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University of Pennsylvania

Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

CPRE Policy Briefs

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Full-Text Articles in Education

Building A Lattice For School Leadership: Lessons From England, Jonathan A. Supovitz Mar 2015

Building A Lattice For School Leadership: Lessons From England, Jonathan A. Supovitz

CPRE Policy Briefs

This policy brief examines the evolution of the educational leadership development system in England to see what ideas American leaders and policymakers might take from looking transnationally. The brief is based on a more in-depth examination of that leadership development system described in a CPRE research report entitled Building a Lattice for School Leadership: The Top-to-Bottom Rethinking of Leadership Development in England and What It Might Mean for American Education. The research report was based upon a year of research on school leadership in England that included extensive background research, site visits to schools and leadership programs, and over 20 ...


An Urban Myth? New Evidence On Equity, Adequacy, And The Efficiency Of Educational Resources In Pennsylvania, Matthew Steinberg, Rand Quinn Nov 2014

An Urban Myth? New Evidence On Equity, Adequacy, And The Efficiency Of Educational Resources In Pennsylvania, Matthew Steinberg, Rand Quinn

CPRE Policy Briefs

How and in what ways money matters in education is a long-standing question among policymakers and education researchers. This issue is particularly salient to large, urban school districts, where debates on the organization of school often gravitate toward issues of financial resources and academic performance. Large urban districts, the story goes, spend more money per pupil but generate lower than expected results. In this policy brief, University of Pennsylvania researchers Matthew P. Steinberg and Rand Quinn present evidence that addresses the oft-told story that large urban districts, such as the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), are inefficient.


The Role Of The Common Core In The Gubernatorial Elections Of 2014, Jonathan A. Supovitz, Bobbi Newman, Ariel Smith Nov 2014

The Role Of The Common Core In The Gubernatorial Elections Of 2014, Jonathan A. Supovitz, Bobbi Newman, Ariel Smith

CPRE Policy Briefs

After the Spring 2014 primaries, the Common Core State Standards were viewed as a political hot potato. As former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said, “the Common Core has become toxic, I think it’s radioactive…It has become an incredibly controversial topic on both the left and the right.” Even so, the Common Core turned out to play a role in some of the governor’s races in November 2014.

In this analysis of candidate positions and the role of the Common Core across the 36 gubernatorial races of 2014, CPRE researchers Bobbi Newman, Jonathan Supovitz and Arial Smith used ...


Slowing Entropy: Instructional Policy Design In New York City, 2011-12, Jonathan A. Supovitz Oct 2014

Slowing Entropy: Instructional Policy Design In New York City, 2011-12, Jonathan A. Supovitz

CPRE Policy Briefs

How do policymakers craft policies, particularly centered on the Common Core State Standards, to be more resilient and less likely to disintegrate during enactment? Researcher Jonathan Supovitz in Slowing Entropy: Instructional Policy Design in New York City, 2011-12 examines the design of a New York City Department of Education policy intended to engage teachers and principals across NYC with the instructional challenges of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This summary provides an instructive backstory to some of the thought processes of the policy architects and provides insight into the way that careful policymaking can be more resilient to decay as ...


How State Education Agencies Acquire And Use Research In School Improvement Strategies, Margaret E. Goertz, Diane Massell, Carol Barnes Oct 2014

How State Education Agencies Acquire And Use Research In School Improvement Strategies, Margaret E. Goertz, Diane Massell, Carol Barnes

CPRE Policy Briefs

Policymakers have urged state education agencies (SEAs) to engage with organizations outside of their agencies to extend their capacity and to help them collect and use research to support school improvement. However, little is known about how SEAs search for, select, and use research in their school improvement efforts.

In the first study to examine communication structures, social capital, and information networks within SEAs, researchers Goertz, Barnes, and Massell in How State Education Agencies Acquire and Use Research in School Improvement Strategies applied social network perspectives and methods to identify knowledge sources utilized by SEAs. Their findings provide important insights ...


