November 12, 2019

November 2019 Research Rundown

By Krista Kaput

EdAllies’ Research Rundown is a curated list of recent, relevant research we think is worth adding to the education equity conversation. This month, we’re sharing research on retaining teachers of color, the link between discipline and achievement gaps, and new data on students who left college without degrees.

1. If You Listen, We Will Stay: Why Teachers of Color Leave and How to Disrupt Teacher Turnover. 

The Education Trust and Teach Plus, September 2019 

From a series of focus groups, the Education Trust and Teach Plus identified five common challenges that teachers of color face in their schools: antagonistic school culture, feeling undervalued, being deprived of agency and autonomy, unfavorable work conditions, and high costs (both financial and psychological) of being a teacher of color. After examining the experiences of teachers of color who work in schools that deliberately work to retain them, the report offers four recommendations on how state, district, and school leaders can better retain teachers of color, touching on everything from financial supports to leadership to school culture. 

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

Since 1991, Minnesota has spent over $60 million on policy efforts to increase teacher diversity. Despite these efforts, the number of teachers of color in Minnesota has increased very little. In 2006, 3.5% of teachers identified as teachers of color, and by 2018, this number had only grown to 4.3%. This is significant because research has found that when students of color have teachers of color they are more likely to be placed in gifted programs, graduate from high school, feel more cared for, and are less likely to experience disciplinary referrals. Leveraging the report’s findings could help Minnesota invest in strategies most likely to move the needle on teacher diversity.

Read the full report

2. Are Achievement Gaps Related to Discipline Gaps? Evidence from National Data

American Educational Research Association, October 2019 

A groundbreaking Stanford-led study found that, specifically for black students, there is a correlation between discipline disparities and achievement gaps, even after controlling for other variables. When one gap narrows, so does the other. While the researchers note that there are likely many reasons for the connection between these two variables, from teacher biases to peer effects and other measures of school climate, they suggest to practitioners that addressing discipline disparities is likely to impact academic outcomes as well. 

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

Minnesota’s history of disproportionately suspending and expelling black students at higher rates than white students is well-documented, as are the egregious black-white achievement gaps. Local advocates have been calling for action on the issue of school discipline for years; working to ensure all students, and particularly students of color and students with special needs, are not needlessly pushed out of the classroom. This research indicates that reforming discipline should remain a priority both for policymakers and practitioners.

Read the study

3. Some College, No Degree: A 2019 Snapshot for the Nation and 50 States

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, October 2019 

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center the only group in the country with data on where individual students are in the college process—looked at “Some College, No Degree” students and offers insights on their pathways to college success. Overall, there are 36 million Americans who have some postsecondary education and training, but no degree. Within this group, the report highlights that four million have made at least two years of academic progress, making them more likely to re-enroll and finish college. Their most common destination is a local community college—and often a different institution than they started in. 

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

In 2015, the Minnesota legislature passed a law setting a statewide target that 70% of Minnesota adults ages 25-44 will have attained a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2025.  As of December 2018, we still had a long way to go, with only 61.4% of all Minnesotans holding a postsecondary credential and significant disparities across lines of race and ethnicity. As we work to reach our state’s attainment goal, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of where and when students were last enrolled and what credentials they are likely to pursue, and what the most successful pathways are for both first-time and returning students.

Read the report