Categories for External Influences
September 3, 2020
The Summer Slide: Fact or Fiction? For over fifteen years, it has been conventional wisdom that disadvantaged students fall behind their advantaged peers during summer breaks. Correlational research appears to support this conclusion, Wing Institute Data Mining. This pattern has led researchers such as Alexander, Entwisle, and Olson (2007) and Allington & McGill-Franzen (2018) to conclude that differential gain/loss over the summer thoroughly explains the gap in achievement advantaged and disadvantaged students. Recent studies of summer slide are finding results that call summer slide into question (Kuhfeld, 2019; Quinn et al., 2016), or agree that summer losses are similar for advantaged and disadvantaged students (Atteberry & McEachin, 2020).
Citation: Slavin, R. (2020). The Summer Slide: Fact or Fiction? Baltimore, MD.: Bet Evidence Encyclopedia. https://robertslavinsblog.wordpress.com/2020/08/20/the-summer-slide-fact-or-fiction/
August 31, 2020
“Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2019”.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic closed down K-12 education and established an overwhelming interest in remote learning, there has been a rush towards creating virtual schools (also referred to as virtual charter schools, virtual academies, online schools, or cyber schools). There is a belief that virtual schools can customize online curriculum to individual students more effectively than curriculum in traditional classrooms, expand student choices, and attain greater student achievement than in traditional school models. And, the promise of lower costs makes this alternative attractive to both policymakers and for-profit provider. The question is, does research back up these claims?
The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) report—Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2019—is its seventh annual report attempting to answer these questions. This report is a comprehensive attempt to analyze the characteristics and performance of K-12 virtual schools, review the current research as it relates to virtual school practices and outcomes, examine state legislative efforts to monitor these programs, and make policy recommendations.
Even though the current number of schools represents a small portion of the overall K-12 system, they constitute some of the fastest-growing options. The report examined two models: virtual schools (in which students receive all of their instruction on-line) and blended schools (offering a combination of face-to-face and online activities). Both are models that will be receiving much attention as K-12 education tries to navigate the Covid-19 waters. As of the 2017-18 school year, there were 501 virtual schools serving 300,000 students across 35 states. This represents a 20% growth over the previous five years. Seventy-nine percent of these students were enrolled in virtual charter schools, twenty-one percent enrolled in district operated schools. Sixty percent of the total enrollment was in schools operated by for-profit organizations.
In the same year, there were 300 blended learning schools serving 132,960 students across 33 states. Enrollment in this model has grown dramatically, increasing from 36,605 students in 2015-16 to 132,960 students in FY 2017-18 (263% increase). Only 26.7% of blended schools were operated by for-profit organizations.
This report examined the relative performance of virtual schools, blended schools and traditional schools using annual state-assigned school performance ratings and high school graduation rates. School performance ratings varied somewhat across states, but generally included: student academic performance, graduation rates, achievement gaps, attendance, parent/student satisfaction, etc. The resulting data classified schools as academically acceptable or academically unacceptable. Less than fifty percent (48.5%) virtual schools had acceptable school performance ratings. Only 44.6% of blended schools had acceptable school performance ratings. There was no data provided for traditional district schools.
An analysis of high school graduation rate data produced similar results. Only 50% of students in virtual schools graduated on time from High Schools, compared to 61.5% for blended schools and 84% for traditional district schools.
Citation(s): Molnar, A., Miron, G., Elgeberi, N., Barbour, M.K., Huerta, L., Shafer, S.R., Rice, J.K. (2019). Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2019. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved August 25, 2020]from http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/virtual-schools-annual-2019.
August 31, 2020
“Teachers’ Use of Technology for School and Homework Assignments: 2018–19 First Look”. This report was generated in response to the enormous role technology is, and will increasingly be, playing in providing remote learning opportunities for students, whether in supporting part-time “school based” education or temporarily replacing it altogether. The provides data on the access and availability of computers, smartphones, and the Internet to students at home, the impact that students’ access to technology outside of school has on teachers’ homework assignments, and ways that teachers provide assistance to their students who have limited access to technology and the Internet outside of school. The following are some of the more important findings.
Teacher Awareness of Home Computer Availability and Use: Teachers are on the front line of interfacing with students about their access to computers and the Internet at home. Yet, they often have inexact information in this area. Teachers reported that they get information by doing surveys of students or parents (51 percent), talking to students or parents individually (84 percent), and developing a sense while working with students. Yet, among all teachers, a little over one in five reported being very knowledgeable and one in two reported being somewhat knowledgeable about their students’ access to computers and the Internet at home.School Support for Access to Computers and Internet: Only twenty-six percent of teachers reported that their students have district- or school-provided computers for students to take home on a long-term basis during the school year. Thirty-six percent of teachers reported that the teachers estimated the percentage of their students who have access to a computer at home, including district- or school-provided computers for students who take them home. About two-thirds of teachers estimated that 75 percent or more of their students have access to a computer at home. While computers and Internet service might exist in students’ households, computer availability for homework and the reliability of computer connections to the Internet can vary considerably. About a third (35 percent) of teachers estimated that their students’ home computers were very available for school assignments. Twenty-nine percent of teachers thought it very likely that their students’ home computers had reliable Internet access.
