November 15, 2019
A Powerful Hunger for Evidence-Proven Technology. The technology industry and education policymakers have touted the benefits of computers in learning. As a consequence, schools in the United States now spend more than $2 billion each year on education technology. But what are schools getting in return for this significant investment in technology learning? Robert Slavin examines the results from five studies designed to answer this question. Slavin concludes that the impact of technology-infused instruction on reading, mathematics, and science in elementary and secondary schools is very small. His analysis finds a study-weighted average across these five reviews to be a +0.05 effect size. This effect size appears to be an insignificant return on investment for such a substantial allocation of resources. Slavin concludes that how software is designed is at the heart of the problem. Commercial companies most often develop education technology. Given technology companies are market-driven, education software developers value profit margins, attractiveness, ease of use, low cost, trends, and fads, over evidence of efficacy. Slavin proposes a solution to improve upon this current model needs to include boosting the incentives to technology developers for creating products based on rigorous research and proven technology-based programs. Regardless of how best to solve the problem, educators need to take seriously this call to address this issue.
Citation: Slavin, R. (2019). A Powerful Hunger for Evidence-Proven Technology. Baltimore, MD: Robert Slavin’s Blog. https://robertslavinsblog.wordpress.com/2019/11/14/a-powerful-hunger-for-evidence-proven-technology/.
November 14, 2019
Using Resource and Cost Considerations to Support Educational Evaluation: Six Domains. Assessing cost, along with the effectiveness of an initiative is common in public policy decision-making, but is frequently missing in education decision-making. Understanding the cost-effectiveness of an intervention is essential if educators are to maximize the impact of an intervention given limited budgets. Education is full of examples of practices, such as class-size reduction and accountability through high-stakes testing, that produce minimal results while consuming significant resources. It is vital for those making critical decisions to understand which practice is best suited to meet the needs of the school and the schools’ students that can be implemented using the available resources. The best way to do this is through the use of a cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA).
A CEA requires an accurate estimation of all added resources needed to implement the new intervention. Costs commonly associated with education interventions include; added personnel, professional development, classroom space, technology, and expenses to monitor effectiveness. The second variable essential to a CEA is the selection of a practice supported by research. In the past twenty years, a significant increase in the quality and quantity of research supporting different education practices has occurred. A CEA compares the extra expenditures required to implement a new intervention to current practices against targeted education outcomes. Examples of educational outcomes are standardized test scores, graduation rates, or student grades.
The focus of this essay is on which economic methods can complement and enhance impact evaluations. The authors propose the use of six domains to link intervention effectiveness to the best technique needed to determine which practice is the most cost-effective choice. The six domains outlined in the paper are outcomes, treatment comparisons, treatment integrity, the role of mediators, test power, and meta-analysis. This paper provides examples of how analyzing the costs associated with these domains can complement and augment practices in evaluating research in the field of education.
Citation: Belfield, C. R., & Brooks Bowden, A. (2019). Using Resource and Cost Considerations to Support Educational Evaluation: Six Domains. Educational Researcher, 48(2), 120-127.
November 12, 2019
A systematic review of single-case research on video analysis as professional development for special educators. Professional development is viewed as essential to providing teachers with the skills needed to be successful in the classroom. Research strongly supports the need to go beyond the typical in-service training that is commonly provided teachers. Coaching and feedback have been found to be very effective in increasing the likelihood that training will be implemented in classrooms. The use of video has been offered as a cost-effective way to trainers to provide feedback to teachers in training based on actual performance in classroom use of the new skill(s).
Citation: Morin, K. L., Ganz, J. B., Vannest, K. J., Haas, A. N., Nagro, S. A., Peltier, C. J., … & Ura, S. K. (2019). A systematic review of single-case research on video analysis as professional development for special educators. The Journal of Special Education, 53(1), 3-14.
November 8, 2019
Training Teachers to Increase Behavior-Specific Praise: A Meta-Analysis. This research examines the literature supporting teacher training in the use of behavior-specific praise. One of the most common problems confronting classroom teachers concerns managing student behavior. Praise is a straight forward cost-effective intervention used to increase appropriate behavior and decrease troublesome student conduct. In the absence of training, teachers fail to adequately use behavior-specific praise and frequently fall back on the use of negative statements to control student conduct. The current knowledge base finds this approach to be counter-productive.
On the other hand, rigorous research indicates that when teachers receive training in the use of praise, disruptive behavior decreases, and appropriate conduct increases. This meta-analysis examined 28 single subject designed studies. The authors found an aggregate large effect size for teachers who received training increase the use of behavior-specific praise with students.
Citation: Zoder-Martell, K. A., Floress, M. T., Bernas, R. S., Dufrene, B. A., & Foulks, S. L. (2019). Training Teachers to Increase Behavior-Specific Praise: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 1-30.
November 7, 2019
What Do Surveys of Program Completers Tell Us About Teacher Preparation Quality? Identifying which teacher preparation programs produce highly qualified teachers is understood to be a means to improve the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs (TTP). One proposed method for measuring TTP effectiveness is surveying recent graduate’s satisfaction with the training received. Research suggests that analysis of the surveys correlate satisfaction with teacher classroom performance, evaluation ratings, and retention data. If correct, this data offers schools a wealth of information to aid in deciding which pre-service programs to focus recruiting efforts. It also suggests that surveys can provide data for holding TTP accountable.
But much of the available research lacks sufficient rigor. This paper uses survey data from teachers in the state of North Carolina to gauge graduate’s satisfaction with TTP training to raise the validity and reliability of the study’s findings. The study concludes perceptions of preparation programs are modestly associated with the effectiveness and retention of first and second-year teachers. The researchers find, on average, those who feel better prepared to teach are more effective and more likely to remain in teaching. These results indicate that surveys of preparation program graduate satisfaction be monitored to assure validity and reliability of polling, given the interest accreditation bodies, state agencies, and teacher preparation programs show in using this data for high stakes decision making. The results also imply that surveys alone do not provide sufficient data to identify which programs offer the best teacher training.