Learning From Nclb: School Responses To Accountability Pressure And Student Subgroup Performance, Elliot H Weinbaum, Michael J. Weiss, Jessica K. Beaver Sep 2012

Learning From Nclb: School Responses To Accountability Pressure And Student Subgroup Performance, Elliot H Weinbaum, Michael J. Weiss, Jessica K. Beaver

CPRE Policy Briefs

Much has been written in the last decade about the spotlight that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) shines on schoolperformance. Proponents and opponents alike are quick to discuss the law’s rigid definitions of school performance— exemplified by the classification of schools as making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) or not making AYP based largely on annual tests in reading and mathematics, disaggregating school performance by student subgroups, and requiring that all schools reach 100% proficiency. Yet for all its rigidity, the law has offered schools little guidance on how to make use of the performance data that the ...


Measuring School Capacity, Maximizing School Improvement, Jessica K. Beaver, Elliot H. Weinbaum Jul 2012

Measuring School Capacity, Maximizing School Improvement, Jessica K. Beaver, Elliot H. Weinbaum

CPRE Policy Briefs

Given the nearly ubiquitous use of the term "capacity" in education policy discourse, this policy brief offers a common framework for analyzing capacity that educators, policymakers, and researchers alike can apply and understand with consistency. Drawing data from a larger three-year CPRE study of school responses to accountability in Pennsylvania, the authors' goal is not to provide an easy, new, one-sentence definition, but rather to create a shared language that can be applied to research and improvement efforts in schools. To accomplish this, the authors break capacity down into component parts, explaining how each one builds off the next and ...


The Role Of Learning Progressions In Standards-Based Education Reform, Fritz Mosher Sep 2011

The Role Of Learning Progressions In Standards-Based Education Reform, Fritz Mosher

CPRE Policy Briefs

The Role of Learning Progressions in Standards-Based Education Reform written by Frederic A. Mosher, summarizes findings from two reports examining the concepts of learning progressions and learning trajectories as they are being applied in science and mathematics education. This policy brief reviews conclusions from the two extensive reports and discusses the implications of their findings for policy and for future research and development.


Can Interim Assessments Be Used For Instructional Change, Margaret E. Goertz, Leslie Nabors Olah, Matthew Riggan Dec 2009

Can Interim Assessments Be Used For Instructional Change, Margaret E. Goertz, Leslie Nabors Olah, Matthew Riggan

CPRE Policy Briefs

The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the use of interim assessments and the policy supports that promote their use to change instruction, focusing on elementary school mathematics. The study looked at how 45 elementary school teachers in a purposive sample of 9 schools in 2 districts used interim assessments in mathematics in 2006-07. The study focused on teachers' use of data in a cycle of instructional improvement; that is, how teachers gather or access evidence about student learning; analyze and interpret that evidence; use evidence to plan instruction; and carry out improved instruction.

Authors conclude that interim ...


Redesigning School Finance Systems, Allan Odden Feb 2007

Redesigning School Finance Systems, Allan Odden

CPRE Policy Briefs

CPRE researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been working on school finance redesign since 1990. The issue that has driven this effort has been the goal of state standards-based education reform and, more recently, of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to teach all students to high standards. This goal has shifted the orientation of the education system from inputs to outcomes--student achievement to rigorous performance standards--with an attendant accountability focus at the school site. In the broader school finance community, this focus has induced a shift from "equity" to "adequacy," for both litigation and policy. Though ...


Teaching Matters: How State And Local Policymakers Can Improve The Quality Of Teachers And Teaching, Thomas B. Corcoran Feb 2007

Teaching Matters: How State And Local Policymakers Can Improve The Quality Of Teachers And Teaching, Thomas B. Corcoran

CPRE Policy Briefs

A growing body of evidence confirms what common sense has suggested all along: The quality of teaching in the public schools matters for how well students learn. An important corollary is that poor children, minority children, and children from nonEnglish-speaking homes are even more dependent on the quality of their teachers than are more affluent, English-speaking, White children. Pressures to improve teacher quality stem mainly from state efforts to hold local schools accountable for student achievement and from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Policymakers want to know how to train, license, recruit, select, deploy, assign, develop ...


