Foundations for Education Excellence. Helping foundations leverage public and private funds for improving education.
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Knowledge From the Field: Low-Performing Schools

Research Highlights

Identify research that can inform your grantmaking using summaries prepared by the Foundation Center.

Keeping the Promise of Opportunity: Redesigning Financial Aid to Support Post-Secondary Completion Among Low-Income Young Adults

Cohen, Jeff; Kate Tallant; Fay Hanleybrown; Mukta Pandit
August 2012

Describes obstacles low-income young adults face in trying to access and use financial aid and how current trends in aid are exacerbating these issues. Recommends ways for funders to help structure aid to improve college completion for low-income young adults.

Funder(s): Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Diverse Charter Schools: Can Racial and Socioeconomic Integration Promote Better Outcomes for Students?

Poverty & Race Research Action Council; Century Foundation
Kahlenberg, Richard D.; Halley Potter
May 2012

Examines how current policies and philanthropic priorities create high-poverty, racially isolated charter schools, benefits of socioeconomically diverse charter schools, and approaches taken in successful examples. Proposes policy and funding reforms.

Funder(s): Century Foundation

Dropped? Latino Education and Arizona's Economic Future

Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University
Hart, Bill; C.J. Eisenbarth Hager
May 2012

Describes persistent barriers to educational opportunities and the achievement gap Latinos face; implications for incomes, health insurance coverage, and the economy; and strategies for improving the educational system and Latino educational attainment.

Funder(s): Helios Education Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

Housing as a Platform for Improving Education Outcomes Among Low-Income Children

What Works Collaborative
Cunningham, Mary; Graham MacDonald
May 2012

Reviews research on how housing stability, affordability, quality, and location affect low-income children's safety, physical and mental health, and frequency of school changes, which in turn affect attendance, behavior, test scores, and graduation rates.

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Rockefeller Foundation, Surdna Foundation

Suspended Education in California

Civil Rights Project
Losen, Daniel J.; Jon Gillespie; Tia Martinez
April 2012

Analyzes data on risk of school suspension by race/ethnicity, gender, and disability status in nearly five hundred districts; highlights research showing suspensions to be ineffective and harmful; and calls for implementing evidence-based alternatives.

Funder(s): Atlantic Philanthropies, California Endowment

Learning From Charter School Management Organizations: Strategies for Student Behavior and Teacher Coaching

Center on Reinventing Public Education
Lake, Robin J.; Melissa Bowen; Allison Demeritt; Brian Gill; Joshua Haimson; Moira McCullough
March 2012

Describes charter school management practices linked to improved student achievement: setting high expectations for student behavior to promote a safe and focused learning environment and providing intensive individualized coaching for teachers.

Funder(s): Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, NewSchools Venture Fund, Walton Family Foundation

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Sustained Positive Effects on Graduation Rates Produced by New York City's Small Public High Schools of Choice

Bloom, Howard S.; Rebecca Unterman
January 2012

Evaluates how effectively small academically nonselective high schools that replaced large failing ones achieved sustained improvement in academic progress and graduation rates across variations in prior proficiency, family income, and demographics.

Funder(s): Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Toward Closing the Achievement Gap: A One-Year Progress Report on Education Reform in Massachusetts

Race to the Top Coalition
Pauley, Elizabeth
November 2011

Highlights early outcomes of school reform efforts launched under a new state law with support from the Race to the Top program, including progress in turnaround schools, charter schools, and innovation schools. Outlines challenges and recommendations.

Funder(s): Boston Foundation

Achieving Results Through Community School Partnerships

Center for American Progress
Blank, Martin J.; Reuben Jacobson; Atelia Melaville
January 2012

Outlines the importance of and strategies for building and maintaining successful partnerships for community schools that integrate academics, youth development, family support, health and social services, and community development. Makes recommendations.

Funder(s): JPMorgan Chase Foundation

Measuring Inequity in School Funding

Center for American Progress
Epstein, Diana
August 2011

Examines differences in per-pupil school funding among states, inequities among districts within states, and their implications. Calls for a progressive fiscal equity measure that would encourage state school financing reform.

