Categories for Policy Initiatives

What is the future of standardized testing?

December 8, 2020

The Big Test: The Future Of Statewide Standardized Assessments. Standardized testing has been a cornerstone of school reform for two decades. But a bipartisan backlash against testing in recent years and the suspension of statewide testing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic have left the future of state assessments in question. Standardized testing has a vital role to play in building effective schools. Unfortunately, the purpose of testing is misunderstood to the detriment of schools, teachers, parents, and students. The report examines the evolution of the testing backlash, the current landscape, and how state testing systems must change to survive.

Citation. Olson, L. & Jerald, C. (2020). The Big Test: The Future Of Statewide Standardized Assessments. Future Ed. Georgetown University. https://www.future-ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/TheBigTest_Final.pdf

Link: https://www.future-ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/TheBigTest_Final.pdf

 


 

Fidelity of Implementation in Educational Research and Practice

December 2, 2020

Fidelity of implementation is a critical but often neglected component of any new system, practice, or intervention in educational research and practice. Fidelity is a multidimensional construct focused on providing evidence of adherence, quality, dosage, differentiation, and responsiveness following implementation. Unfortunately, fidelity has not always been prioritized, although evidence suggests that is changing, at least in published research. Further, although there are myriad methods for measuring fidelity, psychometric evaluations of fidelity tools have been limited, except in the SWPBIS literature. Calls for a science of fidelity have been made (Gresham, 2017) and are beginning to be answered. Overall, there appears to be more research focused exclusively on fidelity, including measurement approaches, psychometric evaluations, and relation to outcomes. As this research expands, we hope that the broad use and integration of fidelity in practice follows. We believe that the days of neglecting fidelity are behind us in education and see fidelity playing a central role in education moving forward. Through reliable and valid measurement of fidelity, scalable evidence-based practices can be developed and proliferated, positively impacting students’ academic and behavioral outcomes. 

Citation: Gage, N., MacSuga-Gage, A., and Detrich, R. (2020). Fidelity of Implementation in Educational Research and Practice. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/systems-program-fidelity

Link: https://www.winginstitute.org/systems-program-fidelity

 


 

What do teacher preparation programs and school principals need to get right to train new teachers during covid-19?

November 17, 2020

Sustaining Teacher Training in a Shifting Environment. Brief No. 7. This brief is a part of a series of briefs that address critical issues schools face because of the coronavirus. This paper provides K-12 education policymakers and school administrators with an evidence base about how best to provide teacher practicum experience and professional development during the coronavirus. Evidence supports student teaching placements are a critical training opportunity for new teachers. The covid-19 pandemic has constrained student teaching experiences. Acknowledging this fact, educators need to develop new ways of providing alternative clinical training during certification training and when these new teachers enter the workforce. This summary examines what we know about training, offers strategies to overcome the obstacles to be confronted by covid-19, and warns professional development planners to avoided specific practices unsupported by evidence.

Citation: Goldhaber, D., & Ronfeldt, M. (2020). Sustaining Teacher Training in a Shifting Environment. Brief No. 7. EdResearch for Recovery Project.

Linkhttps://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED607712.pdf

 


 

What is implementation fidelity and why is it important to student success?

November 16, 2020

Fidelity of implementation is a critical but often neglected component of any new system, practice, or intervention in educational research and practice. Fidelity is a multidimensional construct focused on providing evidence of adherence, quality, dosage, differentiation, and responsiveness following implementation. Unfortunately, fidelity has not always been prioritized, although evidence suggests that is changing, at least in published research. Further, although there are myriad methods for measuring fidelity, psychometric evaluations of fidelity tools have been limited, except in the SWPBIS literature. Calls for a science of fidelity have been made (Gresham, 2017) and are beginning to be answered. Overall, there appears to be more research focused exclusively on fidelity, including measurement approaches, psychometric evaluations, and relation to outcomes. As this research expands, we hope that the broad use and integration of fidelity in practice follows. We believe that the days of neglecting fidelity are behind us in education and see fidelity playing a central role in education moving forward. Through reliable and valid measurement of fidelity, scalable evidence-based practices can be developed and proliferated, positively impacting students’ academic and behavioral outcomes. 

Citation: Gage, N., MacSuga-Gage, A., and Detrich, R. (2020). Fidelity of Implementation in Educational Research and Practice. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/systems-program-fidelity

Link: https://www.winginstitute.org/systems-program-fidelity

 


 

What practices are the core practice elements of teacher professional development?

November 13, 2020

Effective teacher professional development. For the past 20 years, school systems have heavily relied on professional development as the primary means for improving student performance, as evidenced by the massive allocation of funds for in-service training. Few educators or policymakers challenge the importance of teacher training that ensures teachers have the knowledge and skills required to be effective in the classroom. Despite the overwhelming support for teacher professional development, research has shown that most teacher training is ineffective in changing how teachers teach and students perform. This paper analyzed 35 studies that found a link between professional development and positive teacher and student outcomes.

