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What randomized trials have taught us about what works and doesn’t work in education Jon Baron Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy December 9, 2003.

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Presentation on theme: "What randomized trials have taught us about what works and doesn’t work in education Jon Baron Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy December 9, 2003."— Presentation transcript:

1 What randomized trials have taught us about what works and doesn’t work in education Jon Baron Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy December 9, 2003

2 Age 0-4 Abecedarian project: High-quality, educational child care & preschool for low-income children. Randomized trial of 111 children. At age 15, reduces special education placements and grade retentions by nearly 50%; At age 21, more than doubles the proportion attending four-year college and reduces the percentage of teenage parents by 44%. Raises reading 1.8 grade levels, math 1.3 grade levels. School-age treatment alone had much smaller effect.

3 Age 0-4 Perry Preschool Study: High-quality preschool for low-income children. Randomized trial of 123 children. At age 27 follow-up: increases percentage with high school diploma by 31% reduces percentage on welfare by 26% Reduces percentage of hard-core criminals by 80%.

4 Age 0-4 Infant Health & Development Program: Intensive child development for kids age 0-3 born prematurely, low- birthweight. At age 8, effect is only on the children heavier at birth point increase in IQ, 38% decrease in special education, improved math/vocabulary Early Head Start: Child development & parenting services for low-income families with infants. At age 3, 10-15% decrease in kids scoring “at risk” in cognitive development & receptive vocabulary, 15% decrease in mothers having subsequent births.

5 Age 0-4 Even Start family literacy program for low- income families. Focus is on coordinating family access to existing literacy services (e.g., Head Start). Randomized trial of 200 families. At 18-month follow-up, no effect on literacy outcomes of children or adults.

6 Grades K-6 1-on-1 tutoring of at-risk readers by trained tutors (avg tutored student reads more proficiently than ~ 75% of controls). Instruction for early readers in phonemic awareness and phonics (the avg student in these interventions reads more proficiently than ~ 70% of controls). Reducing class size in grades K-3 (the avg student in small classes scores higher on the Stanford Achievement Test in reading/math than 60% of controls).

7 Grades K-6 21 st Century Community Learning Centers -- provides after-school academic and recreational activities in mostly high-poverty schools. Randomized trial of 1000 elementary school students. At 1-yr follow-up, no effect on grades or test scores, student effort (e.g., homework completion), or behavioral problems. Vouchers for disadvantaged youth (K-4) for private school. Trial of >2000 children. At year 3: No overall impact in math/reading scores; Possible impact for African American students. Parents report much higher satisfaction w/ school.

8 Middle and High School Between-class ability grouping in middle and high schools (students in a particular grade are grouped into separate classes by ability level and taught variations on the same curriculum). 10 randomized trials: No overall effect on achievement. Joplin plan (which groups students across grades by ability level and uses curricula that are fitted to each group’s ability). 2 small randomized trials: Avg student in the intervention scores higher than ~60% of the students in the control group.

9 Middle and High School Big Brothers Big Sisters (matches adult mentors with disadvantaged youths age 11-13). Randomized trial of 1100 youths. At 18-month follow-up – Reduced initiation of drug use by 46%; Reduced initiation of alcohol use by 27%; Reduced days skipped school by 52%. Job Corps (academic & vocational training for disadvantaged youths age 16-24). Randomized trial of >10,000 youths. At 4-year follow-up: Increased earnings by 8% Decreased welfare/food stamps by 11% Reduce number arrested by 12% No effect on substance abuse or childbearing.

10 Middle and High School Upward Bound (provides instruction, tutoring, counseling starting 9-10 grade). Randomized trial of 2800 students. At 2-3 year follow-up: No effect on high school graduation rates, or % attending college But some modest effects on lower-income & poorer- performing students (~ 2 high school credits). U.S. ED’s dropout prevention programs (varying interventions for students at-risk of dropping out). Randomized trial of >10,000 students. At 2-3 yr followup: Middle schools providing supplemental services (tutorg, classes) had no effect on dropout rates or achievement; Middle schools providing alternative schools or schools w/in school reduced dropout rate 18 to 9%; Alternative high schools had no effect on dropout rate.

11 Middle and High School Career Academies (provide academic/technical courses in small communities, career theme, partnership with local employers). Randomized trial of th /9 th graders. No effect on high school graduation rate or enrollment in post-secondary education at 4-year follow-up. Jim Kemple will discuss 8-year follow-up. Summer Training & Employment Program (provides summer jobs & academic classes to disadvged yr olds). Randomized trial of 2600 youths: Only short-term academic impact at end of summer. At 1-year, no effects on academic scores, dropout rate, college attendance, teen pregnancy, employment.

12 Substance-Abuse Prevention Programs Life-skills training (reduces smoking by 20% and serious levels of substance abuse by 30% by end of high school). DARE is ineffective in reducing substance use, according to randomized trials (now being redesigned).


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