Research and Evaluation

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The Nebraska Department of Education is committed to providing high-quality evidence to inform statewide educational policy and decision-making. As such, the Research & Evaluation operation is dedicated to pursuing the research priorities of the Commissioner of Education and the Nebraska State Board of Education. What follows is a selection of studies created in this effort.

Research Studies

Student outcomes in school and college remain one of the primary areas of focus for the Nebraska Department of Education. In the quest to understand and improve outcomes for every student in the state, a series of research studies related to student college-going behavior in Nebraska was conducted. These studies, described below, assessed the impact of the Nebraska ACT Pilot Project, Dual Enrollment, and Advanced Placement (AP) Courses, respectively, on college-going for Nebraska high school students.

 


Investigating the Impact of the Nebraska ACT Pilot Project on Student College-Going Behavior

Abstract:
With the goal of increasing college-going among Nebraska high school students, the ACT Pilot Project was conducted by administering the ACT for all 11th graders in 13 selected public high schools in the state. This study utilizes several statistical tools like propensity score matching and logistic regression to assess the impact of being in the ACT Pilot on college-going during the time of the ACT Pilot Project in 2011-12 to 2013-14. Results indicate that participation in the ACT Pilot Project increases the odds of going on to college, although only marginally, for the high school students in the study. Other variables of interest like gender, race/ethnicity, household income status, and performance on the NeSA are greater predictors of college-going. Performance which exceed standards on the NeSA Math is found to increase the odds of going on to college by almost two times; thus suggesting that continued efforts should be directed to improving Math outcomes for Nebraska high school students. Implications of this study’s findings and direction for future research are discussed.

Keywords:
College-going; ACT; ACT Pilot Project; NeSA; College and Career Ready; Assessment; Transitions

Key Findings:

  • Being in the ACT Pilot Project significantly increases the odds of college-going by about 8%.

  • Females have a larger odds of going on to college than males.

  • Hispanic students have a smaller odds of going on to college than White students.

  • Students from low income households have less than half the odds of going on to college compared to those from non-low income households.

  • The performance on all 3 NeSA subjects (Reading, Math, and Science) are significant predictors of college-going, with NeSA Math Performance being the strongest predictor of the odds of going on to college.

Report Link: ACT Pilot Project Study (Published on September 2016)

 


An Examination of Advanced Placement (AP) Course Taking and College-Going in Nebraska

Abstract:
This study examines the relationship between high school students’ participation in Advanced Placement (AP) courses and college-going in Nebraska. Using a series of logistic regression models and propensity score matching method, results of this quasi-experimental study indicate that students who participate in AP courses have significantly higher odds of going on to college compared to those who do not participate in AP courses. Other demographic variables such as gender, race/ethnicity, immigration status, and NeSA performance are also tested as covariates in the statistical models. Findings from this study may be used to provide information to assist Nebraska policy-makers in making decisions with regards to AP programs and to better prepare Nebraska students for post-secondary education.

Keywords:
College-going; Advanced Placement; NeSA; College and Career Ready; Assessment; Transitions

Key findings:

  • It is more likely for Nebraska high school students who participate in AP courses to go on to college compared to those who do not participate in AP courses.
  • Native American students, Black or African American students, and Hispanic students are less likely to go on to college compared to White students.=
  • Students from low-income families are less likely to go on to college compared to non-low income families.
  • Students who score below NeSA performance levels have consistent lower chances of going on to college compared to those who meet the performance levels across all three subjects: Math, Science, and Reading.

Report Link: An Examination of Advanced Placement (AP) Couse Taking and College-Going in Nebraska (Published on December 2016)


The Effects of Question Customization on the Quality of an Open-Ended Question

Abstract:
This study examines the effect of question wording on data quality from an open-ended question. The open-ended question used in the study is from a web-based survey – 2016 Nebraska First Year Teacher Survey. Data quality indicators including item nonresponse, response target, ineligible response, general response, and response length are examined in the study using a series of general linear regression models. Findings from this study may be used in future survey projects with regards to improving data quality. Implications and directions for future research are also discussed in this paper.

Keywords:
First Year Teacher Survey, Survey Methodology, Data Quality Indicators, Open-ended Questions

Key findings:

  • Customized question wording leads to better data quality.
  • Customized question wording produced longer responses.
  • Respondents answering the question in customized wording produced more correctly targeted answers.

Report Link: The Effects of Question customization on the Quality of an Open-Ended Question (Published on February 2017)


An Evaluation of the Impact of Dual Credit and Dual Enrollment on College-Going in Nebraska

Abstract:
The focus of this study is to investigate the effects of enrolling for and earning dual credit on the college-going behavior of Nebraska public high school students. Dual enrollment or being enrolled for dual credit is defined as the state when a student is enrolled in a course eligible for earning both high school and post-secondary credit, but may or may not necessarily earn it. Dual credit or earning dual credit, on the other hand, is when a student is enrolled in a course eligible for earning both high school and post-secondary credit and earns it. This study utilizes statistical techniques such as propensity score matching and logistic regression to investigate the impact of dual enrollment and earning dual credit on college-going. Results indicate that enrolling for and earning dual credit significantly increase the odds of going on to college. Among other variables that are strong predictors of college-going, gender, enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) classes, high ability learner status, and performance on the NeSA Math assessment stand out. Implications of this study’s findings and suggestions for future research are discussed in the following report.

Keywords:
College-going; Dual Credit; Dual Enrollment; NeSA; College and Career Ready; Assessment; Transitions; Earning dual credit; Enrolling for dual credit; Advanced Coursework; AP; Advanced Placement

Key Findings:

  • Enrolling for and earning dual credit in high school are strong predictors of college-going.
  • Enrolling for Advanced Placement classes increase the odds of going on to college.
  • Being a high ability learner or a gifted student helps increase the odds of going on to college.
  • Among all 3 NeSA subjects, performance on NeSA Math strongly predicts college-going. Exceeding standards on NeSA Math is associated with increased college-going odds.

Report Link: An Evaluation of the Impact of Dual Credit and Dual Enrollment on College-Going in Nebraska. (Published on July 2017)