Saskia Levy Thompson has been named Deputy Director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. In this newly created role, Ms. Thompson will focus on engaging educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders more deeply in the Research Alliance’s efforts, and on developing partnerships and resources needed to carry out new work.
“Saskia comes to the Research Alliance at a critical moment in our development,” said James J. Kemple, the organization’s Executive Director, “as we transition from a start-up enterprise to a sustainable source of evidence about policies and practices that promote success for New York City students. Saskia’s knowledge and experience will help us build out new lines of research that speak to pressing issues in the district, and will ensure that our findings are communicated in ways that maximize their usefulness to educators and policymakers.”
Ms. Thompson comes to the Research Alliance after four years at the NYC Department of Education (DOE), where she served on the senior leadership team for four chancellors. Her projects included a system-wide review of elementary schools to develop recommendations for boosting the quality of instruction available to students from the City’s most impoverished neighborhoods. During her tenure at the DOE, Ms. Thompson also managed the Office of School Support, which provided instructional and operational assistance to the City’s 1,600 schools.
Prior to her time at the DOE, Ms. Thompson was a Senior Associate at MDRC, where she led an influential study of the effectiveness of NYC’s small high schools. She also worked with other districts around the country to develop evaluations of various programs aimed at improving outcomes for disadvantaged and disconnected youth. Before joining MDRC, Ms. Thompson was the Executive Director of the Urban Assembly, a nonprofit network of schools serving high-poverty communities. She led that organization as it scaled up from 5 to 20 schools in just four years.
Much of Ms. Thompson’s career has been devoted to bridging the divides between education research, policy, and practice—an endeavor that lies at the heart of the Research Alliance’s mission.
“The Research Alliance serves a unique and essential function as the independent research partner to New York City schools,” said Ms. Thompson. “As someone who has been a student, teacher and parent within the NYC public school system, I have a deep personal commitment to expanding educational opportunities here in my hometown. The Research Alliance has a key role to play by producing rigorous, relevant, local evidence that can improve education policies and practices. I’m thrilled to be joining the team at this exciting moment in the Research Alliance’s development.”
A new consortium of New York City-based funders—including Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ford Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation—has joined forces to invest in the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at New York University. The Chicago-based Spencer Foundation also announced a substantial new grant to the organization. Together, the five foundations have pledged $1.9 million to support the Research Alliance’s core operations over the next three years.
“These resources are critical for helping us build stronger connections with educators, policymakers, and community groups,” said James J. Kemple, the Research Alliance’s executive director. “Our aim is to produce ‘better evidence for better schools’ by engaging a range of education stakeholders, and conducting research that is not only rigorous, but also relevant to the problems that educators face in schools and classrooms.”
Research Alliance Executive Director Dr. James Kemple will participate in two sessions at the upcoming SREE Fall 2014 Conference (Washington, D.C., September 4-6, 2014).
On Thursday, September 4, from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m., Dr. Kemple will be a discussant for Preventing Failure in High School: Improvements in Long-Term Outcomes Through a Focus on Ninth Grade Indicators.
Then, on Saturday, September 6th, from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., Dr. Kemple will participate in the meeting’s plenary panel, Mapping the Paths for Collaboration in Practice & Research. The panel will also include Dr. Ruth Neild, Commissioner of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance for the Institute of Education Sciences, and will be moderated by Dr. Jennifer O’Day. Dr. Dean Gerdeman will make opening remarks.
For more information, visit the SREE website.
New Report from Research Associate Lisa Merrill, What Are the Effects of Teacher Education and Preparation on Beginning Teacher Attrition?
A research report from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, What Are the Effects of Teacher Education and Preparation on Beginning Teacher Attrition?, explores how the amount and type of training that teachers receive before entering the workforce affects their longevity in the teaching field. The report, written by Richard Ingersoll with Lisa Merill and Henry May, finds that teachers with more training in classroom methods and pedagogy have a great likelihood of remaining in the field for longer, but that other factors, such as the type of college attended or certificate earned, are less significant.