Funder(s): Ford Foundation

Early Grade Retention and Student Success: Evidence From Los Angeles

Public Policy Institute of California
Cannon, Jill S.; Stephen Lipscomb
March 2011

Analyzes risk factors of retention through third grade in the L.A. Unified School District, including age, gender, race/ethnicity, family income, and English learner status; retention's effectiveness in improving grade-level skills; and educators' views.

Funder(s): William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Research Findings to Support Effective Educational Policies: A Guide for Policymakers

Wallace Foundation
March 2011

Updates a 2009 guide with new research on what an effective school leader does; how to improve the training of principals to meet the tough demands of their jobs; how districts can better support and evaluate principals; and how to expand learning time.

Funder(s): Wallace Foundation

30 Large Urban School Districts Show Better Relative Academic Performance Than Their States for African-American, Hispanic, or Low-Income Students

Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
December 2010

Presents findings from data collected in the Broad Prize selection process on large urban districts with higher-than-state-average performance among African-American, Latino, and low-income students and the policies and practices behind their success.

Funder(s): Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation

Fighting the Drop-Out Crisis

Washington Monthly
Colvin, Richard Lee; Sarah Garland; Betsy Hammond; Dale Mezzacappa
July 2010

Describes data-driven efforts to raise high school graduation rates in New York, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon by replacing low-performing schools with smaller schools or offering alternative schools and programs, as well as their outcomes to date.

Funder(s): Boston Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Spencer Foundation, William Penn Foundation

Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis

Civil Rights Project
Losen, Daniel J.; Russell Skiba
September 2010

Examines the rise in school suspensions; their effectiveness; the widening racial/ethnic discipline gap, especially for African-American boys; and the impact of suspensions on academic success and likelihood of incarceration. Makes policy recommendations.

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation, Poverty and Race Research Action Council

School Turnaround Field Guide

FSG Social Impact Advisors
Kutash, Jeff; Emily Gorin; Eva Nico; Samira Rahmatullah; Kate Tallant
September 2010

Outlines approaches to turning around low-performing schools, lessons from early efforts, gaps to be filled, and critical actions to implement effective practices, create supportive policies and conditions, and build capacity and sustainability at scale.

Funder(s): Carnegie Corporation of New York, Wallace Foundation

Vibrant Neighborhoods, Successful Schools: What the Federal Government Can Do to Foster Both

Urban Institute
Turner, Margery Austin; Alan Berube
July 2009

Recommends coordinating housing and education policies to create mixed-income neighborhoods with good schools and quality educators, to lower student turnover, and to improve health, nutrition, and school readiness. Presents examples of local initiatives.

Funder(s): George Gund Foundation, Heinz Endowments, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Metropolitan Leadership Council

Evaluation of Experience Corps: Student Reading Outcomes

Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis
June 2009

Analyzes the impact of Experience Corps tutoring on elementary school students' reading comprehension as measured by four tests. Considers factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, grade, classroom behavior, English proficiency, and special education needs.

Funder(s): Atlantic Philanthropies

Organized Communities, Stronger Schools: A Preview of Research Findings

Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University
Mediratta, Kavitha; Norm Fruchter; Dana Lockwood; Sara McAlister; Christina Mokhtar; Seema Shah
March 2008

Assesses the impact of community organizing for school reform on student outcomes such as attendance and test scores, school-community relationships, parent engagement, teacher morale, and policy and resource distribution at the system level.

Funder(s): Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

A Foundation Returns to School: Strategies for Improving Public Education

Ford Foundation
Petrovich, Janice
March 2008

Reviews the activities and lessons of Ford's thirteen-year initiative to help communities realize changes in schools through constituency- and coalition-building, policy research and evaluation, strategic communication, and networking.

Funder(s): Ford Foundation

Solving California's Dropout Crisis

California Dropout Research Project
Rumberger, Russell W.
February 2008

Synthesizes ongoing CDRP research to outline the scope, the causes, and the costs of the state's high school dropout crisis. Proposes a policy agenda to raise the graduation rate, with separate recommendations for the state, districts, and schools.

Funder(s): Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Walter S. Johnson Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Closing the Achievement Gap: The Anatomy of Influence

Annie E. Casey Foundation
Read, Tory
January 2008

Looks at Casey's efforts to influence the education policy environment by gathering evidence of proven and promising practices, engaging target audiences, and delivering accessible messages. Profiles influence tools that have led to concrete results.

