Organizational Learning Major Grants


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2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

2008 Grant Summaries

Steven G. Brint

Infrastructure for the Study of American Higher Education: Updating and Expanding the Institutional Data Archive and the College Catalog Study Database through 2010-11
University of California, Riverside

Brint and his team have developed two extensive higher education databases—the Institutional Data Archive (IDA) and the College Catalog Study (CCS)—with institutional data from a variety of datasets on hundreds of institutions and have used these data to research a variety of topics. Through this project, they enhance these databases by updating them and expanding the number of institutions included and conduct three important new analyses.

IDA currently includes data on 384 institutions gathered at 5-year intervals from 1970-71 to 2000-01, while CCS has a subset of 293 IDA institutions with data from 1975-76 to 2000-01. To increase the statistical power of analyses using these databases, Brint is updating these databases to include data through 2010-11 and is adding institutions to each database, for an expected increase of 35 institutions in IDA and 30 institutions in CCS. These data will be made available in both SPSS and Access form. These databases—comprising HEGIS/IPEDS enrollment data, financial data, Carnegie classifications, US Census data, and information about academic units, departments, and general education requirements—promise to be a valuable resource for other higher education researchers.

Using these data, Brint and his team themselves are conducting three new studies. The first study explores Brint’s hypothesis about a possible divergence in the curricular development of ‘progressive’ and ‘traditional’ universities. A second study examines the relationship of colleges’ and universities’ trajectories to the characteristics of their presidents. The third study focuses on measures of performance of master’s-granting universities and assesses the institutional characteristics associated with high and low levels of performance on these measures. The last study is especially significant because, although forty percent of undergraduates attend master’s-granting institutions, relatively little is known about them compared to research universities or liberal arts colleges.

Edward Haertel

Performance-based Assessment of Literacy Coaching: A Measurement
Stanford University

Literacy achievement for K-12 students has received significant attention in recent years, and, as a result, the number of strategies to address low achievement has steadily increased. One of the current methods recommended for improving literacy is to use school-based literacy coaches. Unfortunately, there is little empirical research on coaching quality, in part because there are not good measures to assess the work. Through this project, Haertel and his colleagues build on their previous work to develop and test a system for assessing literacy coaching in K-3 literacy classrooms.

The study team has recently completed a four-year IES-funded study on literacy coaching, which involved working with eighteen literacy coaches and gathering data on 250 teachers and over 10,000 students. Using measures generated by this earlier study, the current project tests a prototype assessment system, “Performance-based Assessment of Literacy Coaching” (PALC). They are testing the prototype with two versions of coaches’ work with teachers. In the first version—a standardized, low-cost, web-based version—coaches use multi-media data on classroom teaching to analyze teacher practice and provide feedback to teachers and then describe the rationale for their own coaching practices. In the second version, coaches complete the same tasks using in-person observation and feedback. Coaches are scored on teaching analysis, coaching strategy, and coaching rationale to determine if the low-cost version can be validated.

James P. Spillane
Michelle Reininger

School Principal Preparation, Recruitment, Retention, and Career Paths
Northwestern University

We know that principals are key to effective schools and to policy enactment. However, we do not know enough about how and why principals end up in and stay in specific schools. Spillane and Reininger address questions about both the supply side and the demand side of principal recruitment and retention. On the supply side, they ask about preparation for the principalship and decisions to apply for positions, accept offers, and, once in a position, to leave or stay. On the demand side, their questions are about the hiring process: How and where does the district recruit? Which applicants make the approved hiring list? How are principals evaluated?

Following two cohorts of new principals in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), with approximately sixty principals in each cohort, over a three-year period, this study employs a mixed-method design, using questionnaires, interviews, and archival data. Although principals are the primary focus of the study, hiring of assistant principals and curriculum administrators will also be analyzed. Spillane and Reininger are working closely with both CPS and the Consortium for Chicago School Research to collect and analyze these data. In addition to these analyses, they plan to carry out a broader program of research that could include similar studies in other US urban centers or at the state level; a cross-national study of principal recruitment in Denmark, the UK, Ireland, and the US; and a longitudinal analysis of a national survey database of school principals.

2009 Grant Summaries

Daniel M. Koretz

Phase 2 of an International, Comparative Program of Research on Test-Based Educational Accountability Systems
Harvard University

Calls for accountability in education have grown not just in the US, particularly with the No Child Left Behind legislation, but internationally as well. Although some countries have made more progress on developing accountability systems than others, all have encountered obstacles and unintended consequences, including undesired effects on instruction and score inflation, in implementing them. Many scholars agree that research on these systems and their effects must keep up with the push to create and use them.

With earlier support from the Spencer Foundation, Koretz has developed an international network of measurement specialists from fourteen institutions and seven countries to study the development, implementation, and effects of different accountability systems. The current project extends the work being carried out by the Harvard portion of the work of the larger network, which focuses primarily on self-auditing assessments and related analytical work on what the project team calls differential item shift analysis. There are four specific projects for the Harvard team: a secondary analysis to pinpoint score inflation as a step towards changes in test design in the US; a pilot test of self-auditing assessments in the Netherlands, using one of the designs developed earlier in the network research; a quasi-experimental study of the effects of public reporting of scores in Israel; and work on the development of better measures of teachers’ responses to testing.

2010 Grant Summaries


There are no grant summaries for 2010 available at the moment.

2011 Grant Summaries

Elaine Allensworth

Research for the Improvement of Education
University of Chicago

This grant goes to support research and public informing efforts for several lines of study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR). Below are brief descriptions of the areas of research, examples of research questions in those areas, and examples of data to be collected and analyzed. .

Rigor and readiness in high schools. There is a growing consensus that high schools must go beyond awarding diplomas to preparing students for college and careers. Preparation in high school is a particular concern for racial/ethnic minority and low income students, as they are much less likely to leave high school with the qualifications that are critical for access to college, especially four year institutions. At the same time, high school dropout continues to be a substantial concern in Chicago and in urban school districts throughout the country. Using data from the National Student Clearinghouse, student transcript data and test scores, and CCSR surveys, they plan to address questions like the following: How do students' experiences and performance in high school mediate the effects of community, family, social and other external influences on high school graduation, college enrollment and graduation?

Middle grade preparation for high school. Much reform focus has been on high school dropout and preparation for college, but it is clear that students' transition from middle to high school is an important, but less studied, factor. CCSR is working to define and measure high school readiness, using the extensive student performance data. This grant extends that work to develop indicators that will allow middle grade schools to gauge the degree to which their students are making adequate progress to be ready for high school and eventually ready for college. Their research asks questions such as: How can middle school indicators of academic performance (test scores, grades, attendance, discipline records) be best used to predict success in high school (passing classes, performing at high levels in classes, academic skills at college-ready benchmarks)?


Human capital and professional capacity. CCSR recognizes that the professional capacity of school staff is an essential lever for improving student learning, and that school leaders can also affect the development of that capacity. There are many ways to come at questions of professional capacity and human capital, but one of CCSR's plans is to use administrative data from personnel files together with student transcript data and survey data to address questions like: How do teacher effects on students' performance depend on teacher background, the class structure, school supports and students' backgrounds? What are the principal actions that most strongly contribute to student achievement?

Organizing schools for success. CCSR's twenty years of research have led to a rich analytic and conceptual frame for how successful schools organize. They plan to continue inquiry in this area, using their own survey data, administrative data, transcripts and student test scores. Beyond measuring the five essential supports in schools, they hope to discern what really makes a difference for strengthening school practices. They ask questions like: What are the mechanisms through which schools develop strong commitment and collaboration among teachers?