Case Study: Use School Board Policies

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Case Study: Use School Board Policies



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Policy Process Case Studies

For example, Vancouver draws on both state and federally funded early learning programs to provide pre-K in seven schools, along with district-supported programs for children in Title I schools. Montgomery County also enhances state and federal programs with district-level investments: it provides the same literacy-rich curriculum in its Head Start classrooms as in district pre-K classrooms. And Montgomery County uses a blend of federal Title I and Head Start dollars to offer full-day Head Start in 18 of the poorest schools, serving children Marietta The Northside Achievement Zone in north Minneapolis uses federal Race to the Top Early Learning Fund money for scholarships for three- and four-year-olds to attend high-quality pre-K, serving children in — and in — Local programs can also fill in where state programs are weak.

Austin, Texas, uses local funds to provide enriching, hands-on full-day programs for the four-year-olds who would otherwise participate in lower-quality half-day state programs. Pea Ridge is another community using local resources to supplant state resources. Featured districts also build on pre-K gains and help narrow school-readiness gaps with such programs as full-day kindergarten. Full-day kindergarten has since expanded to every school in the district Marietta And Vancouver offers Kindergarten Jump Start, a school readiness program, at all 21 elementary schools, and full-day kindergarten; both programs seek to enhance the transition from pre-K into formal schooling.

In addition to the above range of supports for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers and their parents, several of the districts studied by BBA have made additional investments in young children and their families. The Community Storywalk in Clay County, Kentucky, and the Born Learning Trail in Joplin, Missouri, provide opportunities for parents and paid caregivers to learn with their children in a hands-on way through outdoor and physical activities. The whole-child approaches these communities embrace for children from birth to five years old continue as those children transition to kindergarten and through elementary, middle, and high school.

As these examples illustrate, students continue to benefit from a more comprehensive approach to education and there is an array of strategies school districts can use to deliver that comprehensive approach. Schools that ensure hands-on learning both in and out of the classroom make the most of this opportunity. Joplin and Pea Ridge students and their teachers enjoy service learning projects that are a core component of the Bright Futures strategy.

In East Durham, partnerships with community agencies and nonprofits enable clubs, field trips to museums, and other enrichment activities. In most of the districts studied, schools partner with organizations such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts to provide out-of-school enrichment programs that range from organized sports and help with homework to math and book clubs, theater, and robotics. In addition to boosting student engagement, some focus in particular on academic and college preparatory help, and many also provide snacks or even full meals. Summer camps in Boston and East Durham and book deliveries and clubs in Pea Ridge and Eastern Kentucky—where online options help bridge long distances in rural areas—keep students reading, engaged, and on track for fall classes.

Under City Connects—the whole-child collaboration among Boston College, Boston Public Schools, and community agencies—school coordinators meet at the start of the year with teachers to discuss the particular strengths and needs of each student and develop plans to support teachers with academic and enrichment activities and meet student needs with small-group sessions on healthy eating and dealing with bullies, referrals to mental health providers, and a range of other supports Weiss g. Two districts have made social and emotional learning a particularly high priority.

Austin is one of eight districts working with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning CASEL to comprehensively embed social and emotional learning in teacher training, teacher standards, curricula, and metrics for assessing student and school progress CASEL These are complemented by enhanced support for teachers to nurture social and emotional learning in daily classroom practice, by standards-based report cards that track key social and emotional skills, and by constructive disciplinary policies that reengage students and build their soft skills instead of punishing them for infractions.

Several of the districts focus in particular on helping students—many of whom will be the first in their families to go to college—prepare for and make that leap. They offer site-based mentoring from current undergraduates. Middle and high school students in the North Minneapolis Northside Achievement Zone receive similar assistance. De-tracking, an intentional decision to not separate students who are achieving at different levels into different classrooms or types of courses, which is the norm in Austin and in some Montgomery County high schools, helps ensure that college preparatory classes serve students of all income levels rather than just wealthier, nonminority students. College readiness is also a high priority for many Bright Futures districts.

And in Pea Ridge, specialized high schools such as the Manufacturing and Business Academy and Pea Ridge Academy provide targeted support for students who want to go straight to jobs and careers or need special academic supports. These relationships are key to efforts in large urban districts and remote rural ones. In Eastern Kentucky, to bridge the long distances between one school and community and another, mentors use Skype to connect with eighth- and ninth-graders in Promise Neighborhood area schools.

Several of the districts studied have established health clinics in some or all of their schools, including Montgomery County, Vancouver, and New York City. In some other districts, such as Austin, school coordinators can arrange for mobile clinics to come to schools. These clinics provide basic preventive care through immunizations and check-ups, along with prescriptions and other care for sick children, physical and mental health screenings, follow-up counseling, mental health care, and even crisis intervention when needed. Nutrition is another critical factor that affects physical and mental health and thus learning. Food and clothing pantries plus social media outreach in Pea Ridge and Joplin enable counselors and teachers to meet targeted immediate needs so students can focus and learn.

Montgomery County has expanded its breakfast-in-the-classroom program to serve all students in a growing share of schools MCPS Though research has long affirmed the importance of parental engagement, many schools struggle to meaningfully engage parents. The case study districts show how it can be done. And full-service community schools such as those in Vancouver and New York City specialize in parent outreach and engagement. Community schools in these districts draw on parental input to shape school policies and practices and provide parents with an opportunity to meet one another.

Other targeted supports provide added help for the most vulnerable students and their families. In Vancouver, for example, student advocates conduct home visits to parents of kindergartners and first-graders who are at risk of chronic absenteeism. In these visits, the advocates emphasize the importance of attendance and brainstorm with parents ways to reduce specific barriers to attendance. Complementary in-school efforts reward strong attendance. High-risk Montgomery County Public Schools students benefit from an unusual, but very effective, system of targeted support.

