REL West in the News
New REL West Report on School Climate Survey in California
The Appropriateness of a California Student and Staff Survey for Measuring Middle School Climate
September 23, 2014 | Institute of Education Sciences
The appropriateness of a California student and staff school climate survey for measuring middle school climate
Many education agencies require assessment and monitoring of school climate, but they have questions about how surveys identify school climate domains, differentiate between schools on these domains, and include measures that are stable over time and that relate to other measures of school functioning.
The student and teacher surveys of the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey each measure six school climate domains reliably and validly. For the student survey, the domains are safety and connectedness, caring relationships with adults, meaningful participation, substance use at school, bullying and discrimination, and delinquency.
For the teacher survey, the domains are support and safety, caring staff–student relationships, staff–peer relationships, student health and engagement, student delinquency, and resource provision.
The study found that school-level scores from the teacher survey were more stable than those from the student survey. All of the school-level domain measures were associated in expected ways with school-level student academic performance and suspensions.
Survey results can help educators identify school climate needs, target supports and reforms, and monitor progress in climate improvement efforts.
New REL West Report on Math Placement Decisions in Middle School
Using Assessment Data to Guide Math Course Placement of California Middle School Students
September 10, 2014 | Institute of Education Sciences
Are there effective ways to identify which students are likely to succeed in Algebra I in grade 8? School districts are looking for ways to place middle school students in appropriate math courses, especially as recent studies show that not all grade 8 students are ready for Algebra I.
REL West at WestEd, in collaboration with the Silicon Valley Research Alliance, tackled this practical problem in education by conducting a study using data from several California school districts. The resulting report, released today, compares different strategies for using student assessment data from grades 6 and 7 to identify students who are likely to succeed in Algebra I in grade 8.
A key finding of the study is that performance on an online assessment from the Math Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) predicts Algebra 1 success approximately as well as the grade 7 state standardized math test. What makes this finding so important to California educators is that the MDTP results are available immediately, thereby facilitating timely math placement decisions and the assignment of students to course rosters.
The findings are expected to help the participating districts better understand the indicators that predict Algebra I success, refine their placement criteria, streamline their placement process, and increase the number of algebra-ready students placed in Algebra I in grade 8. The report also demonstrates an empirical approach to identifying predictors of success in Algebra I that can be emulated by other districts in California and across the nation.
Utah Promotes Attendance Awareness Month
Read the Full Announcement
August 26, 2014 | Utah State Office of Education and Utah State Board of Education
The Utah State Office of Education, in conjunction with Attendance Works, Voices for Utah Children, REL West at WestEd, Utah Education Policy Center (UEPC) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, is announcing the first Utah Attendance Awareness Month for September 2014.
On September 18, 2014, an Every Day Counts Policy Forum with invited Utah policymakers, educators, and community leaders will be held to increase knowledge of the prevalence, causes, and consequences of and promising responses to chronic absenteeism, to collaboratively make recommendations for state- and district-level policies and practices, and to explore community partnerships that can support improved school attendance and student success. For more information about the event, see the REL West event page.
NCER Releases Paper on Partially Nested Randomized Controlled Trials
Partially Nested Randomized Controlled Trials in Education Research: A Guide to Design and Analysis
August 5, 2014 | National Center for Education Research (NCER)
To help researchers understand and use partially nested randomized controlled trial (PN- RCT) research designs, NCER commissioned a paper, Partially Nested Randomized Controlled Trials in Education Research: A Guide to Design and Analysis.
Most applied education researchers are familiar with how to design and analyze results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) – in which individual students are assigned to treatment or control groups – but are less certain about what to do when students in the treatment group are clustered together (for example, in a pull-out tutoring group), whereas students in the control group are not. This difference in clustering presents researchers with new issues in both design and analysis. The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance to education researchers on how to recognize, design, and analyze data from PN-RCTs to rigorously assess whether an intervention (such as a curriculum, policy, or tutoring program) is effective.
New Guide from U.S. Department of Education Helps School Districts Make the Most of Opportunities to Learn What Works
Making the Most of Opportunities to Learn What Works: A School District's Guide
June 2, 2014 | Institute of Education Sciences
A new guide, published by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences, helps district and school leaders recognize opportunities to embed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) into planned policies or programs. Opportunistic RCTs can generate strong evidence for informing education decisions—with minimal added cost and disruption.
The guide also outlines key steps to conduct RCTs and responds to common questions and concerns about RCTs.
A real life example of how one district took advantage of an opportunity to learn whether a summer reading program worked is also included in the new guide.