Access to Technology and Homework Assignments: About half of the teachers reported that their students’ access to technology and the Internet outside of school has a moderate (28 percent) or large (20 percent) influence on the homework they assign to them. About a fifth (19 percent) of teachers reported that they often assign technology-based homework and an additional 28 percent reported doing so sometimes. The teachers who assign technology-based homework, at least rarely, were asked the extent that their students have difficulty completing this type of homework because they are not familiar with how to use technology.
Among the 98 percent of teachers whose students are given online or computerized assessments by the state, district, or school, 44 percent reported that their students were very prepared and 39 percent reported students to be somewhat prepared to use the technology required for these assessments.
The overall conclusions of this survey is that, while there have been successes along the way to integrating technology into education, there is a long way to go in terms of data systems, resources, accountability, and ongoing support to meet the new needs for remote learning.
Citation(s): Gray, L., and Lewis, L. (2020). Teachers’ Use of Technology for School and Homework Assignments: 2018–19 (NCES 2020-048). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved [date] from https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2020048
August 25, 2020
“Amid Pandemic, Support Soars for Online Learning, Parent Poll Shows: Education Next released the findings from its 14th annual survey of American views on education. The survey was conducted in May 2020. While this was early in the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment was already 14.7%, the economy in recession, and the schools were shutdown. This survey provides one of the first opportunities to evaluate the public’s views on education in this context. Survey participants were asked their views on: teacher pay, school funding, online education, home schooling, school choice, vouchers, charter schools, school reform, overall satisfaction with teachers and schools, the impact partisan politics has on people’s opinions, cost of higher education, and the impact of populism in public schools. The following examines several of these catagories in greater detail.
The public’s greatest support for increasing teacher pay and K-12 school funding occurred in the previous year’s (2019) survey. This support declined slightly in 2020, but remains close to the all-time high for the past 14 years. Fifty-five percent of participants say teacher salaries should increase. There remains a significant distance between Democrat’s support (66%) and that of Republicans (40%). Increases to school funding was supported by 45% of participants, with 47% saying it should stay the same and 10% favoring a reduction. As with the previous issue, opinions divided significantly along partisan lines with 56% of Democrats in favor of increasing spending compared to 31% of Republicans. While it is encouraging that overall support for increasing teacher salaries and school funding has held steady or increased over recent years, the current support for each issue is still only half of those surveyed.
One of the most relevant and timely areas of the survey was participant views regarding online education and homeschooling. In 2020, 73% of parents say they are willing to have their child take some (almost half) high school courses via the internet, representing a 17% increase from the response in 2009. Support for homeschooling has remained steady over the years with 49% of parents supporting the right of parents to education their children at home.
Overall, those surveyed gave public schools and school teachers high marks. Fifty-eight percent gave their “local” schools and A or B, and 30% gave the “nation’s” schools a similar high grade. The latter score was the highest ever recorded by the surveys. Participants were asked what percentage of teachers were excellent, good, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory. They rated 61% of teachers as excellent or good, with 14% being unsatisfactory.Results from the 2020 Education Next Survey of Public Opinion”
Citation(s): Henderson, M. B., Houston, D. M., Peterson, P. E., West, M. R. & Shakeel, M. D. (2020). Amid Pandemic, Support Soars for Online Learning, Parent Poll Shows Results from the 2020 Education Next Survey of Public Opinion. Education Next, 20(13), 8-19.
June 30, 2020
Remote forms of K-12 instruction have become increasingly prevalent as schools expand their use of educational technologies to allow for learning beyond that which takes place in brick and mortar classrooms. Remote instruction may offer a number of benefits, including reduced costs and increased student access to courses and instruction that would not be available otherwise. However, while research is limited, evidence to date suggests that fully remote instruction and virtual schools are not as effective as the face-to-face instruction that takes place in traditional schools, particularly for struggling students. Blended instructional models have shown more promise, particularly those that enable differentiated instruction through technologies such as intelligent tutoring. The success of remote instruction likely in part depends on a number of implementation factors, such as the degree to which equitable access to digital tools and resources is provided, whether and how students’ metacognitive skills that are essential for more independent, self-regulated learning are developed, the capacity of preparation and professional development to foster teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge, and the extent to which parents can engage in ways that allow them to effectively support their children’s learning at home.
Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R., States, J., & Keyworth, (2020). Remote Learning Overview. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/effective-instruction-computers.
June 8, 2020
WestEd is a nonprofit organization tasked with promoting excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults. WestEd offers consulting and technical assistance, evaluation, policy, professional development, and research and development to support and improve education outcomes.
