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.
Research suggests that starting each year by teaching rules and procedures results in increased appropriate conduct and higher academic achievement. Both rules and procedures are proactive strategies that set expectations and instruct students on both appropriate and unacceptable ways to interact with peers and adults. Clearly stated, they define and operationalize acceptable behavior necessary to maintain an orderly and well-functioning school or classroom. To be effective, each precept must specify consequences, describing what happens when it are followed or is broken. Rules and procedures must be enforced consistently if they are to produce best results. When expectations are clearly stated and supported, they lend credibility to a teacher’s authority, reduce disruptive behavior that impedes learning, and enhance job satisfaction. Rules are constructed around broad classes of behavior (be safe, be responsible, be respectful) and apply in all settings. Procedures are guidance about what to do in a specific context. For example, elementary schools have procedures to guide students in how to enter the class in the morning (put backpack away, take a book, and read silently at desk).
Citation: Guinness, K., Detrich, R., Keyworth, R. & States, J. (2020). Overview of Rules and Procedures. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/classroom-rules-procedures.
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 2020 pandemic is unprecedented in living memory. This event necessitates schools adopting new technologies and teachers mastering new ways of delivering instruction. Education is engaged in a grand experiment, implementing new practices in fifty states with over 13,000 school districts. Change on this magnitude would be daunting even in normal times, and is particularly difficult in a decentralized system such as in the United States. What we know is there are bound to be many failures. Fortunately, the past 15 years have seen remarkable progress in the creation of a science of implementation to address such hurdles. This paper offers examples of failed practices in guiding schools to avoid making similar mistakes over the coming year.
Citation: States, J., & Keyworth, R. (2020). Why Practices Fail. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/roadmap-overview
Fluency in education. Being fluent in something taught is essential if learning is readily accessible to the learner at a later date. How teachers measure student progress and define mastery rarely receives the attention it deserves. The distinguishing characteristic of mastery learning lies in both quick and accurate performance of a skill. The fluid combination of accuracy plus speed characterizes competent performance. To provide all students with retention, endurance, and application of instructional content, teachers must monitor performance with clear and universal measures and make decisions using standard data displays. The use of standard units of measurement and a standard graphical display are essential features of effective instruction. One such discovery, performance standards, has demonstrated that students can retain skills over significant amounts of time, perform at high rates with little performance decrement, and apply “element” skills to more sophisticated “compound” skills. It is essential teachers build fluency through providing students with adequate opportunities to practice lessons before moving on to the next topic. To sustain learning over time, instructors must monitor performance days, weeks, and even months after completion of a lesson. Unless continuous monitoring of past experiences occurs, prerequisite skills will be lost and unavailable to the student when needed in future lessons.
Citation: Kubina, R. M., & Morrison, R. S. (2000). Fluency in education. Behavior and Social Issues, 10(1), 83-99.
Does Peer Assessment Promote Student Learning? A Meta-Analysis. Peer assessment has become a popular education intervention. In a peer assessment, student’s work is evaluated by a peer as opposed to the teacher. Extensive research is available on the reliability and validity of peer assessment results. A review of the literature finds few studies on the impact of Peer Review on student outcomes. This meta-analysis examines the effect sizes found in 58 studies. The paper finds a positive relationship for peer assessment on student outcomes. The study went on to identify the specific practice elements that comprise the practice of Peer Assessment to identify those elements that have the most significant impact on student performance. The study identified five components rater training, rating format, rating criteria, and frequency of peer assessment. The most critical factor of those examined is rater training.
Citation: Li, H., Xiong, Y., Hunter, C. V., Guo, X., & Tywoniw, R. (2020). Does peer assessment promote student learning? A meta-analysis. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 45(2), 193-211.
Comparing Reading Research to Program Design: An Examination of Teachers College Units of Study. This report is the first of a new initiative by Student Achievement Partners to review different reading instructional programs that have been adopted and are widely used in schools. The goal is to examine the programs in the context of best available research evidence regarding the critical components of teaching reading. Specifically, the components identified include: phonics and fluency, text complexity, building knowledge and vocabulary, and English learner supports. The first program reviewed was Units of Study from the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project. The findings were detailed, but the overall conclusion was that, despite the curriculum’s many qualities, it would “be unlikely to lead to literacy success for all of the American public schoolchildren, given the research.” The curriculum would support children who show up at school already reading or primed to read. It would not meet the needs of children who need practice opportunities in a specific area of reading or language development.
Citation: Adams, M.J., Fillmore, L.W., Goldenberg, C., Oakhill, J., Paige, D.D., Rasinski, T., & Shanahan, T. (2020). Comparing Reading Research to Program Design: An Examination of Teachers College Units of Study. Student Achievement Partners.
“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
Teacher prep review: Program Performance in Early Reading Instruction. Each school year, over one million public school 4th graders fail to achieve proficiency in reading. Evidence strongly suggests this is unnecessary as a roadmap with the potential to reduce the rate of reading failure from 3% to 1% of children is available.
The National Council of Teacher Quality (NCTQ) review examines teacher preparation program progress in adopting the necessary components of evidence-based reading instruction. The report continues the effort of two previous reports offering educators a look at trends on preparation program progress on providing this essential training. NCTQ assesses Teacher preparation programs on the instruction of the five components of effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The NCTQ assessed preparation programs on three criteria; teaching all five components, the inclusion of high-quality textbooks offering detailed information on all five factors, and requiring teacher candidates to demonstrate mastery of the five skill sets.
The findings reveal that preparation programs are making persistent progress delivering instruction for all five reading components. The report concludes the field of teacher preparation is at a critical juncture in reading training as the data suggests a continued momentum in favor of science-based reading instruction. This year’s report finds undergraduate programs consistently improved scientifically-based reading instruction since NCTQ first began these studies. This report finds 57 percent now earning an A or B. This growth represents a 10-point improvement when compared to 2016 and an 18-point increase over the 2013 Teacher Prep Review.
Although this progress is to lauded, it is important to note only half of the programs provide instruction in phonemic awareness, the first step in mastering reading. The study also finds teachers are not any more likely to learn the importance of fluency, with only 53 percent of programs providing adequate coverage of this component.
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.