UMDI Study: School Design Model Closes Achievement Gaps


An independent analysis performed by the UMASS Donahue Institute (UMDI) in 2011 found that EL Education schools “are making significant, substantial and sustained progress toward closing city-wide achievement gaps” for populations of underserved students.

The Study: 

In 2011, the UMASS Donahue Institute (UMDI) performed an analysis of New York State test scores from three EL Education middle schools in New York City and Rochester, NY. These schools were carefully matched to similar schools based on locale, student population, and baseline test scores. To be included in the analysis, students in EL Education schools and comparison schools were required to attend the school for at least 2 years.

In order to determine the size of achievement gaps, UMDI subtracted mean scores in each grade and subject (ELA and Math) for various groups of students from students not in these groups. They then converted change in mean scores to an effect size and looked for statistical differences, controlling for demographic characteristics.


The UMDI analysis suggests that EL Education schools are reducing city-wide achievement gaps, including erasing gaps in many cases. In ELA, achievement gaps were closed by 16 to 100 percent, depending on the subgroup and district. Nearly all of the ELA achievement gap was closed for Latinx and free and reduced lunch-eligible students in all three schools, as it was for African American students in the two schools in which populations sizes were sufficient to support analysis. Overall, these students are performing in ELA at the same level as peers who do not share these demographic backgrounds.

In Math, achievement gaps were reduced by 20 to 100 percent across 2 schools with the third not showing a positive impact in comparison with matched in-district schools.

Importantly, in both ELA and Math, these results held when the EL Education schools were compared against matched schools with similar demographic profiles. According to the UMDI this suggests “that EL schools are doing a better job of closing achievement gaps than comparison schools. EL schools are closing gaps more consistently with all populations.”

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