Reports & Research

Updated: August 7, 2017

 

Northwestern University report...

Study Examines Link Between Academic Performance and Violence in High-Crime Communities

Numerous studies have shown a relationship between high-crime communities and the academic performance of children who live within them.

Now, new Northwestern University research suggests sleep disruption following violent incidents and increased amounts of the stress hormone cortisol offer a biological explanation for why children who live in neighborhoods with higher rates of violent crime struggle more in school.

“Both sleep and cortisol are connected to the ability to learn and perform academic tasks,” said study lead author Jenni Heissel, who recently received her Ph.D. in human development and social policy from the School of Education and Social Policy. “Our study identifies a pathway by which violent crime may get under the skin to affect academic performance.”...

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Brookings report...

Report: Schools’ Ability to Close Achievement Gap Varies Dramatically

Researchers and policymakers alike often compare the success of students between school districts. But a new Brookings report by David Figlio and Krzysztof Karbownik indicates that school quality can vary greatly between schools in the same district.

Focusing on schools where both advantaged and disadvantaged students perform well could be key to crafting better policy, they write.

Figlio, an economist and professor of human development and social policy, is the director of the Institute for Policy Research and the Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy. Karbownik is an IPR research associate.

The report’s Executive Summary says:

Recent research demonstrates that the test score gap between relatively advantaged and relatively disadvantaged students is much higher in some school districts than it is in other districts...

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Center for American Progress brief...

New Issue Brief Examines Historical Link Between Vouchers, Segregation

On the heels of proposals from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and President Donald Trump to create the first nationwide federal voucher program while slashing funds for public schools and loosening civil rights protections, a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress explores the historical link between private school vouchers and segregationist policies in the United States. The impacts of voucher programs put in place to avoid desegregation still reverberate in the U.S. education system today.

The issue brief centers on the extreme measures taken by Prince Edward County, Virginia, who shut down their public schools for five years rather than desegregate the public schools after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decisions...

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Rice, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin researchers report...

Research examines link between poverty, school readiness:
More Children Living in High-Poverty Neighborhoods Following Great Recession

More children are living in high-poverty neighborhoods following the Great Recession – a troubling shift because children in these neighborhoods are a year behind academically, according to new research from researchers at Rice University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin.

“Family Poverty and Neighborhood Poverty: Links With Children’s School Readiness Before and After the Great Recession” examines how neighborhood and family poverty predict children’s academic skills and classroom behavior when they start school, and whether associations have changed over a period of 12 years that included the 2008 recession. The researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study and examined cohorts of kindergarteners from across the U.S. in 1998 and 2010...

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Northwestern University report...

Biological Anthropologists Say Playing in the Dirt as Kids Makes Chronic Disease Less Likely Later in Life

Northwestern University anthropologist Thom McDade realized early in his career that a lab was not the best place to study human development. As a young anthropologist, he traveled to the islands of Samoa, the deserts of Kenya and the rainforests of Bolivia to understand how kids grow up around the world. It was through these experiences that he made key observations that helped set the path of his research career.

"Obviously, the way kids grow up in these places is socially, ecologically and culturally different from the way kids grow up in the U.S., but there's more to it," McDade says. "As we develop, no matter where we are, we literally embody information from our environment."...

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UC Berkeley study...

Study Shows Preschool Benefits Middle-Class Kids, with Biggest Boost for Black Youngsters

Preschools that strongly promote academics boost the early literacy and math skills of children from middle-class families, according to a nationwide study recently released by researchers at the UC Berkeley.

“This is the first time that we have seen remarkable gains for the average preschooler nationwide,” said Bruce Fuller, a UC Berkeley professor of education and public policy, who directed the research.

Educators and scholars have long agreed that quality preschool yields sustained benefits for poor children, while earlier studies revealed disappointing results from average pre-K programs for middle-class peers...

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Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality report...

