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.
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.
2020 Teacher Prep Review: Clinical Practice & Classroom Management. This 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.
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. The following figure examines use of these procedures within the special needs population of students by ethnicity.
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
Combatting COVID-19’s effect on children. This extremely thorough report provides the latest information on the impact that Covid-19 is having on children, particularly those who are poorest. It also outlines steps for governments to take to mitigate these impacts. From a purely medical perspective, early evidence suggests that children are not the most affected by Covid-19. It is the Covid-19 related economic and social effects that are having the greatest impact. Children increasingly face negative consequences from confinement, social distancing, being in challenging living environments, and facing worsening economic situations. The result is an exacerbation of problems such as poor nutrition, maltreatment, poor sanitation, sexual exploitation, etc. Additionally, poor children often live in environments that not suite for home learning, with little or no internet and computer resources to participate in remote learning. The report exhorts governments to greatly accelerate their efforts at providing food, protecting children from child abuse and neglect, offer ongoing physical and mental health services, and create more employment opportunities to help families.
Citation(s): Home, O. E. C. D. Combatting COVID-19’s effect on children.
Teacher Induction. Teacher induction is a set of practices that help transferring and beginning teachers become competent and effective instructors. The goals of induction are to improve instructional practices; to help teachers in their first years understand and effectively integrate into school and community cultures; and ultimately to improve pupil learning. By supporting the teachers and facilitating their socialization into the profession, school systems could potentially reduce the significant turnover rate of teachers in the first 5 years of employment. Despite its substantial cost, induction has failed to meet most of the stated goals. Research reveals that despite setting high expectations, current models fall short in selecting evidence-based approaches for accomplishing the task. Goals and practices for induction activities are not clearly defined nor is performance effectively monitored. Finally, most models fail to provide effective implementation strategies necessary for sustainability. The overall message is that comprehensive teacher induction has the potential to positively impact teaching practices and pupil learning, but it requires careful reconsideration of current conceptual, procedural, and empirical foundations of the practice.
Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R., States, J. & Keyworth, R. (2020). Overview of Teacher Induction. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/in-service-professional-induction.
Structured Environment Overview. An effective classroom behavior management program involves both proactive strategies to prevent challenging behavior, and reactive strategies to respond to challenging behavior when it occurs. One type of proactive strategy is attending to the physical environment of the classroom, including how desk arrangement, visual displays, and classroom noise can affect student behavior. Modifying characteristics of the physical environment is a primary intervention in a multitiered system of support (MTSS). This overview summarizes research on the effects of the physical classroom environment on student behavior.
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.
“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
“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.