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US Department of Education Staffing Has Fallen by 36% Since 1981

July 13, 2017

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report on Department of Education Staffing

A recently released report from the GAO finds that overall staffing in the Department of Education has fallen from a high of 6,391 in 1981 to 4,077 in 2015, while contracting levels have remained relatively stable. It is important to note that the workload for Department of Education has grown as the budget for the department has increased significantly during this same period. More eliminations of personnel are expected as the Trump administration has called for a further 13.5% reduction. It is interesting to note that the entire federal workforce has experienced a 4% reduction in staffing from 1991 through 2015, while the Department of Education lost 12% of it’s personnel.

Citation: Foxx, V., Guthrie, B., Rokita, T. and Rothmam, G. (2107). Department of Education: Staffing Levels Have Generally Decreased Over Time, While Contracting Levels Have Remained Relatively Stable. US Government Accountability Office GAO-17-669R.




How Effective Is Social and Emotional Learning Training?

July 13, 2017

Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects

This meta-analysis of school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions examined the impact of SEL on key outcomes: social-emotional skills, positive attitudes, positive social behavior, academic performance, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use. A total of 82 studies met the criteria for inclusion in the meta-analysis. To be included, studies needed to examine school-based social and emotional learning interventions that were universal, or administered to all students, instead of focusing on students with specific social or behavioral problems. A majority of the studies used randomized designs, monitored implementation, and employed reliable and valid outcome measures. Researchers found that students in school-based SEL interventions demonstrated positive benefits in seven outcomes for 56 weeks to 195 weeks (3.75 years) following program participation. An effect size of 0.33 was found for academic performance (based on grades and test scores drawn from school records).

Citation: Taylor, R. D., Oberle, E., Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Promoting positive youth development through school-based social and emotional learning interventions: A meta-analysis of follow-up effects. Child Development, 88(4), 1156–1171.




Reengaging Students Who Drop Out of High School

July 12, 2017

Characteristics and Education Outcomes of Utah High School Dropouts Who Reenrolled

Reducing the dropout rate of high school students remains one of the great challenges facing education. The consequences for those who do not obtain a high school diploma are real and long lasting. Individuals who do not complete high school are more likely to face unemployment, earn less income over a lifetime, experience poverty, rely on public assistance, suffer health problems, and spend time in prison. This study undertaken by WestEd researchers provides valuable information necessary for developing interventions to support the approximate 20% of students who reenroll after initially dropping out of school.

Citation: Barrat, V. X.,& Berliner, B. (2016). Characteristics and education outcomes of Utah high school dropouts who re-enrolled (REL 2017–206). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory West.




2017–2018 Wing Research Grant Recipient Awarded

July 12, 2017

Wing 2017–2018 Grant Recipient Awarded to John Romig

The Wing Institute has selected the 2017–2018 student grant fellowship recipient for evidence-based education research. This year’s stipend has been awarded to John Romig, graduate research assistant and PhD candidate at the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, and whose area of interest is special education.

The Wing Institute offers this annual grant to promote new research in areas of evidence-based education, promote new research across disciplines, encourage graduate students to focus their future professional work in this subject area, and disseminate research findings for application in real-world settings, further bridging the gap between research and practice.

John Romig’s research project is entitled Evaluating a Multimedia Professional Development Package for Improving Implementation of Evidence-Based Instructional Practices. His project examines the implementation of evidence-based writing practices in middle school. Survey results indicated that teachers felt inadequately prepared to implement these practices, and when observed, the teachers failed to implement the programs for a substantial amount of time. Romig’s study is aimed at filling this research-to-practice gap by modeling and coaching the appropriate procedures for teaching writing skills to middle school students.



Overview of Education Assessment (Wing Institute Paper)

July 10, 2017

Research recognizes the power of assessment to amplify learning and skill acquisition. Assessing students is a fundamental ingredient of effective teaching. It is the tool that enables teachers to measure the extent to which a student or group of students have mastered the material taught in a lesson or a class or during the school year, and it gives instructors the necessary information to modify instruction when progress falters. Assessment affects decisions about grades, placement, advancement, instructional strategies, curriculum, special education placement, and funding. It works to improve instruction in the following ways: (1) as a diagnostic tool, (2) by providing feedback on progress measured against benchmarks, (3) as a motivating factor, and (4) as an accountability instrument for improving systems.

