The following are the questions/ideas/needs program offices articulated during the focus group discussions. They are organized by the associated Dimension from the Research Framework and are clustered by the strength (strong, moderate, or marginal). Any questions/ideas/needs that do not associate with a particular Dimension are listed at the end.
Dimension 1 - High Quality Early Learning
- What is the influence of Pre-kindergarten programs on student performance in early schooling? Do students who perform well in Pre-kindergarten programs continue to perform well in Kindergarten and the third grade?
- Examine and compare the effects of early learning collaboratives (ELCs) and other Pre-kindergarten programs.
- What is the longitudinal effect of the ELCs program on 3rd grade performance? For kids who were in the ELCs program, what is the effect of the ELCs program on their performance in RLA, Math, and retention?
- What is the impact of the early learning collaboratives (ELCs) program on first grade retention and second grade retention?
- What is the portrait of chronic absenteeism in Mississippi? What does it look like in early grades?
- Are there disparities in attendance, enrollment, and performance in areas that have publicly funded Pre-K programs as compared to those who do not?
- Using the Brigance Early Childhood screener data, examine the improvement on developmental measures of students who enrolled in publicly-funded Pre-Kindergarten programs.
- For Kindergarten students enrolled for school year 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, what type of Pre-Kindergarten programs were they enrolled in? Are there any trends or patterns?
- What are the short-term and long-term academic effects of early childhood education on children in poverty?
- Does the early learning collaboratives (ELCs) program have a positive impact on third grade academic performance in terms of reducing the achievement gap for low-income students?
- Do additional teacher resources, such as coaches, have a significant impact on Pre-Kindergarten student success and attendance?
- Examine and compare Title-funded programs and locally-funded programs, to others.
- What is the relationship between the results of early childhood assessments and teacher quality?
Dimension 2 - College and Career Readiness.
- What is the generalized effectiveness of Early College High School (ECHS) in Mississippi? What potential differences does it create between students enrolled in the ECHS program (i.e., treatment group) and students not enrolled in the ECHS program (i.e., control group)?
- What is the impact of Early College High School on reducing the achievement gap in terms of graduating on time, particularly for African American and low-income students?
- Measure the effectiveness of Career Academy. Does student attendance improve in Career Academy? Does student behavior change over time? Does post-secondary enrollment increase? Do students engage more in school? Are students more likely to graduate or complete Career Academy?
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the New Endorsement of High School Diploma. Do the diploma endorsement options increase college and career opportunities for students?
- What is the influence of third grade reading proficiency on student graduation status? Does third grade reading predict a student’s likelihood to graduate from high school on time?
- What is the relationship between the Pre-K scores among SPED students and graduation/or dropout rates in later academic years?
- What is the course-taking pattern that links to higher ACT results?
- Compare Advanced Placement (AP) and the Dual Enrollment. How to promote AP based on the current statewide accountability model?
- What is the effect of the implementation of waivers for districts participating in the Mississippi Innovation Lab Network?
- What are the benefits of reducing the "seat time" in Carnegie Units? What kind of changes will benefit students?
Dimension 3 - Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Effectiveness.
- What is the portrait of an effective teacher in Mississippi, with respect to the demographic factors, the educator preparation program, student impact, and more?
- Teacher shortage: what do we know? What does the data tell us (the teacher labor market, long-term trends-teacher production and teacher turnover)? Where do shortages exist?
- Is Mississippi's teacher shortage alarming? Is there any national trend? How can Mississippi's teacher shortage issue be addressed? What's in the literature? What's the best practice from other states?
- Is the cause of teacher shortage the same in the four subject shortage areas (special education, math, science, and foreign language)? Are there any differentiations regarding the contributing factors?
- What are the characteristics of educators who succeed in low-performing (or the most challenging) schools? What are effective strategies to recruit and retain them?
- How to address the “culture deficit” in teaching? What support should be provided to classrooms if teachers lack the knowledge to connect to students from different cultural backgrounds?
- What are potential weaknesses and support areas needed in classroom management, using the Student Teacher survey results? What kind of program changes do the results suggest for the educator preparation programs?
- How are standards for math practice and science being addressed at the classroom and assessment level among students in Mississippi? Do elementary school teachers feel adequately prepared to teach these subjects?
- Do superior teachers employ more (or certain types of) technology tools in their classroom?
- What is the current state of educational technology utilization in Mississippi’s public education system? How often do teachers use educational technology in their classroom?
- What is the annual trend in certification by type of certification? How does this compare with vacancies? What percentage of teachers are employed in MS are certified? What is the average length of time a teacher is employed in the same school (MS vs National)?
- How are literacy coaches spending their time (e.g., coaching, conferencing, professional development, and etc.), particularly in the case of low-performing schools using third grade data?
- What are the turnover rates of administrators and teachers in literacy support schools? What do the statistics tell us?
