K-12 research roundup

By: | March 26, 2019
From the impact of advanced academics on kindergartners to the effects of teachers’ unions on student achievement, read the latest K-12 research from top journals. (gettyimages: TCmake_photo)From the impact of advanced academics on kindergartners to the effects of teachers’ unions on student achievement, read the latest K-12 research from top journals. (gettyimages: TCmake_photo)

This roundup of K-12 research covers the impact of advanced academics on kindergartners, the effects of teachers’ unions on student achievement, the benefits of transitional programs for special needs students, and the advantages of family-school interventions, among other topics.


Do advanced academics compromise kindergartners’ social-emotional learning?

American Educational Research Journal: “Advanced Content Coverage at Kindergarten: Are There Trade-Offs Between Academic Achievement and Social-Emotional Skills?”

The study’s authors, from the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado-Denver, find that exposure to academic content typically taught at a higher grade level is associated with improved math and language arts achievement in addition to improved social-emotional outcomes for kindergartners. This exposure is also associated with better interpersonal skills and attention among these students. Read more.


Using professional development strategies in the classroom ups teachers’ math skills

American Educational Research Journal: “Mathematics Teachers’ Learning: Identifying Key Learning Opportunities Linked to Teachers’ Knowledge Growth”

This study examines how professional development and implementing PD strategies in the classroom relate to gains in teachers’ mathematical knowledge. The result: A focus on curricular content knowledge and the examination of student work are significantly related to teacher learning. Read more.


Do teacher unions impact student achievement?

Economics of Education Review: “The Effect of Teachers’ Unions on Student Achievement in the Short Run: Evidence from Wisconsin’s Act 10”

In 2011, Wisconsin enacted Act 10, which restricts fundraising activities and limits the scope of collective bargaining for teachers’ unions in the state. Author E. Jason Baron from Florida State University investigates the impact of this on short-term student achievement and reports that the law reduced average test scores on Wisconsin’s standardized exams by approximately 20 percent of a standard deviation. The effect is largely driven by declines in the lower half of the student achievement distribution, according to Baron. The study also presents evidence that the law led to an increase in teacher turnover and a reduction in teacher salaries. Read more.


Helping special needs students succeed after high school

Economics of Education Review: “The effects of youth transition programs on labor market outcomes of youth with disabilities”

This paper evaluates the long-term employment impacts of Virginia’s PERT high school-to-work vocational program for students with disabilities. According to the authors, from New York and Virginia higher ed institutions, PERT has an estimated median quarterly rate of return of nearly 30 percent. The authors find that much of this return is associated with the direct effect of PERT on employment and earnings, but the indirect effects of PERT on the efficacy and costs of service also play an important role. Read more.


What’s causing the gender gap in teacher income?

Economics of Education Review: “The gender gap in K-12 educator salaries”

While women constitute a majority of educators, and teacher salaries are determined by a union pay scale, gender gaps in educator income still exist. Study authors, from Brigham Young University in Utah and Northwestern University in Illinois, compare public salary and personal income data for male and female educators, finding that the gap is caused, in part, by nondiscriminatory factors such as nonsalary pay benefits, the sorting of male workers to higher paying districts, and additional sources of income that male educators may seek outside of their regular teaching jobs. Read more.


Leading on principle

Educational Administration Quarterly: “Novice School Principals Constructing Their Role Vis-Á-Vis External Stakeholders: (Not) Attempting to Be ‘All Things to All People’”

It’s important for principals to engage with external stakeholders to achieve school objectives, such as involving parents, implementing policy mandates and accessing school district resources. This study finds that in their first year, novice principals struggle with stakeholder demands that seem to conflict with their own understanding of school goals and values. According to the Northwestern University authors, over time, the majority of new principals come to terms with taking an unpopular position, setting priorities and modifying their job expectations. Read more.


Supporting at-risk boys should begin in kindergarten

JAMA Pediatrics: “Association of Behavior in Boys From Low Socioeconomic Neighborhoods With Employment Earnings in Adulthood”

This 30-year follow-up study asks, “Which disruptive behaviors in kindergarten are associated with employment earnings in adulthood for boys from low socioeconomic backgrounds?” For 920 35- to 36-year-olds, teachers’ ratings of inattention during their kindergarten years in Montreal are now associated with lower earnings, while prosocial behavior is associated with higher earnings after adjustment for childhood IQ and family adversity. Hyperactivity, opposition and aggression are not associated with earnings. Read more.


How administrators can create valuable instructional experiences for students

Journal of Research on Leadership Education: “Using Powerful Learning Experiences to Prepare School Leaders”

School leaders must be adaptive to address systemic inequities in schools. This article provides a theory-to-practice resource that builds out the concept of “powerful learning experiences.” The authors, from the University of Virginia and the University of South Carolina, describe ways that these experiences can help improve instruction in preschool through high school, using examples from the University Council for Educational Administration. Read more.


Educators’ awareness and sensitivity to religious practices

Research in Education: “Religion in the public schools: An examination of school personnel knowledge of the law and attitudes toward religious expression”

This study addresses school personnel and their understanding of the First Amendment and its application to prayer and religious activities in public schools, their attitudes toward religious expression in public schools, and their tolerance for different religions. Among the key findings: Personnel with more service years had less accurate knowledge of religious expression laws than those with fewer years, and having more knowledge was related to increased sensitivity to religious practices in schools. Read more.


Benefits of family-school interventions

Review of Educational Research: “A Meta-Analysis of Family-School Interventions and Children’s Social-Emotional Functioning: Moderators and Components of Efficacy”

Family-school interventions can have significant effects on students’ social-behavioral competence and mental health, according to this meta-analysis. The effects on mental health were moderated by race and ethnicity, with larger effects for African-American students, and by location, with smaller effects in urban settings versus nonurban and rural settings. Interpersonal and relational processes (including communication, collaboration and parent-teacher relationships) and tangible, structural elements (such as home-based involvement and behavioral supports) helped produce positive outcomes. Read more.