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation

Closing the Achievement Gap: Getting to Results

Annie E. Casey Foundation
Read, Tory
January 2008

Outlines Casey's framework for measuring program results in terms of direct impact; influence on opinion, practice, or policy; and leverage to increase public and private investment in the program. Includes lessons learned and selected results.

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation

Closing the Achievement Gap: Creating Quality Choices: Charters

Annie E. Casey Foundation
Read, Tory
January 2008

Provides an overview of Casey's investments in charter schools, lessons learned, and challenges in securing funding, facilities, and teacher supply. Presents selected results such as higher reading and math scores and profiles of successful schools.

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation

Closing the Achievement Gap: Creating Quality Choices: District Schools

Annie E. Casey Foundation
Read, Tory
January 2008

Highlights Casey's multi-year investment in an Atlanta school district, and examines contributing factors to improvements at one middle school in particular. Includes summaries of Casey's support for district improvement in Oakland and Philadelphia.

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation

Closing the Achievement Gap: Creating Quality Choices: Vouchers

Annie E. Casey Foundation
Read, Tory
January 2008

Outlines Casey's investment in the District of Columbia's voucher program, as well as results, lessons learned, and suggestions for improving legislation. Includes profiles of Casey-supported efforts to improve programs in Florida and Wisconsin.

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation

Closing the Achievement Gap: Creating Quality Choices: School, Family, Community Connections

Annie E. Casey Foundation
Read, Tory
January 2008

Highlights Casey's support for community schools — public schools enhanced by partnerships with organizations that provide programs for the entire community in low-income neighborhoods. Includes profiles of successful schools and lessons learned.

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation

Closing the Achievement Gap: Strategic Funding Attracts Co-Investment

Annie E. Casey Foundation
Read, Tory
January 2008

Outlines Casey's early investment in the Indianapolis mayor's charter initiative as part of an effort to support innovative but as yet unproven programs, seed results, and attract co-investment. Describes the impact of program-related investments.

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation

California High Schools That Beat the Odds in High School Graduation

California Dropout Research Project
Socias, Miguel; Lenay Dunn; Mari Muraki; Thomas Parrish; LaRena Woods
December 2007

Based on interviews with principals of schools with better graduation rates, test scores, and dropout rates compared to others of similar student composition, outlines policies and practices that contribute to high graduation rates and academic standards.

Funder(s): Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Walter S. Johnson Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Connecting Schools, Families, and Communities: Stories and Results from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Education Investments

Annie E. Casey Foundation
Jehl, Jeanne
February 2007

Provides an overview of the foundation's investment philosophy and its approach to defining and documenting grantmaking results. Highlights the work of seven school/family/community partnerships and the results they have achieved.

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation

Reframing Education: The Partnership Strategy and Public Schools

Carnegie Corporation of New York
Hirota, Janice
September 2005

Aims to explore, record, and glean lessons from the New Century High Schools initiative and partnership strategy, which transforms low performing high schools in New York City into campuses of small autonomous schools featuring community partnerships.

Funder(s): Carnegie Corporation of New York

Rethinking High School: Five Profiles of Innovative Models for Student Success

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Huebner, Tracy; Grace Calisi Corbett
February 2005

Examines the progress that has been made at five small schools across the U.S. that are representative of a growing network of more focused, academically rigorous high schools being developed to help students succeed in both high school and college.

Funder(s): Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy

Alliance for Excellent Education
Biancarosa, Gina; Catherine Snow

Outlines fifteen key elements that educators can use to develop an effective adolescent literacy intervention program. Focuses on elements of interventions that are most promising for students that struggle with reading and writing after third grade.

Funder(s): Carnegie Corporation of New York

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Top Funders and Recipients

Top 50 Foundations Awarding Grants for Low-Performing Schools

Top 50 Recipients of Foundation Grants for Low-Performing Schools

View more top funders and recipients»

Resource Links

IssueLab connects you to annotated research reports, case studies, and more on low-performing schools. Read more»

Key Statistics

View charts illustrating elementary/secondary education's share of overall foundation giving and how funding within the field breaks down.
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