Making the Case: Compelling Data

This growing library features data points describing the impacts and outcomes of student-centered and competency-based teaching and learning. The data are sourced from research studies, evaluation reports and journal articles, as well as evidence collected directly by classroom, school, district and state leaders.

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    Student Agency and Voice

    Real-world Projects Boost Engagement

    Phone surveys administered throughout the day at IowaBIG, a community- and project-based program, showed students were more engaged at the program or with community partners than at their traditional schools. They were significantly more likely to report feeling engaged, active, capable, happy, in control and like they were putting in high effort.

    Student Agency and Voice

    Student-centered Instruction Builds Feelings of College Readiness

    Students at three student-centered, career-focused schools reported development of personal and social skills needed for career and college-readiness. Of 17 students interviewed, 15 (88%) noted instructional practices like advisory, autobiography writing and presentations fostered the self-awareness, confidence and communication needed for college.

    Career and Technical Education

    Internships Boost Students’ Confidence in Interpersonal Skills

    In interviews at three student-centered schools, 14 of 17 students reported growth in interpersonal skills like communication and social networking, needed for college and career-readiness.

    Learning and the Brain

    Self-efficacy Impacts Performance

    In a study of 400 German high school students, learners’ expectations of self-efficacy (belief in their ability to succeed), positively predicted their drawing quality and performance in solving real-world geometry problems.

    Curriculum and Instruction

    Learning-by-Teaching Improves Learning Across Content Areas

    A meta-analysis of learning-by-teaching, a student-centered strategy for learning content, found the creation of materials to teach peers improved learning outcomes. The positive effect of 0.17 was statistically significant and held across different educational levels and content areas.

    Curriculum and Instruction

    Creating Audio-Visual Materials for Peers Bolsters Learning

    A meta-analysis of 62 comparisons from 23 articles concluded that creating teaching materials for peers has a positive effect on student learning, compared to alternative or no interventions. This effect was largest when students created audio-visual versus text-based materials.

    Student Agency and Voice

    Partnership in Meaningful Research Bolsters Student Agency

    A Vermont high school teacher’s dissertation showed students exhibited higher levels of agency after participation in a Youth Action Research Project. They reported they felt heard, effectively represented other students and contributed to meaningful change. They could describe the impact of growing adult-student partnerships on their agency.

    Student Agency and Voice

    Teachers See Self-Direction as Key to Student Engagement

    In a recent poll of fourth to twelfth grade teachers across the country, a lack of skills to self-direct the learning process was ranked second of all the reasons students may not be engaged, with 63% of teachers selecting it.

    Career and Technical Education

    Teachers Say Relevance is Key to Student Engagement

    Surveyed teachers ranked several student-centered strategies among the top five ways to improve student engagement. Strategies marked "highly effective" included: connecting learning to real-world skills (72%); leveraging students’ personal interests and passions within learning (65%); and incorporating active, hands-on learning experiences (64%)

    Student Agency and Voice

    Relevance with Rigor Boosts Learning

    In a large survey, 97% of students who reported positive experiences with relevance, rigor, customization and high expectations also indicated they learned a lot in school. In comparison, of the students who did not have positive experiences in all four areas, only 58% reported high levels of learning.

    Student Agency and Voice

    Fostering Student Voice Leads to Academic Growth

    A network of 16 NYC schools working to better support Black and Latino youth reported academic gains after working to solicit student input and foster a culture of belonging. In 2021-22, 62% of students in the network met their growth goals on either iReady or NWEA’s Map Growth assessment, compared with a 50% national average.

    Student Agency and Voice

    Relevance Increases Engagement and Focus in New England Schools

    In interviews, educators at several New England high schools implementing student-centered learning practices reported students were more engaged and focused on their work when learning felt relevant because they had a say in the choice of content and methods of learning.