As the world rallies to respond to the current public health crisis, schools across the globe have closed their doors to stop the spread of the new coronavirus and its associated disease, COVID-19. Wested has developed and compiled resources to assist schools in responding to this crisis.
The resources include;
Distance & At-Home Learning
Health, Safety, & Well-Being
Online Professional Development
Resource Planning & Management
Science & Mathematics
May 29, 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in school closings for the remainder of the year in 48 of 50 states and a sharp turn toward remote instruction in order to finish the year as best as possible. Issues and concerns previously in the background, such as inequitable access to technology including internet access for online learning at home, are now front and center. Districts and states have been exploring creative ways to bridge the digital divide, such as delivering Wi-Fi hotspots and devices to children without technology and internet access, using public television, creating printed packets, and making creative use of the mobile and smartphones that most families in the United States now have.
Citations: Donley, J., Detrich, R., States, J., & Keyworth, (2020). Remote Learning Overview. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/effective-instruction-computers.
March 23, 2020
The Adoption of Curricula in K-12 Schools: An Exploratory Qualitative Analysis. This exploratory qualitative study investigated how school districts engage in the process of adopting curricula for use in grades K-12 and what factors influence administrators when making adoption decisions. The author and a graduate student used a semi-structured interview protocol to interview 21 building- and district-level administrators employed by an economically and geographically diverse sample of school districts in the United States. After completing the interviews, the author and four researchers employed thematic analysis to analyze the data. Results suggest that the curriculum adoption process varies between school districts and, for some, from one curriculum adoption to the next. Most respondents reported engaging in at least one of the following activities during the adoption process: gathering information, initial screening, engaging committees, reviewing potential programs, piloting, and obtaining approval. The factors that influence administrators’ adoption decisions fall into four categories: alignment, need, evidence, and aspects of programs. Based on the data obtained in this study, the author proposes a sequence of activities to follow during a curriculum adoption.
Citation: Rolf, K. (2020). The Adoption of Curricula in K-12 Schools: An Exploratory Qualitative Analysis. Utah State University. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1O_rvmZKGE8rCf_nVTdOwgy4AVk-Gw6hH/view
March 12, 2020
What Works Clearinghouse: Procedures Handbook, Version 4.1. The WWC systematic review process offers educators and policy-makers a mechanism to assure consistent, objective, and transparent standards and procedures for assessing the impact of practices and interventions. The review procedures handbook includes the following changes: (1) Removal of the “substantively important” designation; (2) Addition of standard error calculations for all effect sizes; (3) Addition of single-case design (SCD) procedures for synthesizing SCD study findings using design-comparable effect sizes; (4) Addition of methods to estimate effects from regression discontinuity designs (RDDs); (5) Clarification of decision rules determining the use of difference-in-difference effect sizes; (6) Synthesis of studies within intervention reports using a fixed-effects model; (7) Modification of the intervention report effectiveness rating; and (8) Levels of evidence in practice guides.
Citation: What Works Clearinghouse: Procedures Handbook, Version 4.1. Princeton, NJ: What Works Clearinghouse https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED602035.pdf
March 6, 2020
What do surveys of program completers tell us about teacher preparation quality? Over the past twenty years, educators, policymakers, and the public have increasingly expressed interest in finding out which teacher preparation programs (TPP) produce the best teachers. One of the tools offered to identify exemplary pre-service training is satisfaction surveys of graduates. A 2019 teacher survey finds, “only 30 percent of general education teachers feel ‘strongly’ that they can successfully teach students with learning disabilities, and only 50 percent believe those students can reach grade-level standards.” Surveys highlight a misalignment between the intended outcomes of teacher preparation and the actual worth of the training teacher candidates receive. Given the potential importance of teacher surveys, it is imperative that policymakers and teacher educators better understand the efficacy of polling for providing program accountability and information for improving TTP performance.
This study provides a large-scale examination of how new teacher’s perception of the quality TTP training is associated and predictive of quality instruction. The study finds that perceptions of TTP are modestly associated with the effectiveness and retention of first and second-year teachers. The authors find that new teachers who perceive training to be supportive in critical skills were more productive on the job, and were more likely to remain a teacher after the first year in the classroom. Supportive learning environments were associated with extensive training in establishing orderly and positive classroom learning environments, communicating high expectations for students, and forming supportive relationships with all students. Those teachers who received training in classroom management were more effectively develop strategies for addressing conduct issues that arise on the job. This evidence of supportive learning environments suggests that TPPs should consider ways, to enhance the quality of preparation opportunities to master classroom management, building relationships with students, and creating high expectations for student success.
Citation: Bastian, K. C., Sun, M., & Lynn, H. (2018). What Do Surveys of Program Completers Tell Us About Teacher Preparation Quality?. Journal of Teacher Education, 0022487119886294.