Academic Achievement


The hallmark of a successful education system is increasing or maintaining high student achievement. RAND research measures the effects of various types of school reforms on student achievement, with recent studies focusing on charter schools, No Child Left Behind, reform-oriented teaching, and classroom sizes.

  • A teacher and four students looking at a laptop


    Personalized Learning: Lessons from Implementation

    Jul 11, 2017

    Personalized learning focuses on meeting students' individual needs while incorporating their interests and preferences. What does this look like in schools that have implemented personalized learning schoolwide?

  • Elementary school students learning Chinese writing on chalkboard

    Research Brief

    Dual-Language Immersion Programs Raise Student Achievement in English

    Nov 8, 2017

    Portland Public Schools students randomly assigned to dual-language immersion programs outperformed their peers on state reading tests by 13 percent in grade 5 and by 22 percent in grade 8. Students gained proficiency in a second language with no drop in their performance in math or science.

Explore Academic Achievement

  • A multi-ethnic group of five preschool children holding hands, running down a hallway in the school building


    The Potential for Early Years Programmes to Close the Disadvantage Gap Is Under-Examined

    Many schools are looking to close the disadvantage gap in their communities, but they need more evidence about what actually works. Research that helps policymakers and practitioners understand how early years interventions can promote equity and close the disadvantage gap is needed.

    Oct 12, 2018

  • Multimedia

    Why More Sleep Could Help Kids Do Better in School and Life

    Most U.S. middle and high schools start at 8:00 a.m. or earlier. Delaying school start times could help address health and academic problems, and boost the U.S. economy.

    Jan 5, 2018

  • A teacher discussing a mathematics problem with her student


    What Emerging Research Says About the Promise of Personalized Learning

    Personalized learning could lead to improved student outcomes. But those implementing this approach should temper their expectations for how big these benefits will be—and be patient while the benefits emerge. It's also important to consider the challenges of implementation.

    Aug 16, 2017

  • News Release

    'Principal Pipelines' to Develop School Leaders Can Be Affordable Way to Improve Schools

    Improving school leadership by better selecting, training and evaluating principals can be an affordable option for school districts to reduce turnover and improve schools.

    Jun 20, 2017

  • Teacher helping a third grade girl at her desk


    Going Forward, Looking Back: Lessons from School Improvement Grants

    The Every Student Succeeds Act takes effect this fall, returning significant power to states and local districts to set goals and prescribe strategies to lift achievement. As schools finalize their plans under the new law, they can learn from the shortcomings of School Improvement Grants.

    May 10, 2017

  • Preschool-age children laugh while their teacher reads them a book during story time


    Informing Investments in High-Quality Preschool

    In this congressional briefing, RAND senior economist, Lynn Karoly, presents findings from her research, which compiles the most reliable evidence concerning the short- and long-run effects of high-quality preschool programs for participating children and the associated costs, benefits, and economic returns.

    May 5, 2017

  • Malcolm Gladwell, V. Darleen Opfer, and Laura Hamilton at RAND's Politics Aside event in Santa Monica, November 12, 2016


    The Challenges of Measuring Effective Teaching

    While educators, policymakers, and parents may agree on the need for more effective teachers, they often use different criteria to judge whether schools are doing their job. Parents have varied priorities for what they want in teachers and in schools.

    Nov 16, 2016

  • Group of high school students celebrating graduation


    What's Behind Record High School Graduation Rates?

    Graduation rates among U.S. high schoolers have risen for the fourth straight year. Which reforms are making a difference? And who, or what, should get credit?

    Oct 21, 2016

  • News Release

    Voluntary Summer Learning Programs for Elementary School Students Benefit Those with High Levels of Attendance

    Elementary school students with high levels of attendance in voluntary summer learning programs led by urban districts experienced benefits in math and reading.

    Sep 7, 2016

  • Second-grade students in Baltimore County, Maryland, work with an instructor through a personalized learning initiative called Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow (STAT)


    Personalized Learning: The Latest Buzz in Classroom Instruction

    Students in personalized learning classrooms made greater gains in math and reading than their peers in other schools. But there are barriers to fully personalized learning, including rigid state standards and time demands on teachers.

    Aug 22, 2016

  • Retro grunge principal's office


    Principals in Small Districts Receive Far Less 'Instructional Leadership' Support, Survey Shows

    Until recently, little was known about how much support principals in the United States receive to be effective “instructional leaders.” A national survey shows that mentors and supervisors do provide feedback focused on principals' role in teaching and learning, but the amount varies.

    Aug 16, 2016

  • Grade school students working at their desks in a classroom


    Pittsburgh Schools Are Making Progress

    Pittsburgh Public Schools can reach new levels of excellence if its leadership boldly and wisely chooses initiatives that will serve all children and if it uses data to decide which initiatives should continue.

    Jul 11, 2016

  • Rows of empty desks in a school


    The Opt-Out Reckoning

    Criticism of standardized testing is nearly as old as the testing itself. Will the opt-out movement promote meaningful and enduring changes in the educational system, and will these changes benefit the most at-risk and disadvantaged students?

    May 10, 2016

  • A woman working in an office


    Improving School Leadership: What Works

    There is evidence that having strong school leaders is instrumental for improving the quality of teaching. But resource constraints and pressure to spend money directly on students have left interventions focused on principals largely overlooked. However, the new Every Student Succeeds Act may be changing the script.

    Apr 28, 2016

  • Teacher with four students working as a group


    The High Stakes of 'Soft Skills'

    With the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, Congress is broadening what it considers success when it comes to judging school quality. One potential new indicator being discussed in some states is social and emotional learning, which has been linked to success later in life.

    Apr 7, 2016

  • A teacher and student in a classroom looking at a laptop


    Technology Is Only Part of Personalized Learning

    The concept of personalized learning has gained favor in recent years, partly because new technology applications help to facilitate it. But those who characterize this instructional approach as “students just using computers or other devices” are greatly oversimplifying it.

    Mar 4, 2016

  • News Release

    Teachers Reported Moderate Concerns and Need for Additional Professional Development Prior to 2015 Testing

    The new Common Core State Standards changed expectations for what students should learn in English language arts and mathematics, and what teachers should know and teach in their classroom. Prior to the first round of K-12 standardized testing in 2015, most teachers had concerns about test difficulty and low student performance.

    Feb 1, 2016

  • American flag, books, and graduation cap

    News Release

    Educational Gains by U.S. Immigrants Not as Large as Believed

    Among immigrants from 10 European nations throughout the 20th century, the educational attainment of many of their descendants was not significantly greater than what would have happened if their families had not migrated to the U.S.

    Jan 14, 2016

  • Elementary students in a classroom with a teacher


    Implementing Education Reforms to Enhance School Performance

    Although countries differ greatly in how their education systems are structured, financed, and the extent to which they are centralized, they share common obstacles that undermine reform success. Beyond the obvious steps of providing adequate resources and professional development, there are ways to improve the implementation of school-wide reforms.

    Nov 13, 2015

  • Student taking a standardized test


    Standardized Tests Can Be Smarter

    Capping the amount of time students spend testing is a reasonable response to unchecked growth. However, a better response would be to systematically review testing programs, focusing on tests that offer the most value.

    Nov 2, 2015

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