Citation: States, J., Detrich, R. & Keyworth, R. (2017). Overview of Education Assessment. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




Do Healthier School Lunches Have a Positive Impact on Students?

June 15, 2017

School Lunch Quality and Academic Performance

Providing children with nutritious school meals continues to be a topic of interest in education policy. It has been argued that a healthy diet can have a positive impact on childhood obesity as well as student achievement. However, there is little empirical evidence to support this popular intervention. A working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research offers insights to help policy makers decide whether to select this option as a way to make a difference in children’s lives. The study, a natural experiment conducted in California public schools, uses a difference-in-difference regression statistical analysis of data from a treatment group and a control group at two or more different time periods, pre-treatment and post-treatment. The study found no evidence to support a reduction in obesity, but it did discover that introducing healthy meals was associated with a 0.036 standard deviation increase in test scores. The improved student achievement, although small, makes nutritious school lunches a viable cost-effective intervention that can boost test scores. It is important to remember that this is a correlational study and thus cannot establish a cause and effect relationship between healthy eating and student achievement.

Citation: Anderson, M. L., Gallagher, J., & Ritchie, E. R. (2017). School lunch quality and academic performance (NBER Working Paper No. 23218). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.




What We Know About Supporting New Teachers

June 14, 2017

Creating Supportive School Cultures for Beginning Teachers: Mitigating the Cultural Contextual Factors

This systematic literature review examines factors that affect new teachers as they become employed. It suggests that new teachers experience significant stress as they transition from teacher preparation programs to everyday teaching. The pressures experienced by novice instructors are evidenced by high rates of turnover during the first 5 years of teaching. This initial period entails a steep learning curve as new teachers try to match and adjust what they learned in pre-service training with the unique cultural practices of their new placements. To mitigate the challenges new teachers face, schools have implemented an array of practices subsumed under the heading “teacher induction.” Unfortunately, the literature review finds that the lack of standardization of practices including mentoring to coaching has reduced the overall impact of teacher induction and the ability of schools to effectively align the education philosophy and cultural values of new teachers with the strategies, procedures, needs, and resources of the schools where the new teachers are beginning their careers.

Citation: Kutsyuruba, B, Walker, K. D., and Gooden, L., (2017). Creating supportive school cultures for beginning teachers: Mitigating the cultural contextual factors. International Journal of Educational Organization and Leadership, 24(2), 1–18.




Formative Assessment Overview (Wing Institute Paper)

June 13, 2017

Effective ongoing assessment, referred to in the education literature as formative assessment or progress monitoring, is indispensable in promoting teacher and student success. Feedback through formative assessment is ranked at or near the top of practices known to significantly raise student achievement. For decades, formative assessment has been found to be effective in clinical settings and, more important, in typical classroom settings. Formative assessment produces substantial results at a cost significantly below that of other popular school reform initiatives such as smaller class size, charter schools, accountability, and school vouchers. It also serves as a practical diagnostic tool available to all teachers. A core component of formal and informal assessment procedures, formative assessment allows teachers to quickly determine if individual students are progressing at acceptable rates and provides insight into where and how to modify and adapt lessons, with the goal of making sure that students do not fall behind.

Citation: States, J., Detrich, R. & Keyworth, R. (2017). Overview of Formative Assessment. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




How Powerful Is Formative Assessment?

June 6, 2017

Formative Assessment and Elementary School Student Academic Achievement: A Review of the Evidence

A recent comprehensive search of the research on formative assessment interventions for elementary school students identified 23 studies that met inclusion criteria and allowed conclusions to be drawn about the impact of formative assessment on student outcomes. On average across all the studies, students who participated in formative assessment performed better on measures of academic achievement than those who did not. Across all subject areas (math, reading, and writing), formative assessment had larger effects on student academic achievement when other agents, such as teachers or computer programs, directed the formative assessment.

Citation: Klute, M., Apthorp, H., Harlacher, J., & Reale, M. (2017). Formative assessment and elementary school student academic achievement: A review of the evidence. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.




New Individuals with Disabilities Act Website

June 2, 2017

In early February, the IDEA hosted website that provides special education resources disappeared prompting concern among some in the special education community and members of Congress that the new administration was permanently eliminating this support for special education. After a prolonged outage, the U.S. Department of Education Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) website, has been revamped and is now back online. The website offers useful information on special education law and policy, topic area reports, grants and funding resources, links to outside resources, and a blog for use by policy makers, parents and educators.