Support Students in Co-Creating a Better World for #BetterWorldDay
Header image

Mathematica Policy Research Releases Evaluation of EL Education Middle Schools

  • Date

  • Author

    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 EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) schools.

Mathematica found that EL Education middle school students perform better in reading and math than their counterparts in other public schools. The full report can be found here.

The study team examined student performance on state reading and math assessments up to three years after students enrolled in five EL Education middle schools in Washington D.C. and New York. It found that “the five EL Education schools in this study had positive, statistically significant impacts on both reading and math test scores.” In reading, EL Education 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, EL Education 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 EL Education 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 EL Education students, and took measures to mitigate additional threats to validity related to student attrition and grade retention rates.

Scott Hartl, President & CEO of EL Education noted that the study quantifies EL Education’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