Classroom Services

Evidence from the Evaluation of the PACE Center for Girls

March, 2017

Born out of research showing that girls and boys have different risk factors and pathways into the justice system, gender-responsive programs focus on girls’ unique needs and strengths. This brief summarizes the developing research on their effectiveness and describes how one program enacts the principles in its service delivery.

Preliminary Kindergarten Impacts of the Making Pre-K Count and High 5s Programs

February, 2017

Can children’s math skills be strengthened in pre-K and kindergarten, and can such improvements have longer-term effects? This preliminary analysis examines the cumulative effects of two early math programs and demonstrates that this enhanced experience can have modest, positive impacts on children’s math and executive function skills in kindergarten.

Improving Math Instruction in New York City

October, 2016

An evidence-based preschool math curriculum called Building Blocks, combined with ongoing professional development, was compared with “business as usual” pre-K programs across 69 public schools and community-based organizations. This report contains interim findings on the implementation of the model, the amount and quality of its math instruction, and children’s learning outcomes.

Interim Impact Findings from the Investing in Innovation (i3) Evaluation of Diplomas Now

June, 2016

The Diplomas Now whole-school reform model, including targeted interventions for students at risk of dropping out, had an impact on the percentage of students with no early warning indicators related to attendance, behavior, or course performance, and had more encouraging results in middle schools than high schools.

An Evaluation of SEED DC

June, 2016

The nation’s first public, urban, college-prep boarding school emphasizes academic excellence and personal development. A six-year evaluation using SEED’s admission lotteries found that SEED DC raised lottery winners’ test scores but did not increase the on-time graduation rate or reduce teen pregnancy or involvement in the criminal justice system.

April, 2016

The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states greater responsibility for choosing strategies to improve underperforming schools. For over a decade, MDRC has rigorously evaluated school improvement strategies, collecting evidence that can help states determine which strategies are likely to work. This Issue Focus describes four of MDRC’s most recent studies.

A Guide to Social Impact Bond Investing

March, 2016

MDRC President Gordon Berlin draws lessons from MDRC’s implementation of the first social impact bond (SIB) project in the United States, providing valuable insights into the inner workings of SIB deals and explaining the challenges and the potential of this impact investing model.

An Introduction to an Evaluation of the PACE Center for Girls

January, 2016

Girls at risk of delinquency have a different profile from that of boys. PACE uses a “gender-responsive” model of education and counseling services, taking into account how girls develop and respond to trauma. This study will evaluate the program’s implementation in 14 centers, its costs, and its impacts on girls.

Lessons from Implementing a Rigorous Academic Program for At-Risk Young People

September, 2015

In Gateway to College, students who have dropped out of high school and who are at risk of dropping out simultaneously earn credits toward a high school diploma and a postsecondary degree. This report describes the program model and shares lessons learned from its implementation at three program sites.

MDRC’s Projects in Math for Low-Income Students, from Preschool to College

June, 2015

In our increasingly technological world, developing basic math skills is crucial. What can be done to promote more effective math education? This two-page issue focus describes a number of MDRC projects — from preschool to postsecondary education — that seek to improve the performance of low-income students in math.

Changing School Practices During the Second Year of Diplomas Now

May, 2015

Diplomas Now, a partnership of three national organizations, aims to increase graduation rates in high-risk schools, targeting support to students who need it most. This second report finds that Diplomas Now schools are differentiating themselves from comparable schools in their implementation of structural and instructional reforms.

A Summary of Impact and Implementation Findings from Head Start CARES

April, 2015

This two-page issue focus summarizes the main findings from Head Start CARES, a test of three distinct classroom-based approaches to enhancing children’s social-emotional development: Incredible Years Teacher Training Program, Preschool PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), and Tools of the Mind–Play.

March, 2015

Using data from the Head Start Impact Study, this paper examines variation in Head Start effects across individual children, policy-relevant subgroups of children, and Head Start centers. It finds that past estimates of the average effect of Head Start programs mask a wide range of relative program effectiveness.

March, 2015

This report examines the implementation and effects of an academic summer program for middle school students offered by Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL). The findings suggest that BELL students did not outperform non-BELL students in reading, but that the program may have had a positive effect on students’ math achievement.

Exploratory Findings from the Head Start CARES Demonstration

December, 2014

This report suggests that evidence-based approaches can improve 3-year-olds’ social-emotional competence in mixed-age preschool classrooms. While the findings are promising, further research is needed to confirm the results and to better understand how these benefits are generated.