Providing children from birth through 12th grade and their families with targeted supports both within and outside of school has enabled these communities to make progress toward a range of goals. These districts ensure enrichment for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status. Finally, in contrast with the national trend in recent decades of rapidly growing achievement gaps between wealthy and poor students, these districts are also narrowing race- and income-based achievement gaps: while all students are gaining ground, those who started off behind tend to see the largest gains.

Most of the data presented in this section do not come from experimental studies; with a few exceptions which are noted in the case studies , they rely on nonexperimental comparisons with a similar nontreatment group, such as other low-income children in the district or other high-poverty districts in the state. However, they are gathered from official district, state, or federal resources in all cases, except for the minority of cases in which such data are not publicly available. Perhaps most importantly, in contrast with many other programs that have reported substantially improved outcomes for very vulnerable groups of students, these programs do not cherry-pick students to get these results.

Establishing more expansive goals and implementing ways to track progress toward those goals also offers timely guidance, given that the Every Student Succeeds Act ESSA asks states, districts, and schools to do just that. These districts have not only set broader goals, they are demonstrating real progress toward achieving these goals. Because of their success, many now serve as role models for other districts or entire regions, and a few are beginning to influence state policy as well.

Some of the kindergarten readiness efforts described above have translated into improved readiness to learn and, thus, greater odds of success in kindergarten and throughout the K—12 years. In Eastern Kentucky, East Durham, and Minneapolis, children who participated in early learning programs significantly increased their rates of kindergarten readiness across a range of metrics and developmental domains.

A study of Montgomery County Public Schools found much larger gains in reading for children in the full-day Head Start program than for children in the half-day program, with full-day students more than doubling their reading scores over the year and especially pronounced gains for the most vulnerable students: Hispanics and English language learners Marietta While only one of many indicators, rising test scores and narrowing gaps in core academic subjects are an important sign that schools in case study districts have sustained and enhanced early gains.

Increases varied from four points to 15—19 points, with the latter increases occurring in schools with the highest levels of parental engagement Henderson Subsequent rollout of social and emotional learning in district schools some of which were also Alliance schools produced gains in the share of students deemed proficient on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness STAAR, the next-generation state assessments in the years following that rollout, with students in the first set of schools with social and emotional learning programs scoring higher on state math and reading exams than those in later school cohorts.

The small group of Minneapolis Northside Achievement Zone students who were tested increased their proficiency on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments MCA exam, with the share scoring as proficient rising from 14 percent in the — academic year to 22 percent in — Despite serving a much poorer and socially and economically isolated student body than in state schools overall, the Eastern Kentucky schools served by Partners for Education have seen substantially higher increases in test scores: from to , math test scores in the Promise Neighborhood region rose 7.

Specifically, a study found that participants outperformed their peers 97 percent of the time on third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade standardized tests in math and reading, demonstrating a significant long-term positive effect Caspe and Lorenzo Kennedy Increases or lack of decreases in reading scores over the summer months between the end of the school year and the start of the following year can be an especially important indicator of sustainable academic achievement, since low-income students tend to lose substantial ground when they are out of school for the summer.

Case study districts with more mature initiatives and those offering higher or more intensive doses of whole-child interventions are producing particularly large academic gains. Students enrolled in City Connects elementary schools in Boston score significantly higher on tests of both academic and noncognitive skills in elementary and secondary school, with the highest-risk students, such as English language learners, showing especially large gains.

Scores of City Connects elementary school students on the Stanford Achievement Test version 9 increased between one-fourth and one-half a standard deviation greater than scores of their non—City Connects peers. Chronic absenteeism depresses achievement, particularly among low-income students. Students attending City Connects high schools in Boston have significantly lower rates of chronic absenteeism than their peers Boston College Center for Optimized Student Support In Joplin, Missouri, attendance rates among high school students increased 3.

At the same time, reportable disciplinary incidents—which keep students out of school and are found to drive at-risk students to disengage—dropped by over 1,, from 3, in to 2, in Every infant and toddler in East Durham whose family participated in the Healthy Families Durham home visiting program is up to date on immunizations; this helps at-risk children avoid missing school due to illness. This not only improved their health but enabled them to participate in the kinds of extracurricular sports activities that boost student engagement. Because most of the initiatives studied have been in place for less than 10 years, and a few for five or fewer, there is less evidence of their impact on high school graduation and college enrollment.

Parent-organizing in Austin helped establish a program to get more low-income and minority middle school students into rigorous science and math programs, enabling them to successfully compete for slots in the prestigious LBJ High School Science Academy. From the — to the — academic year, the number of Kalamazoo Public School students taking Advanced Placement AP courses more than doubled, with low-income and African American students experiencing the largest absolute gains in participation and Hispanic students experiencing the largest percentage gains. Black and low-income students roughly quadrupled their participation in such courses; black students and low-income students took AP classes during the — academic year, up from 63 and 53 respectively in — Miller-Adams Over the same period, the number of Hispanic students taking AP courses increased by a magnitude of 10—from just 8 to And in Vancouver, which also made socioeconomic diversity of students in advanced courses a priority, enrollment in AP courses rose by 67 percent overall from — to —, and nearly three times as fast, by almost percent, among low-income students.

By , with the benefit of a community schools strategy, the school was serving more than 1, students and had a graduation rate of 85 percent. At the same time, the cohort dropout rate fell from 6. And in Kalamazoo, incentives to finish high school have proven to be powerful tools for disadvantaged students when combined with mentoring, tutoring, and after-school options. Moreover, African American girls in Kalamazoo graduate at higher rates than their peers across the state, and 85 percent of those graduates go to college. Initiatives that have had time to mature have made particularly large gains. Hispanic, low-income, and African American students in Montgomery County Public Schools are much more likely than their counterparts across the state to graduate from high school— And from to , a period when the share of students in poverty and the share of minority students rose in the district, overall graduation rates rose 2.