Institute of Education Sciences Awards Grant to NYU in Support of New Generation of Educational Researchers
The Institute of Education Sciences recently awarded NYU’s Institute of Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC) a $4 million grant to support training for a new generation of education researchers. The program, called the Predoctoral Interdiciplinary Research Training (PIRT) program, is directed by Dr. Pamela Morris of IHDSC, and James Kemple of the Research Alliance will be Deputy Director.
The program will offer two- or three-year training fellowships to 27 doctoral students over the course of five years. Fellows participate in an interdisciplinary core curriculum, seminars and workshops, and practice/policy internships, in order to learn how to apply education theory and research skills in real-world situations.
Two fellows from the first round of IES-PIRT funding, Christine Baker-Smith and Vanessa Coca, are currently based at the Research Alliance. Three additional IES-PIRT fellows have already completed their tenure at the Research Alliance.
NYC’s Children First: Lessons in School Reform cites Research Alliance Work on High School Choice, Teacher Turnover, and More
The Center for American Progress has released a new report examining the Children First school reforms instituted under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. New York City’s Children First: Lessons in School Reform calls on a wide body of research, including several Research Alliance studies and interviews with Executive Director James Kemple, to appraise the success of various initiatives and to offer recommendations for future policies.
Adriana Villavicencio was a guest on Brian Lehrer’s CUNY TV show, “Brian Lehrer.TV”. Mr. Lehrer and Dr. Villavicencio discussed the recent Research Alliance report, Moving the Needle: Exploring Key Levers to Boost College Readiness Among Black and Latino Males in NYC, as well as the Research Alliance’s evaluation of the Expanded Success Initiative and our examination of NYC’s small schools of choice.
The segment begins at 34:45:
Adriana Villavicencio Presents Preliminary Findings from the Research Alliance’s Evaluation of the Expanded Success Initiative
On March 26th, Dr. Adriana Villavicencio shared early findings from the Research Alliance’s ongoing evaluation of the Expanded Success Initiative (ESI) at an event sponsored and hosted by CUNY’s Institute for Education Policy at the Roosevelt House.
Dr. Villavicencio participated in a panel with Pedro Noguera (NYU), Shawn Dove (Open Society Foundation), and Michael Prayor (Brooklyn High School for Law and Technology). The panel was moderated by David Steiner (Hunter College School of Education, CUNY Institute for Education Policy). Vanda Belusic-Vollor (NYC DOE) made closing remarks.
Download the complete report here: Promising Opportunities for Black and Latino Young Men: Findings from the Early Implementation of the Expanded Success Initiative.
The Research Alliance will be participating in the American Education Research Association’s 2014 annual meeting in Philadelphia, from April 3-April 7.
Thursday, April 3, 12:00-1:00pm
Executive Director James Kemple will participate in “The ‘Portfolio’ Model and the Future of U.S. Urban School Reform: Lessons From New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Beyond.” The moderated panel will look at the experiences of urban districts that have, to some degree, developed varied “portfolios” of school types in recent years.
Saturday, April 5, 8:15-10:15am
“Deeper Learning Opportunities and Outcomes: Evidence in the Midst of a Debate,” a paper co-authored by Micha Segeritz, Data Manager & Lead Technical analyst, will be presented as part of a session on National Standards and Curricula: Challenges Here and Abroad. The paper will be presented by the American Institutes for Research.
Sunday, April 6, 4:05-5:35pm
Jonathan Supovitz (University of Pennsylvania) and Research Associate Lisa Merrill will present “Predictors of Common Core Mathematics Instruction,” as part of a session on “Teachers’ Instructional Practices and Students’ Mathematical Learning.”
Monday April 7, 10:35am-12:05pm
IES-PIRT Fellow E. Christine Baker-Smith is presenting “Pathways to an Elite Education: Application, Admission, and Matriculation to New York City’s Specialized High Schools,” as part of a session on Parental Choices.
Monday, April 7, 12:25-1:55pm
Richard Ingersoll (University of Pennsylvania) and Research Associate Lisa Merrill will present “The Changing Face of the Teaching Force: 1987 to 2012” as part of a roundtable session on the Policy, Social, and Organizational Context of Teachers. The paper explores whether and how the elementary and secondary teaching force has changed in the last decades.