- Does National Board Certification have an impact on school culture? How can teachers with National Board Certification be placed in the most needed areas?
- What are the student and staff mobility within low-performing schools?
Dimension 4 - Educator (and Administrator) Preparation and Professional Development
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the Phonics First’s Orton Gillingham-based Professional Development Training system.
- Evaluate the difference in impacts of educator preparation programs on student learning. Where did effective teachers receive their preparation? What are the best practices those preparation programs utilize which can be implemented by other programs in Mississippi?
- What are the influential factors in successful first year teachers, in terms of preparation programs and school support strategies? What are the impacts of different approaches towards teacher preparation on teaching practice?
- Compare traditional-preparation teachers and alternate-route teachers. What are the differences between them in terms of effectiveness?
- What are the differences in impact of various educator preparation programs on student learning?
- What is the impact of the State Systemic Improvement Plan? How to support teachers and provide them with tools to help struggling students read.
- What is the relationship of academic success to first year phonics training? Does having this training show via improvement in the third-grade reading gate?
- What are the benefits of online professional development practices?
- What is the feasibility of developing an individualized approach to professional development tailored to the specific needs of the teacher and/or administrator, and develops a plan of improvement for all teachers within the state of Mississippi?
- How does the National Board Certification align with the goals to help teachers and improve learning?
- What professional development sessions given to school staff are implemented with fidelity? What strategies in literature which have a positive impact on student achievement are sustainable?
- How to measure professional development effectiveness.
- What are the differences in access for professional development in regular education classrooms as opposed to SPED classrooms for teachers?
- Does teacher training that stresses cultural competence and culturally responsive pedagogy (measured by course work/credit hours in these areas) impact student academic success, as measured by grades, and performance on state assessments/college readiness assessments (ACT, SAT)?
- Evaluate whether the literacy support schools have been able to sustain success after moving from full support to limited support.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the newly developed Four-Area Intervention Framework? Do schools using funding who focus on the Four-Area framework perform better than others?
- How well do highly rated districts perform on achievement gap measures? What interventions, incentives, and accountability elements work best to help alleviate achievement gaps in highly rated districts?
- What is the demographic makeup of the highest and lowest rated districts in MS? How does poverty affect the demographic makeup of the highest and lowest rated districts?
- Getting to the Root of the Problem: What are the causes of chronic absenteeism in Mississippi? Are there any differentiations in the causes across subgroups, across grades, or across regions?
- What are the effects of chronic absenteeism in Mississippi? How does school attendance influence student success?
- How can the attendance gap be closed?
- What intervention strategies have been working effectively in schools of Mississippi? What intervention models have been approved to be effective in other states? Are there any collaborative solutions? How to reduce chronic absence by aligning school and community resources?
- What is the relationship between teacher absenteeism and student academic performance for elementary, middle, and high school? Does absenteeism have a differential impact among different subject areas?
- What is the relationship between school attendance and academic performance, for third graders and ninth graders among students in Mississippi? How do the findings in Mississippi compare with what current literature indicates?
- How to accurately identify low-income students, English Learners, homeless students, and neglected and delinquent students, given that the current identification relies on self-reported data? How can a student with many labels can be accurately identified?
- What are the results of the STEM initiatives at early grades among students in Mississippi? Are these initiatives influencing later academic success?
- How do the instructional materials/textbooks affect student performance on state assessments and college admission? Specifically, is there a relationship between the various instructional materials used in schools and student performance on state assessments?
- What type of Blended Learning works most effectively? What kind of equity issue should be addressed in this process? What are the best guidelines for schools and districts?
- How is it possible to promote the best personalized learning experience?
- How is educational technology practiced across different subject areas in Mississippi and what is the associated effectiveness?
- Evaluate the effectiveness of open education resources. Does the use of “open source software” offer compelling benefits in public k-12 education in Mississippi?
- What are the impacts of different types of e-learning strategies used on learners from disadvantaged, marginalized, and/or minority communities?
- Do students with internet access at home perform better than their peers with no internet access at home?
- Given the five-year target set for English-Learner students, why don’t English-Learner students exit in year five? What are the root-cause factors? What are the best practices other states are utilizing to help English-Learner students exit?
- How to best define a “persistently dangerous school”? What parameters should be included in the definition?
- How does school funding impact opportunities and outcomes for students? What are the effects of school-level resources when controlling for student-level characteristics and contexts, such as race or ethnicity, economically disadvantages, etc.?
- For schools who share facilities, how to attribute costs accurately?
- How Per Pupil Expenditures across subgroups, particularly for low-income students, can be tracked and compared?
- Are schools effectively making “data driven” decisions when making decisions to place students in intervention? (Star, MAAP, Dyslexia Screener, other universal screener measures)?
- What are the differences in student-centered factors, such as attendance and growth, between regular students and SPED students? Are disparities larger among SPED students?