First Things First, a much-praised school reform model aimed at low-income students, has “no discernible effect” on drop-out rates, concludes a What Works Clearinghouse analysis. Excluding pilots that lacked an adequate control group, researchers found no proof of effectiveness for First Things First at three Houston high schools. The study didn’t look at student achievement.
Education Week reports:
Despite attracting high-powered backers such as Bill Gates, the much-touted school improvement program known as First Things First has yet to muster conclusive scientific evidence to show that it prevents students from dropping out of school, a federal research review concludes.
. . . The high school-level program has three pillars: small learning academies that each keep students together from grades 9-12, a “family advocate” system pairing teachers with small groups of students for four years, and an emphasis on improving instruction.