There were much larger gains for Hispanic and black students, whose graduation rates rose respectively by 4. In Vancouver, the four-year graduation rate rose from 64 percent in to almost 80 percent in , and the five-year rate rose from 69 percent in to over 80 percent in The comprehensive, whole-child, whole-community approaches in the featured school districts have built strong school—community partnerships. Two indicators of the strength of the partnerships are the levels of parent and community engagement. In Joplin, more adults are now serving as mentors and tutors than five years ago. The support also helps more families connect with stable housing, substantially reducing the number of times that some vulnerable families move.

In —, up to Austin families benefited from help with legal, employment, health, and housing issues at the family resource center, which also provides classes for parents, including English language learning classes. And Montgomery County Public Schools social workers who specialize in early childhood education make an average of home visits, 1, phone contacts, and direct contacts with parents at school or conferences each month. In some cases, engagement enhances school leadership.

And over 2, Kentucky parents have undergone training at the Berea Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership since its creation in Many of these parents have gone on to join school boards, serve on school councils, and engage in day-to-day educational advocacy. Aided by federal School Improvement Grant funds, City Connects has operated in Springfield since , expanding from six to 13 schools in its first four years there. And in both Vancouver and Austin, district leaders have led advocacy efforts to bring community schools to other communities in the region and to support the introduction of state-level legislation to enhance the work. Bright Futures began in Joplin, Missouri, in but is now a national organization.

Bright Futures USA has 50 affiliates in eight states, many of which—such as Pea Ridge—are just two or three years old. The newest affiliate, in Fairbanks, Alaska, has just been made official. In Virginia, Dave Sovine, superintendent of a second-year affiliate, Frederick County Public Schools, is reaching out to several of his counterparts across the region to create the first regional Bright Futures initiative Gizriel If established, this would allow for the kind of cross-district collaboration identified by Bright Futures founder C. As this report demonstrates, very large social-class-based gaps in academic performance exist and have persisted across the two most recently studied cohorts of students starting kindergarten.

The estimated gap between children in the top fifth and the bottom fifth of the SES distribution is over a standard deviation in both reading and math in unadjusted performance gaps are 1. Another important finding from our study is that gaps were not, on average, sensitive to the set of changes that may have occurred between and gaps across both types of skills are virtually unchanged compared with the prior generation of students—those who entered school in The only cognitive gap that changed substantially was in reading skills, which increased by about a tenth of a standard deviation.

The gaps by SES in mathematics, in approaches to learning as reported by parents, and in self-control as reported by teachers did not change significantly. And relative gaps in approaches to learning as reported by teachers and in self-control as reported by parents shrank between and , by about a tenth of a standard deviation. This means that there is a substantial set of SES-related factors that are not captured by the traditional covariates used in this study but that are important to understanding how and why gaps develop. Moreover, the capacity for these other factors—child and family characteristics, early education investments, and expectations—to narrow gaps has decreased over time.

This suggests that, while such activities as parental time spent with children and center-based pre-K programs cushion the negative consequences of growing up in a low-social-class context, they can do only so much, and that the overall toxicity of lacking resources and supports is increasingly hard to compensate for. The resistance of gaps to these controls should thus be a matter of real concern for researchers and policymakers. These troubling trends point to critical implications for policy and for our society: clearly, we are failing to provide the foundational experiences and opportunities that all children need to succeed in school and thrive in life.

The failure to narrow gaps between and suggests, too, that investments in pre-K programs and other early education and economic supports were insufficient to counter rising rates of poverty and its increasing concentration in neighborhoods where black and Hispanic children tend to live and learn. But there is also good news. The case study review in the previous section of this report explores district-level strategies to address these gaps, strategies that are being implemented in diverse communities across the country. The communities studied all employ comprehensive educational approaches that align enriching school strategies with a range of supports for children and their families.

Their implementation is often guided by holistic data and, to the extent possible, this report provides a summary, as well, of student outcomes, using both traditional academic measures and a broad range of other measures. Parents were more likely in than in to read regularly to their children; to sing to them; to play games with them; and to enroll them in center-based pre-K programs. Key principles that span across the case studies include very early interventions and supports, parental engagement and education, pre-K, kindergarten transitions, whole-child approaches to curricula, and wraparound supports that are sustained through the K—12 years. However, despite the abundance of child development information available to researchers and parents—about the serious impacts of child poverty, about what works to counter those effects, about the importance of the first years of life for children, and about the value of education—our data indicate insufficient policy response at all levels of government.

Pre-K programs have expanded incrementally and unevenly, with both access and quality still wildly disparate across states and overall availability severely insufficient. There is a dearth of home visiting programs and of quality child care Bivens et al. Child poverty has increased see Proctor, Semega, and Kollar for recent trends in child poverty rates. And while a growing number of districts have embraced Broader, Bolder approaches, that number is failing to keep up with high and growing need.

In sum, it is actually positive, and somewhat impressive, that gaps by and large did not grow in the face of steadily increasing income inequality, compounded by the worst economic crisis in many decades EPI , ; Saez But it is disappointing and troubling that new policy investments made in the previous decade were insufficient to make even a dent in these stubborn gaps. We cannot ensure real opportunities for all our children unless we tackle the severe inequities underlying our findings. And while momentum to enact comprehensive and sustained strategies to close gaps is growing, such strategies are not being implemented nearly as quickly as children need them to be.

These data on large, stubborn gaps across both traditional cognitive and noncognitive skills should guide the design of education policies at the federal, state, and local levels; the combined resources and support of government at all three levels are needed if we are to tackle these inequalities effectively. Looking at these case studies, policymakers can ask: What are the key strategies these communities employed, what main components characterize these strategies, and how did these communities effectively implement the strategies?

The latter set of questions is particularly pertinent to issues of scalability, financing, and sustainability, all of which have posed significant challenges for the districts studied and others like them. Policymakers can further ask: What other sources or examples might we learn from? Bright Futures affiliates now exist in 50 districts across eight states—and the program continues to grow—offering another set of communities to look to.

