Early Elementary Performance and Attendance in Baltimore City Schools’ Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten looks at attendance in the early grades of elementary school. In particular, we focus on Pre-Kindergarten (PreK) and Kindergarten (K) and follow these young students over time, examining their pattern of chronic absence (CA)in PreK and K, and their later attendance and academic outcomes. We found that students with low attendance in both PreK and K often go on to continue to have low attendance. Also, they are more likely to be retained by grade 3 and have lower academic outcomes compared to their peers who attend school more regularly. The impact can be minimized, however, by improved attendance in later grades. This is important because it suggests that it’s never too late to improve attendance. An interesting finding in our report is that Head Start students began with and maintained high rates of attendance compared with comparable students. Unfortunately they underperformed in reading and math in Grades 1 and 2, but by Grade 3, they performed as well as their peers on the state assessment, the MSA.
College Enrollment and Degree Completion
A Descriptive Look at College Enrollment and Degree Completion of Baltimore City Graduates paints a picture of Baltimore City Schools’ current activities on college access, enrollment, and completion. The report establishes a baseline for future analyses and identifies areas where additional research and information could inform City Schools concerning its graduates’ success with college access. City Schools has made important strides in recent years to increase graduation rates. Ensuring that students are prepared, informed, motivated, and skilled to succeed in college is the natural next step. To do this rigorous instruction must be common and will require not only better teaching, but also better family outreach achieved through increased coordination between teachers, counselors, and parents. Implications are discussed in the policy brief.
Pressures of the Season: A Descriptive Look at Classroom Quality in Second and Third Grade Classrooms reports the findings from 347 observations conducted in 23 second and third grade classrooms over two years to paint a picture of the in-school experiences of students who hadbeen first graders in eight Baltimore City Public Schools in 2007-08. Using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), an observation instrument and protocol developed by researchers at the University of Virginia (Pianta, La Paro & Hamre 2008), a rigorously trained team of classroom observers conducted eight observations in each classroom over two days in January and another eight observations over two days in May. Implications are discussed in the policy brief.
Sixth Grade Early Warning Indicators for Baltimore City Schools: Their Prevalence and Impact examines the 2000-01 cohort of sixth grade students from Baltimore City Schools to determine whether there were indicators that predicted eventual dropout with a reasonable level of certainty and identified enough students to justify intervention efforts. The indicators include chronic absence (missing 20 or more days of school); failing English, math, or both, and/or a failing average across all core courses; being at least one year overage for grade; and being suspended for three or more days. Overall, of students with at least one early warning indicator in the sixth grade, approximately a third (36.4 percent), went on to graduate within one year of expected graduation. In contrast, students with no warning indicators graduated at almost double the rate (70.5 percent). The good news is that among a more recent cohort of sixth graders (2008-09) the prevalence of indicators has decreased except for being overage, which has nearly doubled. Implications are discussed in the policy brief.
A Portrait of the 2008-09 Dropouts in the Baltimore City Schools
Gradual Disengagement: A Portrait of the
2008-09 Dropouts in the Baltimore City Schools examined eight
years of student-level data to paint a collective portrait of the process of
disengagement that leads to student dropout. The study found that the majority
of students who eventually drop out of Baltimore high schools enter ninth grade with a pattern of chronic absenteeism that goes back at least several years. A large majority of eventual dropouts
are overage for grade by the time they enter ninth grade for the first time,
and have increasingly high levels of absenteeism and course failure over their
years in high school. The study recommends that interventions be
implemented during the early middle grades to prevent most dropout outcomes,
and that non-traditional credit-earning options be offered to older enrolled
students (17 and older) who already have patterns of chronic absenteeism and
The College Access Project
Using data available from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) and City Schools, this analysis examined rates of enrollment in postsecondary programs for two recent Baltimore City Public Schools graduating classes (2008-2009). The analysis specifically addressed the types and selectivity of colleges attended, location, and variation in enrollment by gender. We suggest the results are useful as baseline measures against which future goals concerning college access might be set. College Access Report (pdf)
On Track and On Time
Maintaining High Achievement in Baltimore: An Examination of the Elementary Grade Trajectories of Four Recent City Schools First Grade Cohorts
To address success at the elementary school level, BERC has produced the following report, “Maintaining High Achievement in Baltimore,” which examines the performance of four successive first grade cohorts spanning the years 1999-00 through 2008-09. The results of this study show that City Schools students are scoring Proficient and Advanced on the Maryland School Assessment with increasing frequency. Further, improvements in City Schools student achievement in grades three to five represent a faster rate of acceleration than what has occurred among Maryland students as a whole. The study explores the relationships between students’ initial first grade achievement and subsequent performance in reading and math in grades three, four, and five. The study also addresses patterns of out-migration from City Schools, and acknowledges the changing educational policy environment in Baltimore over the past decade.
Keeping on Track in Ninth Grade and Beyond
To address the factors related to high school success, BERC announces the release of the report,"Keeping On Track in Ninth Grade and Beyond: Baltimore’s Ninth Graders in 2007-08." Focusing on a recent Baltimore City ninth grade cohort, the report examines the behavioral factors identified in previous research as key predictors of high school graduation, particularly ninth grade attendance and course passing. The study also demonstrates how ninth grade outcomes are linked to warning indicators in the middle grades. The report suggests that raising the graduation rate in Baltimore City will require specific attention to addressing the behavioral factors that push students off-track to graduation: chronic absenteeism, suspensions, and course failure.
The Pathways Project documented the predominant and critical pathways students take through the Baltimore City Public Schools through longitudinal studies of two cohorts at different stages in their educational careers. These studies, which were published in April 2008, followed students for seven years, with particular focus on resilience or risk factors that affected mobility, grade progression, and retention.
The “First Grade and Forward” study analyzed a cohort of students who entered first grade in 1999 through their expected (on-time) seventh-grade year to track patterns of promotion and retention, attendance, mobility within City Schools, and transfer out of City Schools.
To better understand and address the significant decline in achievement or
engagement that occurs for many of Baltimore’s middle school
Challenge of On-Time Arrival” study retrospectively followed a cohort
of students forward from sixth grade to several years past their on-time
high school graduation year. It identified characteristics of middle
grades environments associated with the most encouraging student trajectories
or those associated with declines in achievement levels, attendance,
or educational progress.
Drawing upon data for both cohorts, we have prepared a brief on
attendance and associated outcomes. That document can be found here.
The Pathways strategic data analyses provided Baltimore City Public Schools and the larger school reform community with insight into Baltimore’s most vexing educational challenges, and informed ongoing elementary, middle, and high school reform efforts by highlighting which educational inputs, structures, resources, and outcomes have particularly strong impacts.