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The Effects of Teacher Professional Development on Children’s Attendance in Preschool

Summary by: Jonathan Seiden

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What was this study about?

When children are absent from early childhood education (ECE) at centers and preschools they are unable to fully realize the positive effects ECE can have on their lives. Younger children and those from families with lower income are more at risk for absenteeism and may benefit most from ECE. Therefore, efforts to reduce absenteeism could have greater-than-average benefits for these students.

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Comprehensive College Transition Program Increases Students’ Psychosocial Outcomes

Tatiana Melguizo, Paco Martorell, Elise Swanson, W. Edward Chi, Elizabeth Park, & Adrianna Kezar

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Is there an added benefit of providing college students with comprehensive support in addition to a scholarship?

An experimental evaluation of the Thompson Scholars Learning Communities (TSLC) program in the University of Nebraska system finds that participating in a comprehensive college transition program increases students’ sense of belonging (e.g. feeling part of the institution) and feelings of mattering (e.g. feeling they are valued on campus) relative to their peers. We find some evidence to suggest that program may be equity enhancing, given large observed increases in feelings of mattering among traditionally underserved students. We focus on the impact of the program on four key psychosocial outcomes that provide insight into students’ experiences on campus and help capture a broader understanding of student success than purely academic outcomes. Our findings suggest that comprehensive programs can improve students’ psychosocial outcomes.

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Technology-assisted Vocabulary Learning for EFL Learners: A Meta-analysis

Tao Hao, Zhe Wang, Yuliya Ardasheva

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A core component to learning a second language (L2) is vocabulary acquisition. New technologies have the potential to substantially improve vocabulary acquisition. Technological activities can elicit L2 learners’ interest, provide more verbal and multimedia exposure to the target language, and present opportunities to interact with the target language using various technological devices.

Study Inclusion Criteria

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Effects of apprenticeship on the short-term educational outcomes of vocational high-school students

José de Amesti & Susana Claro

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Apprenticeship increase employment opportunities, but what about academic outcomes?  

Apprenticeship-based high schools increase employment outcomes compared to school-based-only vocational education: countries that implement apprenticeship have eased the school-to-work transition and reduced youth unemployment. Despite these promising benefits of apprenticeship, there is almost no evidence of its impact on students’ educational outcomes. In fact, some worry that spending less time at school could motivate students to leave the academic path to join the workplace instead, causing apprentices to achieve lower educational attainment.

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Unpacking the Treatment Contrast in the Head Start Impact Study: To What Extent Does Assignment to Treatment Affect Quality of Care?

Summary by: Elizabeth Hentschel

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Background

Attending high-quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs can lead to positive child outcomes across multiple developmental domains including cognitive and social-emotional. Children from low-income families rarely have access to high-quality ECCE – less than one quarter attend center-based childcare rated as high-quality. The National Head Start (HS) Program is one affordable (free) option to low-income families, but data from 2006 find that only 40% of National Head Start Programs are considered high quality. This study seeks to understand if children who were randomly selected and offered an opportunity to participate in Head Start enroll in higher quality ECCE than they otherwise would have.

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Promoting Parents’ Social Capital to Increase Children’s Attendance in Head Start: Evidence From an Experimental Intervention

Summary by: Samantha Batel

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Increasing attendance in early childhood education is a national goal

Head Start is the nation’s largest federally funded early childhood education program for children from low-income families. This type of programming, which is a central policy lever for expanding opportunity, can only be effective if children attend regularly. However, there is no systematic evidence on whether or why strategies to improve attendance are effective. 

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Examining the Earnings Trajectories of Community College Students Using a Piecewise Growth Curve Modeling Approach

Summary by: Lily An

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Traditional methods of estimating the returns to community college remain imprecise.

Historically, to estimate the labor market returns to a community college degree, researchers have compared the earnings of students who completed a degree to those who did not, at a single point in time, while controlling for background characteristics. With the expansion of longitudinal data sets, researchers have begun to consider how earnings before and during community college can affect returns to community college. However, even improved econometric analyses overlook some temporal influences on predicted earnings growth, such as the time between graduation and measured earnings, instead estimating averaged returns over time. These influences are particularly salient for community college students, who vary in their time-to-degree completion and often enter college with pre-existing or concurrent work experiences.

