By Ken To, Centre for University and School Partnership, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Previous research indicates that hope is a psychological strength that could help one to overcome obstacles. Recently, research published in Learning and Individual Differences investigated the relationship between hope and academic achievement among a sample of Chinese primary school students.
The study was conducted in a city in Southern China, with 949 students from third to fifth grades participating. Students completed a questionnaire and were assessed on their academic performance for three consecutive semesters. The questionnaire was conducted in the middle of each semester, assessing students’ level of hope and behavioral engagement. Academic performance was measured by a single index based on students’ performance in the final exam for Chinese, English and Mathematics during the end of each semester. The results showed that the relationship between hope and academic achievement among Chinese primary school students was reciprocal: Students’ hope predicted later achievement, while achievement lead to later hope level.
The authors suggested that primary school students with higher levels of hope were more willing to invest energy in school activities such as asking questions, which contributed to their academic performance. The positive performance feedback accumulated in turn reinforced hope. Therefore, early successful academic performance is important to educational attainment in the long run.
By Chenchen Shi, School of Education, Renmin University of China
With the rise in the availability of absenteeism data, it is clear that students in the United States were missing much school time even prior to Covid closures. In response, researchers and policymakers have been identifying school programs that might reduce student absenteeism.
“Breakfast After-the-Bell” (BAB) is a school-based program where breakfast is served after school starts (rather than the traditional breakfast model, which occurs before school), either in the classroom itself or as a grab-and-go from a cafeteria where a student eats it in the first period classroom (or in-between first and second periods).
In an article published by Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, J. Jacob Kirksey and Michael A. Gottfried examined whether implementing this breakfast program might reduce school absenteeism. Exploring longitudinal statewide datasets (Colorado and Nevada) containing school breakfast information linked to national data on chronic absenteeism rates, they employed sharp and fuzzy regression discontinuity designs to examine the effects of BAB.
The findings suggest that schools serving BAB experienced a statistically significant decrease in chronic absenteeism. The strongest effects were experienced by high schools, schools with higher rates of breakfast participation (both overall and among students who are eligible for free lunch), schools serving universal free meals, and suburban schools.
By Susan Davis, Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore City Public Schools is one of the first districts in the US to utilize many proven or promising tutoring programs on a significant scale in elementary reading. Although it is too early to report student gains, a report released by the Abell Foundation last month, written by BEiB’s Robert Slavin and MDRC’s Stephanie Safran, describes the seven tutoring models implemented in BCPS in detail, and how they are used in the district.
Help for these struggling students is critical; results of standardized testing at the start of the 2020 school year showed that just 7,000 of the district’s 25,000 students were reading at grade level. Currently, about 4,800 of the district’s students from 60 schools are receiving tutoring through Experience Corps, Literacy Lab, Reading Partners, Springboard Collaborative, Tutoring With the Lightning Squad, City Schools’ Tier II Fundations, or Amplify mCLASS.
The report discusses tutoring’s costs, both specific to BCPS and nationwide. Authors break down the tutoring programs used in BCPS, showing a range of costs for small group and 1 to 1 tutoring. Not surprisingly, costs were higher in 1 to 1 than in one-to-small group programs.
The report concludes with recommendations for BCPS. These include having each child reading below grade level in the district receive tutoring within their RTI tier, ensuring tutoring is being properly implemented, collecting data on results, and expanding tutoring services within the city and beyond.
By Jun Wang, Johns Hopkins University
Secondary reading performance has drawn increasing attention in recent years. In a study published in Reading Research Quarterly, Baye and colleagues conducted a quantitative synthesis on the effectiveness of reading programs for secondary students. 69 studies that met high evidence standards were identified, including 62 randomized and 7 quasi-experimental designs. All studies included took place in the US and the UK.
51 programs were evaluated across all studies. The examined programs were divided into 10 categories. Among them, 7 categories showed positive overall weighted outcomes, including tutoring interventions (ES=+0.24), cooperative learning (ES=+0.10), whole-school approaches (ES=+0.06), writing-focused approaches (ES=+0.13), content-focused approaches (ES=+0.08), strategy-focused instruction (ES=+0.09), and group/personalization rotation (ES=+0.09), whereas vocabulary-focused approaches, personalization approaches, and intensive group approaches demonstrated no statistically significant positive outcomes.
Two cross-cutting factors, additional reading periods and technology applications, were also explored using random-effects models. No significant differences were found between studies providing extra reading periods and those that did not. Programs with extensive use of technology showed no greater impact than programs with little or no use of technology. Also, demographic and methodological factors were examined as moderators. Similar outcomes were found for struggling readers vs. all students and for middle vs. high schools. Promising outcomes were found for English learners. No significant moderating effects were found in terms of research designs (i.e., randomized vs. quasi-experimental designs, cluster vs. student-level designs).
In addition, authors summarized the commonalities among programs with positive outcomes: 1) emphasizing student motivation, peer relations, student-teacher relations, and socioemotional learning, and 2) supporting students to write well.