The authors identified the following features significant if professional development is to produce meaningful results;

  1. They are content focused. 
  2. They incorporate active learning strategies. 
  3. They engage teachers in collaboration. 
  4. They use models and/or modeling. 
  5. They provide coaching and expert support. 
  6. They include time for feedback and reflection. 
  7. They are of sustained duration. 

The authors conclude that professional development should incorporate the identified features and training needs to link to teachers’ experiences in preparation, induction, and teaching standards and evaluation. 

Citation: Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., & Gardner, M. (2017). Effective teacher professional development.

Link: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56b90cb101dbae64ff707585/t/5ade348e70a6ad624d417339/1524511888739/NO_LIF%7E1.PDF

 


 

How can schools best provide teacher inservice training?

November 12, 2020

Teacher Inservice Professional Development. he American education system values in-service training to improve teacher performance, spending an average of $18,000 annually per teacher. Like many promising practices, it has failed to produce as promised. Schools invest extensively in teacher induction in the early years of a teacher, supplemented with in-service training throughout the teacher’s career. Unfortunately, this training is often delivered in unproductive ways, for example, workshop sessions that commonly rely on passive didactic techniques, such as lecturing or reading, shown to have minimal or no impact on the teacher’s use of the practices in the classroom. This is especially true when the outcome, using the practices in the classroom, is assessed. Coaching-based clinical training, with the teacher practicing skills on students in a classroom setting and receiving feedback from the coach, has been found to produce the best results. Sustained professional development with scope and sequence curriculum, accompanied by manuals for interventions in which the teacher is being trained, is superior to single events. Computer-assisted instruction as a companion to systematic training techniques identified above has been found to be a cost-effective adjunct staff development tool.

Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R., States, J. & Keyworth, R. (2020). Overview of Teacher Inservice. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/in-service-professional-development

Link: https://www.winginstitute.org/in-service-professional-development

 


 

What is the cost of coaching teachers?

November 12, 2020

Assessing the Cost of Instructional Coaching. Each year school systems spend approximately $15 million per school year, $230 per student, and $3,390 per teacher, totaling 2.9% of the operating budget, to provide a variety of professional development opportunities from workshops to coaching to whole-school development (Cleaver, 2020). Research suggests coaching is one of the most effective methods for increasing the effectiveness of professional development. 

Over the past twenty years, the popularity of school-based instructional coaching has grown. But one obstacle to the wide-spread use of coaching is the cost of delivering the service. This paper examines the resources needed for coaching and offers a framework for measuring these costs. The author finds coaching costs range from $3,260 to $5,220 per teacher. These are substantial expenses. Given limited education budgets, policymakers need to conduct cost/benefit analyses that compare traditional professional development methods such as workshops. This study lays the groundwork for cost-effectiveness studies by presenting a framework for measuring costs and reporting costs of a specific program.  

Another valuable resource for determining a return on investment for education interventions is Stewart Yeh’s 2007 study, The cost-effectiveness of five policies for improving student achievement. Yeh offers a framework for utilizing a practice effect size and costs of the practice to determine what method is best suited given a school’s current budget. Incorporating cost-benefit analyses into schools’ decision-making process is essential if educators make the most informed decisions impacting student outcomes. 

Citation: Knight, D. S. (2012). Assessing the cost of instructional coaching. Journal of Education Finance, 52-80.

Yeh, S. S. (2007). The cost-effectiveness of five policies for improving student achievement. American Journal of Evaluation28(4), 416-436.

Linkhttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/David_Knight28/publication/236780276_Assessing_the_Cost_of_Instructional_Coaching/links/57fbca5008ae6ce92eb2afe3/Assessing-the-Cost-of-Instructional-Coaching.pdf

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1098214007307928

 


 

How does professional development impact student mathematics and science outcomes?

November 10, 2020

Effects of Teacher Professional Development on Gains in Student Achievement: How Meta-Analysis Provides Scientific Evidence Useful to Education Leaders. This meta-analysis examines completed studies of effects of professional development for K-12 teachers of science and mathematics. The researchers wanted to answer the following questions: (1) What are the effects of content-focused professional development for math and science teachers on improving student achievement?; and (2) What characteristics of professional development programs (e.g., content focus, duration, coherence, active learning, and collective participation of teachers) explain the degree of effectiveness, and are the findings consistent with prior research on effective professional development? 

This meta-analysis of professional development programs in mathematics and science found that 16 studies reported significant effect sizes for teacher development in relation to improving student achievement. These studies reported effect sizes for student achievement gains for a treatment group as compared to a control group and the studies provided adequate data and documentation for the research team to compute or re-analyze effect sizes. The analysis also confirms the positive relationship to student outcomes of key characteristics of design of professional development programs. 