For full conference schedule and more details, visit the AERA website.
The Research Alliance has a new brochure now available for download. Click here to view the brochure.
The Research Alliance is always striving to connect our research to education practice in NYC. Here are some of the recent ways our staff has worked with teachers and students around the City:
IES-PIRT fellow Christine Baker-Smith has continued her long-running relationship with W!SE, a program that invites NYC high school students to develop their own research projects aimed at quality of life issues in their community. In December, she led a teacher workshop to help educators guide their students toward appropriate research methods and data collection techniques, while also considering questions of research ethics and data availability. In January, she led a workshop for students about selecting the right research design for a particular research question.
Research Associate Adriana Villavicencio is helping prepare the next generation of NYC educators, teaching a class for students in NYU’s English Education MA program on Curriculum and Research in Literacy and Language Arts. The course helps prepare future teachers to incorporate research into their curriculum and instructional practice.
In addition, earlier this month, Dr. Villavicencio moderated “Promising Directions in Career Technical Education: Latest Research from the Field” at a CTE summit co-hosted by the NYC DOE, US DOE, and the United Federation of Teachers. The panel was part of a professional development day for administrators, program coordinators, and teachers at CTE programs in NYC. During the panel, a group of researchers shared their latest findings and discussed important research questions that remain unanswered.
The Research Alliance’s School-Level Master File (SCHMA), which provides longitudinal data for all NYC schools, is now available for use by other researchers.
The SCHMA provides longitudinal data for all NYC schools, including enrollment characteristics, class sizes, test scores, graduation rates, progress report scores, and expenditures.
The SCHMA includes only publicly available data and is aggregated to the school level. There is no way to retrieve information about any individual from this file.
New Journal Article from Research Analyst Molly Alter: "True for Your School? How Changing Reputations Alter Demands for Selective U.S. Colleges"
The Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA) journal, published by the American Educational Research Association, released “True For Your School?”, a new paper by Randall Reback and the Research Alliance’s Molly Alter. The paper examines whether a school’s standings in the Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report college rankings have an impact on the number of applications a college receives and the characteristics of the next incoming class.
On December 17, 2013, Vanessa Coca gave the featured presentation to representatives from local high schools, higher education institutions and community-based organizations as part of a forum on creating a college-going culture, organized by Graduate NYC!
The presentation focused on the gap between college aspirations and attainment for minority and low-income students across the nation, and highlighted some specific obstacles that may prevent these students from applying to, enrolling in, and completing college. The presentation was based on ongoing studies by the Research Alliance aimed at understanding college-readiness, as well as Ms. Coca’s previous work for the Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Posted 1/10/14; edited 09/22/14
"Superman Is Us: A Real Conversation About Public School Education," with Research Associate Adriana Villavicencio
On Thursday, November 14, Dr. Adriana Villavicencio will participate in a public forum hosted by BK Nation about public education in NYC. The event features a panel made up of NYC parents, students, educators, administrators, and researchers.
New Work on Charter School Choice from the Research Alliance’s Dr. Adriana Villavicencio, in the Education Policy Analysis Archives
“One of the underlying premises of the charter school movement is that quality drives consumer choice. As educational consumers, parents are viewed as rational actors who, if given the choice, will select a better-performing school. In examining the choice processes of charter school parents, however, this study calls into question the extent to which some parents can make optimal choices. Interviews with parents enrolled in two different charter schools indicate that charter parents do not necessarily choose higher-performing charter schools; nor do they necessarily leave low-performing charter schools.” – “’It’s Our Best Choice Right Now’: Examining the Choice Options of Charter School Parents” (Villavicencio, 2013).
In this study, Dr. Villavicencio explores the search processes and strategies parents employ when choosing a charter school and the criteria they use to select a school or decide whether their child should stay in or leave a school. She finds that differences in socioeconomic status, social capital, and education level all affect how and why parents make the choices they make.
The Research Alliance welcomes the newest member of our Steering Committee, Dr. Rudolph F. Crew. Dr. Crew is the President of Medgar Evers College, as well as a former NYC Schools Chancellor, Miami-Dade School Superintendent, and Chief Education Officer of Oregon. Dr. Crew brings to the Research Alliance over 30 years of commitment to public education, and experience improving urban school districts.
