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 recent studies focusing on charter schools, No Child Left Behind, reform-oriented teaching, and classroom sizes.

  • Students draw in class at Wilder Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky, August 11, 2021, photo by Amira Karaoud/Reuters

    Research Brief

    Benefits and Drawbacks of the Four-Day School Week

    Oct 7, 2021

    A four-day school week is becoming more common, especially in states with large rural areas. Champions of the shorter week contend that it saves money, improves student attendance, and helps recruit and retain teachers to rural districts. But what does the evidence say?

  • Young student participates in school remotely, photo by Sasha_Suzi/Getty Images

    Report

    Has COVID-19 Led to Divergent and Inequitable Pathways in Education?

    May 27, 2021

    Remote schooling is associated with fewer instructional opportunities and potentially poorer student outcomes compared with in-person schooling. Nevertheless, many schools will continue to offer a remote option after the pandemic has passed.

Explore Academic Achievement

  • two preschool children using colored pencils

    Commentary

    Narrowing the Income Achievement Gap

    The achievement gap between children from the highest- and lowest-income families has substantially grown since 1960. The income achievement gap is now about twice the size of the black-white achievement gap.

    Jun 12, 2014

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Effectiveness of Cognitive Tutor Algebra I at Scale

    This article examines the effectiveness of a technology-based algebra curriculum in a wide variety of middle schools and high schools in seven states.

    Jun 1, 2014

  • Brochure

    Brochure

    Leveraging Partnerships to Enhance the Impact of Principal-Preparation Programs

    New Leaders, an innovative national leadership organization, uses a model that unites core training and support with committed district partnerships, with positive results in both student achievement and feedback from participating districts.

    May 27, 2014

  • smiling woman at work

    Project

    RAND New Leaders Evaluation

    The RAND New Leaders Evaluation examines implementation of the New Leaders principal preparation program from 2006 through 2013. The New Leaders approach involves rigorous recruitment and preparation of principals, ongoing support and community networks, and the commitment of partners to promote effective school and district conditions.

    May 13, 2014

  • News Release

    News Release

    Innovative School Principal Development Program Demonstrates Positive Student Achievement Gains

    Urban schools where principals received rigorous leadership training and support experienced larger gains in student achievement than schools led by principals who did not participate in the program.

    May 13, 2014

  • a teacher or principal with a student looking at a laptop

    Report

    Innovative School Principal Development Program Demonstrates Positive Student Achievement Gains

    Urban schools where principals received rigorous leadership training and support experienced larger gains in student achievement than schools led by principals who did not participate in the program. At the high school level, students in schools where the trained principal had three or more years of experience saw gains in reading achievement of about 3 percentile points.

    May 13, 2014

  • Report

    Report

    Preparing Principals to Raise Student Achievement: Implementation and Effects of the New Leaders Program in Ten Districts — Appendix

    This document presents technical appendixes to supplement the main evaluation report Preparing Principals to Raise Student Achievement: Implementation and Effects of the New Leaders Program in Ten Districts (RR-507-NL).

    May 13, 2014

  • 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

  • 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 13, 2013

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