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Examining the Impact of QuickReads Technology and Print Formats on Fluency, Comprehension, and Vocabulary Development for Elementary Students

Summary by: Yining Hua

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What is QuickReads Technology? Is it effective?

QuickReads (QR) is a curriculum that uses science and social studies texts to build reading skills. It has both print-only and technology + print formats and utilizes 15-minute instructional sessions built on a model with wide and long-lasting support in comprehension instruction. This study finds that QR enhanced students’ reading skills in all evaluated areas: reading fluency, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. The figure shows the outcome of the reading comprehension assessment. The three bars within each grade group represent students who 1) did not use QR (control), 2) used QR print materials, and 3) used QR technology-based and printed materials, respectively (from left to right). Across all grades, QR effectively enhanced students reading fluency.

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Early College, Continued Success: Longer-Term Impact of Early College High Schools

Mengli Song, Kristina L. Zeiser, Drew Atchison, and Iliana Brodziak de los Reyes

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What are Early College High Schools?

Early Colleges are small high schools designed to increase the opportunity for students–particularly students traditionally underrepresented in higher education­–to earn a postsecondary credential. To achieve this goal, they partner with colleges and universities to provide high school students with college experience with the expectation that all students will earn an associate’s degree or up to 2 years of college credits during high school at no or low-cost to their families. Early Colleges also provide a rigorous and supportive high school environment to help students navigate and succeed in college coursework.

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Investigating Efficacy, Moderators, and Mediators for an Online Mathematics Homework Intervention

Summary by: Muqi Guo

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ASSISTments is an online math homework intervention developed to target formative assessment. Teachers and students can assign, do, and review homework using the ASSISTments platform. While doing homework in ASSISTments students receive immediate feedback on their work, opportunities to improve their answers, and hints and tutorials for select problems. Teachers receive a report that identifies which assigned homework problems were difficult for students, along with common wrong answers.

What are the impacts of the ASSISTments intervention?

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The Choice Architecture of School Choice Websites

Summary by: Sophia Li

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Displays of school information affect parents’ decisions and decision-making process

Parents increasingly choose between schools for their children to attend. The way in which school data - safety, resources, distance, and academic performance - is presented affects how parents rank and choose schools.

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Heterogeneity in Short- and Long-Term Impacts of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) on academic outcomes, behavioral outcomes, and criminal activity

Nicolai Topstad Borgen, Oddbjørn Raaum, Lars Johannessen Kirkebøen, Mari-Anne Sørlie, Terje Ogden, Ivar Frønes

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Does School-Wide Positive Behavioral Support (SWPBS) affect academic failure and marginalization?

If at all, effects are likely small in Norway. Exposure to SWPBS in grades 1-7 does not seem to have a noticeable influence on students’ later academic achievements, school dropout, later school problem behavior, or criminal charges, neither in general nor for at-risk students.

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Impact of Providing Teachers and Principals with Performance Feedback on Their Practice and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Large-Scale Randomized Experiment

Mengli Song, Andrew J. Wayne, Michael S. Garet, Seth Brown, and Jordan Rickles

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What is the intervention tested in this study?

The 2-year intervention consisted of three components that were designed to provide educators with performance feedback on classroom practice (four times per year), student growth (once per year), and principal leadership (twice per year), respectively. The intervention targeted principals and teachers of reading and mathematics in grades 4–8, whose participation in the intervention was voluntary with no consequences for tenure or employment.

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Iterative Design and Pilot Testing of the Developing Talkers Tiered Academic Language Curriculum for Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten

Tricia A. Zucker, María S. Carlo, Susan H. Landry, Saba S. Masood, Jeffrey M. Williams, Vibhuti Bhavsar

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Can Developing Talkers improve academic vocabulary?

Yes, according to a rigorous study conducted in Texas with young students who were mostly English learners (ELs, 63%). Students who participated in a 26-week shared reading program, which taught academic vocabulary and asked inferential comprehension questions, learned more sophisticated words compared with students who did not (see bar chart below). This study shows that an intervention can cause children as young as pre-kindergarten (pre-k) and kindergarten to learn more academic words. This extends past research on direct instruction to academic level words. Developing academic level language in the earliest grades aligns with modern learning guidelines that view rigorous classroom discourse as foundational to college and career readiness.

