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April 10, 2019
New York City’s experiment with small high schools helped students stay in college, study shows
Students who entered one of New York City’s new small high schools between 2006 and 2010 were much more likely to go to college and stick around.
August 29, 2017
Winning the lottery: Enrolling in Success Academy produces math gains for students, new study shows
Success Academy students showed about a year to a year and a half of additional learning in math, according to a new study by MDRC.
October 16, 2014
Small high schools send larger shares of students to college, new study says
The research nonprofit MDRC found that 49 percent of students who entered a small high school between 2004 and 2007 enrolled in a four-year college, community college, or technical school, compared to 40 percent of similar students who attended other schools.
September 30, 2014
Influential researcher leaves city ed dept. for group that analyzes its data
PHOTO: Chris Nichols for NYU Steinhardt Among the latest departures from the city Department of Education is a researcher who briefly headed one of…
August 26, 2013
Report again finds graduation rate gains at city’s small schools
For the third time, an independent research group has found that the Bloomberg administration's small high schools gave students who attended them a better chance of graduating. Being randomly selected to attend small high schools opened by Bloomberg made students significantly more likely to graduate, even for students who entered in the schools' third year, according to the report, conducted by researchers at the nonprofit firm MDRC. Students who entered in the schools' first three years graduated in four years 70.4 percent of the time, compared to 60.9 percent of the time for similar students in other schools, according to the report. The research was paid for by the Gates Foundation, which originally funded the small schools. The foundation put $150 million into the city's small schools before ending its small-schools giving in 2008, citing lackluster college readiness rates. The new report is the third installment in a series that examines "small schools of choice" that opened between 2002 and 2008 and did not select students based on their academic performance. Of the 123 schools that fit that bill, 105 had so many applicants that the schools selected among them randomly, through a lottery.
September 28, 2012
Study: Promise of cash got on-track teens to do more homework
A study found that teens allocated their time differently when their families earned cash payments for improved academics. City teenagers who knew they would get cash bonuses if they did better in school spent less time socializing and more time studying, according to a new study. But the pattern held true only for teens who were already "academically inclined," according to the researchers who conducted the analysis, the latest in a series of studies about a city incentives experiment that was conducted from 2007 to 2010. The program, called Opportunity NYC, offered families payments for different behaviors related to education, health care, and work. For example, families got $200 for each member who had annual physical exam, and adults received $150 a month for maintaining a full-time job. The program ended in 2010 after generating a rich set of data that researchers are continuing to mine. A first look at the program's results last year found little to no impact of cash incentives on children's education. But the latest analysis, completed by the research firm MDRC, looked only at families with teenagers and focused on behaviors that the incentives weren't actually designed to influence. It finds that teens who were generally on track in school who had been promised cash for improved academic performance spent more time on homework and other academically oriented activities, forgoing social time in the process. Teens who had already fallen behind in school did not change their behavior because of the incentives, the researchers found. Those teens continued dividing their time in the same way among school activities, work, and watching TV, and socializing.
January 27, 2012
Brief: MDRC study left out a key slice of the student population
A group of elected officials are touting a policy brief that they say throws cold water on Mayor Bloomberg's small schools movement just a day after a comprehensive study gave it a ringing endorsement. The six-page brief, compiled by the Coalition for Educational Justice, focuses on how the new small schools serve students with special needs and concludes that they tend to under-enroll students whose disabilities are severe. It cited eight closed large high schools where the small schools opened up in their buildings that served significantly fewer self-contained students. A complete copy of the brief is below. The six-page paper comes a day after MDRC published a study that found that all kinds of students at more than 100 small high schools graduated at higher rates statistically identical students who attended larger schools. The brief's focus didn't necessarily debunk the MDRC findings, but attempted to raise additional issues about school closures. "While it is commendable that the new small schools are producing higher graduations rates, it is not clear that these schools serve the same population," the paper says. "The MDRC study does not include students in self-contained special education or collaborative team teaching; the omission of those high-needs students increases graduation rates in the new small schools."
