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Integrating Assessment to Accommodate New Science Standards

April 19, 2017

Seeing Students Learn Science: Integrating Assessment and Instruction in the Classroom (2017)

Seeing Students Learn Science is a guidebook meant to help educators improve the way in which students learn science. The introduction of new science standards across the nation has led to the adoption of new curricula, instruction, and professional development to align with the new standards. This publication is designed as a resource for educators to adapt assessment to these changes. It includes examples of innovative assessment formats, ways to embed assessments in engaging classroom activities, and ideas for interpreting and using novel kinds of assessment information.

Citation: Beatty, A., Schweingruber, H., & National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). Seeing Students Learn Science: Integrating Assessment and Instruction in the Classroom. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.




How Effective Is Teacher Merit Pay?

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.




Wing Institute 2017 Student Research Stipend RFP

April 17, 2017

The Wing Institute invites graduate students interested in conducting research in the area of evidence-based education to apply for the 2017 student stipends, which are designed to support the student’s research.

The purpose of the Wing Institute Graduate Research Funding Program is to

  • Sponsor and promote new research in areas of evidence-based education, including efficacy research, effectiveness research, implementation, and monitoring.
  • Sponsor and promote new research across disciplines, types of research, and venues.
  • Encourage graduate students to focus their future professional work in this subject area, increasing the number of professionals dedicated to the field of evidence-based education.
  • Disseminate research findings for application in real-world settings, further bridging the gap between research and practice.


The stipend is a one-time $5,000 award. These funds will be available to recipients as they achieve agreed-upon benchmarks in the research process.

  • Applications available: Immediately
  • Application deadline: June 15, 2017
  • Funding decisions: July 1, 2017


Applicants must be enrolled full-time and be in good standing in a master’s or doctoral degree program at a regionally accredited university or college.

Download Application

To review past student research efforts



Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension

March 30, 2017

Examining the Impact of Inference Instruction on the Literal and Inferential Comprehension of Skilled and Less Skilled Readers: A Meta-Analytic Review

Mastering reading is pivotal for success in school. A new study released in early 2017 examines strategies for teaching reading comprehension, one of the five essential instructional practices necessary for improving reading achievement, and also offers educators practical information on how to increase the effectiveness of reading comprehension instruction. The 2000 National Reading Panel report on reading identified comprehension along with phonemic awareness, phonics instruction, fluency, and vocabulary as requisite skills for effective reading. This new meta-analytic review evaluates the impact of various comprehension instructional practices and suggests a strong relationship between inference generation and reading comprehension. It found that inference instruction was effective for increasing general comprehension (*0.58), inferential comprehension (*0.68), and literal comprehension (*0.28). Another interesting finding was the difference in performance between skilled readers and less skilled readers. Less skilled readers improved in both inferential comprehension and literal comprehension, whereas skilled readers mostly improved in inferential comprehension. These findings suggest that all students can increase their inference ability and that less skilled readers experience the extra benefit of increased literal comprehension. The study concludes that inference ability is not a product of comprehension, but rather a plausible cause of reading comprehension performance.

* = Effect Size

Elleman, A. M. (2017). Examining the impact of inference instruction on the literal and inferential comprehension of skilled and less skilled readers: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Educational Psychology.

Additional commentary of interest on this study is available from Daniel Willingham.



Supreme Court Unanimously Expands Special Education Rights

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.”



How Effective Are Practice Tests?

March 24, 2017

Rethinking the Use of Tests: A Meta-Analysis of Practice Testing

This meta-analysis examined the effects of practice tests versus no practice tests on student performance. The research demonstrated that students who take practice tests often outperform students in non-testing learning conditions such as restudying, practice, filler activities, or no re-presentation of the material. Results revealed that practice tests are more beneficial for learning than restudying and all other conditions that exclude practice tests. This review found that the impact of practice tests had a moderate effect size of 0.51 compared with restudying, and a larger effect size of 0.93 compared with filler or no activities.

Adesope, O. O., Trevisan, D. A., & Sundararajan, N. (2017). Rethinking the Use of Tests: A Meta-Analysis of Practice Testing. Review of Educational Research.



The Cost of Suspensions in California Schools

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.



President Trump Proposed Education Budget

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:



Teaching Students to Write Effectively

March 14, 2017

Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively

This practice guide released by What Works Clearinghouse presents three recommendations for helping students in grades 6 to 12 develop effective writing skills along with the strength of evidence to support the recommendations.

  • Explicitly teach appropriate writing strategies using a model-practice-reflect instructional cycle. Strong Evidence
  • Integrate writing and reading to emphasize key writing features. Moderate Evidence
  • Use assessments of student writing to inform instruction and feedback. Minimal evidence

Each recommendation includes specific actionable guidance for educators on implementing these practices in the classroom. It is geared toward administrators and teachers in all disciplines who want to help improve their students’ writing.



The Importance of Data Visualization in Decision Making

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:

Edward Tufte:

Howard Wainer: