The following resources focus on the educational climate and betterment of those serving the K–12 educational community.

Looking Under the Hood of Competency-Based Education: The Relationship Between Competency-Based Education Practices and Students’ Learning Skills, Behaviors, and Dispositions. This study takes a closer look at how schools implement competency-based education, and examines how ninth grade students’ experiences of competency-based education practices are related to the skills, behaviors, and dispositions that students need to learn effectively. Through an analysis of competency-based education in a group of high schools in three states, the authors found that the implementation of competency-based education practices was neither comprehensive nor uniform, varying greatly across and within both groups of schools. (Source: Nellie Mae Education Foundation).

Education Department Continues to Prod States to Rethink Testing.
The Department of Education is continuing to press states and school districts to rethink their testing regimens, unveiling Wednesday a set of proposed assessment regulations under the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. (U.S. News, July 6).

State Policies for Intervening in Chronically Low-Performing Schools: A 50-State Scan. This report summarizes current policies in all 50 states related to state interventions in chronically low-performing schools. The policies describe the types of interventions that states are legally authorized to implement; however, states likely vary in the extent to which they actually implement the interventions. Six categories of policies related to intervening in chronically low-performing schools were identified: development or monitoring of school improvement plans, changes in staffing, closing a school, financial incentives or interventions, reforms to the day-to-day operation of the school, and changes related to the entity that governs or operates the school. Florida had policies in place for each of the six intervention categories. (Source: Central Regional Educational Laboratory at Marzano Research).

Research Shows Early Monitoring Protects At-Risk Students. A new study of the Diplomas Now model, which won a $30 million federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from ED to implement the model in 11 school districts and validate its effectiveness, found that early monitoring protected at-risk students. “After a year of implementing the program, 75 percent of sixth-graders in participating schools had no warning signs, while only 68 percent of their peers in comparison schools were completely on track.” The program was credited with boosting the number of sixth- and ninth-graders with no early-warning signs in attendance, behavior, and course performance (Sparks, Education Week).

Can ‘Early Warning Systems’ Keep Children from Dropping Out of School?
 A growing number of states and school districts have begun closely examining attendance, grades and discipline records for even the youngest students in elementary school, searching for warning flags. Such “early warning systems” give schools a chance to intervene long before students lose their way. (Washington Post, June 28).

NIH to Launch Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. This summer the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is launching a major longitudinal study on child health and brain development that will be of interest to many in the education research field.

Suspensions and Expulsions: The Washington Post, NPR, and the Los Angeles Times covered the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights release of the Civil Rights Data Collection that highlighted the stark fact that racial disparities exist in early childhood suspension and expulsion data finding “black preschool children are 3.6 times as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as white preschool children.”

New UChicago Consortium Podcast Examines Factors Driving the Increase in Chicago Public Schools’ High School Graduation Rate. The latest episode of the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (UChicago Consortium) podcast series, Ed. Research Matters, features a roundtable conversation with the authors of the recent report,  High School Graduation Rates through Two Decades of District Change: The Influence of Policies, Data Records, and Demographic Shifts. Episodes of Ed. Research Matters are available on the UChicago Consortium website, and copies of High School Graduation Rates through Two Decades of District Change are also available for download.