In a recent meta-analysis, Schueler and colleagues investigated the effects of school improvement initiatives spanning four major categories: turnaround, labeling, charter conversion, and closure. The search covered the years 2000-2019, effectively capturing the school improvement landscape from No Child Left Behind up until the COVID-19 pandemic school closures. Following a literature search and inclusion review, 67 studies were utilized in the analysis as the authors sought to determine the general effects of school improvement initiatives on low-performing K-12 student achievement along with specific effects associated with features of these initiatives. The general impacts of school initiatives were shown below.
- For effects on high-stakes achievement test scores: a significant positive effect was found (ES = + 0.06) on math achievement and an insignificant effect on English achievement.
- For effects on low-stakes achievement test scores: a significant positive effect was found in both STEM (ES = +0.07) and the humanities (ES = +0.09).
- A review of non-test outcomes, such as attendance and graduation rates, did not reveal significant effects.
- Comparing across the different four types of initiatives did not reveal significant differences in effectiveness.
- When comparing intervention features (e.g., extended learning time, school choice, tutoring), the only feature showing a significant association with increased effectiveness was teacher replacement (ES = +0.14 in both math and English).
- Extended learning time also demonstrated a positive association with increased effectiveness (ES = +0.08 in math and ES = +0.10 in English), but not s
- Principal replacement demonstrated a negative association with increased effectiveness (ES = -0.06 in math and ES = -0.06 in English), but not significant.
This meta-analysis provides evidence of small, generally positive effects associated with school improvement initiatives over the past 20 years. These findings, particularly those that evaluate specific features of the initiatives, may help guide future efforts as schools continue attempts to improve student outcomes.
Source: Schueler, B. E., Asher, C. A., Larned, K. E., Mehrotra, S., & Pollard, C. (2021). Improving low-performing schools: A Meta-analysis of impact evaluation studies. American Educational Research Journal, 00028312211060855. https://doi.org/10.3102/00028312211060855