Categories for Effective Instruction
January 15, 2020
Does School Spending Matter? The New Literature on an Old Question. The impact of school finances on student achievement has long interested educators. Research conducted before the mid-1990s suggested a link between the available resources provided schools and student outcomes, but much of this research is correlational. Because correlational research cannot imply causation, studies of a more rigorous nature are needed if policymakers are to redesign school financing that predictably maximizes learning for all students, regardless of the parent’s socio-economic status. Recently published studies employing larger data-sets and based on quasi-experimental methods offer a clearer understanding of how schools might be better funded. This paper of American United States school finances finds evidence to support the importance of providing equitable funding across school districts. These results have important policy implications and suggest areas for future research.
Citation: Jackson, C. K. (2018). Does school spending matter? The new literature on an old question (No. w25368). National Bureau of Economic Research.
January 15, 2020
Overview of Value-Added Research in Education: Reliability, Validity, Efficacy, and Usefulness. Value-added modeling (VAM) is a statistical approach that provides quantitative performance measures for monitoring and evaluating schools and other aspects of the education system. VAM comprises a collection of complex statistical techniques that use standardized test scores to estimate the effects of individual schools or teachers on student performance. Although the VAM approach holds promise, serious technical issues have been raised regarding VAM as a high-stakes instrument in accountability initiatives. The key question remains: Can VAM scores of standardized test scores serve as a proxy for measuring teaching quality? To date, research on the efficacy of VAM is mixed. There is a body of research that supports VAM, but there is also a body of studies suggesting that model estimates are unstable over time and subject to bias and imprecision. A second issue with VAM is the sole use of standardized tests as a measure of student performance. Despite these valid concerns, VAM has been shown to be valuable in performance improvement efforts when used cautiously in combination with other measures of student performance such as end-of-course tests, final grades, and structured classroom observations.
Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R. & States, J. (2020). Overview of Value-Added Research in Education: Reliability, Validity, Efficacy, and Usefulness. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/staff-value-added.
January 15, 2020
Trend in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2018. This report provides the most recent year of data available for each dropout and completion rate, summarizes long-term trends, and examines the characteristics of high school dropouts and completers. Five rates are presented to provide a broad perspective on high school dropouts and completers in the United States: the event dropout rate, the status dropout rate, the status completion rate, the adjusted cohort graduation rate, and the averaged freshman graduation rate. The report also provides information about individuals who completed an alternative high school credential.
Citation: McFarland, J., Cui, J., Rathbun, A., and Holmes, J. (2019). Trend in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States:2018. National Center for Education Statistics. NCES 2019-117 US Department of Education.
January 7, 2020
School Principal Competencies. Research has consistently shown that principals play a critical role in determining the quality of teaching, and in turn, student learning and achievement. Recent meta-analytic reviews suggest that effective principals are highly competent in the following areas: 1) establishing and conveying the school’s vision, goals and expectations by modeling aspirational practices and promoting data use for continuous improvement; 2) building teachers’ professional capacity by providing targeted and job-embedded professional development, protecting instructional time, and selecting educators who are the “right fit” for the school; 3) creating a supportive organization for learning by sharing and distributing leadership, understanding and building on diversity, and strategically acquiring and allocating resources; 4) facilitating a high-quality student learning experience by developing and monitoring curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and creating learning environments that are personalized, safe, and orderly; and 5) connecting with external partners who can support fulfillment of school goals, and building productive and collaborative relationships with families. While these principal competencies are relevant for a range of school contexts, leaders operating in varying school environments (e.g., high/low poverty, urban/rural) must ultimately determine how best to enact them to optimize teaching and learning.
Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R., States, J., & Keyworth, (2020). Principal Competencies. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/principal-competencies-research
December 16, 2019
On the Reality of Dyslexia. This paper assesses research on the topic of dyslexia. Willingham’s piece is in response to comments made by literacy researcher, Dick Allington, in which he questions the legitimacy of the label, dyslexia. Answering this question is more than an academic exercise as having a clearer understanding of dyslexia is crucial if educators are to understand why 10% of students struggle to master reading, the skill essential to success in academic learning. Willingham highlights the etiology of the disorder, and he concludes that the ability to read is the product of the home environment, instruction at school, and genetics within the child. Dyslexia is a problem in the child’s ability to successfully master the skills of reading and is closely related to fluency in language. Dyslexia is not like measles in which you are ill, or you aren’t. Dyslexia is more like high blood pressure where individuals fall on a bell curve. Falling somewhere on the bell curve is supported by the hypothesis that the disorder is the complex interaction between multiple causes. Although it does not have a single source, dyslexia is successfully remediated through evidence-based language and reading instruction.
