Research Findings and Implications

IPI Studies Link Degree of Higher-Order/Deeper Thinking During Class with Student Achievement Scores

This research summary addresses one of the basic questions important to the study of student engagement.  Several other questions and summaries will follow in subsequent months.  This first question is:  Are there significant relationships between the degree to which students are engaged in higher-order/deeper learning experiences and the student achievement scores on high-stakes accountability assessments in the content areas of Communication Arts and Mathematics?     

Collins and Valentine analyzed the relationships between IPI data from 1996 to 2008 and student achievement data on high stakes tests using two and three-level Hierarchical Linear Modeling and Structural Equation Modeling methodologies.  Their findings were reported at the American Educational Research Association Annual Conferences in April 2009 and April 2011 and at the University Council of Educational Administration Annual Conventions in November 2008 and October 2010.  Their findings were also reported at the National Staff Development Council Annual Conference in December 2009, at the National Association of Secondary School Principals Annual Conventions in March 2009 and March 2010, as well as at the National Middle School Association's Annual Conference in November 2010.  Copies of their technical papers can be found in the Papers and Presentations drop down menu of this website.


Research Finding:

Statistically significant positive relationships exist between the degree to which students are engaged in higher-order/deeper learning experiences across a school and the student achievement scores on high-stakes accountability assessments in the content areas of Communication Arts and Mathematics. 



Findings across several IPI analyses are consistent.  As school-wide, student engagement in higher-order/deeper learning (IPI Categories 5 and 6) increases, school-wide student achievement as measured by student pass rates on high stakes tests in Communication Arts and Mathematics also increase.  Throughout our research, the data generally predict a 2-3% pass rate increase associated with a 15-20% increase in HO/D engagement over a two or three year timeframe.  Such a difference is substantial and in some instances the findings are more pronounced.  For example, increases in high stakes pass rates of 6% in Communication Arts and 7% in Mathematics have been attributed to a 20% increase in HO/Deeper engagement.

These findings are congruent with reports from other research reporting increased achievement when students are asked to think more reflectively, analytically, critically, and creatively during the course of their learning experiences.  Understanding of the content is generally deeper and with that depth of understanding comes the capacity to remember and deduce correct responses even on predominately recall-oriented high stakes tests.  The achievement findings vary slightly by grade levels, with the greatest impact from HO/D engagement at the high school level and slightly lesser, yet significant, impact at the middle school and elementary levels. 

The unique contribution from the IPI research is that the data are “school-wide” levels of engagement in HO/D computed against “school-wide” achievement levels on high-stakes tests.  For years educational scholars have noted the influence of HO/D thinking on achievement in studies of individual students and their respective achievement and individual classrooms and their achievement.  The IPI was designed as a school improvement process with data collection across the school for whole-faculty study and adaptation based upon the school-wide data.  The process does not identify data by teacher or by class.  As schools progress in their collective understanding of the school-wide data, then subgroup data such as grade level data in an elementary school and/or content area data in a middle or high school can also be studied from the larger school-wide data set. In most IPI schools, the analyses of the disaggregated data support grade or content specific discussions that can be as powerful as the whole-faculty discussions. Our findings affirm that when schools periodically (three and four times a year) use whole-faculty and/or sub-group disaggregated methods of data study, engagement in higher-order/deeper learning experiences increase as a whole for the school and the resultant impact on school-wide student achievement is positive and strong. Obviously, the greatest value is the enhanced capacity of the students to think, to learn how to learn, and to appreciate learning.  The secondary value is the increase in student pass rates on high-stakes tests. 





Conference Papers


   Valentine, J. and Collins, J. (2011).  Student Engagement and Achievement on High-Stakes Tests:  A HLM Analysis across 68 Middle Schools. American Educational Research Association, Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA, April 11, 2011.


   Collins, J. and Valentine, J. (2011).  The Instructional Practices Inventory in Rural Settings:  Testing the Student Engagement-Standardized Test Performance Relationship, American Educational Research Association, Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA, April 10, 2011.


   Collins, J. and Valentine, J (2010).  Testing the Impact of Student Engagement on Standardized Achievement: An Empirical Study of the Influence of Classroom Engagement on Test Scores across School Type.  University Council of Educational Administration, Annual Convention, New Orleans, LA  October 30, 2010.


   Valentine, J. (2009). The Instructional Practices Inventory: Using a Student Learning Assessment to Foster Organizational Learning.  National Staff Development Council, Annual Convention, St. Louis, MO, December 8, 2009.


Valentine, J. and Collins, J. (2009).  Analyzing the Relationships among the Instructional Practices Inventory, School Climate and Culture, and Organizational Leadership. American Educational Research Association, Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, April 14, 2009.


   Collins, J. and Valentine, J. (2008).  A Study of Student Engagement and Achievement at the School and District Levels.  University Council for Educational Administration Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, November 1, 2008.


Conference Presentations


   Valentine, J. (2010). Student Engagement Does Make a Difference in Student Achievement. National Middle School Association, Annual Convention. Baltimore, MD. November 4, 2010.


   Valentine, J. (2010).Establishing a Faculty-wide Collaborative Study of Student Engagement, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Annual Conference, San Diego, CA. March 14, 2010.


   Valentine, J. and Collins, J. (2009).Improving Instruction by Profiling Student Engaged Learning and Creating Collaborative Teacher Learning Conversations.  National Association of Secondary School Principals, Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, March 1, 2009.