Reports & Research

Updated: December 15, 2018

 

High School Graduation Rates...

In the past several iterations of state and federal accountability systems, high schools have been judged by their 4-year graduation rate, among other measures. While this is a seemingly innocuous data point (after all, the classic high school narrative flows from freshman to senior in 4 years), measuring school success by how many students fit this typical profile has some harsh consequences. In particular, accountability systems that rely on a 4-year graduation rate discourage schools from continuing to offer services, support, and courses to students who take longer to earn a diploma. Instead, we should be doing everything we can to encourage and support schools in serving their highest need students, not penalizing them for doing so.

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), for the first time, schools, districts, and states have the opportunity to move beyond this narrow definition of success by adding extended-year graduation rates to their accountability systems. So far, 35 states have done just that, taking an important step in ensuring that every student succeeds...

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New Research Finds Direct Link...

“Big-fish-little-pond” is a concept well known among education professionals: As the theory goes, students in higher-achieving schools will compare themselves with their peers and consider themselves less capable, while equally performing students in lower-achieving settings have more confidence.

The effect appears in all subjects, from math to science to history, and at all levels of education. Low-income and high-income students exhibit it. Countries all around the world see it.

While the phenomenon has been observed in many studies over the years, no large-scale, cross-national analysis credibly showed causation. There was always the possibility, then, that another factor, such as an unobserved trait of individual students or their parents, explained why students in high-performing schools exhibited more self-doubt...

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State Public Health Officer Warns...

On October 24, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith warned consumers about the risks associated with wearing decorative contact lenses.

"Advertised as color, cosmetic, fashion and theatrical contact lenses, decorative contact lenses are especially popular around Halloween," said Dr. Smith. "Wearing any kind of contact lens, including decorative lenses, without proper consultation of an eye care professional can cause serious injury." 

The sale of contact lenses without a prescription is illegal. The right to dispense, sell or furnish contact lenses is limited exclusively to licensed physicians and surgeons, licensed optometrists, and registered dispensing opticians...

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New Report Urges Shift in School...

In recent years, the country has been rocked by debates about school choice. For some, school choice, in and of itself, is viewed as a major goal of policy. For others, the term raises concerns about privatization of public schools. Often forgotten in the policy debates are the fundamental questions of whether and how choice influences access to high-quality schools for all students, and whether, in our diverse democracy that requires common ground, choices promote or undermine integration.

Rather than debate school choice as an end, a new research report shifts the focus to choice as a means to an end. The report recommends that choice be viewed - and evaluated - as a means to higher quality, more accessible, and more inclusive and integrated schools. The report, The Tapestry of American Public Education: How Can We Create a System of Schools Worth Choosing for All?, was released on October 25 by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) at a Washington, D.C., forum co-hosted with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund...

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Study Finds Hand Hygiene for Kids...

With winter coming and children spending more and more time indoors playing together, spread of viral infections is certain to occur. Perhaps nowhere are the risks greater for such spread than in childcare centers where young children are in close contact with each other for most of the day. Given the many developmental benefits of a good childcare program, the risk of infection should not be a deterrent, especially if staff and in turn children are well trained in proper hand hygiene to lower the risk of infection.

But can one actually reduce the rate of infections in childcare centers with hand hygiene, and if so what type of hand hygiene (alcohol-based hand sanitizer versus soap and water) works best?...

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New Poll Shows California Parents...

California’s next Governor will need to take swift action to show parents of color how he or she will improve the state’s K-12 education system and access to college, according to a new poll of racially and economically diverse parents whose children attend public schools throughout California. The poll, conducted by Goodwin Simon for The Education Trust-West (ETW) and UnidosUS found that improving public schools ranked higher than expanding access to health care and addressing the lack of affordable housing on a list of priorities for the state’s next governor.

About 9 out of 10 Latinx, Black, and Asian Pacific Islander parents say improving K-12 education should be a high priority for the next governor to address, with more than half saying it should be an extremely high priority...

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Researcher Finds California Students...

A UCLA research study released in September shows that the overuse of suspensions in California schools resulted in well over 700,000 days of lost instruction during the 2016-17 academic year. The impact is greatest in grades 7-8 where the disparities along the lines of race and disability are also the deepest.

