CPRE Journal Articles

The Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) brings together education experts from renowned research institutions to contribute new knowledge that informs PK-20 education policy and practice. Our work is peer-reviewed and open-access. Read more about what we do.




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Now showing 1 - 10 of 12
  • Publication
    Infrastructure Redesign and Instructional Reform in Mathematics: Formal Structure and Teacher Leadership
    (2013-12-01) Hopkins, Megan; Spillane, James P; Jakopovic, Paula; Heaton, Ruth M
    Designing infrastructures to support instruction remains a challenge in educational reform. This article reports on a study of one school system's efforts to redesign its infrastructure for mathematics instruction by promoting teacher leadership. Using social network and interview data from 12 elementary schools, we explore how the district's infrastructure redesign efforts were internally coherent with and built upon existing infrastructure components. We then explore relations between infrastructure and school practice as captured in the instructional advice- and information-seeking interactions among school staff, finding that teacher leaders emerged as central actors and brokers of advice and information about mathematics within and between schools. Further, changes in school advice and information networks were associated with shifts in teachers' beliefs about and practices in mathematics toward inquiry-oriented approaches consistent with district curriculum. We argue that the district's redesign efforts to support teacher leadership coupled district curriculum and school and classroom practice in mathematics.
  • Publication
    In Search of Leading Indicators in Education
    (2012-07-10) Supovitz, Jonathan A; Foley, Ellen; Mishook, Jacob
    Data have long been considered a key factor in organizational decision-making (Simon, 1955; Lindblom & Cohen, 1979). Data offer perspective, guidance, and insights that inform policy and practice (Newell & Simon, 1972; Kennedy, 1984). Recently, education policymakers have invested in the use of data for organizational improvement in states and districts with such initiatives as Race to The Top (United States Department of Education, 2010) and the development of statewide longitudinal data systems (Institute for Education Sciences, 2010). These and other initiatives focus attention on how data can be used to foster learning and improvement. In other fields, including economics and business, much work has been done to identify leading indicators that predict organizational outcomes. In this paper, we conceptualize how leading indicators might be used in education, using examples from a small sample of school districts with reputations as strong users of data. We define leading indicators as systematically collected data on an activity or condition that is related to a subsequent and valued outcome, as well as the processes surrounding the investigation of those data and the associated responses. Identifying leading indicators often prompts improvements in a district’s system of supports. To develop this concept, we describe four examples of how districts identified and used key indicators to anticipate learning problems and improve student outcomes. We also describe the infrastructure and other supports that districts need to sustain this ambitious form of data use. We conclude by discussing how leading indicators can bring about more intelligent use of data in education.
  • Publication
    Teacher Learning and Instructional Change: How Formal and On-the-Job Learning Opportunities Predict Change in Elementary School Teachers' Practice
    (2010-03-01) Parise, Leigh Mesler; Spillane, James P
    Recent education reform has emphasized the importance of teacher learning in improving classroom instruction and raising student achievement. This article focuses on teachers' learning opportunities, including formal professional development and on-the-job learning that occurs through interactions with colleagues. Using data from 30 elementary schools in a mid-sized urban school district, the authors concurrently explore the relationships between teachers' formal professional development and on-the-job learning opportunities and instructional change. Results suggest that formal professional development and on-the-job opportunities to learn are both significantly associated with changes in teachers' instructional practice in mathematics and English language arts.
  • Publication
    Teacher Quality and Educational Equality: Do Teachers With Higher Standards‐Based Evaluation Ratings Close Student Achievement Gaps?
    (2005-09-01) Borman, Geoffrey D; Kimball, Steven M
    Using standards‐based evaluation ratings for nearly 400 teachers, and achievement results for over 7,000 students from grades 4–6, this study investigated the distribution and achievement effects of teacher quality in Washoe County, a mid‐sized school district serving Reno and Sparks, Nevada. Classrooms with higher concentrations of minority, poor, and low‐achieving students were more likely to be taught by teachers with lower evaluation scores. Two‐level multilevel models, nesting students within classrooms, tended to show higher mean achievement in classrooms taught by teachers of higher than lower quality, with differences of approximately one‐tenth of 1 standard deviation. Findings relating teacher quality to closing within‐classroom achievement gaps, though, were mixed. Implications are discussed related to teacher evaluation, teacher quality, and educational inequality.
  • Publication
    Committing to Class-Size Reduction and Fining the Resources to Implement It: A Case Study of Resource Reallocation
    (2001-08-17) Odden, Allan; Archibald, Sarah
    This article discusses how a medium-sized school district in Wisconsin was able to reallocate resources to reduce class sizes in grades K-5 without spending more money or increasing its tax rate. Previous research on resource reallocation found that the bulk of reallocated resources were those supporting categorical program services. This district was able to use a different strategy. As a growing district, its marginal costs of adding an extra class of students were much less than its average expenditures per pupil, which were reimbursed by the state school finance formula. As the district grew, therefore, it acquired excess revenues. Also, by implementing full-day kindergarten, the district acquired more excess revenues because this added (0.5 pupil) X (Number of kindergartners) to its current enrollment, and the cost of educating these students was less than the amount they received from the state funding formula. It then used these revenues to reduce class sizes to between 15 and 20 in all Kindergarten through grade 3 classrooms and to between 15 and 22 for grades 4-5.
