Categories for Effective Instruction
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. https://www.winginstitute.org/teacher-retention-turnover-analysis.
August 15, 2019
How to teach critical thinking. Despite consensus on the need for critical thinking, considerable debate exists over how it is learned and, how educators can best support students to develop critical thinking capabilities. This paper considers what the research can tell us about how critical thinking is acquired, and the implications for how education might best develop young people’s critical thinking capabilities.
Willingham recommends a four-step process to develop a program to teach critical thinking:
- identify a list of critical thinking skills for each subject domain;
- identify subject matter content for each domain;
- plan the sequence in which knowledge and skills should be taught;
- plan which knowledge and skills should be revisited across years.
Citation: Willingham, D. (2019). How to teach critical thinking. New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education.
August 15, 2019
Classroom management for ethnic–racial minority students: A meta-analysis of single-case design studies. This meta-analysis looks at behavior management practices implemented with ethnically and racially diverse students. It examines single-subject designed studies implemented at the whole class level. Results indicate that class-wide management approaches applied in diverse classrooms are heavily behavioral and highly effective in improving student behavior.
Citation: Long, A. C., Miller, F. G., & Upright, J. J. (2019). Classroom management for ethnic–racial minority students: A meta-analysis of single-case design studies. School Psychology, 34(1), 1.
August 15, 2019
Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers: A Practice Guide. This What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide examines the research on how teaching elementary students how to write. The report analyzes the evidence supporting those teaching methods commonly employed to increase student competency in becoming a fluent writer. The guide is for teachers, literacy coaches, principals, districts, and curriculum developers, and other educators. The paper summarizes the available research and provides recommendations on the types of activities and strategies teachers can use to increase student writing proficiency.
Citation: Graham, S., Bollinger, A., Olson, C. B., D’Aoust, C., MacArthur, C., McCutchen, D., & Olinghouse, N. (2012). Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers: A Practice Guide. NCEE 2012-4058. What Works Clearinghouse.
August 6, 2019
Teacher turnover has been a persistent challenge; while the national rate has hovered at 16% in recent decades, more teachers are leaving the profession, contributing to teacher shortages in hard-to-staff subjects and schools. Higher attrition rates coupled with disproportionate teacher movement away from schools in economically disadvantaged communities has resulted in inequitable distributions of high-quality teachers across schools. Teacher turnover is quite costly, and primarily has negative consequences for school operations, staff collegiality, and student learning. Turnover rates are highest among minority teachers working in high-need schools, beginning teachers, and those who are alternatively certified; higher rates are also found for those teaching math, science, and English as a foreign language, and for special education teachers. Teachers are less likely to be retained in schools with poor working conditions, particularly those led by principals perceived to be less effective, and in schools where they are paid less. Teacher retention may be improved with combinations of targeted financial incentives and improved working conditions (e.g., better principal preparation), and through better supports for early career teachers through effective induction and mentoring programs. Linking financial incentives with enhanced leadership opportunities and career paths also offer potential for retaining effective teachers in classrooms where they are most needed.
Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R., Keyworth, R., & States, J. (2019). Teacher Retention. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/quality-teachers-retention
July 30, 2019
The Effects of Targeted Professional Development on Teachers’ Use of Empirically Supported Classroom Management Practices. Research suggests teachers want and need to improve classroom management skills. Studies also find that teachers currently receive limited training and support in this critical area of instruction. This study examines brief, targeted professional development (brief training, email prompting, and self-management) to improve teacher classroom management skills. The training focused on increasing the effective use of prompting, increased active student responding, and delivery of praise. The results show that teachers increased their prompt and specific praise rates while they actively engaged in training. However, the effects of professional development did not maintain when training shifted to a new skill.
Citation: Simonsen, B., Freeman, J., Myers, D., Dooley, K., Maddock, E., Kern, L., & Byun, S. (2019). The Effects of Targeted Professional Development on Teachers’ Use of Empirically Supported Classroom Management Practices. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 1098300719859615.
July 29, 2019
Answering the Bell: High School Start Times and Student Academic Outcomes. Research in the area of health and sleep has encouraged educators and policymakers to look to delaying school starting times as an intervention with the potential to improve achievement and other relevant student outcomes. At this time, studies conducted on starting school days at a later time show mixed results. Although, a sufficient number of studies exist to suggest that moving back the start time of school can contribute to improving lagging student performance. This research finds starting school later is associated with reduced suspensions and higher course grades. These studies suggest disadvantaged students may especially benefit from delayed starting times. This study attempts to fill in the research gap on the topic of later start times as much of the earlier research has been conducted using small sample sizes. To increase the sample size needed to confirm previous research, Bastin and Fuller use statewide student-level data from North Carolina to estimate start time effects for all students and traditionally disadvantaged students. Statewide achievement results were mixed, with positive and negative associations found between start times and high school students’ test scores. Bastin and Fuller counsel for further research to increase confidence that later start times predictably produce desired outcomes. Studies of sufficient rigor, using multiple populations, and across different settings are required to address remaining issues and possible unintended consequences associated with changing start times.
Citation: Bastian, K. C., & Fuller, S. C. (2018). Answering the Bell: High School Start Times and Student Academic Outcomes. AERA Open, 4(4), 2332858418812424.
July 29, 2019
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders and Classroom-Based Interventions: Evidence-Based Status, Effectiveness, and Moderators of Effects in Single-Case Design Research. Students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) traditionally struggle academically and behaviorally. The issues associated with ADHD challenge teachers in meeting the needs of these students. This meta-analysis of single-case design studies evaluates intervention effectiveness, evidence-based status, and moderators of effects for four intervention types (behavioral, instructional, self-management, and environmental) when implemented with students with ADHD in classroom settings. This study suggests that interventions that target academic learning strategies and behavioral challenges produced medium effect sizes. The instructional and self-management interventions examined in this study were deemed as evidence-based by What Works Clearinghouse standards.