Citation: Willingham, D. (2019). On the Reality of Dyslexia. Charlottesville, VA.http://www.danielwillingham.com/daniel-willingham-science-and-education-blog/on-the-reality-of-dyslexia?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nbspDanielWillingham-DanielWillinghamScienceAndEducationBlog+%28Daniel+Willingham%27s+Science+and+Education+Blog%29.
Link: On the Reality of Dyslexia
December 16, 2019
Examining racial/ethnic disparities in school discipline in the context of student-reported behavior infractions. Research strongly supports the existence of bias in human beings. Discrepancies between how teachers handle behavior management incidents for students of color and white students has been a concern of education researchers for well over a decade. This paper looks at the disproportionality of consequences for disciplinary infractions between these groups of students. The researchers were interested in determining whether students of color would show similar rates of suspensions, office referrals, personal warnings from a teacher, or warnings about their behavior sent home based on ethnicity, as is the case for white students. Wegman’s study finds that African American students are less likely to receive warnings for behavior infractions than white peers, resulting in escalating consequences for students of color. The unequal handling of disciplinary actions reflects a pressing need for schools to address issues of implicit and explicit bias as a means to address this central issue in education.
Citation: Wegmann, K. M., & Smith, B. (2019). Examining racial/ethnic disparities in school discipline in the context of student-reported behavior infractions. Children and Youth Services Review, 103, 18-27.
December 5, 2019
The Effect of Principal Behaviors on Student, Teacher and School Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature. This meta-analysis finds a positive relationship between school principals spending time on five commonly assigned roles and student achievement. These principal responsibilities are instructional management, internal relations, organizational management, administration, and external relations. The study finds that a principal cannot focus on a select few of the categories, but must carve out adequate time for each role. The need to be proficient across all leadership categories offers little comfort to U.S. principals who report average work-weeks of 58.6 hours (U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics, 2017). The paper recommends school principals be provided with additional resources if they are to adequately meet the needs of the students, teachers, and the community. Although these roles differ from the responsibilities researched by Viviane Robinson (goal expectations, strategic resourcing, teaching and curriculum, teacher development, and supportive environment), there does appear to be a significant overlap with those identified in the Liebowitz meta-analysis (Robinson, Lloyd, & Rowe, 2008).
Citation: Liebowitz, D. D., & Porter, L. (2019). The Effect of Principal Behaviors on Student, Teacher, and School Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature. Review of Educational Research, 89(5), 785-827.
December 5, 2019
The Effect of Linguistic Comprehension Training on Language and Reading Comprehension. Children who begin school with proficient language skills are more likely to develop adequate reading comprehension abilities and achieve academic success than children who struggle with poor language skills in their early years. Individual language difficulties, environmental factors related to socioeconomic status, and having the educational language as a second language are all considered risk factors for language and literacy failure. This review considers whether language-supportive programs are effective. The research aims to examine the immediate and long-run effects of such programs on generalized measures of linguistic comprehension and reading comprehension. Examples of linguistic comprehension skills include vocabulary, grammar, and narrative skills.
The effect of linguistic comprehension instruction on generalized outcomes of linguistic comprehension skills is small in studies of both the overall immediate and follow-up effects. Analysis of differential language outcomes shows small effects on vocabulary and grammatical knowledge and moderate effects on narrative and listening comprehension. Linguistic comprehension instruction has no immediate effects of on generalized outcomes of reading comprehension. Only a few studies have reported follow-up effects on reading comprehension skills, with divergent findings.
Citation: Rogde, K., Hagen, Å. M., Melby-Lervåg, M., & Lervåg, A. (2019). The Effect of Linguistic Comprehension Training on Language and Reading Comprehension: A Systematic Review. Campbell Systematic Reviews.
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 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.