Categories for Policy Initiatives
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.
May 31, 2017
Learning in One-to-One Laptop Environments: A Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis
A recently released paper on the impact of computers on student achievement has concluded that providing each student with a computer has a modest but positive effect on student achievement. This meta-analysis included 10 studies from more than 15 years of research on the topic. The researchers found that one-to-one laptop programs have a statistically significant positive role in improving student test scores in English/language arts, writing, math, and science. This research runs counter to previous studies, which viewed computer impact as overstated and computers as underused in schools. The new study found that providing students with their own computers has a positive impact by making it easier to share drafts of projects and thus increasing access to feedback. The researchers also concluded that more research is needed as only 10 rigorous studies were available for inclusion in the meta-analysis.
Citation: Zheng, B., Warschauer, M., Lin, C. H., & Chang, C. (2016). Learning in one-to-one laptop environments: A meta-analysis and research synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 1052–1084.
May 15, 2017
Academic achievement of students without special educational needs in inclusive classrooms: A meta-analysis
A newly released multi-national meta-analysis examined the impact of including special education needs students (SEN) in classrooms with students without special needs. Inclusion of SEN students in general education classrooms has been broadly practiced for more than 30 years and is seen as a method for improving SEN student performance. Previous research on the impact of the practice on non-SEN students produced mixed results, prompting the authors to conduct a meta-analysis to estimate the effect size of the relationship between inclusion education and academic achievement of students without special needs. A total of 47 studies with more than 4,800,000 students met the criteria for the meta-analysis. The studies had to be quantitative, assess academic achievement, and measure student academic achievement in at least one of the following subjects: language, mathematics, science, biology, or a foreign language. Also, the participants had to be in grades K–12. The meta-analysis concluded that attending inclusive classrooms is positively, though weakly, associated with the academic achievement of students without special needs. The effect size was determined to be 0.12. This compares with the effect sizes John Hattie found for many popular structural interventions: educational expenditure (0.23), class size (0.21), ability grouping (0.12), within-class grouping (0.16), and charter schools (0.20).
Citation: Szumski, G., Smogorzewska, J., & Karwowski, M. (2017). Academic achievement of students without special educational needs in inclusive classrooms: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 21, 33–54.
April 17, 2017
Teacher Merit Pay and Student Test Scores: A Meta-Analysis
Teacher merit pay has garnered significant attention as a promising reform method for improving teacher performance and, more importantly, student achievement scores. This meta-analysis, which examined findings from 44 studies of teacher merit pay, found that merit pay is associated with a modest, statistically significant, positive effect on student test scores. The research also found that not all merit pay programs are equal. The best results are dependent on constructing efforts that incorporate sound, evidence-based practice elements. The authors of the meta-analysis concluded that while a merit pay program has the potential to improve student test scores, success hinges on school administrators and policymakers paying close attention to how the program is structured and implemented. The meta-analysis also recognized the need for additional research to better delineate features and practice elements that produce the best results.
Citation: Pham, L., Nguyen, T., & Springer, M. (2017). Teacher Merit Pay and Student Test Scores: A Meta-Analysis. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University.
March 24, 2017
Endrew F., A Minor, By And Through His Parents And Next Friends, Joseph F. Et Al. V. Douglas County School District
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on March 22, 2017 that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to provide education programs that enable students to make progress from year to year. Delivering the opinion for the Court, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that an education program must be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” This ruling does not require an ideal individualized education program (IEP), but it does charge schools to provide services that will enable a student to make progress achieving passing marks and advancing from grade to grade. Roberts also wrote that for a child for whom a regular classroom is not appropriate, an education program must be “appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances.” This overturns the previous lower standard. The ruling continued, “But whatever else can be said about it, this standard is markedly more demanding than the ‘merely more than de minimis’ test applied by the Tenth Circuit.”
March 21, 2017
The Hidden Cost of California’s Harsh School Discipline: And the Localized Economic Benefits from Suspending Fewer High School Students
This research from the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project, UCLA, and California Dropout Research Project shows that the overuse of suspensions in California schools is harming student achievement and graduation rates, and causing billions of dollars in economic damage. The financial consequences of school suspensions, including both additional costs borne by taxpayers as a result of suspensions and lost economic benefit, are quantified. The impact of school suspension varies widely by school district, with California’s largest districts incurring the greatest losses. For example, suspensions in the Los Angeles Unified School District for a 10th grade cohort are estimated to cause $148 million in economic damage. The report calculates a total statewide economic burden of $2.7 billion over the lifetime of the single 10th grade cohort.
Rumberger, R., & Losen, D. (2017). The Hidden Cost of California’s Harsh School Discipline: And the Localized Economic Benefits from Suspending Fewer High School Students. The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project, UCLA, and California Dropout Research Project.
March 1, 2017
Sage Spotlight on Data Visualization
The February issue of Sage Publishing’s newsletter, Sage Methods Minute, presents useful guidance on understanding and managing data visualization in making effective decisions. The newsletter offers a lecture, interview, and webinar on this important but often neglected topic. Productive data-based decisions rely on the effective use of analytics and the acquisition, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. In an increasingly complicated world in which vast quantities of data are available, it is essential that educators become astute in presenting data adapted to different audiences and in identifying deceptive data so they are able to make wise decisions in the service of educating children. The Sage Spotlight newsletter on visualization includes Tailoring Data Visualization to Reach Different Audiences by Tom Schenk; Textbooks in Data Visualization: 60 Seconds with Andy Kirk; and Webinar: Learn the Essentials of Data Visualization by Andy Kirk and Stephanie Evergreen. For those interested in additional resources on this topic, the works of Edward Tufte, professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University, and Howard Wainer, adjunct professor of statistics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, provide insight in how to deliver information that communicates your message.
Sage February Newsletter: http://info.sagepub.com/q/17I2b2bhfM2Fc8adzqeF1h/wv
Edward Tufte: https://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/index
Howard Wainer: https://www.amazon.com/Howard-Wainer/e/B000AP7SUU
February 28, 2017
Reimagining the School Day: Innovative Schedules for Teaching and Learning
A new report from the Center for American Progress suggests that American students would be better served if teachers were allowed more time to collaborate with colleagues, plan lessons, and review the effects of instruction. Education reform efforts in the United States have resulted in notable increases in the average length of the school day and the school year, expanding total instructional time for students. This means that teachers spend about 27 hours per week in face-to-face time teaching. Disappointingly, these efforts have not increased student achievement scores. An unintended consequence has been that American teachers typically spend significantly less time planning lessons than peers in nations such as Singapore and Finland, which are achieving better results. This report examines scheduling options that increase educator time to plan lessons. Examples of school schedules from across the United States are offered as a resource for schools systems looking to improve performance in this critical area of instruction.
Benner, M., & Partelow, L. (2017). Reimagining the School Day: Innovative Schedules for Teaching and Learning. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.
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