Beyond mean achievement scores : providing a more nuanced understanding of student outcomes by examining class absences, socio-emotional competencies, and differential effects of teacher characteristics
- In order to ensure that schools support students' learning, educational attainment, success in the workplace and healthy development, we need a robust research literature on student outcomes beyond average achievement test scores. This dissertation includes three papers that report on elementary and secondary student outcomes other than average achievement in order to gain a more nuanced understanding of how students are faring and the effects of school policies and practices. In each paper, I explore outcomes across different types of students (according to categories such as race/ethnicity, income, and language learner status) because assessing heterogeneity in outcomes is essential to being able to address the needs of students from all backgrounds. The first paper examines the prevalence and predictors of class absences in middle and high schools using administrative data from a California district. Prior literature on prevalence of absences has focused on full-day absences or total absences to class without distinguishing whether the student was absent to all their classes or only some of their classes that day. I find that about half of all absences to class are on days the student attended at least one other class, meaning that total absences in secondary school are much higher than official Average Daily Attendance statistics. This finding suggests a need to better understand and address absences to class. I examine the extent to which characteristics of the class and of students predict class absences. Students are substantially more likely to have unexcused absences to first period, followed by seventh period, compared to other periods, while class subject or whether it is a core subject class are less important to student attendance. Black, Hispanic, and low-income students have more unexcused class absences than other students, even with extensive controls or within the same neighborhood or classroom, and first period has a differentially stronger effect on these students. This quantitative analysis can help inform school efforts to reduce absences by indicating the types of classes and students most at risk of class absences. In addition, I identify themes in qualitative interviews with district and school staff regarding reasons for class absences and possible methods for reducing absences. The second paper examines the effects of No Child Left Behind high-stakes accountability on socio-emotional outcomes using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey -- Kindergarten Cohort 1998-99 (ECLS-K). Many people have worried that high-stakes testing would lead to worse socio-emotional outcomes such as higher test anxiety and lower interest in school due to teaching to the test. Using a quasi-experimental, difference-in-differences approach, I find a lack of support for the assertion that high-stakes standardized testing hurts students on average in terms of their socio-emotional outcomes. I find no statistically significant effects on average. At the same time, I find substantial differences between impacts for student subgroups, whereby some subgroups such as Hispanic students appear to benefit from consequential accountability while others such as African American students do not. The third paper (coauthored with Ben Master, Susanna Loeb, and Jim Wyckoff) seeks to identify the characteristics and learning experiences of general education teachers who are differentially effective at promoting math achievement among English Language Learners (ELLs) compared to non-ELLs. Many educators have suggested that identifying or developing teachers with skills specific to ELLs' instructional needs may be critical to addressing the achievement gap between ELLs and non-ELLs in math. However, the evidence base to test this assertion is sparse. Our analyses indicate that individual teachers can learn specific skills that make them more effective with ELL students. In particular, while generic years of teaching experience do not differentially affect gains for ELLs compared to non-ELLs, specific prior experience teaching ELLs predicts improvements in novice teachers' differential instructional effectiveness with ELLs. We also find that both in-service and pre-service training focused on ELL-specific instructional strategies are associated with higher gains for a teacher's ELLs relative to their non-ELLs. The findings of this study provide valuable new evidence in support of the notion that general education teachers can develop useful ELL-specific instructional skills, informing efforts by educators and policymakers to improve the quality of instruction that ELLs receive.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Whitney, Camille Rae
|Stanford University, Graduate School of Education.
|Stipek, Deborah J, 1950-
|Stipek, Deborah J, 1950-
|Statement of responsibility
|Camille Rae Whitney.
|Submitted to the Graduate School of Education.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2015.
- © 2015 by Camille Rae Whitney
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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