Research Alliance Executive Director Dr. James Kemple said, “Dr. Crew’s perspectives from the local, state, and national stages and from both K-12 and higher education will be incredibly valuable to our work.”
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded a grant to the Research Alliance to study NYC’s Gifted and Talented programs. Dr. James Kemple will lead the study, along with NYU Steinhardt’s Dr. Sharon Weinberg and Dr. Ying Lu.
The team will pursue two lines of questions aimed at informing the NYC Department of Education’s Gifted and Talented policies:
- How accessible are Gifted and Talented programs to undeserved students—including students from low-income families, minorities, and English language learners?
- Do Gifted and Talented programs have an impact on student achievement in elementary school?
Answers to these questions will help guide NYC and other school districts toward Gifted and Talented policies that are both equitable and effective. Learn more.
Dr. James Kemple is serving on the advisory board for the new Education Funders Research Initiative, a group of researchers and philanthropists who will reflect on NYC’s education reforms over the last 12 years, in preparation for the transition to the next mayor’s administration.
The week of October 21, Dr. Lori Nathanson will participate in a forum hosted by the Initiative about how NYC’s High School Choice process works for low-achieving students, what needs improvement, and what we still need to study. The following week, Dr. Kemple will discuss recent findings about the effectiveness of small schools.
Dr. Adriana Villavicencio's Presentation at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 43rd Annual Legislative Conference
At the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Dr. Adriana Villavicencio presented findings from the Research Alliance’s recent publication, Moving the Needle: Exploring Key Levers to Boost College Readiness Among Black and Latino Males in NYC, the first paper in our ongoing evaluation of NYC’s Expanded Success Initiative.
Dr. Villavicencio participated in the panel “Breaking Barriers: Legislative Actions, White House Initiatives, and School District Imperatives for Educating Black Males,” which addressed the connection between policy decisions and academic outcomes for young Black men.
Conference details are here.
On Tuesday, September 10th, Dr. James Kemple testified at a hearing of the House of Representatives' Education and the Workforce Committee on "Education Research: Exploring Opportunities to Strengthen the Institute of Education Sciences."
This week, the Research Alliance sent customized reports to 53 NYC high schools with school-specific information about 9th graders’ goals for the future and perceptions of fairness and discipline within their schools.
The reports used data from a survey the Research Alliance administered this spring to 38 schools participating in the Expanded Success Initiative (ESI) and 15 comparison schools with similar student and performance profiles. The reports are intended to provide useful information for administrators and teachers about the students in their school.
*The sample report does not use data from a real school, but is representative of the range of results that schools had.
On March 27, at an event sponsored and hosted by CUNY’s Institute for Education Policy at the Roosevelt House, Dr. James Kemple presented the The Condition of NYC High Schools: Examining Trends and Looking Toward the Future, the Research Alliance's new, independent analysis of how the high school landscape changed in New York City between 1999 and 2011 and, importantly, the extent to which key student outcomes improved during that time.
Following the presentation, Dr. Kemple participated in a panel discussion with Jeffrey Henig, Chair of the Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Shael Polakow-Suransky, Chief Academic Officer & Senior Deputy Chancellor for Performance and Accountability, NYC Department of Education. The panel was moderated by David M. Steiner, Founding Director of the CUNY Institute for Education Policy at Roosevelt House and the Klara & Larry Silverstein Dean, Hunter College School of Education.
New work from the Research Alliance will be presented at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting from April 27-May 1 surrounding the theme “Education and Poverty: Theory, Research, Policy and Praxis.”
Adriana Villavicencio and Sarah Klevan have organized a symposium on “Educational Achievement and Attainment for Black and Latino Males: Strategies and Supports for Success,” which brings together researchers studying different aspects of improving opportunities and outcomes for Black and Latino males. The symposium will feature the Research Alliance’s ongoing evaluation of NYC’s Expanded Success Initiative. ESI funds programming designed to increase graduation and college enrollment in 40 schools with a high population of black and Latino males. The current presentation provides a snapshot of how participating schools were already supporting these young men toward graduation, and how ESI has helped them expand existing programs or create new programs for young men of color. The symposium will be held on May 1 from 12:55-1:55 in the Hilton Union Square, Ballroom Level - Continental 7.