Citation: Blank, R. K., & De las Alas, N. (2009). The Effects of Teacher Professional Development on Gains in Student Achievement: How Meta Analysis Provides Scientific Evidence Useful to Education Leaders. Council of Chief State School Officers. One Massachusetts Avenue NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20001.

Linkhttps://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED544700.pdf

 


 

How effective is teacher prep program classroom management clinical practice for new teachers?

October 30, 2020

2020 Teacher Prep Review: Clinical Practice & Classroom ManagementThis report is from the National Center for Teacher Quality (NCTQ), and organization that provides ongoing reviews of the effectiveness of the nation’s teacher preparation programs.  This particular report examines two critical components of teacher preparation—clinical practice (also known as student teaching) and classroom management—and the degree to which current teacher preparation programs have adopted and implemented best practices for each.

It is generally accepted that new teachers benefit from high quality student teaching.  The NCTQ report reviews specific evidence of just how beneficial quality clinical training can be, including research that: (1) identifies clinical practice as one of three “aspects of preparation that have the highest potential for effects on outcomes for students, and (2) provides evidence that first-year teachers can be as effective as typical third-year teachers if they spent their student teaching experience in the classrooms of highly effective teachers.  

NCTQ has reviewed existing teacher preparation clinical programs in 2013, 2016, and 2020, assigning grades (A to F) based on their performance on three indicators (length, supervisory visits, and selection of the mentor teacher). Unfortunately only 9% earned an A or B, and 91% earned C’s or D’s.  The data also showed that there had been no improvement over the seven-year time period between first and most recent reports.

The second critical component reviewed—classroom management—showed great progress but still lags in one of the most critical strategies for effective management.  NCTQ identifies five critical components that should be taught in teacher preparation programs:  1) Establishing rules and routines that set expectations for behavior;, 2) Maximizing learning time by managing time, class materials and the physical setup of the classroom, and by promoting student engagement; 3) Reinforcing positive behavior by using speci c, meaningful praise and other forms of positive reinforcement; 4) Redirecting off-task behavior through unobtrusive means that do not interrupt instruction and that prevent and manage such behavior, and; 5) Addressing serious misbehavior with consistent, respectful and appropriate consequences.  The good news is that there has been a 26% increase in the number of programs looking to research-based approaches to classroom management.  The bad news is that one of the most effective and well documented classroom management strategies—praising good behavior—is the least likely to be taught. 

Citation(s): Pomerance, L. & Walsh, K. (2020). 2020 Teacher Prep Review: Clinical Practice
and Classroom Management. Washington, D.C.: National Council on Teacher Quality.   

Link:  https://www.nctq.org/review/docs/NCTQ%202020%20Teacher%20Prep%20Review_Clinical%20Practice%20and%20Classroom%20Management_Final_10.19.pdf

 


 

What do we know about the use of restraint and seclusion in schools?

October 27, 2020

2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection: The Use of Restraint and Seclusion on Children with Disabilities in K-12 Schools. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights released a detailed survey on the use of restraint and seclusion in K-12 schools to address the possible inappropriate use of thee procedures.  The survey was in part a response to a previous GAO report that flagged the significant absence or reliable data collection on the use of these procedures (Nowicki, J. 2020).  This survey also makes available detailed school district and school level data at ocrdata.ed.gov

The survey also provides the following summary of the use of physical restraint, seclusion and mechanical restraint.  Under the CRDC, physical restraint is a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move his or her torso, arms, legs, or head freely. Mechanical restraint is the use of any device or equipment to restrict a student’s freedom of movement. Seclusion is the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving. 

Students with disabilities make up 13% of the total student enrollment in U.S. schools. They account for 80% of students subjected to physical restraint, 41% to mechanical restraints, and 77% to seclusion.

Forty-eight percent of students with disabilities are white.  They account for 52% of the students subjected to physical restraint, 33% to mechanical restraints, and 60% to seclusion.  Black students are 1.3 times more likely to experience physical restraints and 2.8 times more likely to experience mechanical restraints than white students.

Eighteen percent of students with disabilities are Black.  They account for 26% of the students subjected to physical restraint, 34% to mechanical restraints, and 22% to seclusion. 

Twenty-seven percent of students with disabilities are Hispanic.  They account for 14% of the students subjected to physical restraint, 28% to mechanical restraints, and 9% to seclusion.  It appears that Hispanic students experience these procedures at lower rates than Whit and Black students.This survey suggests somewhat widespread use of these procedures and possible inequity in their application.  Much more analysis needs to be completed to answer these critical questions fully. 

Citation(s): Nowicki, J. (2020). K-12 Education: Education Needs to Address Significant Quality Issues with Its Restraint and Seclusion Data. Report to Congressional Committees. GAO-20-345. US Government Accountability Office.

2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection: The Use of Restraint and Seclusion on Children with Disabilities in K-12 Schools,U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, October 2020 

Link: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/restraint-and-seclusion.pdf