Interesting AERJ articles

The latest issue of American Educational Research Journal contains several articles that are interesting for the mathematics education research community. Here are three that I find particularly interesting:
  • National Income, Income Inequality, and the Importance of Schools: A Hierarchical Cross-National Comparison, by Amita Chudgar and Thomas F. Luschei. Abstract: The international and comparative education literature is not in agreement over the role of schools in student learning. The authors reexamine this debate across 25 diverse countries participating in the fourth-grade application of the 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. The authors find the following: (a) In most cases, family background is more important than schools in understanding variations in student performance; (b) schools are nonetheless a significant source of variation in student performance, especially in poor and unequal countries; (c) in some cases, schools may bridge the achievement gap between high and low socioeconomic status children. However, schools’ ability to do so is not systematically related to a country’s economic or inequality status.
  • Assessing the Contribution of Distributed Leadership to School Improvement and Growth in Math Achievement, by Ronald H. Heck and Philip Hallinger. Abstract: Although there has been sizable growth in the number of empirical studies of shared forms of leadership over the past decade, the bulk of this research has been descriptive. Relatively few published studies have investigated the impact of shared leadership on school improvement. This longitudinal study examines the effects of distributed leadership on school improvement and growth in student math achievement in 195 elementary schools in one state over a 4-year period. Using multilevel latent change analysis, the research found significant direct effects of distributed leadership on change in the schools’ academic capacity and indirect effects on student growth rates in math. The study supports a perspective on distributed leadership that aims at building the academic capacity of schools as a means of improving student learning outcomes.
  • The Hispanic-White Achievement Gap in Math and Reading in the Elementary Grades, by Sean F. Reardon and Claudia Galindo. Abstract: This article describes the developmental patterns of Hispanic-White math and reading achievement gaps in elementary school, paying attention to variation in these patterns among Hispanic subgroups. Compared to non-Hispanic White students, Hispanic students enter kindergarten with much lower average math and reading skills. The gaps narrow by roughly a third in the first 2 years of schooling but remain relatively stable for the next 4 years. The development of achievement gaps varies considerably among Hispanic subgroups. Students with Mexican and Central American origins—particularly first- and second-generation immigrants—and those from homes where English is not spoken have the lowest math and reading skill levels at kindergarten entry but show the greatest achievement gains in the early years of schooling.