Also, new opportunities under the Every Student Succeeds Act ESSA —from funding to expand and align early childhood education programs to broader and more supports-based educator- and school-accountability systems—provide another avenue for exploration and educational improvement. This is already the focus of states and districts across the country—as well as of education policy nonprofits and associations—and is a focus that has the potential to inspire viable larger-scale models Cook-Harvey et al. We must take action, in particular, in those areas of policy related to early education in which we have seen little or no progress over the past decade.

Quality preschool, among the most-agreed-upon strategies to avert and narrow early gaps, continues to be much talked about but far too little invested in and far too infrequently and shoddily implemented. The advantages of preschool have been known for decades, and significant progress has been made in preschool enrollment over that time; however, preschool enrollment stagnated soon after Barnett et al. Altogether, this report adds to the strong evidentiary base that identifies strategies to reduce the education consequences of economic inequality.

It also sheds light on the need to conduct further research on the channels that drive or cushion changes in readiness. A close follow-up of these trends in the near future and of the measures adopted to really tackle inequities will not only determine what type of society we will be, but will also say a lot about what type of society we actually are. Her areas of research include analysis of the production of education, returns to education, program evaluation, international comparative education, human development, and cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis in education.

Elaine Weiss served as the national coordinator for the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education BBA from to , in which capacity she worked with four co-chairs, a high-level task force, and multiple coalition partners to promote a comprehensive, evidence-based set of policies to allow all children to thrive. She holds a Ph. We appreciate the feedback we received from our discussant Richard Todd and from the audience. The authors gratefully acknowledge Rob Grunewald and Milagros Nores for their insightful comments and advice on earlier drafts of the paper.

Special gratitude is expressed to Sean Reardon, for his advice and thorough guidance on the sensitivity analyses affecting the measurement of the cognitive skills and their implications for our study, and for sharing useful materials to help test our results. We thank Ben Zipperer and Yilin Pan for their advice on issues associated with multiple imputation of missing data. We are also grateful to Lora Engdahl and Krista Faries for editing this report, and to Margaret Poydock for her work preparing the tables and figures and formatting the report. Finally, we appreciate the assistance of communications staff at the Economic Policy Institute who helped to disseminate the study, especially Dan Crawford, Kayla Blado, and Elizabeth Rose.

NW, Suite , Washington, D. Email: egarcia epi. Notes: SES refers to socioeconomic status. The gap in equals the gap in plus the change in the gap from to For example, the gap in approaches to learning as reported by teachers in is 0. For statistical significance of these numbers, see Tables 3 and 4, Model 1. Note: SES refers to socioeconomic status. For statistical significance of these numbers, see Tables 3 and 4, Model 4.

Notes: The gaps are the baseline unadjusted standard deviation scores for high-SES children relative to low-SES children where high-SES children have mothers in the top quintile of the education distribution and low-SES children have mothers in bottom quintile of the education distribution. For statistical significance of these numbers, see Table 7, Model 1. Notes: The gaps are the baseline unadjusted standard deviation scores for high-SES children relative to low-SES children where high-SES children are in households with incomes in the top quintile of the income distribution and low-SES children are in households with incomes in bottom quintile of the income distribution.

For statistical significance of these numbers, see Table 8, Model 1. Notes: The gaps are the baseline unadjusted standard deviation scores for high-SES children relative to low-SES children where high-SES children have a number of books in the home in the top quintile of the books-in-the-home distribution and low-SES children have a number of books in the home in the bottom quintile of the books-in-the-home distribution. For statistical significance of these numbers, see Table 9, Model 1. Note: Using the full sample. The number of observations is rounded to the nearest multiple of Notes: Models 1 and 2 use the full sample; Models 3 and 4 use the complete cases sample.

Robust standard errors are in parentheses. SES refers to socioeconomic status. Declining values from to indicate that factors such as early literacy activities and other controls were not as effective at shrinking SES-based gaps in as they were in Notes: The robust standard errors are in parentheses. Notes: Model 1 uses the full sample; Model 4 uses the complete cases sample. Values are in dollars. Early investments in education strongly predict adolescent and adult development Cunha and Heckman ; Heckman ; Heckman and Kautz For instance, students with higher levels of behavioral skills learn more in school than peers whose attitudinal skills are less developed Jennings and DiPrete Conversely, children who fail to acquire this early foundational knowledge may experience some permanent loss of opportunities to achieve to their full potential.

Research by Reardon had found systematic increases in income gaps among generations. Recent studies by Bassok and Latham and Reardon and Portilla , however, show narrower achievement gaps at kindergarten entry between a recent cohort and the previous one, and thus a possible discontinuation or interruption of that trend. Bassok et al. Clustering takes into account the fact that children are not randomly distributed, but tend to be concentrated in schools or classrooms with children of the same race, social class, etc. These estimates offer an estimate of gaps within schools.

See Appendix B for more details. Results available upon request. The specific skills measured may vary between the home and classroom setting. Parents, on the other hand, may be basing their expectations on family, community, culture, or other factors. The detailed frequency with which parents develop or practice some activities with their children at home and others is available upon request. This literature acknowledges the multiple pathways through which expectations and behaviors influence educational outcomes, as well as the importance of race, social class, and other factors as moderators of such associations Davis-Kean ; Redd et al.

HHS and U. ED Models include all quintiles in their specification. Tables that offer a comparison for all quintiles relative to the first quintile are available upon request. We focus the discussion on the gap between the top and bottom. As a result, sample sizes become smaller see Appendix Table C1. Analytic samples once missingness is accounted for are called the complete case samples. We tested to see whether the unadjusted gaps estimated above with the full sample remained the same when using the complete case samples. For Model 1, we found an average difference of 0. For Model 2, the differences were 0. In terms of statistical significance, there are no significant changes in the estimates associated with the gaps, but there are two changes in the statistical significance of the estimates associated with the changes in the gaps by — , and one change in the magnitude of the coefficient.

