Categories for Effective Instruction
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.