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Parasympathetic Function: Relevance and Methodology for Early Education Research

Summary by: Lindsay Gomes

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The definition of school readiness in the contexts of educational research, practice, and policy has changed considerably over the past 60 years. After a long period of prioritizing academic skills (e.g., letter-shape knowledge), many researchers now emphasize the extent to which young children can control their emotions and behaviors as key to school readiness. This capacity is commonly referred to as self-regulation, which is often defined in terms of volitional, cognitively-mediated processes such as executive functions. In this paper, we assert that understanding children’s parasympathetic function is essential to providing a holistic understanding of self-regulation in the classroom and for informing how the classroom environment can be tailored to most effectively promote young children’s development.

What is parasympathetic function and why is it important?

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Varying States of Head Start: Impacts of a Federal Program Across State Policy Contexts

Maia C. Connors & Allison H. Friedman-Krauss

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Head Start increases low-income children’s access to high-quality preschool.

Attending high-quality preschool is associated with stronger cognitive and social-emotional skills, especially for low-income children. We know from previous experimental research that Head Start, a federally funded and regulated program, is an important source of high-quality preschool for low-income families nationwide. But Head Start programs do not have the capacity to serve all eligible families that want to attend. Most low-income children are cared for at home or attend other preschool programs that are regulated by individual states rather than the federal government. Child care licensing regulations are the primary way that states set quality standards for most preschool programs. Beyond basic health and safety regulations, the rigor of quality standards set by states’ licensing policies varies widely.

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Gather-Narrow-Extract: A Framework for Studying Local Policy Variation Using Web-Scraping and Natural Language Processing

Kylie L. Anglin

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Many education policy decisions are made at the local level. School districts make policies regarding hiring, resource allocation, and day-to-day operations. However, collecting data on local policy decisions has traditionally been expensive and time-consuming, sometimes leading researchers to leave important research questions unanswered.

This paper presents a framework for efficiently identifying and processing local policy documents posted online – documents like staff manuals, union contracts, and school improvement plans – using web-scraping and natural language processing.

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Mitigating Illusory Results through Preregistration in Education

Summary by: Claire Chuter

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Good researchers thoroughly analyze their data, right? Practices like testing the right covariates, running your analyses in multiple ways to find the best fitting model, screening for outliers, and testing for mediation or moderation effects are indeed important practices… but with a massive caveat. The aggregation of many of these rigorous research practices (as well as some more dubious ones) can lead to what the authors call “illusory results” – results that seem real but are unlikely to be reproduced. In other words, implementation of these common practices (see Figure 1 in the article), often leads researchers to run multiple analytic tests which may unwittingly inflate their chances of stumbling upon a significant finding by chance.

Potential Solutions

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Partially Identified Treatment Effects for Generalizability

Wendy Chan

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Will this intervention work for me?

This is one of the questions that make up the core of generalization research. Generalizations focus on the extent to which the findings of a study apply to people in a different context, in a different time period, or in a different study altogether. In education, one common type of generalization involves examining whether the results of an experiment (e.g., the estimated effect of an intervention) apply to a larger group of people, or a population.

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The Methodological Challenges of Measuring Institutional Value-added in Higher Education

Tatiana Melguizo, Gema Zamarro, Tatiana Velasco, and Fabio J. Sanchez

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Assessing the quality of higher education is hard but there is growing pressure for governments to create a ranking system for institutions that can be used for assessment and funding allocations.  Such a system, however, would require a reliable methodology to fairly assess colleges using a wide variety of indicators. Countries with centralized governance structures have motivated researchers to develop “value-added” metrics of colleges’ contributions to student outcomes that can be used for summative assessment (Coates, 2009; Melguizo & Wainer, 2016; Shavelson et al. 2016). Estimating the “value-added” of colleges and programs, however, is methodologically challenging: first, high- and low-achieving students tend to self-select into different colleges– a behavior that if not accounted for, may yield to estimates that capture students’ prior achievement rather than colleges’ effectiveness at raising achievement; second, measures considering gains in student learning outcomes (SLOs) as indicators at the higher education level are scant. In our paper, we study these challenges and compare the methods used for obtaining value-added metrics in the context of higher education in Colombia.

How to best estimate value-added models in higher education?

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