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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 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.
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 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 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
February 16, 2017
A study released on February 16, 2017, finds that online charter schools perform worse than traditional public or brick and mortar charter schools. The study by New York University and RAND Corporation (Ahn & McEachin, 2016) concludes that Ohio students who are enrolled in virtual charter schools spend significantly less time engaged in instruction and are less likely to pass the Ohio Graduation Test. A second study from Mathematica Policy Research (Gill et al., 2015) reports that online charter students experience weaker overall academic growth than comparable traditional public and charter school students. These findings, along with those of a study from Johns Hopkins University (Balfanz et al., 2014) suggesting that virtual charter school graduation rates are worse than those of traditional public and charter schools, strongly support a closer examination of the model and indicate a need for caution regarding online charter schools.
Ahn, J, and McEachin, A. (2017). Student enrollment patterns and achievement in Ohio’s online charter schools. Education Researcher, Vol. XX No. X, pp. 1–14.
Gill, B., Walsh, L., Wulsin, C. S., Matulewicz, H., Severn, V., Grau, E., … & Kerwin, T. (2015). Inside online charter schools. Cambridge, MA: Mathematica Policy Research.
Balfanz, R., Bridgeland, J. M., Fox, J. H., DePaoli, J. L., Ingram, E. S., & Maushard, M. (2014). Building a grad nation: Progress and challenge in ending the high school dropout epidemic. Annual Update 2014. Baltimore, MD: Everyone Graduates Center, School of Education, Johns Hopkins University
November 17, 2016
A recent study, attempts to answer this question by examining the effects of two North Carolina early-childhood programs on students’ educational outcomes in elementary school. This study looked at the impact of state funding allocations to programs in each of 100 counties across 13 consecutive years in South Carolina. These findings indicate that North Carolina’s investment in early childhood programs is associated with improved educational outcomes for students in terms of math and reading scores, reductions in special education rates, and diminished incidence of grade retention. Importantly, these effects don’t appear to fade during the elementary grades.
Dodge, K. A., Bai, Y., Ladd, H. F., & Muschkin, C. G. (2016). Impact of North Carolina’s Early Childhood Programs and Policies on Educational Outcomes in Elementary School. Child Development.
November 3, 2015
John Hattie best known for his seminal work, Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement, examines the evidence base on effective teaching. Read More…
October 30, 2015
The Big Picture Science radio show and podcast explains the complexities of science with informative and entertaining story telling and interviews. This podcast offers listeners the basic information for discerning good from bad research and explains why we often encounter conflicting results of studies on the same topic. Read More…