Academic Achievement

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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 studies focusing on charter schools, the Every Student Succeeds Act, reform-oriented teaching, and classroom sizes.

  • Essay

    A Four-Day School Week? Here Are the Costs and Benefits

    Hundreds of small school districts across America have cut one day a week from their calendars. A shorter school week helps them compete for teachers and reduce costs. Teachers and parents love it. But is it really in the best interests of students?

    Aug 31, 2023

  • Research Brief

    Getting Students to and Through Advanced Math

    Students who take precalculus, calculus, and advanced placement math classes get a leg up when it comes to securing college admission and careers in STEM fields. But a large portion of U.S. high school students don't take advanced math. What explains this gap, and what can be done to close it?

    Apr 17, 2023

Explore Academic Achievement

  • student at blackboard

    Research Brief

    How the New Leaders Principal-Preparation Program Impacts Student Achievement

    Students at schools with principals trained by the New Leaders program had modestly larger achievement gains than those at schools led by non-New Leaders principals. However, the program's effects varied by district, with no clear patterns.

    May 13, 2014

  • businesswoman at the office

    Infographic

    Four Ways to Foster Successful School Leadership

    Principals are second only to teachers as the most important school factor affecting student achievement. States and school districts can help principals by implementing effective hiring practices, building high-quality evaluation systems, entrusting principals with autonomy, and providing resources and supports.

    May 8, 2014

  • standardized test

    Report

    How New Deeper Learning Tests Measure Up

    English language arts and mathematics items from a group of nationally and internationally administered “deeper learning” tests were more cognitively demanding than previously studied state tests. Demand also varied by subject and item format. These and other findings provide a benchmark for comparing how well new tests assess deeper learning.

    Mar 3, 2014

  • Dissertation

    Dissertation

    Three Essays on Education Policy: Empirical Analyses of the Challenges and Opportunities with For-Profit Colleges, Military Enlistment and Immigration

    Examines the educational outcomes of for-profit college students, military enlistees and immigrant youth.

    Feb 27, 2014

  • Report

    Report

    Elements of Success: How Type of Secondary Education Credential Helps Predict Enlistee Attrition

    This report examines how attrition rates for enlistees with distance learning or homeschool credentials compare with those of high school diploma holders in light of Armed Forces Qualification Test scores.

    Feb 20, 2014

  • instructor holding a tablet with students

    Commentary

    How to Assess 21st Century Competencies: 12 Key Lessons

    Assessing competencies such as creativity and global awareness can provide educators with a broader set of indicators they can use to inform instruction and set goals with students. However, evidence about the effects of testing suggests that caution and careful planning is warranted when developing a new assessment system.

    Feb 18, 2014

  • high school students using computers, boy blue plaid shirt

    Blog

    Cognitive Tutor: Encouraging Signs for Computers in the Classroom

    A first-year algebra curriculum that blends tutoring software with conventional textbook learning had a positive effect for high school algebra students. Researchers found significant improvements—a change equivalent to moving from the 50th percentile to the 58th on an algebra posttest.

    Nov 19, 2013

  • News Release

    News Release

    Actions School Districts Can Take to Help Principals Better Lead Schools

    States and school districts can help principals be more successful by matching the correct candidate with the appropriate school, by using a high-quality system to evaluate them, by giving them the right amount of autonomy, and by providing them with the resources and support they need to produce better education outcomes.

    Nov 14, 2013

  • a group of teachers and a principal

    Report

    Actions School Districts Can Take to Help Principals Better Lead Schools

    States and school districts can help principals be more successful by matching the correct candidate with the appropriate school, by using a high-quality system to evaluate them, by giving them the right amount of autonomy, and by providing them with the resources and support they need to produce better education outcomes.

    Nov 14, 2013

  • college students having a lesson in a lecture hall

    Commentary

    Making Colleges More Affordable

    President Obama has released a plan to make colleges more affordable for the middle class. The plan calls for linking federal student aid to college performance, capping student loans at 10% of income, and incentivizing innovative instructional approaches to cut costs and improve quality.

    Aug 26, 2013

  • Four happy students with a teacher outside

    Blog

    Early Planning Key to Effective Summer Learning Programs

    RAND education experts Jennifer McCombs and Catherine Augustine hosted a news media conference call to discuss the best steps school districts can take to provide the most effective and rewarding summer learning programs.

    Aug 14, 2013

  • News Release

    News Release

    Early Planning Is One of Several Steps Crucial to Successful Summer Learning Programs

    The most important steps school districts can take to implement an effective summer learning program are to begin planning at least six months in advance and to include both district and summer site leaders in the process.

    Aug 13, 2013

  • two girls observing a butterfly through a magnifying glass

    Report

    Early Planning Is One of Several Steps Crucial to Successful Summer Learning Programs

    The most important steps school districts can take to implement an effective summer learning program are to begin planning at least six months in advance and to include both district and summer site leaders in the process.

    Aug 12, 2013

  • children reading outside

    Research Brief

    How to Get the Most out of a Summer Learning Program

    Summer learning programs may help close the achievement gap between low- and higher-income children if done well, but they are sometimes an afterthought or not offered at all, especially when education budgets are tight. Starting the planning process early, hiring the right teachers, and other best practices can help ensure success.

    Aug 12, 2013

  • high school student looking at graph on blackboard

    Commentary

    The Limits of Career and Technical Education in Improving Math Achievement Among High School Students

    Students who had taken occupationally focused career and technical education (CTE) courses in addition to their regular academic courses had similar learning gains to those who had only taken academic courses: an academic curriculum that includes CTE courses neither bolstered nor curtailed the acquisition of math skills.

    Jun 19, 2013

  • A mother and daughter read a book while sitting in a hammock

    Blog

    Three Summer Learning Tips Parents Can Use

    There’s plenty that parents can do at home to help their kids stay sharp until the new school year begins.

    Jun 10, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Balancing Career and Technical Education with Academic Coursework: The Consequences for Mathematics Achievement in High School

    Using a nationally representative sample of high school students, the authors examine the relationship between career and technical education (CTE) coursework and mathematics achievement in high school.

    May 2, 2013

  • multiple choice standardized test answer sheet

    Commentary

    Are High-Stakes Tests Counterproductive?

    If we want testing to exert beneficial effects on teaching and learning, we need to advocate for higher-quality tests and for evaluation and accountability systems that use multiple measures and do not rely exclusively on test scores, write Laura Hamilton and Gabriella C. Gonzalez.

    Apr 22, 2013

  • Preschool children using letters with a teacher

    Commentary

    Give Poor Kids a Chance with Early Education

    Federal and state initiatives to advance preschool program quality will further ensure that these investments in early learning programs will achieve their full promise and promote healthy child development — physically, socially, emotionally, and academically, writes Lynn Karoly.

    Apr 10, 2013

  • two elementary students with a teacher

    Blog

    What Do We Know About Charter Schools? Moving Beyond the Talking Points

    Since their inception in 1992, charter schools have been a lightning rod for controversy in the education policy world. Research highlights the importance of moving beyond test scores and broadening the scope of measures that evaluate success in order to fully assess the performance of charter schools.

    Apr 4, 2013

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