Sean Corcoran (NYU) will present work completed with the Research Alliance’s Lori Nathanson about the high school choice process in New York City. This research asks whether students who are admitted to one of their most preferred schools ultimately become more engaged students.
On February 13, Dr. Kemple delivered a presentation on “Career Academies: An Evidence-Based Approach to Preparing Youth for Adult Success” at the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminar, a program that allows state policymakers and researchers to share knowledge. Career Academy programs combine work-based learning opportunities with small, personalized learning environments in high schools and a career-themed academic and technical curriculum. While at MDRC, Dr. Kemple headed this rigorous study, which found that Career Academies produced sustained positive impacts on post-high school employment opportunities, earnings, and family formation. Based on these findings, the Career Academy model is seen as a model for offering high school students a clear pathway to successful careers while creating opportunities for higher education.
For more information on the Career Academies evaluation, visit the MDRC website.
Two papers (one examining the high school choice process in New York City and other focusing on the pathway into the City's specialized high schools) were presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Education Finance and Policy in New Orleans (March 14-16).
Christine Baker-Smith presented a working paper co-authored with Sean Corcoran (NYU), Pathways to the Elite: Application, Admission, and Matriculation to New York City’s Specialized High Schools. Because of the popularity and high perceived value of attending one of these schools, their admissions practices are highly scrutinized. For example, many have argued that the use of a single entrance exam rewards test preparation and inhibits diversity. The Research Alliance is examining the entire pipeline from middle school to matriculation, identifying factors associated with application, admission, and enrollment in these schools.
Lori Nathanson presented How Low-Achieving Students Fare in the NYC High School Choice Process, also co-authored with Sean Corcoran. The current analysis provides a descriptive profile of the most-preferred schools and placements of the city’s lowest-achieving students, and describes how these schools compare to those chosen and ultimately attended by their higher-achieving peers.
Adriana Villavicencio and Nathan Alexander Present Research Alliance Studies to NYC Principals at CCNY
Adriana Villavicencio and Nathan Alexander spoke to a group of NYC principals and education faculty on February 26th as part of the City College of New York’s Education Alumni & School of Education Principals' Breakfast Series. The event provided an opportunity for educators to offer feedback about the implications of various Research Alliance findings. The presentation focused on three Research Alliance projects that are particularly relevant to principals: a study of successful turnaround strategies for NYC Middle Grade Schools; first-year findings from the evaluation of the Expanded Success Initiative; and the ongoing evaluation of the iMentor program.
Research Alliance Presenters at the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness Conference (March 7-9)
Research Alliance team members will present new work at the SREE Conference in Washington, D.C. Lori Nathanson, Research Associate, has organized a symposium entitled “Parts of the Whole: Using Parent, Student, and Teacher Voices to Understand School Climate.” A growing body of research has identified a consistent, positive relationship between school climate and a range of academic, socio-emotional, and behavioral student outcomes. Yet, there is little agreement on how to define measures of school climate. The three papers included in the symposium examine data from the NYC School Survey, each highlighting different facets and interpretations of school climate.
As part of the symposium, Christine Baker-Smith will present Perceptions of Safety: Parent, Teacher & Student Responses to Questions about School Safety in the New York City School Survey, an initial exploration of perceptions of safety within and across NYC schools.
Meghan McCormick will present work completed with Lori Nathanson, Assessing Teacher Survey Validity Across Elementary, Middle, and High Schools: Evidence from New York City. The study examines the results of the 2012 New York City teacher survey and describes the extent to which new survey constructs – principal instructional leadership, teacher-principal trust, accountability, psychological safety, teacher-teacher trust, and school commitment – reliably capture differences between schools. Equally importantly, the study addresses implications for future survey development, measurement, and policy.
In a symposium titled “Pathways to Increasing Postsecondary Attainment,” Vanessa Coca will present Mapping Pathways to College: An In-Depth Examination of College Readiness in New York City, which examines whether certain high school academic characteristics of New York City high school graduates successfully predict college enrollment and persistence. Authored with Michael Segeritz and Dyuti Bhattacharya, this project is a crucial extension of past work that has explored on-track indicators for high school graduation.