Citation: Bastian, K. C., Sun, M., & Lynn, H. (2018). What do surveys of program completers tell us about teacher preparation quality? Journal of Teacher Education, November 2019.
October 25, 2019
A Quantitative Synthesis of Research on Writing Approaches in Grades 2 to 12. This paper looks at randomized or well-matched control group research on outcomes of writing programs. The average effect size for those writing programs reviewed was a small effect size of 0.18. The writing programs fell into three categories; those that focus on the writing process, cooperative learning, or interactions between reading and writing.
The core characteristics of programs that produced the best writing outcomes include:
• Use of cooperative learning
• Structured approaches that give students step-by-step guides to writing
• Programs that teach students to assess their own and peer writing,
• Programs that balance writing with reading
• Programs that attempt to build students’ motivation to write and enjoy self-expression
• Programs that teach writing conventions (e.g., grammar, punctuation, usage) explicitly, but in the context of creative writing
• Programs that provide extensive professional development to teachers, in which teachers experience the writing strategies they will employ
Citation: Slavin, R. E., Lake, C., Inns, A., Baye, A., Dachet, D., & Haslam, J. (2019). A Quantitative Synthesis of Research on Writing Approaches in Grades 2 to 12. Best Evidence Encyclopedia.
October 24, 2019
Small class sizes for improving student achievement in primary and secondary schools: a systematic review. This Campbell Collaboration systematic review examines the impact of class size on academic achievement. The review summarizes findings from 148 reports from 41 countries. Reducing class size is viewed by many educators as an essential tool for improving student performance, and is especially popular among teachers. But smaller class sizes come at a steep cost. Education policymakers see increasing class size as a way to control education budgets. Despite the real policy and practice implications, the research on the educational effects of class‐size differences on student performance is mixed. This meta-analysis suggests, at best only, a small impact on reading achievement. The study finds a small negative effect on mathematics. Given the fact that class size reduction is minimally effective while being costly, aren’t there better solutions that are both cost-effective, benefits students, and can help teachers be successful in a very challenging profession?
Citation: Filges, T., Sonne‐Schmidt, C. S., & Nielsen, B. C. V. (2018). Small class sizes for improving student achievement in primary and secondary schools: a systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 14(1), 1-107.
October 24, 2019
State Department of Education Support for Implementation Issues Faced by School Districts during the Curriculum Adoption Process. The results of this systematic review of the websites of all 50 of the departments of education in the United States show that relatively few states provide state-created curriculum evaluation tools in the areas of English/language arts and mathematics, and only one state provides a curriculum evaluation tool that thoroughly addresses issues of implementation. In the area of English/language arts, the implementation issue most commonly addressed is fit of an instructional program with the district. Evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of a curriculum and the district’s capacity to effectively implement a curriculum are the next two most frequently addressed implementation-related issues. In the area of mathematics, fit with the district is also the most commonly addressed implementation-related issue. The next two most frequently addressed implementation-related issues are supports for the personnel implementing the curriculum and the capacity of the district to successfully implement. Only one state provided a state-created evaluation tool that thoroughly addressed all aspects of implementation as defined by The Hexagon Tool. Interestingly, this tool was generic. It was not designed to be used with English/language arts or mathematics curricula specifically, but with a variety of innovations that districts may consider adopting.
Citation: Rolf, R., R. (2019). State Department of Education Support for Implementation Issues Faced by School Districts during the Curriculum Adoption Process. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/student-research-2019.
October 22, 2019
Teacher turnover is an enormous burden on education systems, both in terms of student achievement and dollars. High turnover necessitates the recruitment of large numbers of novice teachers, whom research shows are less skilled. This situation is exacerbated by a steady exodus of veteran teachers opting to move from challenging assignments in poorer performing schools with higher percentages of lower socio-economic students to preferred assignments more affluent areas. The high rate of turnover destabilizes the system, forcing diversion of valuable resources from ongoing improvements to recruitment, hiring, and training of novice instructors. Teachers seem to be particularly at risk for higher turnover at the beginning of their careers. Nearly half of teachers leave within 5 years of entering the profession. Efforts to improve retention have been inadequate as evidenced by steadily increasing departures from the profession. This tendency toward turnover is even more striking in private schools than in public schools. Turnover represents a major obstacle to long-term stability, diverts valuable resources, and derails many efforts at reform.
Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R., States, J., & Keyworth, R. (2019). Teacher Retention Analysis Overview. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/teacher-retention-strategies
October 15, 2019
The effect of charter schools on student achievement. Charter schools increasingly play a prominent role in educating students in the United States. Given the vast resources allocated to charter schools, it is imperative the question is asked, How effective are these schools in comparison to traditional public schools? This meta-analysis focuses on student math and reading performance. The authors found an overall effect size for elementary school reading and math of 0.02 and 0.05 and middle school math of 0.055. Effects were not statistically meaningful for middle school reading and high school math and reading. The study offers compelling evidence that charters under-perform traditional public schools in some locations, grades, and subjects, and out-perform traditional public schools in other geographical locations, grades, and subjects. The mixed results are not surprising as there is no set management model, quality of personnel, curricula, or pedagogy that distinguishes charter schools from public schools. The study did find a small positive effect size for KIPP charter schools. The absence of significant achievement gains attributed to charter schools should concern school systems considering expanding the number of charter schools as a solution to underperforming schools.
Citation: Betts, J. R., & Tang, Y. E. (2019). The effect of charter schools on student achievement. School choice at the crossroads: Research perspectives, 67-89.