The first change in the statistical significance of the estimates associated with the changes in the gaps by — is the change in the gap in approaches to learning as reported by parents, which is statistically significant when using the restricted sample 0. Finally, the one change in the magnitude of the coefficient, in this model, is the estimate of the change in the gap in reading, which increases when using the restricted sample from 0. Results are available upon request. These interactions between inputs and time test for whether the influence of inputs in is smaller than, the same as, or larger than the influence of inputs in Also, although only the fully specified results are shown, as noted in Appendix B, these sets of controls are entered parsimoniously in order to determine how sensitive gaps and changes in gaps over time are to the inclusion of family characteristics only, to the added inclusion of family investments, and, finally, to the inclusion of parental expectations for the inclusion of parental expectations, we incorporated interactions of the covariates with time parsimoniously as well.

For all outcomes, and focusing on the models without interactions between covariates and time, we find that all gaps in continuously shrink as we add more controls. For example, in reading, adding family characteristics reduces the gap in by 11 percent, adding investments further reduces it by 15 percent, and adding expectations further reduces it by 9 percent. In math, these changes equal to 16 percent, 13 percent, and 10 percent. For changes in the gap by —, for both reading and math, adding family characteristics and investments shrink the changes in the gaps, but adding expectations slightly increases the estimated coefficients which are statistically significant for reading, but not for math in these models.

These results are not shown in the appendices, but are available upon request. The change in the skills gaps by SES in due to the inclusion of the controls is not directly visible in the tables in this report. The change in the skills gaps by SES in is directly observable in Tables 3 and 4 and is discussed below. Please note that until this point in the report we have been concerned with SES gaps and not with performance directly though SES gaps are the result of the influence of SES on performance, which leads to differential performance of children by SES and hence to a performance gap.

Now the focus is on exploring the independent effect of the covariates of interest on performance. In this report, because we address whether the education and selected practices affect outcomes, the main effect is measured for the cohort, and we measure how it changed between and Any finding associated with this variable may be interpreted as the association between attending prekindergarten programs, compared with other options, but must be interpreted with caution. In other words, the child may have attended a high-quality prekindergarten program, which could have been either private or public, or a low-quality one, which would have different impacts.

He or she might have been placed in noneducational child care, either private or public, of high or low quality, for few or many hours per day, with very different implications for his or her development Barnett ; Barnett ; Magnuson et al. For the extensive literature explaining the benefits of pre-K schooling, see Camilli et al. Thus, more detailed information on the characteristics of the nonparental care arrangements type, quality, and quantity would help researchers further disentangle the importance of this variable. This additional information would provide a much clearer picture of the effects of early childhood education on the different educational outcomes. Because these associations seemed counterintuitive, we tested whether they were sensitive to the composition of the index.

We removed one component of the index at a time and created five alternative measures of other enrichment activities that parents do with their children. The results indicate that the negative association between the index and reading is not sensitive to the components of the index the coefficients for the main effect, i. For math, the associations lose some precision, but retain the negative sign negative association in four out of the five cases minimum coefficient is As a caveat, these components do not reflect whether the activities are undertaken by the child or guided by the adult, the time devoted to them, or how much they involve the use of vocabulary or math concepts.

These results are available upon request. See Appendices C and D for discussions of two other sensitivity analyses, one based on imputation of missing values for the main analysis in this paper, and the other on the utilization of various metrics of the cognitive variables. Overall, our findings were not sensitive to various multiple imputation tests. In terms of the utilization of different metrics for the cognitive variables, some sensitivity of the point estimates was detected. With certain activities that are already so provided to high-SES children, there may be little room for doing more for them. For example, there are only 24 hours per day to read to your child, so there is a cap on reading from a cap on time.

But perhaps there is still room to improve the influence of reading, if, for example, the way reading is done changes. Eight of the 12 districts explored in this paper are the subjects of published case studies. Case studies for the other four are in progress and will be published later this year. When citing information from the published case studies, we cite the specific published study. For the four that are not yet published, we refer to the original sources being used to develop the case studies. Missing or incomplete cells in the table indicate that data were not available on that aspect of student demographics or other characteristics.

In the country as a whole, poverty rates, which had been rising prior to , sped up rapidly during the recession and in its aftermath through — , and minority students mainly Hispanic and Asian grew as a share of the U. Between and , even with a decline in the proportion of black students, the share of the student body that is minority of black or Hispanic origin increased from The Southern Education Foundation revealed a troubling tipping point in for the first time since such data have been collected, over half of all public school students 51 percent qualified for free or reduced-priced meals i.

Across the South, shares were much higher, with the highest percentage, 71 percent—or nearly three in four students—in Mississippi Southern Education Foundation The federal Early Head Start EHS program includes both a home visiting and a center-based component, with many of the low-income infants and toddlers served benefiting from a combination of the two.

Studies of EHS find improved cognitive, behavioral, and emotional skills for children as well as enhanced parenting behaviors. According to one important source for data on access to and quality of state pre-K programs, the State of Preschool yearbook produced annually by the National Institute for Early Education Research NIEER at Rutgers University, as of , 42 states and the District of Columbia were funding 57 programs.

Elaine Weiss interview with Joshua Starr, June In recent years, a growing number of reports have emerged that some charter schools—which are technically public schools and often tout their successes in serving disadvantaged students—keep out students unlikely to succeed through complex application processes, fees, parent participation contracts, and other mechanisms, and then further winnow the student body of such students by pushing them out when they struggle academically or behaviorally. See AIR and Sparks Joplin statistics are from internal data produced for the superintendent at that time that are no longer available.