The First Year of Implementing Diplomas Now

August, 2014

Three national organizations formed Diplomas Now in an effort to transform urban secondary schools so fewer students drop out. This report introduces Diplomas Now and the associated evaluation, shares first-year implementation fidelity findings, and discusses collaboration among the Diplomas Now partners and between those partners and schools.

Adapting a Preschool Social-Emotional Curriculum

June, 2014

In this study, an existing evidence-based curriculum was adapted for use with a special population by focusing on structural, cultural, and language issues. The findings indicate that adaptations can account for a specific population’s needs while staying true to the core principles and components of the program.

National Evaluation of Three Approaches to Improving Preschoolers’ Social and Emotional Competence

June, 2014

This demonstration tested the effectiveness of three program enhancements implemented at scale that were designed to improve preschool children's social-emotional competence. All three had positive impacts on teacher practice and on children’s social-emotional outcomes during the preschool year, although to varying degrees and not necessarily in the expected ways.

May, 2014

This brief essay by Gordon Berlin, first published by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, builds on MDRC’s experience as the intermediary in the nation’s first operational Social Impact Bond to describe three broad challenges facing the Pay for Success movement as it moves from promising concept to on-the-ground implementation.

MDRC’s Portfolio in Early Childhood Education

March, 2014

Today, leaders from across the political spectrum are calling for new investments in early childhood education. But many important questions remain about how to make the most of the promise of preschool and related interventions. MDRC’s portfolio of research and demonstration projects is tackling some of the biggest ones.

 

Large-Scale Implementation of Programs to Improve Children’s Social-Emotional Competence

December, 2013

This report describes the extent to which three different classroom-based social-emotional strategies and related professional development supports were implemented as intended in Head Start centers, as well as the degree to which teachers’ practices changed as a result.

Early Lessons from the New York City Social Impact Bond

December, 2013

A social impact bond (SIB) is an innovative way to fund promising new programs at no cost to taxpayers. This report describes the first operational SIB in the U.S., explaining how an intervention for youth incarcerated at Rikers Island was developed, how the unique financing mechanism was arranged, and how the program was adapted and implemented at full scale.

October, 2013

This report, a Public/Private Ventures project distributed by MDRC, summarizes findings from a four-year random assignment study of an out-of-school-time program for middle-schoolers. Students in the program did better on standardized tests and were more likely to attend private high schools.

April, 2013

This article, first published in Community Development Investment Review, proposes a vision of a social impact bond model that moves beyond just achieving cost-savings to spurring innovation, knowledge-building, rigorous evaluation, and, potentially, outcomes that achieve other socially desirable goals.

March, 2013

Urban high schools are in trouble — high dropout rates, low student achievement, and graduates who are unprepared for the world of work are just some of the disappointing indicators. However, this policy memo, part of our “Looking Forward” series, explains how recent research has uncovered a number of approaches to improving student outcomes and reforming underperforming schools.

Final Impact and Implementation Findings from the Foundations of Learning Demonstration in Newark and Chicago

January, 2013

Intensive professional development and in-class support for preschool teachers produced more positive teacher-student interactions, more effective management of challenging behaviors, less problem behavior, higher engagement in learning, and more instruction time. However, there was no clear effect on short-term academic achievement, and the long-term effects on children remain uncertain.

Improving Classroom Practices in Head Start Settings

February, 2012

This report offers lessons about using coaches to help teachers carry out a program for improving pre-kindergarteners’ social and emotional readiness for school. It addresses selection of the coaching model; coach hiring, training, support, and supervision; coaching processes; and program management, data, and quality assurance.

An Empirical Assessment Based on Four Recent Evaluations

October, 2011

This reference report, prepared for the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), uses data from four recent IES-funded experimental design studies that measured student achievement using both state tests and a study-administered test.

How Classroom Management Training Can Help Teachers

November, 2010

Foundations of Learning provided training and in-class support to teachers to help guide children’s behavior and emotional development. In Newark, NJ, the program improved teachers’ classroom management and productivity, reduced children’s conflict with peers, and increased children’s engagement. A year later, few effects for children were sustained as they entered kindergarten, but teachers were still engaged in positive practices.

Implementation Lessons from the Foundations of Learning Demonstration

December, 2009

Foundations of Learning provided in-class training and support to teachers, and one-on-one clinical services to children, to enhance preschool quality. This report offers lessons regarding program design, management, staffing, and professional development issues that arose during implementation in Newark, NJ.

A Preview of Findings from the Foundations of Learning Demonstration

September, 2009

Early evaluation results from Newark, NJ, show that Foundations of Learning improved teachers’ classroom management and productivity, reduced children’s conflict with peers, and engaged students in the learning tasks of preschool. The intervention was implemented in Head Start programs, community-based child care centers, and public schools.

