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.
March 4, 2020
Attendance Playbook: Smart Solutions for Reducing Chronic Absenteeism. Student absenteeism has significant negative impacts on students and school systems. Nearly 8 million students are chronically absent. Excess absenteeism impacts student achievement as the chances of a 9th-grade student graduating drops by 20% for every week of missed instruction. Chronically absent students cost schools financially. Over six years (2008–2009 through 2013–2014), school districts in California lost an estimated $7.3 billion ($1.22 billion per year) in funding due to student absences (Harris, 2016). This report examines 24 of the most effective and scalable interventions employed to remediate the impacts of chronic absenteeism. For additional information, please see Wing Institute Chronic Student Absenteeism: A Significant and Overlooked Obstacle to Student Achievement.
Citation: Jordan, P. (2019). Attendance Playbook. Washington D.C.: FutureEd. https://www.hsredesign.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Attendance-Playbook.pdf
March 3, 2020
Teacher Preparation: Overview. Because research has shown that, of all school factors, teachers have the greatest influence on student achievement it is not surprising the United States invests significant time and money in the preparation of new teachers. The available research highlights the importance of preparation programs recruiting and selecting the highest quality candidates, training prospective teachers in evidence-based practices, and employing pedagogical practices including extensive time in actual classrooms teaching students as necessary to developing exemplary teachers. Research comparing traditional 4-year teacher schools of education, graduate degree credential models, and alternative routes suggest that current approaches to credentialing are falling far short of expectations. Efforts to hold preparation programs accountable to higher standards by making better use of program evaluation and holding institutions accountable by linking graduates to student achievement are hopeful signs and offer viable options for improving existing models and replacing outdated training methods so prevalent in many of todays pre-service programs.
Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R. & States, J. (2020). Overview of Teacher Preparation. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.https://www.winginstitute.org/quality-teachers-pre-service.
February 24, 2020
“Shortened School Weeks in U.S. Public Schools”. There is an increasing trend among schools and districts to reduce the school week from five days to four (longer) days. Much of the impetus of this structural intervention comes from the perception that this schedule would generate significant cost savings. Additionally, there is a belief that it positively impacts student achievement, teacher recruitment, and other quality indicators. Unfortunately, the lack of experimental evidence makes it difficult to prove or disprove most of the claims.
In the 2017-18 school year approximately 1.9% of public schools provided shortened school weeks. Eight states had more than 10% of their schools on this schedule, with Wyoming having almost twenty percent of its schools on a four-day week. In general, rural schools and those in the West were more likely to adopt this model. (NCES, 2020).
The number of school districts operating on a four-day schedule grew by 466% over the last three years. There were 120 districts in 21 states in 2016 and 560 districts in 25 states in 2019. Over half of Colorado’s districts now operate on four-day weeks. (Walker, T., 2019)
Proponents claim that the model saves money, improves student performance, helps with teacher recruitment and retention, reduces student absenteeism, and improves the quality of life for all involved as they have an extra day away from school to take care of personal business. Opponents challenge these claims and highlight the potential new costs for parents, loss of wages for support professionals, and reduced access to services for low income students.
Regarding potential savings, the analysis is straightforward. The Education Commission of the States conducted a detailed analysis calculating that the maximum savings for a district was 5.43%, but that the more likely average is in the .4% to 2.5% range. Many of the largest costs such as salaries, facilities, administrative costs, etc. are not affected by fewer days (Griffith, M., 2011).
Unfortunately, large-scale experimental studies on the other stated pros and cons of this intervention are as of yet nonexistent. The studies that have been completed are often non- or quasi-experimental and produce results that are inconsistent, inconclusive, or show negative impact (Heyward, G., 2018). Additionally, it is difficult to evaluate the impact of this intervention because, as with most structural interventions, the 4 day school schedule does not represent any particular teaching or educational model. It is just a work schedule. Regardless, “the idea has proved contagious because adults like it”. (Hill, 2017).
Citation(s): NCES. (2020). Shortened School Weeks in U.S. Public Schools. NCES 2020-011. National Center for Education Statistics.
Griffith, M. (2011). What Savings Are Produced by Moving to a Four-Day School Week?. Education Commission of the States (NJ3).
Heyward, G. (2018). What Do We Actually Know About the Four-Day School Week? Center on Reinventing Public Education
Hill, P.T. & Heyward, G., (2017). A Troubling Contagion: The Rural 4-Day School Week. Brookings Institute, Brown Center Chalkboard.
Long, C. (2019). Four-Day School Weeks More Popular, But Impact on Students and Educators Unclear. neaToday
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). (2019). Four-Day School Week Overview
Walker, T. (2019). After Moving to a Four-Day School Week, There May Be No Going Back. neaToday
February 21, 2020
The Current Controversy About Teaching Reading: Comments for Those Left with Questions After Reading the New York times Article. This Op-Ed commentary by Daniel Willingham discusses the current knowledge base on effective reading instruction in the context of a recent New York Times article on the topic. For over twenty years, the core components of effective reading (phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension) have been available to educators. Despite ample evidence, a large number of teacher preparation programs do not adequately train teachers on the best available evidence, many relying on an approach, “Balanced Literacy.” Balanced literacy was offered as a compromise to end the conflict between those advocating for phonics instruction and instructors promoting the immersion in relevant texts designed to motivate student’s learning. In practice, when Balanced Literacy is implemented, phonics instruction is frequently not included in the curriculum. Willingham concludes that decoding is the most thoroughly researched aspect of reading, decoding’s efficacy is well documented, and he suggests it is about time educators take advantage of this work.
Citation: Willingham, D. (2020). The Current Controversy About Teaching Reading: Comments for Those Left with Questions After Reading the New York times Article. University of Virginia: Daniel Willingham-Science & Education. http://www.danielwillingham.com/daniel-willingham-science-and-education-blog
New York Times Article: An Old and Contested Solution. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/us/reading-phonics.html