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. http://www.winginstitute.org/student-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.
May 11, 2017
Mindfulness-based interventions for improving cognition, academic achievement, behavior, and socioemotional functioning of primary and secondary students
Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) in schools have become increasingly popular. These practices are employed to reduce student stress and anxiety, and to improve socioemotional competencies, student behavior, and academic achievement. For purposes of the study MBI’s were defined as self-regulation of attention to the conscious awareness of one’s immediate experiences while adopting an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance. A recent Campbell Collaboration systematic review examined the effectiveness of school-based MBIs on cognition, behavior, socioemotional outcomes, physiological, and academic achievement. Of 61 studies examined, 35 studies, with a total of 6,207 student participants, met the criteria for inclusion. Studies in this review included randomized trials, quasi-experimental designs, single group pre-post test comparisons, and single subject designs. To be included in the review, a study had to report outcomes on at least one of these measures: cognition, academic performance, behavior, socioemotional, and physiological. Study populations included preschool, primary school, and secondary school students.
The Campbell review found that MBIs had a small, statistically significant positive effect on cognitive and socioemotional outcomes, but no significant effect on behavioral and academic outcomes. The study also concluded that further work in this area is needed, given the quantity of research and quality of the available studies.
Citation: Maynard, B. R., Solis, M. R., Miller, V. L., & Brendel, K. E. (2017). Mindfulness-based interventions for improving cognition, academic achievement, behavior, and socioemotional functioning of primary and secondary students. Campbell Systematic Reviews:5
March 17, 2017
President Trump’s proposed America First Budget reduces the Department of Education budget by $9.2 Billion. It is important to note in America education is primarily a State and local responsibility. The federal portion of education budget is only 1% of the total national education expenditures. Some of the programs that are at risk are Title II grants which provide funds to hire and train teachers, teacher improvement programs, summer programs, after-school and extended-learning initiatives, teacher-preparation program improvement, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) which offer aid to low-income undergraduates, TRIO Programs (TRIO) serving low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities, GEARUP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, and The Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Grant Program which provides non-profits resources for recruiting, selecting, and preparing or providing professional enhancement activities for teachers and principals.
Programs that are not at risk of losing funds are Federal Pell Grants, funding for historically black colleges and universities, Title I grants that specifically target schools serving disadvantaged students, and special education funding. The big winner is school choice. New funds of about $418 million are proposed for private school choice and charter schools.
Citation: Office of Budget and Management. (2017). America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.
America First Budget Proposal Link:
February 23, 2017
1 in 5 Public School Students in the Class of 2016 Passed an AP Exam
The number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests has grown to more than 2.5 million students annually. Overall test scores have remained relatively constant despite a 60% increase in the number of students taking AP exams since 2006. In school year 2015–16, 20% of students taking an AP test passed and were eligible for college credit. The College Board also reports a continuing trend in the significant increase in the number of low-income students participating in the program. Unfortunately, this trend may be negatively impacted by changes in funding. The federal grant program subsidizing AP tests for low-income students has been replaced by block grants in the Every Student Succeeds Act. These funds may still be applied to subsidize low-income populations but are not mandated for this purpose as in the past.
Zubrzycki, J. (2017). 1 in 5 Public School Students in the Class of 2016 Passed an AP Exam. Education Week.
College Board Advance Placement Data: https://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data/participation/ap-2016