January 26, 2012
Report finds lasting graduation rate gains at city's small schools
The Bloomberg administration has long touted the small high schools it created as outperforming large schools closed to make way for them. But a new report finds, for the second time, that the schools also post higher graduation rates than other city schools that stayed open. Being randomly selected to attend small high schools opened under the Bloomberg administration made students significantly more likely to graduate, even as the schools got older, according to the report, conducted by researchers at the nonprofit firm MDRC. The researchers updated a 2010 study that examined "small schools of choice" that opened between 2002 and 2008 and did not select students based on their academic performance. Of the 123 schools that fit that bill, 105 had so many applicants that the schools selected among them randomly, through a lottery. The lottery process enabled the researchers to compare what happened to two groups of students that started out statistically identical: those who were admitted to the small schools and those who lost the lotteries and wound up in older, larger schools. That type of comparison is considered the "gold standard" in education research. The original study found that the small high schools had positive effects on their students — but it looked only at the schools' very first enrollees. The new report looks at those students in the fifth year after they enrolled and also at the second set of students who enrolled at the schools. It finds that the higher graduation rate — 67.9 percent, compared to 59.3 percent for students who were not admitted — continued for the second group of students who enrolled and cut across all groups of students, regardless of their race, gender, family income, or academic skills upon enrollment. Students at the small schools were also more likely to meet the state's college readiness standards in English, though not in math. "Small schools for a variety of reasons, I always felt, were going to succeed in certain ways," said Richard Kahan, the head of Urban Assembly, a nonprofit that started a handful of schools included in the study. "But I would not have predicted the impact."
February 17, 2010
Report on small schools finds more choice, but modest interest
A new report on the rapid proliferation of small schools in New York City finds that while the schools have expanded students' options, most students choose to attend larger schools. Commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the report is one of four that will eventually be released in order to study how the schools have multiplied, who is attending them, who is teaching in them, and whether they're succeeding. The Gates Foundation popularized and funded the small schools movement in New York, fueling the growth of nearly 200 small schools with a $150 million investment. A New York-based research group, MDRC, conducted the report, which does not look at the schools' academic record — that analysis will come out in spring — but focuses on the schools' enrollment and demographics.
November 25, 2008
Harlem Children's Zone will cut 10% of its staff: WSJ
Another Wall Street Journal report on how the financial crisis is hitting foundations highlights the Harlem Children's Zone. HCZ, run by the mayoral control proponent Geoffrey Canada, was promised $25 million grant by the Starr Foundation, which is run by Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, the former chief executive officer of AIG. Now, the Journal reports: Anyone with a foundation whose endowment is heavily invested in AIG stock "is taking a bath," says Mr. Greenberg, adding that he intends to fulfill current commitments but that gifts would inevitably be fewer and smaller in the months ahead. "You can't give what you haven't got." ... Among the beneficiaries feeling the pinch are Harlem Children's Zone Inc., to which Mr. Greenberg recently pledged $25 million. "I'm spending a lot of time now thinking about how we could replace the kind of support we've received from Wall Street," says Geoffrey Canada, president of the organization, which provides parenting classes and charter schools for poor families. Mr. Canada says he is cutting 10% of his staff of 1,400. Other New York City education projects could be affected.
October 28, 2008
Long-awaited center to study city schools arrives tomorrow
The research center that will aim to conduct apolitical research on the city's public schools is launching tomorrow, at long last. James Kemple, a former director of education policy at MDRC, a New York think tank, will be the executive director of the group, which will be called (after several other tentative names were scrapped) the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, according to a press release just sent out. New York University is housing the center. One thing to pay close attention to is the data-sharing agreement that will determine which researchers get what data and what kind of access to schools. Increasing access was one purpose of the alliance, and to that end, the people who set up the alliance — from luminaries like the former president of Princeton, William Bowen, to the layman executive director, Richard Arum — hammered out a formal agreement with the Department of Education dictating who can see what figures and under what circumstances. I reported on the terms of a tentative agreement over the summer, for the Sun: Under the tentative deal, the group would have a fixed set of data that would be kept constantly up-to-date. Some of that data, including figures such as schools' state test scores, SAT results, and attendance data, would be widely available to the press and public. A larger set, including student-level information would be instantly available to a "Research Corps" selected by the executive director. To ensure speedy responses to inquiries by the alliance, the Department of Education would also agree to appoint a person in charge of coordination, called a "senior data liaison." The liaison would be paid for by the alliance but work under the supervision of the department, Mr. Arum said. Another fun fact: On the name front, one long-time contender was the Research Partnership. Maybe not everyone at the center is ready to give up that name; it's still the URL address of the center's Web site and mentioned prominently on the site's home page, as you can see in a screen shot below the jump.
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