The report, The Unequal Impact of Suspension on the Opportunity to Learn in California: What the 2016-17 Rates Tell Us about Progress, estimates instructional days lost for each school district in the state, with the first ever breakdowns by grade spans, and includes the six-year trends in lost instruction for California as a whole. It was written by Daniel J. Losen, Director of UCLA’s Civil Rights Project at the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, and Kacy Martin, a researcher at the Center...

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Research: Acne May Be Another...

The love of books, the need for glasses and high intelligence are traits found among the top earners in many fields across the country. Now, a researcher at Ball State University (in Muncie, Indiana) suggests that a case of acne in high school should be added to those traits.

In his study, “Do Pimples Pay? Acne, Human Capital, and the Labor Market Abstract,” Erik Nesson, a Ball State economics professor, found that having acne is positively associated with overall grade point average in high school, grades in high-school English, history, math and science, and the completion of a college degree.

The study also found evidence that acne is associated with higher personal labor market earnings for women, said Nesson, who conducted the study with Hugo M. Mialon, an economics professor at Emory University. Their work is forthcoming in the Journal of Human Capital...

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California’s Adolescent Birth Rate...

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced on September 24 that California's adolescent birth rate (ABR) continues to decline. A new state report indicates a record low of 15.7 births per 1,000 females between the ages of 15 and 19. Those numbers reflect an 11 percent decline between 2015 and 2016.

Declining rates can be attributed to a number of factors, including improved access to reproductive health services and increased use of contraception; delayed first sexual intercourse; and public health prevention, education and support programs.

"While we have more work to do, the decline in adolescent births is a sign that our efforts in California are working," said Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer...

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Lab Results Show Many Crayons...

Many parents and teachers shopping for school supplies look for a non-toxic “AP” certified label on the products, but many products don’t have that label, so it’s unclear if they’re safe or not. U.S. PIRG Education Fund is releasing a guide that warns consumers about some products that may be on store shelves or already in their homes. 

"Parents and teachers can use our safe shopping guide when they go to back-to-school shopping,” said Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Toxics Director. “We want to make sure they have the information they need to keep the children they care for safe.”

U.S. PIRG Education Fund tested dozens of school supplies including markers, crayons, dry erase markers, glue, 3-ring binders, spiral notebooks, lunchboxes and water bottles. We found several supplies containing asbestos, lead, benzene and other dangerous chemicals. The “School Supplies Safe Shopping Guide” warns consumers about those specific products, and offers suggestions for safer alternatives...

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Whole Child Approaches to Education...

Each year in the United States, 46 million children are exposed to violence, crime, abuse, homelessness, or food insecurity, as well as a range of other experiences that cause psychological trauma. These experiences create toxic stress that can affect children’s attention, learning, and behavior. Research on human development shows that the effects of such trauma can be mitigated when students learn in a positive school climate that offers long-term, secure relationships that support academic, physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development - an approach known as “whole child” education.  Indeed, such an environment boosts achievement for all children, regardless of their circumstances.

A new report from the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), Educating the Whole Child: Improving School Climate to Support Student Success, describes how state and district policymakers, school leaders, and teachers can support students’ healthy growth and development, and help children overcome toxic stress and trauma, including stereotype threats that undermine achievement. Drawing on a broad body of neuroscience, science of learning, and child development research, the report explains how schools can use effective, research-based practices to put students’ healthy growth and development at the center of classroom design and the school as a whole...

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Report Takes “Long View” of Solutions...

Most states have been struggling to address teacher shortages for several years now, often filling the vacuum with underprepared teachers who aren’t able to give children the high-quality learning they need and who leave at two to three times the rate of well-prepared teachers. Most often, these teachers are hired in schools serving students of color and those from low-income families. Governors and legislators in many of these states are now working to turn the tide, according to a new report from the Learning Policy Institute (LPI).

The report, Taking the Long View: State Efforts to Solve Teacher Shortages by Strengthening the Professionfocuses on six evidence-based policies that states are pursuing to address their teacher shortages by strengthening, rather than weakening, their educator workforce. The policies were selected based on research on teacher preparation, recruitment, and retention strategies that have been found to support greater teacher effectiveness and retention. These strategies can help states build long-term sustainable systems to attract, develop, and retain a strong and stable teacher workforce....

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