Students’ engagement and performance in their first year of high school offer strong signals about their prospects for earning a diploma four years later. Authored by Executive Director Dr. James Kemple, with Micha Segeritz and Nickisha Stephenson, this article published in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk undertakes a systematic analysis of several possible early indicators to determine whether they successfully predict the likelihood of graduating with a New York State Regents diploma in New York City. The new analysis shows that earning 10 or more course credits and passing at least one Regents exam in the 9th grade offers a highly reliable prediction of graduation, identifies students who are at risk of dropping out, and is a strong leading indicator of school-wide performance and progress. The paper documents the steady improvement in on-track rates over the past 10 years in New York City, which has foreshadowed subsequent improvements in graduation rates.
Read the paper here >>>.
New William T. Grant Foundation Paper Highlights the Research Alliance's Partnership with the DOE
This working paper examines research-practice partnerships around the country that aim to improve local school district outcomes. The Research Alliance’s collaboration with the NYC Department of Education is one of four partnerships that are profiled. Read the paper here >>>.
States and school districts across the country have invested millions of dollars in data systems designed to put student information within easy reach of school administrators and teachers, but to date little has been known about how these systems are actually being used. Today the Research Alliance released the results of a new study of New York City’s Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS), which was launched in 2008 in an effort to make schools more data-driven and accountable for results. While ARIS has been the subject of intense debate, this study represents the first independent examination of actual ARIS usage.
Wall Street Journal Article: Report Tracks Student-Data System Usage by Lisa Fleisher
SchoolBook.org publishes Dr. James Kemple's article, "Math Innovation Requires Patience", about the Department of Education's School of One program.
Adriana Villavicencio, Research Associate at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools has been published on the Education Update Online website. She authored the article, "Beating the Odds: Lesson from Turnaround Middle Schools", highlighting the recent study on Middle School Turnaround conducted at the Research Alliance.
This article presents a study focused on two sets of initially low-performing NYC middle schools. The first group ("turnaround schools") exhibited significant growth in academic performance between 2006 and 2010, while the other group saw minimal growth or remained stagnant during the same period. The article presents the conditions and strategies that enabled the turnaround schools to boost student achievement.
2012 Colloquium: Informing New York City's Middle Grades Initiative : Background Materials
2012 Colloquium on Middle Schools: The Research Alliance for New York City Schools is hosting a colloquium on middle schools on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 from 8:30am to 2:30pm at New York University. The impetus for the colloquium is to help inform Chancellor Walcott's new middle school initiative, which he proposed in his policy address at NYU last fall. The colloquium will convene a diverse group of stakeholders, including researchers, funders, policymakers, practitioners and advocates to identify what we know, and what we need to know, about various aspects of improving middle schools. Panel sessions during the colloquium will focus on some of the key issues in middle grades education, including:
- How do you create an effective learning environment that fosters positive behaviors and academic routines in the middle grades?
- What are the contexts that support effective teaching in the middle grades?
- What does effective leadership in the middle grades look like?
- What are the challenges and opportunities in the middle grades curriculum?
We hope you will join us at NYU's Kimmel Center for this timely and important conversation.
* Middle School Colluqium Agenda.
The Research Alliance, in collaboration with Professor Sean Corcoran (NYU), recently received a grant from the New York Community Trust to study the high school choice process in New York City. The study, High School Choice in New York City: A Report on the School Choices and Placements of Academically At-Risk Students, examines the high school choices and placements of the city’s most academically challenged students as they leave middle school and transition to high school. The study focuses on students who have not met or partially met state standards in math and English, as well as English language learners and students receiving special education services, who represent a disproportionate share of the lowest-performing students. The project will culminate in a report to be published in 2012 that will seek to reach a broad array of stakeholders, including parents, policymakers, community groups, and the New York City Department of Education. For more information about the New York Community Trust you can visit their website at: www.nycommunitytrust.org. Go here for more on our work on high schools. For more information about this project click here.