More Than 100 AIR Experts Participate at the American Educational Research Association Conference

Washington, D.C. – At-risk students show improved test scores when challenged by rigorous, engaging instruction, according to findings to be released by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in Montreal April 11 - 15. More than 100 AIR experts will be participating in the conference, covering topics from full-day Kindergarten to adult literacy.

AIR will also celebrate the creation of the new AERA-AIR (A²) Fellows program designed to build the talent pool of highly skilled education researchers and technical assistance providers during a reception on April 12, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. at the Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel.

At-risk students show improved test scores when challenged by rigorous instructional approaches that emphasize higher-order thinking skills, according to a recent AIR study regarding English and math programs designed for secondary schools that will be presented at the conference. The findings offer educators hope that they can increase achievement by teaching with a rigorous, challenging approach. “Our findings show us that an emphasis on higher-order thinking skills is critical to student engagement for all students, and the rewards of using rigorous instruction with disadvantaged students is particularly significant,” said Senior AIR Research Analyst Kerstin Carlson Le Floch, regarding the evaluation of the program developed by the College Board.

Highlights from a selection of other AIR papers and chaired sessions at the conference include:

  • A session on expanding the horizon for evidence-based research that takes a close look at innovative education research design. The session is chaired by AIR Senior Vice President for Research George Bohrnstedt.
  • Several AIR presentations will focus on the challenges and opportunities of transforming large high schools to small learning communities. Papers on this topic will focus on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s high school reform initiative, including an examination of early outcomes for students. Another paper explores implementation of the high school transformation initiative, particularly within large, traditional high schools. A third paper delves into classrooms and describes teaching and learning strategies in some of the most innovative schools in the country, and the final paper on this topic begins to bring students’ voices into the conversation. Together, these papers tell a comprehensive story of the most ambitious efforts to transform the secondary education system in the United States.
  • AIR will present outcomes regarding the evaluation of school-community partnerships. Collaborative federal funding has enabled schools, families, and community agencies across the country to join forces, implementing prevention and early intervention initiatives that systemically address emotional, behavioral, safety, and community violence issues impacting learning outcomes for school-age youth. These “Safe Schools/Healthy Students” programs take place in more than 180 urban, suburban, and rural settings, addressing such problems as poverty, school violence, drug use, gang participation, teen suicide, and fragmented support systems. This session will detail the outcomes and lessons learned from evaluations of one rural and two urban sites.
  • AIR will present a comparative evaluation of alternative education settings. The study was designed to learn more about what characterizes effective alternative programs and how alternative settings are meeting the needs of youth with disabilities.

Reports released at AERA are available on AIR experts are available to discuss a wide range of education topics, including student achievement, college financial aid, education technology, and media literacy. To arrange interviews with authors and other experts, please contact Larry McQuillan at 202.403.5119.


About AIR

The American Institutes for Research, founded in 1946, is a leader in the behavioral and social sciences. AIR is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization engaged in domestic and international research, development, evaluation, analysis, product development, training and technical assistance and assessment.

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