Significant Racial and Ethnic Disparities Still Exist, According to Report

Despite improvements in education, social mobility and many critical areas, large racial and ethnic disparities still exist – and are sometimes even increasing – for other important outcomes, according to a recently published Stanford report that examined racial and ethnic disparities in the United States.

The Center on Poverty and Inequality’s “State of the Union,” an annual report examining key trends in poverty and inequality outcomes, detailed the “profound racial and ethnic inequalities that persist in many domains,” notably in housing, employment and health.

Stanford Graduate School of Education Professor Sean Reardon was among the scholars involved in the report. He and doctoral student Erin Fahle authored the section on education...

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University of Southern California study...

Overweight Children Excluded from Friendships, Study Finds

Overweight children have more unreciprocated friendships and frenemies than their thinner counterparts, a Keck School of Medicine of USC study finds.

In a survey of 504 preteens in the Netherlands, researchers found that overweight children are excluded from friendships, call classmates friends when the feeling is not mutual and are disliked by peers. And overweight children dislike more classmates than their thinner peers.

These heightened negative relationships take a mental, social and physical toll, said Kayla de la Haye, lead author of the new study and an assistant preventive medicine professor at the Keck School of Medicine...

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PPIC report...

Boosting College Graduation Rates in Three California Regions Seen as Key to Future Prosperity

California needs to increase college graduation in three regions – Los Angeles County, the Inland Empire, and the San Joaquin Valley – if it is to meet the growing demand for educated workers and increase economic opportunities across the state, according to a report released on June 27 by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Increasing college enrollment and graduation in the three regions – home to almost half of the state’s population – could help the state meet more than half of its projected shortfall in educated workers. PPIC has estimated that the state will need 1.1 million more college-educated workers – above and beyond its current pace—by 2030 to keep up with economic demand...

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Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University study...

How Do Preemies Perform in School? Study Indicates Most Demonstrate High Degree of Cognitive Function

Parents of prematurely born babies often fear their children may go on to struggle in school, but findings from a new large-scale study from the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University and Northwestern Medicine should reassure parents.

The large-scale study found that two-thirds of babies born at only 23 or 24 weeks were ready for kindergarten on time. Unexpectedly, nearly two percent of them even achieved gifted status in school. While these extremely premature babies often scored low on standardized tests, preterm infants born 25 weeks or later performed only slightly lower than full-term infants. In fact, as the length of pregnancy increased after 28 weeks, the differences in test scores were negligible.

The study was published June 12 in JAMA Pediatrics. It is believed to be the first analysis of its type in the nation...

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American Institutes for Research study...

California’s Transitional Kindergarten Gives English Learner Students Advantage for Kindergarten

English Learner (EL) students who attend California’s transitional kindergarten program enter kindergarten with stronger English language, mathematics and literacy skills than English learners who did not attend transitional kindergarten, according to a new study released on May 11 by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The study is based on AIR’s multi-year study of transitional kindergarten in California, a state where one-third of kindergartners are classified as English learners.

Transitional kindergarten in California was established by the state’s Kindergarten Readiness Act, passed in 2010. Historically, the state required children to be 5 years old by December 2 to enroll in kindergarten. When the new law moved the cutoff to September 1, transitional kindergarten was created for children who turned 5 between September 1 and December 2...

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National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report...

Factors Leading to Greater College Success Identified in Study

Educational attainment is a national priority because it creates both economic and personal gains: higher incomes, better individual and family health and deeper civic engagement. U.S. college enrollments are increasing, suggesting greater educational attainment; however, national college completion rates are lagging behind other developed nations. Recent research suggests that U.S. college students could succeed if they are encouraged to develop a sense of belonging, a growth mindset and salient personal goals and values, according to a new national report co-authored by a Rice University psychology professor.

“Supporting Students’ College Success: The Role of Assessment of Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Competencies” was released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and commissioned by the National Science Foundation. Fred Oswald, a professor of psychology at Rice, was a co-author of the report, which was based on a review of 49 articles targeting 61 experimental studies that examined interventions to improve educational attainment...

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