  • Publication
    Using Instructional Logs to Study Mathematics Curriculum and Teaching in the Early Grades
    (2004-09-01) Rowan, Brian; Harrison, Delena M; Hayes, Andrew
    In this article we describe the mathematics curriculum and teaching practices in a purposive sample of high‐poverty elementary schools working with 3 of the most widely disseminated comprehensive school reform programs in the United States. Data from 19,999 instructional logs completed by 509 first‐, third‐, and fourth‐grade teachers in 53 schools showed that the mathematics taught in these schools was conventional despite a focus in the schools on instructional improvement. The typical lesson focused on number concepts and operations, had students working mostly with whole numbers (rather than other rational numbers), and involved direct teaching or review and practice of routine skills. However, there was wide variation in content coverage and teaching practice within and among schools, with variability among teachers in the same school being far greater than variability among teachers across schools. The results provide an initial view of the state of mathematics education in a sample of schools engaged in comprehensive school reform and suggest future lines for research.
  • Publication
    A Case Study of Professional Development Expenditures at a Restructured High School
    (2002-05-31) Archibald, Sarah; Gallagher, H. Alix
    This article is an analysis of professional development spending in a recently restructured urban high school. This study describes the school's restructuring effort, the ways in which professional development in the school supports the effort, and the ways in which the school reallocated resources to create funds for professional development spending. We then apply the framework of professional development costs proposed by Odden, Archibald, Fermanich and Gallagher (forthcoming) to the professional development expenditures in the school. Information regarding professional development expenditures was obtained from budget and planning documents as well as interviews with school and district personnel. These data revealed that teachers in this school on average received $9,711 of professional development resources with 98% of the spending on teacher time and training or coaching.
  • Publication
    Developing Measures of Content Knowledge for Teaching Reading
    (2004-09-01) Phelps, Geoffrey; Schilling, Stephen
    In this article we present results from a project to develop survey measures of the content knowledge teachers need to teach elementary reading. In areas such as mathematics and science, there has been great interest in the specialized ways teachers need to know a subject to teach it to others—often referred to as pedagogical content knowledge. However, little is known about what teachers need to know about reading to teach it effectively. We begin the article by discussing what might constitute content knowledge for teaching reading and by describing the survey items we wrote. Next, factor and scaling results are presented from a pilot study of 261 multiple‐choice items with 1,542 elementary teachers. We found that content knowledge for teaching reading included multiple dimensions, defined both by topic and by how teachers use knowledge in teaching practice. Items within these constructs formed reliable scales.
  • Publication
    Using Teacher Logs to Measure the Enacted Curriculum: A Study of Literacy Teaching in Third‐Grade Classrooms
    (2004-09-01) Rowan, Brian; Camburn, Eric; Correnti, Richard
    In this article we examine methodological and conceptual issues that emerge when researchers measure the enacted curriculum in schools. After outlining key theoretical considerations that guide measurement of this construct and alternative strategies for collecting and analyzing data on it, we illustrate one approach to gathering and analyzing data on the enacted curriculum. Using log data on the reading/language arts instruction of more than 150 third‐grade teachers in 53 high‐poverty elementary schools participating in the Study of Instructional Improvement, we estimated several hierarchical linear models and found that the curricular content of literacy instruction (a) varied widely from day to day, (b) did not vary much among students in the same classroom, but (c) did vary greatly across classrooms, largely as the result of teachers’ participation in 1 of the 3 instructional improvement interventions (Accelerated Schools, America’s Choice, and Success for All) under study. The implications of these findings for future research on the enacted curriculum are discussed.
  • Publication
    Educational Performance and Charter School Authorizers: The Accountability Bind
    (2001-10-01) Bulkley, Katrina
    Charter schools involve a trading of autonomy for accountability. This accountability comes through two forces—markets through the choices of parents and students, and accountability to government through the writing of contracts that must be renewed for schools to continue to operate. Charter schools are supposed to be more accountable for educational performance than traditional public schools because authorizers have the ability to revoke charter contracts. Here, I focus on one central component of accountability to government: performance accountability or accountability for educational outcomes to charter school authorizers through the revocation or non-renewal of charter contracts. In this paper, I suggest that contract-based accountability for educational performance in charter schools may not be working as proponents argued it would. This article explores some explanations for why there are very few examples of charter schools that have been closed primarily because of failure to demonstrate educational performance or improvement. Future work will need to test if these challenges for authorizers hold in a variety of contexts. The conclusion examines the implications of these findings for the future of charter school accountability.