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Religious Faith, Intact Families Eliminate Achievement Gap Between White Students and Students of Color, According to Nationwide Data Study
A recent analysis of nationwide data by a Southern California professor shows that the achievement gap is more easily bridged than most academics and educators believe.
William Jeynes, professor of education at California State University, Long Beach, found that when highly religious African-American and Latino students from intact families were compared with white students, the achievement gap disappeared.
The results were based on an analysis of the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS), and they ostensibly refute assertions written in the popular and controversial book The Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray that biological differences in intelligence make the achievement gap that exists between white students and their African-American and Latino counterparts insurmountable.
"The conviction held by some that the achievement gap is virtually immovable is inaccurate and misguided," said Jeynes, who will be presenting his findings publicly for the first time at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 3. "Religious faith and intact and stable family units are two resources that enable youth of color to achieve at the same levels of white students."
Highly religious was defined as a person who not only was regularly involved in attending a house of worship and religious youth group, but also regarded oneself as highly religious. Intact families were defined as homes in which both biological parents were present in the home.
Jeynes asserts that it is intriguing that it is not school factors but rather personal faith and parental family structure that were the salient factors associated with eliminating the achievement gap.
"The results indicate that faith and the presence of two biological parents are sources of strength for many children of color," Jeynes pointed out. "Our nation should encourage these sources of personal strength rather than discourage them. Presently, our school leaders do little to encourage religious faith in youth of color and as President Clinton observed in a 1995 speech, our public schools often communicate to children that they are to leave their faith at the front door of the school entrance."
Jeynes focused his study on 20,706 nationally representative 12th-grade high school students included in the NELS data set because the achievement gap is generally the most prodigious at the 12th-grade level. However, his analysis of eighth- and 10th-grade students yielded the same type of results.
His analysis indicated that highly religious African-American and Latino 12th-grade students from intact families, when controlling for socioeconomic status, scored as well as their white counterparts on the social studies test (0 percent difference); the Test Composite, a combination of math and reading, (0 percent difference); and scored virtually the same as white students on the math (0.4 better) and reading (0.4 worse) tests.
Highly religious African-American and Latino students from intact families were also slightly less likely to be left behind a grade than white students (by 2 percent) and were more likely to take the basic core set of courses recommended for college preparation by the National Assessment for Educational Progress (by 6.2 percent). The only area in which African-American and Latino students trailed white students was on the science test (-2.4 percent).
Even when one did not control for socioeconomic status these highly religious minority students were less likely than white students to be left behind a grade (by 1.1 percent) and were more likely to have taken the basic core set of courses (by 5.6 percent). The achievement gaps in the math, social studies, test composite, and reading tests were quite small, ranging from (-0.8 to -1.5 percent). The achievement gap for the science test was -3.6 percent.
Jeynes' ™ analyses of the NELS data set and a research synthesis (called a meta-analysis), which statistically combines all of the studies on a certain topic, indicated that the achievement gap was approximately 20 percent less in religious schools than it was in public schools. Additionally, it showed that although students in religious schools, on average, outperformed their counterparts in public schools, youth of color and those of low socioeconomic status (SES) were the greatest beneficiaries.
For example, in the NELS study, white students who attended religious schools achieved at a level 4.2-6.0 percent higher on the various subject tests than white students in public schools. However, African-American and Latino students in religious schools achieved at levels 6.0-8.3 percent higher on these subject tests than their counterparts in public schools.
Similarly, although the religious school students from the highest SES quartile scored between 3.2-5.2 percent higher on achievement tests versus their counterparts in public schools, students in the lowest SES quartile scored between 5.4-7.8 percent higher on achievement tests than youth from this quartile attending public schools.
Jeynes conducted further analyses of the NELS data to determine some of the reasons why children of color and low-SES students perform better in religious schools than they do in public schools and why the achievement gap contracts in a religious school setting. He found that the school culture, strong parental participation, and the encouragement of religious faith were likely some of the reasons for the contraction of the achievement gap in religious schools.
