Educational Level

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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

    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?

    Oct 7, 2021

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

    Report

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

    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.

    May 27, 2021

Explore Academic Achievement

  • Multiracial group of children raising their hands in a classroom with a smiling Black woman teacher, photo by kali9/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How to Make Sure Your Summer Learning Program Is Effective

    In the best of times, it is no small feat to put together a quality summer learning program. Given that districts are focusing not only on academic recovery from COVID learning loss, but on retaining teachers, supporting students' and teachers' mental health, and addressing increases in misbehavior, they need immediate, digestible guidance for summer programming.

    Mar 30, 2022

  • Elementary schoolchildren wearing face masks in a classroom, photo by kevajefimija/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Commit Now to Get Summer Programming Right

    When summer programs are targeted to needs, intentionally designed, and well attended, they produce positive outcomes in math and reading. But these programs need federal support, and they require early planning.

    Apr 15, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Relationships Between Teaching Practices and Student Outcomes

    This chapter explores how the three domains of mathematics teaching explored in prior chapters are related to three different student outcome measures.

    Feb 17, 2021

  • COVID-19 and the Digital Divide

    Multimedia

    COVID-19 and the Digital Divide: Inequities in Online Learning

    RAND senior policy researcher Julia Kaufman explains how the digital divide impacted teaching and learning when schools closed last spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Oct 16, 2020

  • A teacher preparing classroom for social distancing, photo by izusek/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Engaging Learning Spaces Are Important, Even During a Pandemic

    While considering new uses for and formations of school space, planners might also consider whether these spaces will be conducive to learning. Research links the physical condition of learning spaces to improved student physical health and academic performance.

    Aug 18, 2020

  • Two children on a couch watching TV and their phones, photo by patrickheagney/Getty Images

    Essay

    The COVID Slide: How to Help Students Recover Learning Losses

    Research shows that summer breaks contribute to income-based achievement and opportunity gaps for youth. How can we use what we know about summer learning to help kids in the age of COVID-19?

    Jul 9, 2020

  • Back view of large group of students paying attention on a class at lecture hall, photo by skynesher/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Is It Time to Rethink the Separation Between the High School and Postsecondary Systems?

    We do not yet know how long or deep this economic downturn will be, or how the pandemic will affect the way we work and learn. But just as the post-coronavirus workplace is surely being re-envisioned, this crisis should motivate us to reconsider the structure of our educational system. Early college is a model that can help inform these discussions.

    Apr 16, 2020

  • Elementary students raising their hands in class, photo by kali9/Getty Images

    Commentary

    What LAUSD Can Learn from the New York City Community Schools Initiative

    A study of New York City's community schools found improved academic performance, higher attendance, and other positive outcomes for disadvantaged students. This model could benefit similar efforts underway in Los Angeles, where 80 percent of students live in poverty.

    Jan 28, 2020

  • Jessica Coley, a principal-in-training in Prince George's County, Md., stands by some student project work in her school, photo by Karen Sayre

    Essay

    Investing in Principals Helps Students Succeed

    Hiring good principals is one of the most important things a district can do for its students, second only to hiring good teachers. Students whose schools participated in a principal pipeline initiative outperformed their peers by six percentage points on reading tests and nearly three points in math.

    Jul 5, 2019

  • Multimedia

    Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way to Improve Schools

    A recent RAND report found that implementing “principal pipelines”—a strategic approach to the hiring, preparation, evaluation, and support of school leaders—can improve schools. In this congressional briefing, Susan Gates discusses the feasibility, effectiveness, and affordability of principal pipelines.

    Jun 17, 2019

  • News Release

    News Release

    Principal Pipelines Benefit Students, Reduce Principal Turnover

    Districts can improve schools—including boosting student achievement in reading and math—by better preparing, selecting, evaluating, and supporting principals.

    Apr 8, 2019

  • High school principal talks with students outside at school, photo by asiseeit/Getty Images

    Commentary

    For Teachers, a Good Boss Makes All the Difference

    Districts that try to place an effective leader in every school could reap educational benefits in the classroom. Giving a teacher a good boss also could be a powerful element in a broader strategy to recruit and retain highly effective educators.

    Apr 4, 2019

  • School children stretching up at lesson, photo by mediaphotos/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Measuring Social-Emotional Skills, Carefully

    In the often-fraught debate over education policy, there is growing agreement that educators should pay close attention to the development of the social and emotional skills that allow students to persevere when working on difficult tasks, regulate emotions, and work effectively in teams. But measuring such skills remains a significant challenge.

    Feb 28, 2019

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

    Commentary

    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

    Commentary

    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

    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 19, 2017

  • Teacher helping a third grade girl at her desk

    Commentary

    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

    Multimedia

    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

    Blog

    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

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