Barr Foundation Knowledge Center

This collection includes publications and resources from our partners and in our program areas, both current and legacy. These resources are completely free to access and download. Most of these works were funded by the Barr Foundation. We may occasionally feature items relevant to our program areas which were not funded by Barr. Please be aware that views expressed are not necessarily those of the Barr Foundation. We encourage you to search our collection and suggest potential content to include (use "content recommendations"). For questions or assistance, please contact
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Distance and Disruption: Listening to Massachusetts Students During COVID-19

February 1, 2021

Analyses of testing data from fall 2020 indicate the transition to remote learning has resulted in significant learning loss, particularly among low-income and minority students. Using data from the online learning platform Zearn, economists at the Harvard Opportunity Insights project found large losses in math learning for low-income students, whereas students from affluent backgrounds saw gains. This has exacerbated fears that the pandemic is widening the already large achievement gap between students from different income and racial/ethnic groups. The COVID-19 crisis has also had a worrisome impact on students' emotional health — particularly among full-time remote learners, for whom supportive networks of teachers and friends have been disrupted.Findings from the Distance and Disruption study correspond with those of a separate survey of 1,549 Massachusetts parents with school-aged children conducted in October and November 2020. That study found significant gaps by income and racial/ethnic group in access to in-person schooling, and parents of children in remote-learning situations — particularly hybrid in-person/remote arrangements — were more likely to feel their child was falling behind grade level.The Distance and Disruption study further adds to our understanding of the transfer to remote learning by exploring students' perspectives on specific differences in the quality of learning experiences between the in-school and at-home environments. Such differences are a critical link in explaining why remote-learning students are more likely to experience negative outcomes.

Education - Public Will

How much learning was lost? A survey of K-12 Parents in Massachusetts

July 1, 2020

These results are based on a survey of 1,502 parents of K-12 students in Massachusetts. Live telephone interviews and online interviewing were conducted in English and Spanish June 4-19, 2020. Telephone respondents were reached by both landline and cell phone. Oversamples of Black, Latino, and Asian American respondents were obtained to bring the total interview count up to at least 250 for each group. Results within race and ethnicity were weighted to age, gender, and education level for each group. Groups were then combined and weighted to the population parameters by race for the state as a whole.

Education - Public Will

Making Education Everyone’s Business: Three Studies of Successful Education Advocacy

May 27, 2020

Despite the long history of overlap between the education and business sectors, however, relatively little research has examined how business organizations successfully advocate on behalf of education policy priorities. This paper seeks to do just that. It profiles three business advocacy organizations (see Table 1) that have recently supported successful education legislation, with the goal of surfacing lessons that are broadly applicable to other business advocacy organizations interested in pursuing education advocacy work on behalf of students' long-term economic success.

Education - Public Will

Excellence and Equity for All: Unlocking Opportunities for Off-Track Youth in Boston Public Schools

May 1, 2018

In 2007, Boston Public Schools commissioned a report from EY-Parthenon to examine how the district was serving youth who were off-track to graduate from high school. That examination of the dropout pipeline revealed a serious need for improvement and was followed by investments in some crucial areas, and in alternative education in particular, to better serve our youth. Since then, significant efforts have been made by BPS and by the Boston community as a whole to support all of our students not just to graduation, but also to a fruitful life after high school. Thanks to these concerted efforts, the BPS four-year graduation rate has risen from 57.9% in 2007 to 72.7% in 2017. Over the same time frame, the annual dropout rate has fallen from 7.9% to 3.6%. But these improvements are not enough. This second report updates our understanding of how our secondary schools support our youth who are off-track to graduate. The results of this study support what we suspected: (1) some of our own policies are contributing to the inadequate service for our youth and (2) our practices are not yet sufficiently developed to prevent students from falling off-track or to help them recover fully if they do. 

Education - Public Will

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