August, 2008

This issue brief, published by the National High School Center, highlights lessons from selected policies and programs designed to improve students’ preparation for life after high school.

May, 2007

This policy brief, published by the National High School Center, focuses on five key challenges that states, districts, and schools should address to support a successful transition into high school.

May, 2007

This “snapshot,” published by the National High School Center, explains how Thomas A. Edison High School in Philadelphia implemented a Ninth-Grade Success Academy.

The Effects of Four Popular Improvement Programs

November, 2006

This research brief, published by the National High School Center, draws on findings from four studies by MDRC that shed light on both the nature of the problems found in low-performing high schools and on the effectiveness of promising interventions that attempt to address those problems.

Evidence from the Talent Development High School Model

May, 2005

Talent Development, a high school reform initiative, produced substantial positive effects on attendance, academic course credits earned, tenth-grade promotion, and algebra pass rates for students in very low-performing schools in Philadelphia.

Context, Components, and Initial Impacts on Students’ Performance and Attendance

December, 2004

During the first three years of implementation in six urban schools, The Talent Development Middle School model—an ongoing, whole-school reform initiative—had a positive impact on math achievement for eighth-graders but appeared to produce no systematic improvement in outcomes for seventh-graders.

Context, Components, and Initial Impacts on Ninth-Grade Students’ Engagement and Performance

June, 2004

An examination of the implementation and early impacts of Talent Development, a whole-school reform initiative, found that the model produced substantial gains in ninth-grade students’ course completion and promotion rates.

Case Studies of Educational Improvement and Title I in Secondary Schools

January, 2000
Project Overview

This study evaluates a new two-year intervention focused on student writing called Drive to Write. The intervention integrates technology coaching into a global history curriculum to create opportunities for focused student writing and revision and increased teacher feedback on writing.

Project Overview

With broad support across the political spectrum, states and localities throughout the country are expanding preschool programs for low-income children.

Project Overview

While English language learners and disadvantaged native English speakers may have sufficient skills to engage in everyday conversation, many struggle with academic language, the more formal language typically used in school.

Project Overview

Under-resourced students will have a steep road ahead as they master new Common Core standards. Schools will also face the challenge of finding sufficient resources to deliver higher-level content in effective, engaging ways.

Project Overview

The High 5s project is part of the Robin Hood Early Childhood Research Initiative, a partnership between MDRC and the Robin Hood Foundation focused on improving the life trajectories of low-income children in New York City.

Project Overview

Too often, elementary school students lack the behavioral and social skills necessary to focus on academics and achieve in school. Without proper support, teachers inevitably spend far too much time managing their students’ behavior and too little time actually teaching.

Project Overview

Young girls and women make up an increasing share of the youth in the juvenile justice system, despite a national decline in the overall rate of juvenile incarceration in this country. In 2011, girls made up nearly 30 percent of all juvenile arrests, up from 20 percent in 1980.

Project Overview

Economic and labor-market changes over the past three decades have dramatically reduced the availability of well-paying jobs for workers without postsecondary education. And yet one in four high school freshmen do not graduate in four years, and many who do complete high school are poorly prepared for college.

Project Overview

Making Pre-K Count is the result of a partnership between MDRC and the Robin Hood Foundation whose goal is to build evidence about ways to improve the life trajectories of children living in poverty in New York City. The partnership’s first project focuses on improving preschool children’s math skills.

Project Overview

MDRC participated in the nation’s first Social Impact Bond, an innovative way to fund promising new programs at no cost to taxpayers.

Project Overview

Students with learning difficulties are more likely to demonstrate low academic achievement despite recent advances in curriculum design, assessments to inform instructional decisions, and research-based intervention strategies.

Project Overview

The Social Innovation Fund (SIF), an initiative enacted under the Edward Kennedy Serve America Act, targets millions of dollars in public-private funds to expand effective solutions across three issue areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development and school support.

Project Overview

While educators and officials across the United States are struggling with how to raise student achievement and improve graduation rates, very few programs have been shown to work at scale in achieving either goal.

Project Overview

Head Start, which serves nearly 1 million low-income children, is the nation’s largest federally sponsored early childhood education program.

Project Overview

The problems of urban middle and high schools are rooted in the inadequate preparation that too many students receive in elementary schools, and these problems become most visible in the ninth grade, when students encounter more demanding coursework and tougher requirements for grade-level promotion.

Project Overview

Low-income children too often begin school without the basic behavioral, emotional, and cognitive skills that they need to thrive academically — putting them at an immediate disadvantage and contributing to the large gap that develops in school achievement between low-income children and their more affluent peers.