Using Expanded Measures of Student Success for School Improvement

New Schools Venture Fund has released a new insight brief, “Using Expanded Measures of Student Success for School Improvement.” 

Nearly five years ago, in 2015, NSVF began investing in a national portfolio of innovative public schools that all embrace what they call an expanded definition of student success. So far, the organization has invested in more than 100 teams engaged in the planning and launch of new district and charter schools designed to help students develop the knowledge, mindsets, habits and skills associated with success in young adulthood.

The schools in the portfolio are paying attention to seven social emotional competencies and seven culture/climate factors, along with a shared set of academic measures. Working with Transforming Education, researchers are capturing their observations.

This new insight brief is based on the second year of the project with Transforming Education and is informed by work inside 40 district and charter schools in 16 states that served nearly 12,000 students during the 2017-18 school year. Seventy percent of these students are Black or Latino, 65 percent are eligible for free- or reduced-lunch (FRL), and 14 percent are students with disabilities. Together these schools outpace national averages on measures of academic growth and outperform their local districts on state exams. 

What is NSVF learning from them? A great deal, it turns out. Here are five insights:

  • Get specific. Pick a few aligned indicators, ensure commitment to them, and provide resources and practices to improve them.
  • The hunger for external benchmark data is enormous, but homegrown data is often more useful and actionable.
  • Schools with two years of data improved on all social-emotional and culture/climate indicators tracked. But their patterns of academic growth are not as consistent.
  • Growth mindset and perceptions of school safety are once again the indicators most strongly associated with academic performance in the social emotional and culture/climate categories.
  • A surprising trend: Sense of belonging is not correlated with academic outcomes in the data. 

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