Evaluating the Impact of Statewide Supports for Focus Schools: A Mixed Methods Study
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Though ESEA waivers, states have had to revise their accountability systems to identify a subset of schools as either high-performing, in-need of improvement, or inequitable and design and implement a system of supports to improve that subset of schools. Under these waivers, Focus Schools are identified as the 10% of schools with the largest gap in student achievement between the top third and bottom third of students, as determined by a composite gap measure of student achievement on standardized tests.
This study uses a regression discontinuity design to examine the causal impact of designating schools as Focus Schools in Michigan for the years 2010-2014. The study also presents findings from a qualitative case study design of Focus Schools, drawing from interviews of district and school administrators, teachers, and state-level practitioners, to describe implementation of statewide supports that explain the results from the quantitative study. Finally, this study discusses the implications of the results on school improvement efforts to reduce within-school inequality in lieu of improving average student achievement.