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Mathematica Policy Research Releases Evaluation of Expeditionary Learning Middle Schools

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    Lauren Parent

Positive, statistically significant impacts in both reading and math

Princeton, NJ – September 17, 2013 - Mathematica Policy Research has released the first rigorous study of the impact of Expeditionary Learning schools. 

Mathematica found that Expeditionary Learning middle school students perform better in reading and math than their counterparts in other public schools. The full report can be found at http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/pdfs/education/EL_middle_Schools.pdf.

The study team examined student performance on state reading and math assessments up to three years after students enrolled in five Expeditionary Learning middle schools in Washington D.C. and New York. It found that “the five Expeditionary Learning schools in this study had positive, statistically significant impacts on both reading and math test scores.” In reading, Expeditionary Learning students experience positive impacts that are roughly equal in magnitude to an extra five months of learning growth after two years and an extra seven months of learning after three years.  In math, Expeditionary Learning students experience positive impacts roughly equal to an extra three months of learning growth after two years and 10 months of extra learning growth after three years. 

The study’s director and lead researcher, Ira Nichols-Barrer, said that “students at these Expeditionary Learning schools experience meaningful gains in reading and mathematics test scores, outperforming their counterparts in other local schools.”  

The five schools included in the study were:

  • Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learning School, New York
  • Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, New York
  • Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, New York
  • Capital City Public Charter Lower, Washington, D.C.
  • Capital City Public Charter Upper, Washington, D.C.

The study used a rigorous approach (propensity score matching) to identify a comparison group of students with similar demographic characteristics and baseline achievement to Expeditionary Learning students, and took measures to mitigate additional threats to validity related to student attrition and grade retention rates.

Scott Hartl, President & CEO of Expeditionary Learning noted that the study quantifies Expeditionary Learning’s positive impact at a time when the education world is seeking models that work.  

“Such strong study results are the outcome of a different approach to school – where citizenship and character are at the center of academic learning. These qualities of deeper learning have been identified as central to the Common Core initiative and life success in the 21st century,” Hartl said.

About Mathematica Policy Research

Mathematica Policy Research, a nonpartisan research firm, provides a full range of research and data collection services, including program evaluation and policy research, survey design and data collection, research assessment and interpretation, and program performance/data management, to improve public well-being. Its clients include federal and state governments, foundations, and private-sector and international organizations. The employee-owned company, with offices in Princeton, N.J.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Cambridge, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Oakland, Calif.; and Washington, D.C., has conducted some of the most important studies of education, disability, health care, family support, employment, nutrition, and early childhood policies and programs.

For more information, visit http://www.mathematica-mpr.com.

About Expeditionary Learning

Expeditionary Learning is a leading K-12 non-profit organization committed to creating classrooms where teachers can fulfill their highest aspirations and where students can achieve more than they think possible.  With more than 20 years of experience helping new and veteran teachers in all settings, we build their capacity to ignite each student’s motivation, persistence, and compassion so they become active contributors to building a better world and succeed in school, college, career, and life.   Our innovative curriculum, teacher-created resources, and model of professional coaching and support are anchored by a vision of student success that joins academic achievement, character, and high-quality work.  Expeditionary Learning partners with more than 160 schools and 4,000 teachers serving 50,000 students in 30 states, and thousands of other teachers through its professional services work in New York and other states.  For more information, visitwww.elschools.org.