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Research, Evaluation and Technical Assistance: Student Outcome Effects of the Appalachian Math and Science Partnership

Overview:

Academics and policymakers increasingly emphasize that a key to improving educational outcomes in the United States is enhancing the quality of teachers. While the attention to preservice teacher education is important, it will be many years before today's pre-service teachers constitute a majority of the teaching workforce. Hence, the focus of teacher quality enhancement efforts in the near term must be in-service professional development for those already in the teacher workforce.

This project is examining the Appalachian Math and Science Partnership (AMSP) effects on student learning. A goal of the partnership is to close the achievement gap in student math and science knowledge through AMSP activities. This study presents a statistical method for evaluating the effects of AMSP participation on student learning. This project employs a research design that involves a two equation model to estimate the independent effects of teacher participation in AMSP on student outcomes. A two equation model is used because estimation is complicated by the fact that teachers and schools voluntarily choose to participate in AMSP. The first equation of the model corrects for the nonrandom nature of selection of schools and teachers into AMSP which, when uncorrected, can also bias the estimates of the program effects. The second equation incorporates the first stage selection estimates and includes other independent variables that would be expected to influence test scores. Alternative measures of student achievement are used.

This project is significant for two reasons. First,the project will directly address whether AMSP is improving student outcomes among participating Appalachian teachers and schools. This project also makes an important contribution in establishing a scientifically sound method for evaluating the effects of MSPs and other professional development programs. Developing statistical and other methodological approaches to studying the impact of the effects of these programs is important in the national movement to improve teacher quality and student learning in math and science.