Among the school culture manifestations, which were also indubitably affected by family and faith factors, Jeynes noted that the results indicated that religious schools have a higher level of racial harmony and are regarded as more racial friendly than public schools and are considerably less likely to have drug and alcohol problems than do public schools.
"American society needs to help create an environment that maximizes the number of youth of color that can access these strengths," Jeynes concluded, "by encouraging and not discouraging religious faith, facilitating the functioning of religious schools, and by creating a cultural environment that encourages strong families."
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Quality Of Elementary School Instruction Is Mediocre
For all the current emphasis on standardized testing and teaching requirements, the quality of elementary school instruction is mediocre at best, according to a study from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development study published in the March 30 issue of Science magazine.
"Any given child has less than a 20 percent chance of having a rich classroom experience consistently through elementary school," says Robert C. Pianta, lead researcher and Novartis US Foundation Professor of Education in the University of Virginia Curry School of Education. And for low-income children, the percentage is even less.
Based on live (not taped) observations of more than the same 1,000 children around the country in more than 2,500 of their first-, third- and fifth-grade classrooms, Pianta and colleagues reported in the article, "Opportunities to Learn in America's Elementary Classrooms," that pupils are not getting the kind of rich, challenging academic experiences that would enhance their learning and improve their test performance.
"Clearly, what we find is contrary to what is considered to be essential for a high-quality classroom," said Pianta, director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning.
"If you asked educators what's the most effective way to teach in a classroom, they would probably include small-group instruction, for example, but we found it occurred less than 10 percent of the time in those three grades," he said. For fifth grade, the occurrence is 7 percent.
High-quality teaching challenges children to use reasoning, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, with lots of teacher-student interaction, and it involves emotionally supportive interactions and engaging activities but that kind of experience is not typical, the study found.
The learning environment in classrooms is more likely to be passive than active, with teachers lecturing to the whole group or giving students individual seatwork about 90 percent of the time, Pianta said.
In instruction time, fifth-grade teachers spent 37 percent of the time on basic literacy skills, 25 percent on math, 11 percent on science and 13 percent on social studies, the classroom analysis found. These exposures are not consistent with stated national aims to improve math and science education.
In addition, students received only perfunctory feedback on their performance.
Related studies have shown that high-quality factors observed in the instructional climate do predict higher achievement gains and even close the achievement gap for first graders.
"Fifth-grade classrooms are pretty well managed and positive in terms of emotional support. They are not rich and intense in ways that would elicit thinking and learning," he said. "When it comes to instructional quality, there is room for considerable improvement, and it is apparent that teachers require different supports, perhaps more relevant to their actual work in classrooms."
Whether teachers have advanced degrees, many years of experience or meet state and federal standards consistent with "highly qualified" (the term used in the "No Child Left Behind" Act) have little to do with the instructional climate they create in their classrooms.
"It is troubling," the article says, "that opportunities to learn in classrooms are unrelated to features intended to regulate such opportunities and that students most in need of high-quality instruction are unlikely to experience it consistently."
Pianta warns that relying on regulations and test scores as the metrics for the quality of schools may not actually drive improvement in "actual opportunities to learn."
The researchers call for more observation-based studies actually looking at what goes on in classrooms, because they may reveal ways "for improving classroom teaching and the preparation of teachers.
The article is available here: ($10.00 to non-subscribers): http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/315/5820/1795
See related story: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2007-03-29-teacher-study_N.htm
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Johns Hopkins Study
What mathematics programs have been proven to help elementary students to succeed? To find out, this review summarizes evidence on three types of programs designed to improve the mathematics achievement of students in grades K-6:
Mathematics Curricula (MC), such as Everyday Mathematics, Saxon Math, and other standard and alternative textbooks.
Computer assisted instruction (CAI), such as Jostens/Compass Learning and SuccessMaker.