Misdiagnosing The Teacher Quality Problem, Richard Ingersoll Feb 2007

Misdiagnosing The Teacher Quality Problem, Richard Ingersoll

CPRE Policy Briefs

Few educational issues have received more attention in recent times than the problem of ensuring that our nation's elementary and secondary classrooms are all staffed with quality teachers. There is consensus that the quality of teachers and teaching matter--and undoubtedly are among the most important factors shaping the learning and growth of students. Moreover, there is consensus that serious problems exist with the quality of teachers and teaching in the United States. Beyond that, however, there appears to be little consensus and much disagreement--especially over what teacher quality entails and what the sources of, and solutions to, the problem ...


Standards-Based Teacher Evaluation As A Foundation For Knowledge- And Skill-Based Pay, Herbert G. Heneman Iii, Anthony Milanowski, Steven Kimball, Allan Odden May 2006

Standards-Based Teacher Evaluation As A Foundation For Knowledge- And Skill-Based Pay, Herbert G. Heneman Iii, Anthony Milanowski, Steven Kimball, Allan Odden

CPRE Policy Briefs

State accountability systems and the federal No Child Left Behind Act have put additional demands on schools and teachers to improve teacher quality and improve student achievement. Many researchers (e.g., Cohen, 1996; Corcoran & Goertz, 1995; Floden, 1997; Newman, King, & Rigdon, 1997) have argued that such improvements will require a substantial increase in the instructional capacity of schools and teachers. One strategy for capacity building is to provide teachers with incentives to improve their performance, knowledge, or skills. The incentive strategy requires the design and implementation of alternative teacher compensation systems that depart from the single salary schedule (Odden, 2000; Odden & Kelley, 2002). Though slow to take hold, the incentive strategy is currently being pursued by several states (Peterson, 2006). Most of these new or proposed plans link pay to combinations of assessments of teacher performance, acquisition of new knowledge and skills, and student test score gains. Denver's widely followed Pro Comp plan also contains these components.

The Teacher Compensation Group of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) has been studying the design and effectiveness of such systems for nearly a decade. We initially focused on school-based performance award programs, in which each teacher in a school receives a bonus for meeting or exceeding schoolwide student achievement goals (Heneman, 1998; Heneman & Milanowski, 1999; Kelley, Heneman, & Milanowski, 2002; Kelly, Odden, Milanowski, & Heneman, 2000). We then shifted our attention to knowledge- and skill-based pay (KSBP) plans, an approach that provides teachers with base pay increases for the acquisition and demonstration of specific knowledge and skills thought to be necessary for improving student achievement.

Our initial research described a variety of experiments with KSBP plans (see Odden, Kelley ...


Scaling Up Instructional Improvement Through Teacher Professional Development: Insights From The Local Systemic Change Initiative, Iris R. Weiss, Joan D. Pasley Mar 2006

Scaling Up Instructional Improvement Through Teacher Professional Development: Insights From The Local Systemic Change Initiative, Iris R. Weiss, Joan D. Pasley

CPRE Policy Briefs

There is a widespread view in the research and policy communities that the quality of mathematics and science instruction offered to students in the United States is low. The widely discussed results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) suggested that the reasons for American students’ poor performance in mathematics and science are complex, but at least partly due to weaknesses in the knowledge and skills of those teaching the subjects. In order to enhance teaching in these content areas, states and school districts need to act on what research has discovered about professional development (PD) and ...


