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From Research to Practice: Supporting Student Achievement through Academic and Personal Behaviors

“It brought a whole new layer to our work and really deepened our thinking. Instead of just saying to kids, ‘Well, work harder. Do more work,’ we actually had ways to think about this – ‘Is this work valuable to students? Do they feel like they belong in class? What’s their growth mindset?”

–Lainey Collins, North Queens Community High School

From Research to Practice captures how the Academic and Personal Behaviors (APB) Institute, an initiative led by the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness (OPSR) with support from Eskolta, has turned research about the importance of students’ academic and personal behaviors into real, everyday classroom practices. Research on “noncognitive factors”—skills, habits, and beliefs students hold about learning—has shown that these often-overlooked elements are necessary for college readiness and lead to improved outcomes for students. Since 2013, more than 250 teachers from 98 schools participated in the APB Institute, where they delved into this research and developed their own practices to ensure that students develop these skills. Using improvement science, a discipline that focuses on employing the scientific method in order to test and learn from changes within the organization, Institute participants designed and tested instructional strategies to bring this research into real-time practice in their classrooms.

This report responds to four fundamental questions educators face about this work: 1) How do we make research come alive? 2) How do we adapt these practices for students? 3) How do we learn from others? 4) How do we know if it’s working? Through vignettes, the report explores the solutions four school teams developed in response to these questions and the impact of these practices on student outcomes. The impact has been notable: at North Queens Community High School, school leaders used research about academic mindsets to increase their school’s New York State Algebra Regents pass rate from 30 percent to 80 percent. At KAPPA International High School, teachers explored why students were failing to meaningfully revise their work, ultimately increasing revision completion from 9 percent to 60 percent. In these ways, the APB Institute is taking academic and personal behaviors out of academia and into the classroom.

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