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 The federal grant program subsidizing AP tests for low-income students has been replaced by block grants in the Every Student Succeeds Act.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
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
February 15, 2017
The Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University has announced a February release for a website that reviews every math and reading program for grades K to 12 to determine which meet the strong, moderate, or promising levels of evidence defined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This web site is designed to provide education decision-makers at the state, district and school levels, teachers, parents, and the public with the information to ascertain which programs meet the ESSA evidence standards.
Additional commentary on this topic is available from Robert Slavin
February 8, 2017
The Tennessee Department of Education combines coaching, instruction in evidence-based reading practices, and a multitiered system of supports in a new initiative called Read to be Ready. The initiative trains teachers in the best ways to teach children literacy skills. Ample evidence supports the importance of students reading at grade level. Effective reading has been shown to be a reliable indicator of future success in school and adulthood. This initiative is designed to increase literacy by coaching teachers on how to use evidence-based practices of reading. For the past 20 years much attention has been paid to explicit instruction of phonics to improve students’ reading scores. This initiative will build on these efforts by also requiring explicit comprehension instruction to build skills for deriving meaning, analyzing the logic of argumentation, generating conclusions, and interpreting content.
February 3, 2017
School Improvement Grants: Implementation and Effectiveness
The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) recently released a summary report of the impact of School Improvement Grants (SIG). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided states and school districts with $3 Billion for SIG. By accepting SIG grants states agreed to implement one of four interventions to improve the lowest performing schools: transformation, turnaround, restart, or closure. The goals of SIG were to improve practices in four main areas: (1) adopting comprehensive instructional reform strategies, (2) developing and increasing teacher and principal effectiveness, (3) increasing learning time and creating community-oriented schools, and (4) having operational flexibility and receiving support. The report finds minimal positive effects from the grants and no evidence that SIG had significant impacts on math and reading scores, graduation rates, or increased college enrollment.
Citation: Dragoset, L., Thomas, J., Herrmann, M., Deke, J., James-Burdumy, S., Graczewski, C., … & Giffin, J. (2017). School Improvement Grants: Implementation and Effectiveness (No. 76bce3f4bb0944f29a481fae0dbc7cdb). Mathematica Policy Research.
January 25, 2017
What One Hundred Years of Research Says About the Effects of Ability Grouping and Acceleration on K–12 Students’ Academic Achievement: Findings of Two Second-Order Meta-Analyses
This paper analyzed the results of research on the effects of ability grouping and acceleration on students’ academic achievement. Nineteen meta-analyses met criteria for inclusion for the review. The researchers divided ability grouping into four types:
- between-class ability grouping, students in the same grade divided into low, medium, or high level classes;
- within-class ability grouping, students within a classroom taught in groups based on levels;
- cross-grade subject grouping, students of different grades combined into the same class depending on achievement; and
- grouping for gifted students
Results were found for improved academic achievement within-class grouping, cross-grade grouping by subject, and grouping for the gifted. No positive effects were identified for between-class grouping. The results were consistent regardless of whether students were high, medium, or low achievers. The study found acceleration appeared to have a positive, moderate, and statistically significant impact on students’ academic achievement.
Steenbergen-Hu, S., Makel, M. C., & Olszewski-Kubilius, P. (2016). What One Hundred Years of Research Says About the Effects of Ability Grouping and Acceleration on K–12 Students’ Academic Achievement: Findings of Two Second-Order Meta-Analyses. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 849-899.
January 3, 2017
Great Myths Of Child Development
Great Myths of Child Development reveals the latest evidence–based science behind the myths and misconceptions about the developing child. The book challenges the most commonly held child development myths. It provides the best available evidence science behind such topical issues as sugar and behavior, antidepressants impact on children, childhood vaccines, spankings, time–out, and children crying before bedtime.
Hupp, S., & Jewell, J. (2015). Great myths of child development. John Wiley & Sons.
December 9, 2016
Within Our Grasp Achieving Higher Admissions Standards in Teacher Prep
Within Our Grasp: Achieving Higher Admissions Standards in Teacher Prep is the tenth annual publication in the State Teacher Policy Yearbook report series released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). This report focuses on teacher preparation program compliance with admissions policies required at the state level. A strong body of research supports a relationship between student performance and the selectivity of admissions into teacher preparation. Nations, such as Finland, whose students outperform ours on national tests recruit teacher candidates from the top 10 percent of their college graduates.
Walsh, K., Joseph, N., and Lewis, A. (2016). Within Our Grasp: Achieving Higher Admissions Standards in Teacher Prep. National Council on Teacher Quality
December 6, 2016
Kids & Family Reading Report
The Bi-annual Kids & Family Reading Report on the attitudes of children and parents toward reading was released in early January 2016. The latest research touches on reading aloud to children of all ages, the impact of reading independently for fun at school and at home, the importance of frequent reading, and the books children want most to read.
Scholastic. (2015). Kids & Family Reading Report 5th Addition.