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School Vouchers in the Trump Era: How Political Ideology and Religion Shape Public Opinion

January 1, 2018

Expanding school vouchers is a central component of the Trump Administration's education agenda.1 However, the extent to which the Administration can fully realize this policy goal may hinge, in part, on the level of public support or opposition for the voucher method of reform and on the particular components of any proposed voucher system. In this policy brief, we report on a randomized survey experiment we conducted to identify how two key dimensions of school voucher systems -- source of funding and scope of coverage -- affect public opinion across various sectors of the American public.

Discipline in Context: Suspension, Climate, and PBIS in the School District of Philadelphia

October 1, 2017

The report details a two-year exploratory, mixed-methods research study on the disciplinary practices and climate of schools serving Kâ8 students in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). Findings reveal that SDP schools are making efforts to reduce suspensions and improve climate, but critical barriers to these efforts include resource limitations and philosophical misalignments between teachers and school leaders. The study identified three profiles among SDP schools serving Kâ8 students based on information about disciplinary practices and climate, and found that these profiles are predictive of suspension and academic outcomes. Students attending schools with collaborative climates and less punitive approaches to discipline have lower risk of being suspended and better academic outcomes. The report offers a series of recommendations for strengthening the implementation of climate initiatives, including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), in challenging urban settings.

School Leadership, Teachers' Roles in School Decisionmaking, and Student Achievement

October 1, 2017

This working paper summarizes the results of a study of leadership in elementary and secondary schools. The study focused in particular on instructional leadership -- the extent to which school leaders focus on the core activities of teaching and learning -- and teacher leadership -- the extent to which teachers have input into school decision-making. This paper is drawn from the full report of the study, entitled "School Leadership Counts" (Ingersoll, Dougherty and Sirinides 2017), available at

The Evolving Role of the State Education Agency in the Era of ESSA and Trump: Past, Present, and Uncertain Future

September 13, 2017

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, states have considerably more flexibility and authority in K-12 education than they had under the previous federal education law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The Trump administration and the Republican Congress, meanwhile, moved in 2017 to further loosen federal accountability rules and give states even more control over their school systems. With this increased power for states comes the increased responsibility to support the improvement of educational outcomes for every student. Leaders at the helm of state education agencies (SEAs) find themselves in a moment of both great change and great opportunity, as many agencies move away from a predominant focus on compliance with federal regulations and programmatically dictated uses of funds, and toward a broader focus on supporting districts and schools. For many advocates of low-performing students, it is also a moment of potential peril if states fail to embrace their new responsibilities or weaken their commitment to improving educational opportunity and outcomes.

Course-taking Patterns in the 1980s

August 22, 2017

Uses data on eleventh grade students from the 1983 84 National Assessment of Progress (NAEP) as a baseline for examining the effects of changing state policies on student course taking and on the relationship between course taking and student characteristics.

Diversity Amidst Standardization: State Differential Treatment of Districts

August 22, 2017

Drawing on a review of literature and telephone interviews of state agency staff in 25 states, the paper identifies traditional and emerging forms of state differential treatment of districts. The author discusses potential benefits and disadvantages of various approaches to differential treatment and suggests areas for further research.

Accelerated Schools for At-Risk Students

August 21, 2017

Outlines features of an "Accelerated School," a transitional elementary school designed to bring disadvantaged students up to grade level by the end of sixth grade. Several schools across the nation are piloting the model.

Changes in School Mathematics: Curricular Changes, Instructional Changes and Indicators of Change

August 21, 2017

Discusses how the mathematics curriculum should be changed to reflect changes in the nation's economic and social culture brought on by new technology. The report also outlines the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) proposal for new curriculum and evaluation standards

The Effects of High School Organization on Dropping Out: An Exploratory Investigation

August 21, 2017

Analyzes data from the High School and Beyond (HS&B) survey to investigate the effects of school characteristics on the probability of dropping out and absenteeism.

Increasing Educational Productivity Through Improving the Science Curriculum

August 21, 2017

Outlines features of an "Accelerated School," a transitional elementary school designed to bring disadvantaged students up to grade level by the end of sixth grade. Several schools across the nation are piloting the model.

Standardizing School Dropout Measures

August 21, 2017

Proposes the establishment of a uniform definition of school dropout which would help to more accurately measure the extent of the dropout problem. The report describes elements of dropout measures and examines factors that account for variation in measures from city to city and state to state.

State Strategies for Building Capacity in Education: Progress and Continuing Challenges

August 18, 2017

This report examines capacity-building strategies used in eight states (California, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas) and analyzes their promises and continuing challenges.