Emily Penner Presents 3 Papers at 2017 AEFP Conference

Assistant Professor Emily Penner is presenting three papers at the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) 2017 Conference, held in Washington, DC, March 16-18. AEFP is a non-profit professional and academic association, representing a variety of disciplines, perspectives and points of view, that promotes understanding of means by which resources are generated, distributed, and used to enhance human learning.

The 2017 conference theme is Education Policy and Research in the Post-Obama Era.  

Identity Crisis: Multiple Measures and the Identification of Schools under ESSA
Authors: Emily K. Penner, Heather Hough, Joe Witte

Abstract: The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to develop an accountability system that includes multiple measures of student academic performance and at least one additional indicator of “School Quality or Student Success” (SQSS). To support policymaking at both the state and federal level, we use the innovative measurement system developed by California’s CORE Districts to explore one important aspect of ESSA, the identification of schools for support and improvement using a multiple measures framework. CORE’s unique system focuses on academic outcomes alongside non-academic measures of student success, including chronic absenteeism, suspension/expulsion, students’ social-emotional skills, and school climate and culture. We use these data to demonstrate several of the challenges and considerations that states must make in creating their new accountability system. Given that most states and districts do not have the full set of ESSA-compliant measures ready for use, there is much to be learned from the CORE Districts about how to integrate such measures into systems of accountability and continuous improvement.

Educators As "Equity Warriors"
Jane Rochmes, Emily K. Penner, Susanna Loeb

Abstract: Rhetoric emphasizing schools’ role in reducing racial and socioeconomic inequality abounds in districts, state, and federal policy discussions. Such rhetoric assumes that teachers will conduct the work of reducing inequality, but the process by which teachers act to facilitate equality goals is not well understood. Surprisingly, we know little about educators’ attitudes about achievement gaps. This paper provides a framework for considering multiple dimensions of educators’ beliefs about inequality and creates novel measures for assessing these beliefs and attitudes. We contribute to a greater understanding of attitudes about inequality with a descriptive analysis of survey data we collected in a major urban school district. Teachers overwhelmingly view gaps as important, but they vary considerably in the types of gaps they prefer to address, in their beliefs that they can make a difference, and in their willingness to endorse strategies that would advance equity goals in practice. Results suggest that attitudes about inequality are multidimensional, and that beliefs that inequality is important do not necessarily translate into endorsing strategies or making choices that would reduce the structural inequality that is a rhetorical and sociological priority.

Resource- and Approach-Driven Multi-Dimensional Change: Three-Year Effects of School Improvement Grants
Authors: Min Sun, Emily K. Penner, Susanna Loeb

Abstract: Hoping to spur dramatic school turnaround, the Federal Government channeled resources to the country’s lowest-performing schools through School Improvement Grants (SIG). However, little research has shed light on SIG effectiveness. This study utilizes a difference-in-differences strategy to estimate program impacts on multiple dimensions across the three-year duration of the SIG award in one urban school district. Following two years of modest improvement, we find pronounced, positive effects of SIG interventions on student achievement in year three, consistent with prior literature indicating that improvements from comprehensive school turnarounds emerge gradually. We also identify improvements indicating the process through which change occurred, including reduced unexcused absences, increased family preference for SIG schools, improved retention of effective teachers, and greater development of teacher professional capacity.