I reviewed an article conducted for Edsource as part of a larger study on why similar students have different results. The article focused on which school curriculum programs are associated with higher levels of student achievement. Specifically, the research sought to determine if application and high usage of a particular curriculum program correlated with high achievement levels based on California’s Academic Performance Index (API). The research was conducted using surveys among principals and classroom teachers in California.
The problem in this study is that similar students are achieving varied results. Edsource and its partners, pose the question, “Why do some schools do better?” The research studied the effects of core curriculum and student achievement.
The purpose of this study is to identify which specific school practices are most strongly associated with higher levels of student success, as measured by API. In California, API scores and rankings are based on the standardized tests given at the end of the year. These tests measure how well each student is mastering the academic content standards mainly in language arts and math. The study tried to establish a relationship between API and school’s choice and intensity of use of any definite curriculum.
This research project surveyed 80% of the K-5 classroom teachers (over 5,000) and every principal at 257 elementary schools in California who are serving large percentages of low income, minority and English Learner students. In particular, 98% of the school in the sample qualified for Title I funding.
The study used surveys containing over 300 items each, covering effective schooling practices. The domains contained specific questions using California’s current standards-based policies and reforms. The surveys were reviewed externally, then tested in the field before being administered as a full –scale survey. The surveys contained the average five-point scale response. This is a non-experimental quantitative research project.
The survey used regression analysis to determine which school and district practices are more closely related to higher school API scores. The survey results were shown using percentages in cross tabulation tables reflecting usage and curriculum program.
In language arts, a striking pattern emerged between high intensity use of Open Court and Houghton Mifflin.
Comparing a randomly chosen high-intensity Open Court school with a randomly chosen high-intensity Houghton Mifflin school, there would be about three chances in five that the Open Court school had the higher API of the two. This relationship persisted after holding constant various demographic characteristics. (Haertel, Kirst, Levin, Williams, 2006).
Results of the analysis suggest that high intensity use of Open Court, coupled with certain school and district practices, is associated with higher API scores for the 257 elementary schools in the sample. The result of the...