Instructional process programs (IP), such as cooperative learning, classroom management programs, and other approaches primarily intended to change teachers’ instructional strategies rather than curriculum or textbooks.
And the winners were:
Strong Evidence of Effectiveness
Classwide Peer Tutoring (IP)
Missouri Mathematics Program (IP)
Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) (IP)
Student Teams-Achievement Divisions (IP)
TAI Math (IP/MC)
Moderate Evidence of Effectiveness
Cognitively Guided Instruction (IP)
Connecting Math Concepts (IP/MC)
Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline (IP)
Project SEED (IP)
Small-Group Tutoring (IP)
Classworks was rated the best of all computer-assisted instruction programs studied, having proven demonstrative effectiveness with multiple studies showing at least 10 percentile point gains.
The Software & Information Industry Association has nominated Classworks for a 2007 CODiE award for Best Mathematics Instruction Solution, as well as for Best K-12 Instruction Solution. Last year, Classworks was awarded CODiE awards for Best Newcomer in the education field and as the Best Language Arts Instruction Solution. The 2007 honors will be awarded in April.
To see complete study please go to: http://www.bestevidence.org/math/math_summary.htm
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Study of Customer Satisfaction with Learning Management Systems
Research Indicates Continued Market Churn and Frustration; 24% of Respondents Likely to Switch Vendors
Bersin & Associates, the only research and advisory firm solely focused on What Works® in enterprise learning and talent management, today released its latest research report, 2007 LMS Customer Satisfaction:
An Industry Analysis of the Customer Experience with Learning Management Systems. This independently funded, 100-plus page study analyzes input from 516 system administrators, training managers, and executives on 20 satisfaction criteria. Thirteen LMS vendors agreed to participate in the study.
The study, which is based on four months of active research, evaluates a wide range of categories – product functions, technical support, customer service, business partnership, and implementation – all from the customers’ perspective.
The study covers two important areas. First, it analyzes the state of the LMS market by publishing overall satisfaction in each of the 20 areas. The study analyzes the factors that cause high and low satisfaction, including system ease of use, product capabilities, and vendor service and support. This information helps LMS buyers and vendors understand the factors which lead to successful and unsuccessful LMS solutions and identifies the areas of greatest risk.
Second, the study compares customer satisfaction among 13 top LMS vendors, grouped in three different ways: by size and complexity of implementation, by hosted vs. installed systems, and by average annual operating cost. These groupings ensure equitable comparisons and help purchasers focus on the categories that best meet their overall organizational objectives. For each of the three groupings, the study recognizes those vendors which are category leaders (those which achieved the highest ratings) and category outperformers (those which exceeded the category average). The report also highlights the three vendors with top ratings in customer loyalty.
Participating vendors included: Cornerstone OnDemand, GeoLearning, GeoMetrix, KnowledgePlanet, MeridianKSI, RISC, Oracle/PeopleSoft, Outstart, Plateau, Softscape, SumTotal, Technomedia, and VuePoint.
“This study has two important uses,” said Karen O’Leonard, lead analyst for the study. “First, it provides current and prospective LMS customers with valuable information on which solution providers are delivering the highest levels of service and product capabilities. It also provides LMS vendors with information on what service and product attributes are most important to customers, so that they can focus their efforts in the right areas.”
Examples of key research findings include:
- The LMS market remains in a high state of churn, with relatively low customer loyalty. 24% of respondents said they were “extremely likely” or “somewhat likely” to switch LMS vendors. Only three vendors had fewer than 10% of customer respondents who indicated a likelihood of switching vendors. This churn rate is actually significantly higher than the results obtained in 2005.
- Almost one out of five companies plan on spending more than $400K on LMS operations and maintenance this year. 25% plan on spending between $100K and $399K; 39% plan on spending less than $100K.
- Unlike the 2005 study, this year’s results showed that externally hosted LMSs did not necessarily yield higher satisfaction ratings. However, customers with hosted or on-demand LMSs did have higher satisfaction ratings in ease of upgrading, ease of learner use, and customer satisfaction.
