Over the summer, I spoke with Dr. Andy Hegedus about his recently published research exploring the relationships between poverty and school performance. This month, Andy embarks on phase two of this research: examining what defines a “high growth for all” school.
I sat down with Andy once again to learn more. His responses were edited for length and clarity.
First, can you give me a quick recap of what we learned in the initial phase of this study?
In the last research we put out, we said that the achievement of kids is strongly related to the amount of poverty in a school, but that growth is not. Many of us then wondered about these high poverty schools that are growing kids. How are they doing it?
How do you approach a research question like this?
Part one is we’ve got to identify all schools that are meeting some tough, but fair and equitable, criteria that make them unique and worthy of studying, regardless of their demographics and circumstances. In part two, we’ve got to go study these schools.
Take a quick survey. I’d love to have educators share their thoughts, opinions, and reactions.”
We’re in the middle of part one right now. I’m calling these schools that meet our criteria for further review high growth for all schools.
What does it mean to be a high growth for all school?
If you think about most schools and the kids they serve, you’ve got some low-achieving kids, you’ve got some high-achieving kids, and you’ve got some kids in the middle. I want to understand how schools are growing each of those groups.
The second condition is that schools have to grow all these achievement groups of kids well for more than one year. It can’t be a fluke. It has to be something the educators have been able to sustain over time.
I’m just setting a bar to define what a high growth for all school is, and any school that gets over that bar is a great candidate to study so we can learn what they do that is working.”
The third condition is they have to have achieved growth through good test administration practices, so that we have confidence in the integrity of a school’s results.
How does this approach differ from other research?
In most other research, people are asking questions like, How good is this school compared to other schools? If I control for the amount of poverty in that school, is this school better than that school?
I’m not asking that. I’m just setting a bar to define what a high growth for all school is, and any school that gets over that bar is a great candidate to study so we can learn what they do that is working.
Of course, our other unique and hugely powerful perspective comes from the power of MAP® Growth™ data. We are defining these schools based on growth, and no one else has the dataset to do this. All other studies define schools based on achievement.
Before you define the term “high growth for all,” you’re looking for input from educators. What type of information are you interested in?
I want to get their input and perspective on how the bar is set. I want to know if I’m missing anything before I run the data to find these schools.
How can people provide feedback?
They can take a quick survey. I’d love to have educators share their thoughts, opinions, and reactions to these suggested guidelines and maybe suggest some of their own.
After you identify the high growth for all schools, what happens next?
That’s when we can get into describing this fascinating population of schools, like what makes them similar or unique, how their demographics compare to the nation, etc. We can also begin the work to understand how they achieved their results. But that’s a blog post for a different day, so stay tuned.
Andy’s survey will be open until January 14. You do not have to work for an NWEA partner district or school to participate.