Categories for Education Resources

How effective is computer assisted learning?

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.




Can considering the costs help educators make better decisions?

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 Researcher48(2), 120-127.




Are small class sizes a panacea for improving student performance?

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 Reviews14(1), 1-107.




Teacher Retention Strategies (Wing Institute Original Paper)

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.




What’s the latest research on charter school performance?

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.




Teacher Turnover Impact (Original Wing Institute Paper)

October 7, 2019

Decades of data attest to high rates of teacher turnover. Almost half of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years. For the past 10 years, turnover has leveled off at a disconcerting 16% per year. High turnover impedes student performance and diverts resources away from efforts to improve schools. It places large numbers of inexperienced, less effective teachers in classrooms, resulting in increased recruiting, hiring, and training budgets. With effective retention, the United States could save a meaningful portion of the $2.2 billion spent annually on replacing teachers. Research shows that increases in teacher turnover consistently correspond with decreases in achievement in core academic subjects. Attrition disproportionately affects schools with the greatest needs, low-achieving and high-poverty schools. Chronic turnover also negatively impacts a school’s culture, increasing student disciplinary problems and principal turnover. It damages collegiality, adding chaos and complexity to schoolwide operations and perpetuating new cycles of turnover. Effective interventions can remediate this situation, but they require administrators’ long-term commitment to improve the learning environment and working conditions.

Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R, Keyworth, R., & States, J. (2019). Teacher Turnover Impact. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




How effective are year-round schools in overcoming student’s summer break performance loss?

October 1, 2019

Singletrack yearround education for improving academic achievement in U.S. K12 schools: Results of a metaanalysis. This Campbell Collaboration systematic meta-analysis examines the impact of reducing summer breaks on student academic performance. Research shows that students experience a loss in math and reading performance over summer breaks. Year‐round education (YRE) redistributes schooldays to shorten summer. This study finds that students at single‐track YRE schools show modestly higher achievement in both math and reading. The higher achievement is similar to estimates of summer learning loss. The effects were similar for all students. Given that summer learning loss is thought to be greater among students from disadvantaged groups, the estimated impact for low‐income and minority students were found to unexpectedly be about the same magnitude or smaller than for the full sample.

Citation: Fitzpatrick, D., & Burns, J. (2019). Single‐track year‐round education for improving academic achievement in US K‐12 schools: Results of a meta‐analysis. Campbell Systematic Reviews15(3), e1053.

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What is the impact of cash incentives for grades on student cheating?

September 30, 2019

Do Pay-for-Grades Programs Encourage Student Cheating? Evidence from a randomized experiment.  Pay-for-grades programs are designed to increase student academic performance. One of the claims of those opposing such incentive systems is monetary incentives may lead to academic cheating. This randomized controlled study of 11 Chinese primary schools examines the effects of pay-for-grades programs on academic fraud. The study found widespread cheating behavior for students regardless of being in the control or experimental group, but no overall increase in the level of cheating for students in the pay-for-grades program. The authors conclude that educators need to be on the lookout for academic dishonesty, especially on standardized tests, while using moderate incentives to encourage student learning did not lead to increased levels of gaming the system.

Citation:  Li, T., & Zhou, Y. (2019). Do Pay-for-Grades Programs Encourage Student Academic Cheating? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment. Frontiers of Education in China14(1), 117-137.




A look at John Hattie’s latest work

September 27, 2019

Visible Learning Insights. This book by John Hattie and Klaus Zierer is written for teachers, education researchers, and anyone interested in the latest research on the efficacy of education practices. This research offers an overview of 1,400 meta-analyses and continues to build on the work John Hattie began with his book, Visible Learning, published over a decade ago that provided educators with a synthesis of 800 meta-analyses. 

Citation: Hattie, J., & Zierer, K. (2019). Visible Learning Insights. Routledge.




Teacher Retention Analysis Overview (Wing Institute Original paper)

August 27, 2019

Matching the availability of teachers to demand constantly evolves. During recessions schools are forced to layoff teachers. As economic times improve, schools acquire resources and rehire personnel. Currently, American schools are faced with the most severe shortages in special education; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and bilingual education. Shortages vary across the country and are most acute in areas with lower wages and in poor schools. Starting in the 1980’s schools began filling vacancies with under-qualified personnel hired on emergency or temporary credentials to meet needs. A 35% drop in pre-service enrollment and high teacher attrition currently impact the supply. Candidates and veteran teachers are influenced to leave teaching due to low compensation, stressful working conditions, and a perceived decline in respect. The demand side is influenced primarily by fluctuations in population, finances, and education policy. Matching supply to demand is a challenge but can be accomplished through better planning, procuring less volatile funding sources, and improving working conditions through improved pay and effective training.

Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R. Keyworth, R., & States, J., (2019). Teacher Retention Analysis Overview. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.