Communication 211 Evaluating and Communicating Information
Second Midterm Examination
Second Midterm Exam
RESEARCH REPORT: Improving Elementary School Education
In recent years, local school districts and traditional public schools have taken serious initiatives to
improve failing schools.
For example, school districts are increasingly contracting with private, for-
profit companies to provide a range of educational services to schools.
To date there has been
considerable debate about whether private, for-profit schools are as effective as public schools in
successfully educating students. In order to evaluate this proposition, Edison Schools, a leading for-
profit educational service company that operates several schools, commissions a study to assess
whether the type of school administration affects the quality of education that elementary school
They expect that this relationship should be strongest for students who have a low
interest in school.
Edison Schools contracts with the Research Institute of Oregon (RIO) to conduct a study of
educational performance in its schools in the state.
They select three cities in Oregon, where they
manage elementary schools, in order to sample students and check on their progress.
cities are Salem (population 15,000), Eugene (population 110,000), and Portland (population
Going back to 1997, the year that Edison Schools began managing some elementary
schools in each city, RIO selected a random sample of schools that Edison runs, and, within each
one, they drew a random sample of second grade classrooms.
Within the selected classes, they
chose a random start and then selected every fifth student in alphabetic order.
For each sampled student, RIO assembled data on their educational accomplishment, which they
measured by two standardized tests that previous research has shown to be well-validated. These
tests were administered to all elementary school students in Oregon at the end of the school year.
The Oregon Reading and Math Evaluation (ORME) is administered in grades 2 through 4, and the
Oregon Math and Verbal Inventory (OMVI) is administered in grades 5 and 6.
researchers want to look at the test scores to see whether they increased during this period when
Edison ran the schools.
In 2001, the final year of the study, the students remaining in the sample were administered a
questionnaire that included a set of eight items designed to measure their interest in school.
the items were used to form an Interest in School Scale, and the scale was divided into two
categories, “High” and “Low” interest.
The researchers expected to find that standardized test
scores would increase in the Edison-run schools, and the increases would be greatest for those who
had “Low” scores on the Interest in School Scale.