2023 saw transitions in leadership at the Research Alliance, with the appointment of Cheri Fancsali as Executive Director and Kathy Hill as Research Director, and with Jim Kemple stepping into the role of Senior Fellow. Collaboration continued to be at the heart of our work—including partnerships with NYC Public Schools, CUNY, the United Federation of Teachers, #DegreesNYC, ExpandEd Schools, UCLA’s Center X, MDRC, and Urban Assembly, among others. We launched new projects designed to improve computer science education, illuminate the impact of the COVD-19 pandemic, and help more college students successfully transfer from two- to four-year programs. Meanwhile, ongoing multi-year studies produced important findings that informed the work of school and district leaders, educators, and community-based organizations across New York City.
Through all of these projects, we remained committed to advancing equity and excellence in education by providing rigorous, nonpartisan evidence about the City’s public schools. Below we share some highlights from our year. As always, we welcome any questions or feedback you may have about our work. Thanks to everyone, including the generous funders, who helped make our efforts possible!
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, and a happy, healthy new year,
The Research Alliance for New York City Schools Team
In 2023, the Research Alliance produced a variety of reports, briefs, and Spotlight posts, drawing on our own work, as well as that of a dynamic group of research affiliates. These publications covered a wide range of topics, from Computer Science and Career and Technical Education, to strategies for supporting homeless students, high school enrollment patterns, and English Learners’ experiences and outcomes.
- Recruiting and Retaining High School Students in Out-of-School Work-Based Learning – New York City Public Schools are in the midst of a major expansion of work-based learning for high school students. Drawing on data from program providers, instructors, and students involved in ExpandEd Schools’ STEM Options program, this report highlights challenges related to student recruitment and retention, and offers recommendations for increasing persistence in STEM Options and other work-based learning programs.
- Educational Practices to Identify and Support Students Experiencing Homelessness – The Research Alliance partnered with EdResearch for Action to develop this brief for schools and districts outlining evidence-based practices for supporting homeless students. The brief includes information about the prevalence of homelessness and the academic and socioemotional outcomes of students experiencing homelessness, as well strategies schools can use to better meet their needs.
- Peer Continuity from Middle to High School: How Often Are Students "Going It Alone"?– This Spotlight post looks at peer continuity from middle to high school and how it varies by race/ethnicity and neighborhood poverty. The analyses reveal substantial disparities, including the fact that 27 percent of Black students were the only person from their 8th grade class to attend their high school, compared with 20 percent of Latinx students and less than 8 percent of White and Asian students. The post raises questions about the potential causes and consequences of these disparities.
- What Do We Know About Equitable Access and Outcomes for English Learners? – We worked with colleagues at the Center for the Success of English Learners to produce this series of Spotlights focused on: 1) the flow of students into the NYC public school system, and in and out of the “English Learner” classification, from kindergarten through 12th grade, and 2) the high school experiences and outcomes of current, former and never English Learners.
- NYC as a Laboratory for Learning About Career and Technical Education: Lessons from CTE-Dedicated High Schools – This report examines the impact of NYC’s CTE-Dedicated high schools, which are structured to ensure that all enrolled students participate in a CTE Program of Study from 9th through 12th grade. We found that students in these schools had similar outcomes, on average, to their non-CTE counterparts. However, a subset of the schools—those that were smaller, nonselective, and focused on occupations that typically require a Bachelor’s degree—produced meaningful improvements in high school graduation and college enrollment. A second report from this study, on CTE in NYC’s comprehensive high schools, is forthcoming.
- Computer Science for All - As part of the Research Alliance’s ongoing evaluation of NYC’s CS4All initiative, we published a series of articles focused on equity in computer science education, including:
- “Outsiders Within: How Do Black Girls Fit Into Computer Science for All?” (ACM Transactions on Computing Education)
- Reaching For All: Understanding the Challenges and Needs of Schools Lagging in CS for All Efforts (2023 Research on Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology, IEEE)
- "Getting My Feet Wet and Starting Small": Building Capacity for Culturally Responsive Computer Science (2023 Research on Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology, IEEE.)
- Ramping Up to CS for All: Broadening Participation Through Equity-Focused Leadership (2023 Research on Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology, IEEE).
A new report from this study will be released in 2024.
The Research Alliance seeks to engage stakeholders through small-group briefings and meetings, conference presentations and public events. One notable example from 2023 was “An Equity-Centered Approach to Meeting the Educational Needs of Newcomer Immigrant and Asylum Seeker Youth in NYC Public Schools”—part of a series of equity roundtables convened in partnership with City Council Member Nantasha Williams; NYU’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research; the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools; the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU School of Law; and the Vera Institute of Justice. Research Alliance Executive Director Cheri Fancsali and Metro Center Executive Director Fabienne Doucet planned and moderated the education panel discussion, featuring Selcuk Sirin and Sumie Okazaki (NYU Steinhardt); Lara Evangelista (Internationals Network for Public Schools); Asenhat Gomez (El Puente); Khanh Le (CUNY Queens College) and Prerna Arora (Columbia University Teachers College). Also in attendance were City Council Member Williams, Council Member Rita Joseph (Chair of the Education Committee), Council Member Farah Louis, and Council Member Althea Stevens.
Other events from 2023 included:
- Cheri Fancsali’s keynote address, "You Can't Do It Alone: Trends & Insights from NYC's CS4All Journey," at the #CSForNY State Summit (see the video here);
- Clare Flack’s presentation about CTE program costs at the Association for Career and Technical Education Research’s annual conference;
- A presentation about racial and gender disparities in K-12 computer science education by Xia Li, Janice Lee, and Rishika Jain at APPAM;
- Jim Kemple’s overview of findings and lessons from our CTE study at #SREE2023;
- Presentations from our evaluation of NYC’s CS4All initiative at the Conference on Research in Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology (RESPECT), at the SIGCSE Conference, and at the AERA virtual symposium;
- Cheri Fancsali’s participation in the AERA session “Reading Apprenticeship: Lessons from Impact Studies Over Time and Across Contexts,” together with colleagues form WestEd and AIR;
- Jim Kemple’s appearance at the ACTE National Policy Seminar, with Katherine Hughes from the CTE Research Network; and
- Kathy Hill’s presentation about students experiencing homelessness as part of AIR's COVID-19 and Equity in Education Initiative.
In the News
Research Alliance staff, affiliates and projects were featured in the following news stories in 2023:
- "Middle schools are experimenting with ‘themes’ like math, sustainability and the arts. But is it all just branding?," The Hechinger Report, (December 4, 2023).
- "To the Editor: When the Defense Dept. Runs a School," The New York Times, (October 22, 2023).
- "2023 Power Players in Education," PoliticsNY, (October 11, 2023).
- "Leveling the Learning Field," Scope: Research at New York University (Issue 4 pg 7, April 2023).
- "Survey says: NYC wants to know how you feel about your child’s school. Really." Chalkbeat, (April 05, 2023).
- "David Banks wants to bolster career education in NYC schools. Here's how." Chalkbeat, (March 20,2023).