Study Group

Interstate Textbook Study

Testing students and using test information to hold schools (and later teachers) accountable for student achievement has arguably been the primary national strategy for school improvement over the past decade and a half. Thus, the focus of this effort has been very school-centric, even when tests are not used for accountability purposes.

For instance, in a few cases school systems have developed early warning indicators describing how individual students are progressing. Both Chicago (Allensworth, 2013) and Massachusetts (Jung et al., 2012), for example, use administrative data to predict whether students are at-risk of now meeting specified academic outcomes. These existing systems are somewhat limited in terms of the span of a student’s educational experiences they cover and in how they are used.

In Chicago, for instance, researchers use 8th grade test scores, grades, and attendance to predict the likelihood that students will graduate and provide high schools with a list of their incoming students at risk of failure. The system in Massachusetts is similar, though their early warning system covers different grade spans and outcomes. More importantly, these early warning systems are built for use by school systems, not to inform parents directly.

So, while there is some evidence that the existence of early warning indicators might facilitate conversations between teachers and parents, they are not designed with parents in mind.

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Blazar, D., Heller, B., Kane, T.J., Polikoff, M., Staiger, D.O., Carrell, S., Goldhaber, D., Harris, D.N., Hitch, R., Holden, K.L. and Kurlaender, M., 2020. Curriculum Reform in The Common Core Era: Evaluating Elementary Math Textbooks Across Six US States. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

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