Attendance Works , a national campaign to reduce chronic absence, points to a range of studies that document and explain the connections between chronic absenteeism, student physical and mental health, and student achievement. Areas of research include elementary school absenteeism, middle and high school absenteeism, health issues, and state and local data on how these problems play out, among others.

Elaine Weiss interview with C. Huff, June See Appendix D for a discussion of results using other metrics for reading and math achievement. Results are not meaningfully different across metrics, though the point estimates differ slightly. This last feature will be explored in a companion paper to this one, as soon as the necessary information is released by NCES. As Tourangeau et al. We are waiting on the availability of this data to conduct a companion study that allows us to learn whether starting levels of knowledge rose over these years, and what the relative gains were for different demographic groups.

We acknowledge that there are multiple noneducation public policy and economic policy areas to be called upon to address the problems studied in this report, namely, all the ones that ensure other factors that correlate with low-SES are attended, and, obviously, the ones that lead to fewer low-SES children. These other policies could help ensure that more children grow up in contexts with sufficient resources and healthy surroundings, or would leave fewer children without built-in supports at home that need to be compensated for afterwards.

A similar comprehensive approach in terms of policy recommendations was used by Putnam Adamson, Frank, and Linda Darling-Hammond. Alvarez, Lizette. School Turnaround: A Pocket Guide. Baker, Bruce D. The Stealth Inequities of School Funding. The Center for American Progress. Barbarin, O. Downer, E. Odom, and D. Barnett, W. Malden, Mass. Bassok, Daphna, Jenna E. Reardon, and Jane Waldfogel. Bassok, Daphna, and Scott Latham. Berea College. November Achievement Gap in Comparative Perspective. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne, and Lisa Markman. Bivens, Josh. Progressive Redistribution without Guilt. Incomes Grow Fairer and Faster. Economic Policy Institute. Burris, Carol. Steven Barnett. Five Key Trends in U. Student Performance.

Carter, Prudence L. Welner, eds. New York: Oxford Univ. Caspe, Margaret, and Joy Lorenzo Kennedy. Child Trends. Clark, H. Coleman, J. Campbell, C. Hobson, J. McPartland, A. Mood, F. Weinfeld, and R. Equality of Educational Opportunity. Washington, D. Office of Education. Accessed August 31, Cook-Harvey, C. Darling-Hammond, L. Lam, C. Mercer, and M. Palo Alto, Calif. Cunha, Flavio, and James J. Currie, Janet. Davis-Kean, Pamela E. Duncan, Greg J. Dowsett, Amy Claessens, Katherine A. Magnuson, Aletha C. Huston, Pamela Klebanov, Linda S. Duncan and Richard Murnane, eds. Morris, and Chris Rodrigues.

Fiester, Leila. Early Warning! Annie E. Casey Foundation. Children Out on Unequal Footing. Hart, Betty, and Todd R. Baltimore, Md. Heckman, James J. Henderson, Anne T. Annenberg Institute for School Reform. Hernandez, Donald J. Gizriel, Sarah. Jennings, J. Lee, Valerie E. Inequality at the Starting Gate. Levin, Henry M. Magnuson, Katherine, and Greg J. Magnuson, Katherine A. Meyers, C. Ruhm, and Jane Waldfogel. Marietta, Geoff. Foundation for Child Development.

Maryland State Department of Education. Miller-Adams, Michelle. Kalamazoo, Mich. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Mishel, Lawrence. Ithaca, N. Mishel, Lawrence, and Jessica Schieder. January Linkages to Learning brochure. Morsy, Leila, and Richard Rothstein. Murnane, Richard J. New York: The Free Press. Willett, Kristen L. Bub, and Kathleen McCartney. Najarian, M. Tourangeau, C.

Nord, K. Wallner-Allen, and J. Department of Education. June 3. Nores, Milagros, and W. New Brunswick, N. Understanding Achievement Gaps in the Early Years. PBS NewsHour. Peterson, T. Phillips, Meredith. Proctor, Bernadette D. Semega, and Melissa A. Income and Poverty in the United States: Putnam, Robert. New York: Simon and Schuster. Ready, Douglas D. Reardon, Sean F. Redd, Z. Guzman, L. Lippman, L. Scott, and G. Rolnick, Art, and Rob Grunewald. Rothstein, Richard. Brewer, Patrick J. McEwan, eds. Oxford: Elsevier. Saez, Emmanuel. Money Lightens the Load. The Hamilton Project, Brookings Institute.

Selzer, Michael H. Frank, and Anthony S. Sharkey, Patrick. Chicago, Ill. Simon, Stephanie. Simpkins, Sandra D. Davis-Kean, and Jacquelynne S. Southern Education Foundation. Sparks, Sarah D. Stata: Release 14 [statistical software]. Stringhini, Silvia, et al. Published online January 31, Tourangeau, K. Nord, T. Sorongon, and M. Some courts, particularly in the South, have upheld the constitutionality of student-initiated religious speech, emphasizing the private origins of this kind of religious expression.

As long as school officials did not encourage or explicitly approve the contents, those courts have upheld religious content in student commencement speeches. In Adler v. Duval County School Board , for example, the 11th U. Circuit Court of Appeals approved a system at a Florida high school in which the senior class, acting independently of school officials, selected a class member to deliver a commencement address. School officials neither influenced the choice of speaker nor screened the speech. Under those circumstances, the appeals court ruled that the school was not responsible for the religious content of the address.

Other courts, however, have invalidated school policies that permit student speakers to include religious sentiments in graduation addresses. One leading case is ACLU v. The 3rd U. Circuit Court of Appeals nevertheless ruled that the high school could not permit religious content in the commencement speech. The court reasoned that students attending the graduation ceremony were as coerced to acquiesce in a student-led prayer as they would be if the prayer were offered by a member of the clergy, the practice forbidden by Weisman in Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Similarly, in Bannon v. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Florida school officials were right to order the removal of student-created religious messages and symbols from a school beautification project.