Standards Deviation: How Schools Misunderstand Education Policy, James P. Spillane Jun 2005

Standards Deviation: How Schools Misunderstand Education Policy, James P. Spillane

CPRE Policy Briefs

Instructional policy reforms that focus on standards and assessments have gained popularity in the last two decades. State governments, which had previously left most instructional matters to local governance, set challenging learning standards and developed related assessments and curricular frameworks. Despite their popularity and persistence, standards-based reforms face the challenge of successful local implementation. Occupying an intermediary position between the statehouse and the schoolhouse, the local school district has significant potential to influence standards implementation. It is important to consider the consequences for classroom instruction of what districts do in response to standards. While states may set standards and provide ...


Holding High Hopes: How High Schools Respond To State Accountability Policies, Margaret E. Goertz, Diane Massell Jan 2005

Holding High Hopes: How High Schools Respond To State Accountability Policies, Margaret E. Goertz, Diane Massell

CPRE Policy Briefs

American public education faces increasing pressure to carry out its mission of preparing youths with the skills to compete in today's global economy and to participate constructively in a democratic society. As part of this pressure, policymakers have developed increasingly sophisticated accountability and support systems to steer schools towards improved performance. These "new accountability" approaches emphasize student performance over system inputs, focus on schools rather than school districts as units of improvement, and use public reporting of student outcomes and rewards and sanctions as ways to motivate schools to alter their curriculum and instructional practices (Fuhrman, 1999). These strategies ...


Strategic Leadership For Education Reform: Lessons From The Statewide Systemic Initiatives Program, Daniel Heck, Iris Weiss Jan 2005

Strategic Leadership For Education Reform: Lessons From The Statewide Systemic Initiatives Program, Daniel Heck, Iris Weiss

CPRE Policy Briefs

In 1990, the National Science Foundation (NSF) created the Statewide Systemic Initiative Program. The solicitation issued by the Directorate for Science and Engineering Education sought proposals “for projects intended to broaden the impact, accelerate the pace, and increase the effectiveness of improvements in science, mathematics, and engineering education in both K-12 and post-secondary levels“(NSF, 1990, p. 1).

Projects funded as Statewide Systemic Initiatives (SSIs) were to align various parts of the system to produce comprehensive, coordinated, and sustained change. Curriculum learning goals; content, instructional materials, and practice; assessment; teacher recruitment and preparation; and professional development of teachers, administrators, and ...


The Use Of Research Evidence In Instructional Improvement, Thomas B. Corcoran Nov 2003

The Use Of Research Evidence In Instructional Improvement, Thomas B. Corcoran

CPRE Policy Briefs

Those who seek to reform our public schools often argue that school performance would improve if only policy and practice were based on evidence. If decision-makers and practitioners paid more attention to research findings, the argument goes, they would make better decisions about improvement strategies and resource allocation, and we would see better results. The belief in this axiom is demonstrated by the increasing frequency with which reformers, educators, and policymakers find it necessary to legitimate their actions with claims that they are "research-based." However, moving beyond rhetoric to actually put this principle into operation turns out to be difficult ...


Developing Communities Of Instructional Practice: Lessons From Cincinnati And Philadelphia, Jonathan A. Supovitz, Jolley Bruce Christman Nov 2003

Developing Communities Of Instructional Practice: Lessons From Cincinnati And Philadelphia, Jonathan A. Supovitz, Jolley Bruce Christman

CPRE Policy Briefs

Over the past several years, education reformers have increasingly invested in the development of communities within schools as a central strategy to improve teaching and student learning. These communities come in various guises, including small schools, small learning communities, and teacher teams. Two assumptions about how these communities will enhance the quality of instruction underlie the push for these more intimate learning environments. First, supporters believe that teachers will get to know their students better and therefore be more able to respond to students’ learning needs. Second, advocates contend that small communities will encourage teachers to collaborate more in order ...


