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Queries and Replies

Replies to Query:


What if your "baseline" data occurs after students have already...

Reply 1:

This is a difficult problem to overcome without a comparison or control group. Short of having a time machine at one's disposal, there is not much that can be done about this situation. However, we offer below several somewhat different but complementary suggestions that can help make the best of the situation.
  • One could compare the students of teachers who had fully implemented the reform approach to the students of teachers who were minimal implementers.
  • One could compare students who had teachers with extensive training to students with teachers who had minimal training.
  • One could conduct a small study taking advantage of naturally occurring circumstances, such as teachers who were unable to participate in the training for some reason. The students of these untrained teachers could be compared to the students of trained teachers.
  • One could identify schools similar to those in which your program exists that are using the same achievement measures and attempt to obtain data from them to see if there is a difference between achievement in their schools and your project schools. Be sure, however, that your measures are aligned with the curriculum, which may or may not be the case in your comparison schools.
  • One could look at achievement relative to the norm group as a function of the length of time a student has been exposed to teachers involved in the project. You can either block on years of exposure or use regression analysis with years of exposure as a continuous covariable.
  • If your district has high student mobility, another possibility is to do a sub-study using students that are new to the district, and collect baseline data on them.
  • Finally, one might search for another test that can act as a `control' for prior achievement. You might even consider using a test in another subject, which, although not perfect, is better than nothing.


Joy Frechtling, 2/9/2001