Similar Students, Different Results: Why Do Some Schools Do Better?
A large-scale survey of California elementary schools
serving low-income students
What schools do and what resources they have for doing it can make a powerful difference in the achievement of students from low-income backgrounds, according to findings from this two-year EdSource study.
Based on a large-scale survey of principals and teachers in 257 California elementary schools serving many low-income students, the initial findings (October 2005) identified four interrelated practices associated with higher API scores and suggested implications for district and principal leadership. Further analysis (April 2006) examined whether a school's API performance related to use of particular curriculum program. In addition, study findings shed light on the relationship between district practices and school performance as well as on the pivotal, and changing, role of the principal. Interviews with a subset of superintendents in participating districts helped illuminate specific approaches schools and districts have used to improve achievement.
The initial large-scale study was conducted by EdSource and researchers from Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the American Institutes for Research.
Similar Students, Different Results (SSDR): Initial Report of Findings (October 2005)
These pieces detail what the study hoped to learn, how it was conducted, and the key initial finding: that four specific clusters of practices correlated most strongly with higher school API.
*Requests to use the surveys should be sent to the executive director at email@example.com
Additional qualitative input collected through the SSDR study:
- Superintendent interviews. Superintendents of 20 participating school districts offer their perspectives on effective strategies. (PDF 105 KB)
- Principals’ strategies. Drawn from open-ended questions on the principals’ survey. (PDF 95 KB)
- Professional development needs. Charted from answers on the teachers’ survey. (PDF 93 KB)
SSDR Additional Analyses and Findings (April 2006):One
of the strongest initial findings was a correlation between a school’s
API and having a coherent curriculum and instructional program. When
the data were further analyzed it appeared that the school's choice of
curriculum program correlated with API.
Elementary school curriculum program and API
Note: EdSource is an independent, impartial, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to clarify complex education issues and to promote thoughtful decisions about public school improvement. EdSource is not affiliated in any way with any particular publisher. Neither EdSource nor this study in any way endorses one particular curriculum program over another, or one publisher over another. Permission must be requested from EdSource to photocopy and distribute copies of the report below:
- Findings (PDF 413 KB)
- Press release (April 2006)
- Technical Appendices