Courts have long grappled with attempts by school boards and other official bodies to change the curriculum in ways that directly promote or denigrate a particular religious tradition. Opponents favor teaching some form of creationism, the idea that life came about as described in the biblical book of Genesis or evolved under the guidance of a supreme being.

A recent alternative to Darwinism, intelligent design, asserts that life is too complex to have arisen without divine intervention. The Supreme Court entered the evolution debate in , when it ruled, in Epperson v. Almost 20 years later, in Edwards v. Lower courts consistently have followed the lead of Epperson and Edwards. As a result, school boards have lost virtually every fight over curriculum changes designed to challenge evolution, including disclaimers in biology textbooks. One of the most recent and notable of these cases, Kitzmiller v. After lengthy testimony from both proponents and opponents of intelligent design, a federal district court in Pennsylvania concluded that the policy violates the Establishment Clause because intelligent design is a religious, rather than scientific, theory.

Kitzmiller may have been the last major evolution case to make national headlines, but the debate over how to teach about the origins and development of life in public schools has continued in state legislatures, boards of education and other public bodies. Courts have also expended substantial time and energy considering public school programs that involve Bible study. Although the Supreme Court has occasionally referred to the permissibility of teaching the Bible as literature, some school districts have instituted Bible study programs that courts have found unconstitutional. Frequently, judges have concluded that these courses are thinly disguised efforts to teach a particular understanding of the New Testament. In a number of these cases, school districts have brought in outside groups to run the Bible study program.

The groups, in turn, hired their own teachers, in some cases Bible college students or members of the clergy who did not meet state accreditation standards. Such Bible study programs have generally been held unconstitutional because, the courts conclude, they teach the Bible as religious truth or are designed to inculcate particular religious sentiments. For a public school class to study the Bible without violating constitutional limits, the class would have to include critical rather than devotional readings and allow open inquiry into the history and content of biblical passages. Christmas-themed music programs also have raised constitutional concerns. The schools also must be sensitive to the possibility that some students will feel coerced to participate in the program Bauchman v.

West High School, 10th U. Circuit Court of Appeals, ; Doe v. Duncanville Independent School District, 5th Circuit, Moreover, the courts have said, no student should be forced to sing or play music that offends their religious sensibilities. Therefore, schools must allow students the option not to participate. Not all the cases involving religion in the curriculum concern the promotion of the beliefs of the majority. Indeed, challenges have come from Christian groups arguing that school policies discriminate against Christianity by promoting cultural pluralism.

In one example, the 2nd U. Circuit Court of Appeals considered a New York City Department of Education policy regulating the types of symbols displayed during the holiday seasons of various religions. The department allows the display of a menorah as a symbol for Hanukkah and a star and crescent to evoke Ramadan but permits the display of only secular symbols of Christmas, such as a Christmas tree; it explicitly forbids the display of a Christmas nativity scene in public schools. Klein that city officials intended to promote cultural pluralism in the highly diverse setting of the New York City public schools.

The judicial panel ruled that the policy, therefore, did not promote Judaism or Islam and did not denigrate Christianity. In another high-profile case, Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum v. Ordinarily, opponents of homosexuality could not confidently cite the Establishment Clause as the basis for a complaint, because the curriculum typically would not advance a particular religious perspective. However, the Montgomery County curriculum included materials in teacher guides that disparaged some religious teachings on homosexuality as theologically flawed and contrasted those teachings with what the guide portrayed as the more acceptable and tolerant views of some other faiths.

The district court concluded that the curriculum had both the purpose and effect of advancing certain faiths while denigrating the beliefs of others. The county rewrote these materials to exclude any reference to the views of particular faiths, making them more difficult to challenge successfully in court because the lessons did not condemn or praise any faith tradition. At the time of its school prayer decisions in the early s, the Supreme Court had never ruled on whether students have the right of free speech inside public schools. By the end of that decade, however, the court began to consider the question. And the results have made the rules for religious expression far more complex. The leading Supreme Court decision on freedom of student speech is Tinker v.

Des Moines School District , , which upheld the right of students to wear armbands protesting the Vietnam War. The court ruled that school authorities may not suppress expression by students unless the expression significantly disrupts school discipline or invades the rights of others. Some school officials responded to the mix of student liberties and restraints by forbidding certain forms of student-initiated religious expression such as the saying of grace before lunch in the school cafeteria, student-sponsored gatherings for prayer at designated spots on school property, or student proselytizing aimed at other students. Department of Education sent to every public school superintendent in The department revised the guidelines in , placing somewhat greater emphasis on the rights of students to speak or associate for religious purposes.

The guidelines highlight these four general principles:. A case decided by the 9th U. Circuit Court of Appeals underscores the difficulties that school officials still can face when students exercise their right to religious expression on school property. In this case, gay and lesbian students in a California high school organized a Day of Silence, in which students promoting tolerance of differences in sexual orientation refrained from speaking in school. The Court of Appeals, in Harper v.

He concluded that the T-shirt could be seen as violating school policies against harassment based on sexual orientation. By permitting the Gay and Lesbian Alliance to conduct the Day of Silence, Kozinski said, the district was choosing sides on a controversial social issue and stifling religiously motivated speech on one side of the issue. Harper petitioned the Supreme Court to review the appeals court decision. But Harper graduated from high school, and the case took a different turn. The Supreme Court, in early , ordered the lower court to vacate its ruling and dismiss the case on the grounds that it had become moot. Harper highlighted a tension — one that may yet recur — between the rights of students to engage in religious expression and the rights of other students to be educated in a non-hostile environment.

For now, cases like Harper illustrate the difficulties for school officials in regulating student expression. Parents sometimes complain that secular practices at school inhibit their right to direct the religious upbringing of their children. When they object to certain school practices, the parents often seek permission for their children to skip the offending lesson or class — to opt out — rather than try to end the practice schoolwide. Society of Sisters , which guarantees to parents the right to enroll their children in private rather than public schools, whether the private schools are religious or secular.