Citation: Harrison, J. R., Soares, D. A., Rudzinski, S., & Johnson, R. (2019). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders and Classroom-Based Interventions: Evidence-Based Status, Effectiveness, and Moderators of Effects in Single-Case Design Research. Review of Educational Research, 0034654319857038.
July 23, 2019
Tootling with a Randomized Independent Group Contingency to Improve High School Class-wide Behavior. Finding strategies and interventions to positively reinforce students for appropriate behavior while decreasing disruptive behavior is core to the effective management of a classroom. This paper examines the practice of “tootling.” Tootling is a peer-mediated classroom management practice designed to have students identify and then report on peer prosocial behavior. Students are taught to be on the look-out for peer behavior that met the criterion for being reinforced. When they witness prosocial behavior, they write it down on a piece of paper and turn it into the teacher. At the end of the class, three “tootles” are drawn from the lot and read out to the classroom. The results suggest that peer reinforcement had a positive impact on increasing appropriate student behavior, reducing disruptive conduct, and student engagement.
Citation: Lum, J. D., Radley, K. C., Tingstrom, D. H., Dufrene, B. A., Olmi, D. J., & Wright, S. J. (2019). Tootling With a Randomized Independent Group Contingency to Improve High School Classwide Behavior. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 21(2), 93-105.
July 23, 2019
Do Test Score Gaps Grow Before, During, or Between the School Years? Measurement Artifacts and What We Can Know in Spite of Them. Concerns regarding gaps in student achievement for students of lower socio-economic status (SES) and students of color continue to concern educators and the public. One of the more influential studies to examine this issue was the Beginning School Study (BSS) of students in Baltimore City Public Schools in 1982 (Alexander and Entwisle, 2003). The authors found an achievement gap exists at the time student entered elementary school. More importantly, they conclude that the discrepancy in performance widened after each summer break, tripling in size by the end of middle school.
A more recent study published in 2019 by von Hippel and Hamrock offers evidence to counter the Alexander and Entwisle 2003 claims, suggesting that the growing gap is an artifact of the testing and the measurement methods used in the 2003 research. Von Hippel and Hamrock conclude the scaling method, Thurstone scaling (frequently used in the 1960s and 1970s), is flawed and is responsible for the original findings. The Thurstone scaling method has subsequently been replaced in research by more effective methods such as response theory (IRT). When the data from the study was reanalyzed using IRT, the gaps shrank. The new study concludes that gaps are already significant by the time children start school and remain relatively stable until graduation.
The von Hippel and Hamrock research looked at test score gaps for a range of populations: between boys and girls; between black, white, and Hispanic children; between the children and the mother’s education; between children in poor and nonpoor families; and the gaps between high-poverty and low-poverty schools. The researchers wanted to know whether gaps grow faster during summer or the school year. They were unable to answer this question as the results were inconclusive. Although, von Hippel and Hamrock did find the total gap in performance from kindergarten to eighth grade, is substantially smaller than the gap that exists at the time children enter school.
Von Hippel and Hamrock highlight two measurement artifacts that skewed Alexander and Entwisle results: test score scaling and changes of test content. Scaling is a mathematical method that transforms right and wrong answers into a test score. Not all scales produce the same results with important implications for whether and when score gaps happen. Along with concluding that a gap between SES populations tripled between first and eighth grade, Alexander and Entwisle found it was summer vacations where the real gap increased each year. Von Hippel and Hamrock found the BSS used CAT Form C, which was a “fixed-form” paper test. In first grade, all BSS children took a test that contained a fixed or unvarying set of questions in fall and spring. This makes sense when you want to know if students are meeting learning expectations over a specific grade.
But the Alexander and Entwisle wanted to understand the impact of summer breaks on learning, not during a school year. To obtain this information they were used a test designed for the first grade taken at the end of the school year and compared it to the second-grade test given in the fall. Using the spring test of first grader knowledge, then switching the test to the second-grade test in the fall to measure performance the impact of summer break has the effect of confounding summer learning results. Von Hippel and Hamrock propose that changing the test form had the possible effect of distorting the results. Alexander and Entwisle was not the only seasonal learning study to use fixed forms that changed after the summer. Using fixed form tests was a common practice for research from the 1960s into the 1990s. Von Hippel and Hamrock study suggests the summer learning literature was potentially vulnerable to artifacts related to scaling and changes of test form.
Fixed form tests have been replaced by the use of adaptive tests less vulnerable to artifacts that might affect summer learning. Adaptive tests do not ask the same questions of all students. Adaptive tests measure ability by increasing the difficulty of questions asked of students based on the student’s earlier performance. Hence, adaptive tests are a better tool to gauge the impact of summer on student achievement.
The von Hippel and Hamrock study concludes that gaps grow fastest in early childhood. They find no evidence of a gap doubling between first grade and eighth grade and some disparities even shrank. The summer gap growth does not hold up when the flawed instrument is replaced with adaptive tests scored using IRT ability scales. When summer learning gaps are present, most of them are small and not easily detectable. The conclusion is that gaps happen mostly in the first five years of life. Resources currently used to solve a summer learning gap that doesn’t appear to exist should be redirected toward early childhood education. Von Hippel and Hamrock’s study suggests students who are behind peers at the time they enter kindergarten should receive early remedial instruction as the most efficacious way to improve overall performance.
Citation: von Hippel, P. T., & Hamrock, C. (2019). Do test score gaps grow before, during, or between the school years? Measurement artifacts and what we can know in spite of them. Sociological Science, 6, 43-80.