What Explains Differences In International Performance? Timss Researchers Continue To Look For Answers, Deborah Nelson Sep 2003

What Explains Differences In International Performance? Timss Researchers Continue To Look For Answers, Deborah Nelson

CPRE Policy Briefs

The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)-1995 and its successor, TIMSS-1999, provide researchers, policymakers, and educators with an unprecedented opportunity to explore the possible relationships between educational policies and student achievement in an international context. Due to the amount and complexity of the TIMSS data, analyses have proceeded in phases, each providing a more detailed and sophisticated understanding of these relationships. This Brief is the third in the Consortium for Policy Research in Education’s (CPRE) series reporting on the policy implications of TIMSS data. It summarizes results of recently completed TIMSS research that explores in greater detail ...


The Organization Of Schools As An Overlooked Source Of Underqualified Teaching, Richard Ingersoll Dec 2002

The Organization Of Schools As An Overlooked Source Of Underqualified Teaching, Richard Ingersoll

CPRE Policy Briefs

Behind the headlines about a looming and large teacher shortage lies another story, one that suggests the problem ought to be addressed within schools as much as by external solutions. The organization of schools and how teachers are used account for a great deal of the underqualified teaching in public schools. Most policy actions, however, stress improved recruitment, teacher training, and certification requirements as the best ways to assure qualified teaching in the nation’s schools.

This study focuses on one aspect of unequal distribution of quality teaching – out-of-field placement. In schools serving primarily low-income and/or minority students, out-of-field ...


Using Timss To Inform Policy And Practice At The Local Level, Deborah Nelson May 2002

Using Timss To Inform Policy And Practice At The Local Level, Deborah Nelson

CPRE Policy Briefs

The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)-1995 and its successor, TIMSS-1999, provide education researchers, policymakers, and practitioners with rich, comparative data designed to help better understand the performance of educational systems. As such, TIMSS is a valuable tool in current efforts to improve mathematics and science instruction and to educate students in the United States to global standards of excellence. What can we learn from this ambitious and unprecedented international effort to provide meaningful, useful data for the reform of mathematics and science instruction? It is important to reflect on this question as we assess the promise and ...


A Decade Of Charter Schools: From Theory To Practice, Katrina Bulkley, Jennifer Fisher Apr 2002

A Decade Of Charter Schools: From Theory To Practice, Katrina Bulkley, Jennifer Fisher

CPRE Policy Briefs

The number of schools operating under charter school laws has soared over the last decade, from a small number operating in just a few states to more than 2,300 schools serving over 575,000 students in 34 states and the District of Columbia. More than half of these schools are concentrated in a few states — Arizona has over 400 charter schools, and California, Florida, Michigan, and Texas each has more than 150.

Charter schools are relatively autonomous schools of choice that operate under a charter or contract issued by a public entity such as a local school board, public ...


Enhancing Teacher Quality Through Knowledge- And Skills-Based Pay, Allan Odden, Carolyn Kelley, Herbert Heneman, Anthony Milanowski Nov 2001

Enhancing Teacher Quality Through Knowledge- And Skills-Based Pay, Allan Odden, Carolyn Kelley, Herbert Heneman, Anthony Milanowski

CPRE Policy Briefs

The 1989 Education Summit established the National Education Goals that spurred states to set standards and assess educational outcomes (Patton and Thompson, 1999). A decade into standards-based reform, the 1999 Education Summit identified two important policy areas that have emerged to carry out these goals: teacher quality and accountability (National Education Summit, 1999).

Research supports the important relationship between teacher quality and student achievement (Darling-Hammond and Ball, 1998; Ferguson and Ladd, 1996; Sanders and Horn, 1994; Wright, Horn, and Sanders, 1997). Concerns about teacher quality led the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future to recommend that states and ...


