MDRC study: ‘Success for All’ shows promise

1 Nov

Moi wrote in Research papers: Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform:
Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein. In Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein report about American Education, moi said
The Council on Foreign Relations has issued the report, U.S. Education Reform and National Security. The chairs for the report are Joel I. Klein, News Corporation and Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University. Moi opined about the state of education in U.S. education failure: Running out of excuses Education tends to be populated by idealists and dreamers who are true believers and who think of what is possible. Otherwise, why would one look at children in second grade and think one of those children could win the Nobel Prize or be president? Maybe, that is why education as a discipline is so prone to fads and the constant quest for the “Holy Grail” or the next, next magic bullet. There is no one answer, there is what works for a particular population of kids

Sarah D. Sparks wrote in the Education Week article, v:

One of the biggest early bets in the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation prShows Promise in First i3 Evaluationogram seems to be paying off: Success for All, a literacy-related, whole-school improvement model, shows signs of changing teaching practice and boosting students’ early-literacy skills after a year in schools.
The findings come from a new study by the New York City-based research group MDRC, the first of three installments in an ongoing $6.7 million evaluation of Success for All, a popular school-improvement model used in 1,000 schools representing 300,000 students nationwide. The program, which includes schoolwide curriculum, tutors, bimonthly student assessments, and teacher training, received $49.3 million from the federal i3 program in 2009 to expand its school improvement model and increase training for teachers and staff.
A year after 19 K-5 and K-6 schools in four states were randomly selected to launch the program in the 2011-12 school year, MDRC researchers found that kindergartners in those schools significantly outperformed demographically similar peers in a control group of 18 schools in a standardized test of phonics, the Woodcock-Johnson Word Attack. Success for All students got a boost roughly equal to 12 percent of the average annual growth for a kindergartner. Moreover, the same benefits were found for poor and minority students.
Painting a Picture of Teacher Practice
In the classroom, teachers at Success for All schools differed from those in the control-group schools in a number of ways. They were more likely, for example, to group and regroup students by ability for reading lessons—even across grades.
Those benefits are in line with the learning gains found in previous studies of Success for All, which has been studied extensively since its founding in 1987, but the MDRC study “goes into more depth in relating implementation to outcomes than any study that’s come before,” said Robert E. Slavin, the chairman of the Success for All Foundation and the director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “It’s outstanding in giving a more detailed picture of what’s actually happening in the schools.”
Compared with teachers in schools that did not implement the program, researchers found that the teachers in the Success for All schools had more, and more varied, training in reading instruction. They later proved more likely to focus on comprehension, even in kindergarten, than teachers in control schools, and were also more likely to use cooperative-learning strategies. Also, following the Success for All design, teachers in those schools were more likely to group and regroup students across multiple grades based on their reading skills, to provide more focused instruction.
“Some of the cooperative learning that students undertake—like turning to your neighbor and telling them something about the text—are among the ways comprehension can get reinforced even with very young children,” noted Janet C. Quint, an MDRC senior research associate and the study director for the evaluation project…
The evaluation report also details the challenge of implementing the whole-school program, which requires strictly scripted and paced lessons and regular assessments and regrouping of students. Surveys of teachers during the first year of implementation found many wanted clearer guidance on how to structure lessons, for example…
Teachers and administrators also repeated long-held concerns about balancing the many moving parts of SFA’s comprehensive-school-reform model, with many schools reporting they did not have sufficient staff to provide tutors for all students who needed them or put in place the school committees needed to implement the program’s whole-schools reforms. Similar complaints about comprehensive school reform programs stymied previous federal efforts to expand such programs in the late 1990s.
The complexity of the program may partly explain why Success For All has not been keeping pace with its scale-up targets under i3: The group initially proposed expanding its whole-school program to 1,100 schools in five years, 550 of which would receive startup support via the i3 grant. (Central Elementary was one of these.) Now, Mr. Slavin said Success for All will be lucky to recruit half that many new schools for expansion during the duration of the i3 grant, and all, not half, of them will receive the startup money.
“The economy has been so awful, schools have been struggling just to keep their staff, not to mention taking on any kind of reform program,” Mr. Slavin said. “We expected to have a real rush of schools interested in signing up, particularly with the i3 incentives, but … that hasn’t happened. We’ve had to do some real marketing.”
Still, researchers will continue to study students in the first group of expansion schools as they progress through elementary school. Two additional studies will look more broadly at whole-school changes, as well as longitudinal progress for 2nd graders and older students. These will also include comprehension skills, which Ms. Quint said are more difficult to test in early grades…

Here is the press release:

The Success for All Model of School Reform
Early Findings from the Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-Up
10/2013 | Janet Quint, Rekha Balu, Micah DeLaurentis, Shelley Rappaport, Thomas J. Smith, Pei Zhu
First implemented in 1987, the Success for All (SFA) school reform model combines three basic elements:
• Reading instruction that is characterized by an emphasis on phonics for beginning readers and comprehension for students at all levels, a highly structured curriculum, an emphasis on cooperative learning, across-grade ability grouping and periodic regrouping, frequent assessments, and tutoring for students who need extra help
• Whole-school improvement components that address noninstructional issues
• Strategies to secure teacher buy-in, provide school personnel with initial and ongoing training, and foster shared school leadership
Success for All was selected to receive a five-year scale-up grant under the U.S. Department of Education’s first Investing in Innovation (i3) competition. This report, the first of three, examines the program’s implementation and impacts in 2011-2012, the first year of operation, at 37 kindergarten through grades 5 and 6 (K-5 and K-6) schools in five school districts that agreed to be part of the scale-up evaluation: 19 “program group” schools were randomly selected to operate SFA, and 18 “control group” schools did not receive the intervention. Program and control group schools were very similar at the start of the study. The analysis compares the experiences of school staff as well as the reading performance of a cohort of kindergarten students who remained in SFA schools throughout the year (and therefore received the maximum “dosage” of the program) with those of their counterparts in the control group schools.
Key Findings

• While teachers in the SFA schools initially expressed concerns about implementing this new, complex, and demanding initiative, by the end of the first year, many teachers were beginning to feel more comfortable with the program.
• Almost all the program group schools had reached a satisfactory level of early implementation as determined by the Success for All Foundation, the nonprofit organization that provides materials, training, and support to schools operating the reform. Yet there was also ample room for schools to implement additional program elements and to refine the elements that they had put in place.
• Reading instruction in the two sets of schools was found to differ in key ways.
• Kindergartners in the SFA schools scored significantly higher than their control group counterparts on one of two standardized measures of early reading. The impact on this measure seems to be robust across a range of demographic and socioeconomic subgroups, as well as across students with different levels of literacy skills at baseline.
Subsequent reports will examine the reading skills of these students as they progress through first and second grades and will also measure the reading skills of students in the upper elementary grades.
Full Report
Executive Summary

The Success for All Foundation describes the Success for All program.

In FAQs the Success for All Foundation answers some basic questions:

Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is Success for All?

A. The Success for All whole-school improvement model weaves together four essential strategies to help you ensure the success of your students:

Leadership for Continuous Improvement: School leaders, teachers, and other school staff work in collaboration to set quarterly goals, select leverage points for improvement, measure progress, and celebrate success. An online data-management system makes data accessible to all.

Schoolwide Support and Intervention Tools: Proven strategies focus on attendance, parental involvement, positive school culture, family needs, health issues, and individual student support and intervention to make sure that students are in school and ready to learn.

Powerful Instruction: All instruction in Success for All is built around a cooperative-learning framework that engages students in rich discussion and motivating challenges every day. Detailed lesson resources for reading make planning easy and include rich media supports to develop vocabulary, background knowledge, fluency, and discussion skills. Computer-assisted tutoring tools provide individualization and extra time.

Professional Development and Coaching: Implementation is supported by extensive job-embedded professional development and coaching that enables teachers and school leaders to make the most of the research-proven approach.

Q. How does it work?

A. Success for All makes reading the cornerstone of the curriculum. For children to succeed in school, they must be reading on grade level by the end of the third grade and keep building reading skills through secondary school. They also need effective teachers, so SFA includes intensive professional development, ongoing coaching support, and data tools to give teachers feedback on how students are learning and where they need additional instruction or extra help. SFA involves the whole community in implementing effective instruction that is based on the best research on what works. Success for All makes learning fun and engaging for kids and helps teachers become knowledgeable, skilled instructional leaders.

Q. How is SFA different from everything else out there?

A. Success for All is unique in so many ways!
• Cooperative learning is used all the time. Students work together productively to learn and take responsibility for one another.
• Technology is deeply embedded in daily teaching and learning.
• Students are highly motivated, engaged, noisy, and on task.
• The pace of instruction is fast, and the kids keep up with it.
• Every minute of teaching is well planned, exciting, and engaging.
• Learning is constantly monitored, and problems are solved the right way.
• Teachers teach the whole child. Social and emotional learning, behavior, and cooperation are as important as academics.
• Professional development is top notch and going on every day. Teachers know their craft and apply it with intelligence, adapting it to their students’ needs.
• Everyone is involved in support of student success—teachers, parents, community members, and the kids themselves.
• A facilitator from the school’s own faculty works with teachers every day to help every teacher succeed and grow in skill and sophistication.
• There is a strong research base in every component of SFA and in the program as a whole.

Q. I’ve heard Success for All is expensive. What’s the story?

A. The average cost of Success for All for a school receiving our $50,000 i3 grant opportunity is just $104 per child, per year—or just 60 cents a day. And costs are even lower after the first three years of implementation. Title I funds, including funds from SES waivers, professional-development budgets, and school-improvement grants, can all be used to fund Success for All. Research documents that cost savings from reductions in special-education services and grade repetition more than pay for ALL the costs of Success for All within a five-year period….

Like, unhappy families, failing schools are probably failing in their own way.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line
Russian mystic & novelist (1828 – 1910)

It seems everything old becomes new once again, although a relentless focus on the basics never went out of style.

Good Schools really are relentless about the basics.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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