The students said the flag represented a graven image and that their religion forbade them from recognizing it. Of all the Supreme Court rulings supporting religious opt-outs, perhaps the most significant came in Wisconsin v. Yoder , which upheld the right of members of the Old Order Amish to withdraw their children from formal education at the age of The Amish community had a well-established record as hardworking and law-abiding, the court noted, and Amish teens would receive home-based training. The worldly influences present in the school experience of teenagers, the court said, would undercut the continuity of agrarian life in the Amish community. In later decisions, lower courts recognized religious opt-outs in other relatively narrow circumstances.

Parents successfully cited religious grounds to win the right to remove their children from otherwise compulsory military training Spence v. Cronin, In Menora v. Illinois High School Association , the 7th U. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Illinois High School Association was constitutionally obliged to accommodate Orthodox Jewish basketball players who wanted to wear a head covering, despite an association rule forbidding headgear. The Menora case involves a narrow exception from the dress code, rather than a broader right to opt out of a curriculum requirement.

Under these opt-out programs, parents do not have to explain their objection, religious or otherwise, to participation by their children. On other occasions, however, parental claims that the Constitution entitles them to remove their children from part or all of a public school curriculum have fared rather poorly. The issue of home schooling is a good example.

Before state legislatures passed laws allowing home schooling, parents seeking to educate their children at home were often unsuccessful in the courts. Many judges distinguished these home schooling cases from Yoder on the grounds that Yoder involved teenagers rather than young children. The judges also noted that Yoder was concerned with the survival of an entire religious community — the Old Order Amish — rather than the impact of education on a single family.

The most famous of the cases is Mozert v. The school board originally allowed children to choose alternative reading materials but then eliminated that option. The 6th U. Furthermore, the court said, the school board had a strong interest in exposing children to a variety of ideas and images and in using a uniform series of books for all children. Because the books did not explicitly adopt or denigrate particular religious beliefs, the court concluded, the parents could insist neither on the removal of the books from the schools nor on their children opting out. The 1st U. Circuit Court of Appeals reached a similar conclusion in a case involving a public high school in Massachusetts that held a mandatory assembly devoted to AIDS and sex education. In that case, Brown v.

Hot, Sexy, and Safer Productions , the court rejected a complaint brought by parents who alleged that exposure to sexually explicit material infringed on their rights to religious freedom and control of the upbringing of their children. More recently, parents and students have, on religious liberty and other grounds, sued school districts that accommodate transgender students by allowing them to use bathroom and locker facilities that match their current gender identity rather than their sex at birth. Some parents and students argue that the new arrangements violate their religious liberty rights because the school policy forces them to accommodate a set of moral and religious beliefs they disagree with. So far, however, federal courts have sided with school districts that have accommodated transgender students.

For instance, in Parents for Privacy v. Dallas School District No. And in , the Supreme Court declined to review Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, letting stand a 3rd U. Without question, public school employees retain their rights to free exercise of religion. When off duty, school employees are free to engage in worship, proselytizing or any other lawful faith-based activity. When they are acting as representatives of a public school system, however, courts have said their rights are constrained by the Establishment Clause.

This limitation on religious expression raises difficult questions. The first is what limits school systems may impose on the ordinary and incidental expression of religious identity by teachers in the classroom. Most school systems permit teachers to wear religious clothing or jewelry. At times, however, teachers act in an uninvited and overtly religious manner toward students and are asked by school administrators to refrain. In Bishop v. Aronov , for example, the 11th U. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a set of restrictions imposed by the University of Alabama on a professor of exercise physiology. In Roberts v. The court emphasized that school principals need such authority to prevent potential violations of the Establishment Clause and to protect students against a religiously coercive atmosphere.

That much is clear. That was the key question in Wigg v. Sioux Falls School District 8th U. Circuit Court of Appeals, , in which a teacher sued the South Dakota school district for refusing to allow her to serve as an instructor in the Good News Club an evangelical Christian group that met after school hours at various public elementary schools in the district. A federal district court ruled that the teacher, Barbara Wigg, should be free to participate in the club but said the school district could insist that the teacher not participate at the school where she was employed.

The court reasoned that once the school day ended, Wigg became a private citizen, leaving her free to be a Good News Club instructor at any school, including the one where she worked. In general, then, the courts have ruled that public schools have substantial discretion to regulate the religious expression of teachers during instructional hours, especially when students are required to be present.

Over the past 20 years, evangelical Christians and others have advanced the rights of religious organizations to have equal access to meeting space and other forms of recognition provided by public schools to students. These organizations have consistently succeeded in securing the same privileges provided by public schools to secular groups. Their victories have not been based on a claim that religious groups have a right to official recognition simply because they want to practice or preach their religion; instead, these cases have been won on free-speech grounds. Whenever public schools recognize student extracurricular activities for example, a student Republican club or an animal rights group , the schools are deemed to have created a forum for student expression.

In a now-lengthy line of decisions, the Supreme Court has ruled consistently that religious groups represent a particular viewpoint on the subjects they address and that officials may not exclude that viewpoint from a government-created forum for expression or association. The first major decision in this area was Widmar v. The court rejected this defense, ruling that the university had allowed other student groups to use university property and that the complaining group could not be excluded on the basis of its religious viewpoint.

They, too, should have access to public space, the court said. Despite the decision in Widmar, however, some public high schools continued to refuse access to student religious groups. Those schools took the view that prayer and Bible reading in public schools were constitutionally impermissible, even if wholly student initiated. At least one court of appeals has upheld that argument. Congress responded by passing the Equal Access Act of As a condition for receiving federal financial aid, the law required that public secondary schools not discriminate on the basis of religion or political viewpoint in recognizing and supporting extracurricular activities.

This law has benefited a variety of student organizations, from gay and lesbian groups to evangelical Christian clubs.

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