Categories for Effective Instruction

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 Strategies 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.




How effective are school-based mentoring on important student outcomes?

October 15, 2019

Risks and rewards of school-based mentoring relationships: A reanalysis of the student mentoring program evaluation.  School-based mentoring programs are a widely funded intervention adopted as a means to positively impact student conduct and achievement. Despite widespread support, meta-analyses indicate that the effects of school-based mentoring programs are small. The authors hypothesize that the poor outcomes found in previous research happen because mentors do not develop high-quality relationships with the student mentees. To examine this issue, the authors reanalyzed a large randomized trial on this topic. The study concludes that a high-quality relationship has its benefits, but the effect size on academic and behavioral outcomes was near zero and confirmed the original findings. These results suggest that schools proceed cautiously before adopting school-based mentoring programs.

Citation: Lyons, M. D., & McQuillin, S. D. (2018). Risks and rewards of school-based mentoring relationships: A reanalysis of the student mentoring program evaluation. School Psychology Quarterly




What can teachers do to support appropriate student conduct? (Wing Institute Original Paper)

October 14, 2019

Supporting Appropriate Student Behavior Overview. Proactive classroom management strategies promote appropriate behavior and reduce or prevent misbehavior. Reinforcement is at the core of most proactive strategies. It is defined as a consequence that follows a behavior and increases the frequency of that behavior. Contingent praise is a versatile strategy based on reinforcement. Through positive statements delivered by the teacher, contingent praise acknowledges appropriate conduct and informs students what they did well. A rule of thumb is to maintain a 4:1 ratio of positive praise to corrective statements. Teachers should avoid the trap of becoming overly critical, which can damage the student-teacher relationship and lead to increased misbehavior. Other reinforcement-based strategies that use praise as well as material reinforcers include class-wide group contingencies, point systems, and behavior contracts. Material reinforcers commonly used in schools include tangible reinforcers (stickers, toys, food), preferred activities (games, computer time), and privileges (running errands, distributing papers). Additional proactive strategies are classroom rules and procedures, a structured environment, active supervision, and effective instruction; see classroom management drivers.

Citation: Guinness, K., Detrich, R., Keyworth, R. & States, J. (2019). Overview of Supporting Appropriate Behavior. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




What is the effect of feedback on teacher preparation programs?

October 7, 2019

Public Accountability and Nudges: The Effect of an Information Intervention on the Responsiveness of Teacher Education Programs to External Ratings.  Teacher preparation programs (TEP) have received a great deal of research and policy attention as a potential driver of improvements in teacher quality and improved student outcomes. This paper presents research on external ratings of teacher education programs (TEPs) produced by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and the results of an experiment to improve school rankings by providing information and feedback to TEPs about how to improve their ratings. Research suggests that higher education institutions are responsive to feedback and public ratings. The college rankings published by U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) shows how powerful ratings can be in changing higher education practices such as admissions requirements, financial aid disbursements, and policies. NCTQ released the first ranking of TEP’s in 2014 as a part of an ongoing effort to rate teacher training nationally. The intervention relied upon providing targeted information about specific programmatic changes that would improve the rating for a randomly selected sample of elementary teacher education programs. Average program ratings improved between 2013 and 2016, but we find no evidence that the information intervention increased program responsiveness to NCTQ’s rating effort. The results show that the experimental group had lower ratings than the control group in 2016. 

Citation: Goldhaber, D., & Koedel, C. (2019). Public Accountability and Nudges: The Effect of an Information Intervention on the Responsiveness of Teacher Education Programs to External Ratings. American Educational Research Journal, 0002831218820863.




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.




How can educators improve how research is conducted?

September 26, 2019

Evidence-Based Practices in a Changing World: Reconsidering the Counterfactual in Educational Research. Much of current education research relies on experimental and quasi-experimental designs to establish causality and to ascertain the effectiveness of practices. These research designs rely on a comparison between a treatment group and a control group. Current methods assume the population from which control groups are unchanging in behavior or performance. This paper challenges this notion and finds that populations and study samples often change over time and sometimes do so dramatically. The authors examine data from 5 randomized control trials of the efficacy of Kindergarten Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies, a supplemental, peer-mediated reading program. The paper finds a significant increase in the performance of control students over time, suggesting the need for a more nuanced understanding of current research practices in the identification of evidence-based practices.

Citation: Lemons, C. J., Fuchs, D., Gilbert, J. K., & Fuchs, L. S. (2014). Evidence-based practices in a changing world: Reconsidering the counterfactual in education research. Educational Researcher43(5), 242-252.




Is all feedback alike?

September 26, 2019

What Is My Next Step? School Students’ Perceptions of Feedback. The power of feedback is touted as one of the most powerful practices for improving performance. Research consistently reports large effect sizes for feedback improving performance, yet variability relating to the effects of feedback exists. The Kluger and DeNisi 1996 meta-analysis was one such study that found a medium 0.41 effect size for the general impact of feedback. What Kluger and DeNisi found was that not all feedback is alike. This 2019 study attempts to increase our knowledge base by examining the power of different forms of feedback as a means to increase the impact of teacher delivered feedback. The paper aims to investigate student perceptions of feedback through designing a student feedback perception questionnaire (SFPQ) based on a conceptual model of feedback. The questionnaire was used to collect data about the helpfulness for learning resulting from different feedback types and levels. Findings from this study demonstrate that the SPFQ tool partially affirms Hattie and Timperely’s (2007) conceptual model of feedback. Feeding forward (information about improvement) was found to be a unique feedback type that was perceived by participants as being most helpful to learning compared to other feedback.

Citation: Brooks, C., Huang, Y., Hattie, J., Carroll, A., & Burton, R. (2019). What is my next step? School students’ perceptions of feedback. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 4, p. 96). Frontiers.




Informal Teacher Evaluation (Original Wing Institute Paper)

September 3, 2019

Research on informal teacher evaluation reveals the predominant evaluation method is the walk-though, which ranges from a brief 2- to 3-minute snapshot to longer observation. Studies support the important role principals play in instructional leadership but also suggest that principals are not good at identifying which teachers are the best instructors. Research finds that principals overwhelmingly understand the need to sample teacher performance but that they are rarely trained in how to accomplish this. 

Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R., & States, J. (2019). Informal Teacher Evaluation. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. Retrieved from