Behind the Scenes
Positively influencing learning, attitudes and behaviors

NID study reveals positive effect on the "whole child"

During the 2008-2009 school year, Research for Action, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit engaged in policy and evaluation research on urban education, conducted a study of student outcomes generated by NID's service-learning work in Philadelphia public schools.

Overall, the study found evidence that participation in NID guided service-learning projects yielded positive effects on student achievement, civic attitudes, critical thinking skills and suspension rates.

While some impacts were modest and did not affect students in all grades, the findings suggest NID's service-learning strategy has a positive effect on the "whole child," positively influencing learning, attitudes and behaviors.

  • Both elementary and middle school NID students had PSSA (standardized tests used in Philadelphia) math scores that were significantly higher than the comparison group.
  • The impact of NID service-learning projects on PSSA reading scores was positive at both levels, and much stronger among middle grade students.
  • In middle grades, NID students had a higher level of trust in their teachers and a higher level of concern for others than students who did not participate in NID.
  • NID middle school students reported significantly higher levels of caring for community than a comparison group.
  • NID elementary school students were 48% less likely to be suspended than non-NID students.

The RFA report was released in Spring 2010. Using data gathered from the School District of Philadelphia for the evaluation and information from the PA Dept. of Education's PSSA website, we were able to do a bit more analysis, allowing us to frame the PSSA information in another way:
  • NID students' math scores for 2008-09 were up by six percent over the previous year (as compared with the School District's 3.4 percent).
  • NID students' literacy scores were up by fourteen percent (compared with the District's three percent).

Conclusions excerpted from RFA study
"NID's work has a positive impact across a range of areas including academic achievement, classroom climate, and students' civic attitudes. While some of the impacts were small or moderate in size, the findings were striking for the overall number and diversity of areas in which positive impacts were observed -- suggesting that NID's work has a broad and holistic impact on classrooms and students."

"The academic outcomes achieved by NID also demonstrate that educators do not have to make a choice between interventions that strengthen classroom climate and those that impact academic achievement."