of the suggestions in this guide are based on insights and lessons learned from the College Match Program, a pilot program that MDRC codeveloped with several partners and implemented in Chicago and New York City to address the problem of "undermatching," or what happens when capable high school students enroll in colleges for which they are academically overqualified or do not apply to college at all. The key lessons of the College Match Program, which are reflected in this guide, are that students are willing to apply to selective colleges when:* They learn about the range of options available to them.* They engage in the planning process early enough to meet college and financial aid deadlines.* They receive guidance, support, and encouragement at all stages.Informed by those key lessons, the guide tracks the many steps in the college search, application, and selection process, suggesting ways to incorporate a match focus at each stage: creating a match culture, identifying match colleges, applying to match colleges, assessing the costs of various college options, selecting a college, and enrolling in college. Because many students question their ability to succeed academically or fit in socially at a selective college, and because they may hesitate to enroll even when they receive good advice and encouragement, the guide offers tips and strategies to help students build the confidence they need to pursue the best college education available to them. Each section also suggests tools and resources in the form of websites and printed materials that counselors, advisers, and students can use, as well as case studies to illustrate the experiences of College Match participants throughout the process.

Digital Collaboration and Classroom Practice: Educator Use of ARIS Connect

June 18, 2014

A major focus of the booming education technology sector is on products that aim to help teachers improve classroom practice. For their part, districts must figure out which of these resources will be most useful to schools. In New York City, the Department of Education developed its own Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS), which was rolled out in 2008. ARIS was an early effort at a system-wide data and teacher collaboration platform, and a major undertaking for the nation's largest school district. In 2011, the Research Alliance received a grant from the Spencer Foundation to investigate how this ambitious initiative played out in schools. Our first report focused on overall use and perceptions of ARIS. In the current phase of our study, we honed our focus onto ARIS Connect -- a component designed specifically to help educators improve their practice by sharing resources, posting questions, and giving one another feedback, both within schools and across the district. Our investigation sought to understand what educators thought of Connect, and whether, as its designers intended, Connect supported their ability to communicate with other educators and improve classroom practice. The study is based on two years of "clickstream" data, which tracks user visits to and navigation through ARIS. We also visited nine middle schools that recorded higher-than-average use of Connect, where we interviewed administrators and held focus groups with teachers. This report presents our findings, including insights on why educators did or did not use Connect; what might have made Connect more useful; and what external tools educators use for similar purposes.

Misbehavior, Suspensions, and Security Measures in High School: Racial/Ethnic and Gender Differences

January 1, 2014

This study used merged data from three national surveys to address questions about security measures in American high schools, suspension rates, and student misbehavior. First, the study identified the characteristics of schools that implemented the most extreme security measures and those with the highest levels of discipline. Second, the study used data on individual students to examine misbehavior and race and gender disparities in suspensions not attributable to misbehavior.

Usage Patterns and Perceptions of the Achievement, Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS)

October 1, 2012

This report offers the first systematic examination of actual usage of New York City's Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS). ARIS is a comprehensive data system designed to put student information within easy reach of school administrators and teachers. The findings suggest that ARIS has been used successfully as a school-wide planning tool, but was less valuable as a direct aid to classroom instruction. The Research Alliance will continue its study of ARIS through 2013, including an examination of some of the new components and features that have been developed recently by the Department of Education.

The Widening Academic Achievement Gap Between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations

February 8, 2012

Analyzes growth in income inequality and the "income achievement gap" in test scores of children in high- and low-income families over fifty years. Examines parents' education and investment in cognitive development as factors in children's achievement.