Current projects include:
Teacher Effectiveness in Indiana
With funding from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, Mark Berends and David Stuit (Basis Policy Research) are examining value-added models of teacher effectiveness based on different assessments in mathematics and reading. Value-added models refer to a collection of statistical techniques that are designed to estimate the “effects” of teachers (or schools) based on the changes in students’ test scores over time. In theory, value-added models provide a more accurate estimate of what individual teachers contribute to student learning, but in practice they involve technical challenges and much debate. Several states and districts are moving toward incorporating the results of value-added models into their evaluations of teachers and other human resource decisions (e.g., recruitment, termination, and compensation). In light of this trend, it is critical for policymakers and practitioners to have a sound understanding of the technical issues related to the accuracy of teachers’ value-added estimates. To date, much of the technical research on value-added focuses on how different statistical models influence teachers’ value-added estimates. Less attention has been paid to how different test scores used in the models influence teachers’ value-added estimates. The purpose of study is to provide insight into this important issue to both policymakers and practitioners.
Catholic School Effectiveness Project
With funding from the Walton Family Foundation, the University of Notre Dame is initiating a project to collect and analyze student achievement data from Catholic schools across the country. The research will obtain longitudinal student test score and other outcome data from Catholic schools in nine cities across the United States, which data will then be used to study how students, schools, and communities contribute to student learning in Catholic schools and to help schools guide their improvement efforts.
What Makes Schools Work Project
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, the What Makes Schools Work project (http://wmsw.org/) is a study of practices and policies that promote success in schools, classrooms, and student performance. Its purpose is not to evaluate schools but to shed light on how schools, instruction, and student achievement are related.
During the 2007–08 school year, researchers surveyed principals and teachers in about 250 schools (including traditional public, charter, magnet, and private schools), collecting data about what they are doing to help students learn and linking those activities to student achievement in mathematics and reading. During the 2008–09 school year, researchers administered a survey in about 150 schools, asking math teachers (grades 2–8) about what and how they teach. The survey is unique because it benefits not only research but also the classroom. As soon as teachers submitted their completed surveys, they received reports showing their results and how they align with state standards and assessments.
What Makes Schools Work is a project of National Center on School Choice (www.vanderbilt.edu/schoolchoice/), which involves the University of Notre Dame, Vanderbilt University, the Northwest Evaluation Association, the Wisconsin Center on Education Research, and Mountain Measurement.
Chicago School Study
With support from the U.S. Department of Education, faculty and graduate students in CREO are analyzing data from the Chicago School Study. This research presents the first major opportunity to identify school and classroom effects on student learning in Catholic and public schools using data specifically collected for this purpose. Ongoing analyses of these data are answering critical questions about the impact of school and classroom characteristics on student cognitive, social, and moral development. More generally, the research examines issues related to school reform efforts, school choice, and desegregation for students who differ by race, ethnicity, and income.
Research on Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE)
CREO supports the efforts of the ACE staff in training teachers to work in underprivileged Catholic schools. CREO faculty and graduate students are beginning to conduct research on the teacher education program, the experience of beginning ACE teachers in the classroom and the effectiveness of their training, the careers of ACE teachers after they have completed their service in ACE, and other issues of importance to the ACE program.