Mathematica Policy Research Study Finds Significant Gains in Expeditionary Learning Schools

Important work from Mathematica Policy Research was announced today. A study of schools in the Expeditionary Learning deeper learning network showed student academic gains in Expeditionary Learning middle schools over their non-Expeditionary Learning counterparts. A press release from Expeditionary Learning has more:

Princeton, NJ – September 17, 2013 – Mathematica Policy Research has released the first rigorous study of the impact of Expeditionary Learning schools.

Mathematica found that Expeditionary Learning middle school students perform better in reading and math than their counterparts in other public schools.  The two-page summary of the report can be found at:… The full report can be found at

The study team examined student performance on state reading and math assessments up to three years after students enrolled in five Expeditionary Learning middle schools in Washington D.C. and New York. It found that “the five Expeditionary Learning schools in this study had positive, statistically significant impacts on both reading and math test scores.” In reading, Expeditionary Learning students experience positive impacts that are roughly equal in magnitude to an extra five months of learning growth after two years and an extra seven months of learning after three years.  In math, Expeditionary Learning students experience positive impacts roughly equal to an extra three months of learning growth after two years and 10 months of extra learning growth after three years.

The study’s director and lead researcher, Ira Nichols-Barrer, said that “students at these Expeditionary Learning schools experience meaningful gains in reading and mathematics test scores, outperforming their counterparts in other local schools.”

The five schools included in the study were:

  • Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learning School, New York
  • Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, New York
  • Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, New York
  • Capital City Public Charter Lower, Washington, D.C.
  • Capital City Public Charter Upper, Washington, D.C.

The study used a rigorous approach (propensity score matching) to identify a comparison group of students with similar demographic characteristics and baseline achievement to Expeditionary Learning students, and took measures to mitigate additional threats to validity related to student attrition and grade retention rates.

Scott Hartl, President & CEO of Expeditionary Learning noted that the study quantifies Expeditionary Learning’s positive impact at a time when the education world is seeking models that work.

“Such strong study results are the outcome of a different approach to school – where citizenship and character are at the center of academic learning. These qualities of deeper learning have been identified as central to the Common Core initiative and life success in the 21st century,” Hartl said.

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