Assessment And Accountability Across The 50 States, Margaret E. Goertz, Mark Duffy May 2001

Assessment And Accountability Across The 50 States, Margaret E. Goertz, Mark Duffy

CPRE Policy Briefs

In recent years, all 50 states have embarked on education initiatives related to high standards and challenging content. A central focus of these efforts has been the establishment of a common set of academic standards for all students, the assessments that measure student performance, and accountability systems that are at least partially focused on student outcomes. This CPRE Policy Brief summarizes a longer report about state assessment and accountability systems in all 50 states and examines the extent to which state policies meet the intent of federal policy, particularly Title I.


The District Role In Building Capacity: Four Strategies, Diane Massell Sep 2000

The District Role In Building Capacity: Four Strategies, Diane Massell

CPRE Policy Briefs

School districts strongly influence the strategic choices that schools make to improve teaching and learning. Districts—composed of local school boards, superintendents, and central office staff—act as gatekeepers for federal and state policy by translating, interpreting, supporting, or blocking actions on their schools’ behalf. In fact, the efforts of districts to build the capacity of students, teachers, and schools are often the major, and sometimes only, source of external assistance that schools receive. In an effort to revisit the often forgotten role of districts in the improvement process, this policy brief explores the promises and challenges of four major ...


Bridging The K-12/Postsecondary Divide With A Coherent K-16 System, Consortium For Policy Research In Education Jun 2000

Bridging The K-12/Postsecondary Divide With A Coherent K-16 System, Consortium For Policy Research In Education

CPRE Policy Briefs

This Policy Brief originates from a conference held at Stanford University titled, “Education Reform into the Millennium: The State Legislatures’ Role in Building a Consensus for Systemic Change.” The conference, which was held from September 30 to October 2, 1999, was sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, the Education Commission of the States, and the Institute for Educational Leadership. It was funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement of the U.S. Department of Education. Fifty-three legislators and representatives from 15 states attended the conference. The presenters included an ...


From Research To Practice And Back Again: Timss As A Tool For Educational Improvement, Marlies Dunson Apr 2000

From Research To Practice And Back Again: Timss As A Tool For Educational Improvement, Marlies Dunson

CPRE Policy Briefs

The U.S. Department of Education released data from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to serve as a “starting point to examine U.S. education, student achievement, teaching and curricula.” The researchers and administrators of TIMSS hoped that these findings would provoke reflective discussions by providing a different lens through which schools could reevaluate their current practices and education policymakers could benefit from new insights. In the three years following the release of the first set of data, a number of states, districts, and schools have delved deeply into TIMSS for policy development and school improvement, receiving ...


The Motivational Effects Of School-Based Performance Awards, Caroline Kelley, Allan Odden, Anthony Milanowski, Herbert G. Heneman Iii Feb 2000

The Motivational Effects Of School-Based Performance Awards, Caroline Kelley, Allan Odden, Anthony Milanowski, Herbert G. Heneman Iii

CPRE Policy Briefs

From 1995-1998, CPRE teacher compensation researchers conducted extensive interviews and survey questionnaires of teachers and principals in three sites to measure the motivational effects of school-based performance award (SBPA) programs. When a school met preset educational objectives, usually related to increases in student achievement, the SBPA programs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) and Kentucky provided salary bonuses to all the teachers in the school and the SBPA program in Maryland provided a monetary award to the school for school improvements.

CPRE researchers found that the SBPA programs in two of the three sites helped teachers focus on student performance goals. However ...


Contracting As A Mechanism For Managing Education Services, Jane Hannaway Nov 1999

Contracting As A Mechanism For Managing Education Services, Jane Hannaway

CPRE Policy Briefs

Contracting with for-profit firms is one of the new organizational arrangements to emerge in public education in the nineties. Fueled by millions of new investment dollars and by demand for education management services from the burgeoning charter school movement, education contracting is growing. The Edison Project, for example, opened its first four schools in 1995 and now operates 77 schools serving approximately 37,000 students in twelve states. Contracting, like vouchers and charter schools, is a market-based reform presumed to promote improved performance through new accountability mechanisms and exploiting competition.

School districts have long contracted for building maintenance, transportation, and ...