October 2021 Research Rundown
By Krista Kaput
Welcome to EdAllies’ October Research Rundown; our curated list of recent, relevant research we think is worth adding to the education equity conversation. This month, we are sharing research on:
- Supports and interventions associated with English Learner success,
- Long-term effects of middle school ELA remediation on student achievement, and
- Research on the link between housing and equitable education finance.
1. English Learners in Chicago Public Schools: An Exploration of the Influence of Pre-K and Early Grade Years
UChicago Consortium on School Research, September 2021
Examining data from over 30,000 PreK-3 English Learner (EL) students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), researchers identified several factors that contribute to EL success. Specifically, the authors found:
- Enrolling students in full-day early learning programs prior to age four vs. at age four was associated with stronger English language development and early literacy;
- ELs who received Bilingual Education Services through third grade, as compared to EL students who didn’t receive the services because their families declined it, had higher English development, attendance, grades, and academic achievement; and
- Attending higher-rated schools, based on CPS’ School Quality Rating Policy, was associated with higher math and reading proficiency and English proficiency, even after accounting for student and school differences.
The researchers provide a series of recommendations to leverage these findings. For policymakers, they recommend prioritizing ELs for access to prekindergarten programs, with a particular focus on ELs with lower incoming English skills and ELs with disabilities. For practitioners, they recommend using data from screener assessments to support ELs and then implementing research-based interventions that focus on reading and listening.
WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA
Since 2010, the K-12 student English Learner (EL) population in Minnesota has grown by 25%. Despite being one of the fastest-growing student populations in Minnesota, we are falling short in meeting the needs of EL students. Prior to COVID, Minnesota EL proficiency in reading was 12.5% and 16.8% in math. And we know that the pandemic exacerbated achievement gaps and had a negative impact on student learning. As districts continue to spend their federal stimulus dollars, it’s important that they place an emphasis on supporting EL students through research-based strategies and targeted Bilingual Education Services, and support families by making materials available in their home language.
Related, at the state level legislators must invest in early learning that prioritizes our most underserved and under-resourced students. Even though an estimated 35,000 low-income kids ages 0-5 are in need of quality programming, state legislators failed to act last session. Specifically, they did not provide new funding to early learning scholarships—a large disappointment given the intense need for services for our youngest learners and their families coming out of the pandemic.
Read the Full Report
2. The Effects of Middle School Remediation on Postsecondary Success: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida
National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, September 2021
Researchers examined the short, medium, and long-term effects of a Florida remediation policy, which requires middle schools students to be placed in remedial English language arts (ELA) if they score below a certain proficiency cutoff on the prior year’s ELA assessment. The study found a significant effect on reading achievement in the year following the remediation, but that the effects lessened over the next two years. Interestingly, however, measurable benefits reappeared in high school and postsecondary. Taking a remedial ELA course in middle school increased the likelihood that a student would:
- Take a college credit-bearing ELA course (like AP) by 3.5 percentage points,
- Enroll in college by 2.7 percentage points;
- Persist in college beyond the second year by 4.7 percentage points; and
- Attain a two-year or four-year college degree by 3.7 percentage points.
The author notes that their findings are consistent with the findings of several other studies that find dissipating impacts in the short-term, but significant positive effects in the long term.
WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA
All students should leave Minnesota’s K-12 system with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and career. Unfortunately, we are falling short. Last year, EdAllies published a report that found gaps in advanced coursework for Minnesota’s students of color—particularly for Black, Indigenous, and Latino students—which start early in gifted and talented programming and persist as students go through high school. This study highlights another issue around the need to ensure that students are receiving high-quality education and getting prepared for college and career readiness starting prior to high school so that they do not need remediation. We must look at the E-12 education system in totality and invest in childcare, early literacy, learning acceleration, universal meals, social-emotional learning, and other research-based supports that contribute to a student’s academic achievement and mental health.
Explore the Study Results
3. Priced Out of Public Schools: District Lines, Housing Access, and Inequitable Educational Options
Bellwether Education Partners, October 2021
Using census data, Bellwether examined the relationships between rental housing access, per-pupil funding, and school district boundaries in 200 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas. They calculated the percentage of housing units in each school district that a family of four at the federal poverty line in 2019 ($25,750) could afford, and also looked at the prevalence of poverty within the district. They found that more affluent districts with inaccessible housing are able to raise an, on average, $8,663 more per pupil than districts with concentrated low-income housing—more than double. While state and federal funding usually provide more money to districts that serve large concentrations of low-income students, it only reduces the local revenue gap by an average of $2,308 per pupil—leaving a gap of $6,355. This combination of funding inequities and limited housing access leaves many families priced out of certain public schools.
The authors provide five policy levers that can address the funding inequities, including state policy that reduces reliance on local, property-based revenue, addressing inequitable school boundaries, and creating more flexible enrollment programs that ensure all families have access to school options. They also recommend state and local government work to increase the supply of affordable rental housing units in communities where it is not currently available.
WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA
Minnesota has made progress toward some of these recommendations, including state funding equity and ensuring access to enrollment options, but we still have a long way to go on these and other measures.
While nearly one-third of students enroll in school options besides their zoned local school, we know that “real estate choice”—which is when a family purposefully buys a home in a specific area because of their schools—remains a prevalent factor subject to the access concerns raised in the Bellwether report. What do we know about enrollment today?
- 9.5% open enroll to another district;
- 7% attend a charter school;
- 6.7% attend an independent school;
- 5.9% attend a magnet school; and
- 3.1% are homeschooled.
It’s also estimated that about 1 in 5 U.S. public school students utilize “real estate” school choice. We know that many families, including those who may not yet have children, exercise this type of choice, but that it is limited based on income. These families have the economic means to purposefully purchase their homes based on the quality—real or perceived—of the zoned local schools.
Minnesota should continue to explore how state funding can ensure equitable access to high-quality schools, while preserving access to a variety of options for families no matter where they live. State and local housing policy must also play a role—and this is a timely topic with rising rents and limited housing supply in the Twin Cities metro area. This includes expanding access to affordable options across the region, while also ensuring local policies don’t further restrict families’ access to different school options. For example, both Minneapolis and Saint Paul have launched housing support programs that only provide rental assistance to low-income families enrolled in specific district schools This creates additional structural barriers and compounds the problem from an educational equity lens.
Read the Report