- Areas with the lowest satisfaction ratings include reporting, ease of customization, rapid return on investment, and out-of-the-box functionality.
- As in the 2005 study, the results show that a vendor’s service and support are key determinants of customer satisfaction. Vendors that provide outstanding customer service and technical support – and particularly those that act as business partners to their customers – generally have higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
“While LMSs are rapidly becoming recognized as mission-critical enterprise applications, there is still significant room for improvement,” said Josh Bersin, president and founder. “Vendors and buyers are dealing with significant technology and functionality advancements in areas such as content integration, reporting, performance management, and systems integration. The message to buyers is to be careful: while LMS systems are very powerful, organizations must select and implement the right solution for their particular needs.
“For vendors, the message is consistent with findings from the 2005 study. While features and functions are important, the most important factor in customer satisfaction continues to be service and support. Vendors should not focus on R&D and growth at the expense of current customer success. The increased rate of churn tells us that many vendors continue to focus too heavily on acquiring new customers and not heavily enough on making their current customers successful.”
The complete report is available to Bersin & Associates research members and can be purchased for $1,495. For more details, including a table of contents, go to http://www.bersin.com/lmssat
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Healthy Schools Project Gets an 'A'
Community-university program lowers cardiovascular risk factors
A collaborative program sponsored by the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor community teaches children healthy habits and offers hope for a healthier future. And results from a new study suggest that the program is working.
"Anything we can do to fight childhood obesity in a culture where it is being fostered in so many ways is critical," says Kim Eagle, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. In 2004, Eagle and local organizations in Ann Arbor, Mich., founded Project Healthy Schools (www.projecthealthyschools.org), a program for sixth-grade students that’s designed to increase physical activity and promote healthier food choices.
This week, U-M’s Kimberly Lin, M.D., presented data at the prestigious American College of Cardiology conference indicating that the program has been successful in its first couple of years. Lin’s presentation showed that program participants had a significant drop in diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, there was a downward trend in systolic blood pressures and blood glucose levels among the students.
Initially just implemented in one middle school, the program was so well received that it has now expanded to five local middle schools. The program’s success has been acknowledged by the Michigan Surgeon General, who has recognized all the middle schools in the district through the Healthy School Environment Recognition Program.
"We’ve had very positive feedback and we know we’re changing some behaviors," says Jean DuRussel-Weston, U-M's MFit Community Health Initiatives program administrator and Project Healthy Schools manager. "In addition to self-reports, we’re very proud of the fact that we have physical measurements indicating change as well."
In the presentation to the American College of Cardiology, Lin cited data from a study done using the measurements from the 2005-2006 academic year. The study aimed to both describe the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in the students and to determine the program’s effect on those risk factors.
The researchers found that 40 percent of the 287 students assessed were considered "at-risk" for at least one of the six major risk factor categories, which included body mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and random glucose.
Prior to the intervention, 32 percent of the study participants were overweight (with a BMI above the 85th percentile for their height). A significant number of students were also identified as "at-risk" for systolic blood pressure (SBP) and total cholesterol levels. The researchers found that 8.7 percent had a SBP of at least 126 mmHg (which is the 90th percentile for an 11-year-old boy at the 95th percentile for height) and 9.6 percent had total cholesterol greater than 200mg/dl pre-intervention.
"The program allows us to identify students who are at risk," says Eagle. "We found that of the 40 percent of students at risk, 10 percent were a major concern. As a result, we contacted their parents and advised them to seek involvement with their child’s physician or other provider."
After the program’s completion, participants underwent another health screening. The researchers found a downward trend in systolic blood pressures and blood glucose levels– and found that diastolic blood pressures and total cholesterol levels had dropped significantly. Of the students who were "at-risk" before the program, only 6.2 percent had an elevated SBP after the intervention (17 students, compared to 24) and 5.5 percent had high total cholesterol levels (12 students, compared to 21).
"We have shown that many sixth-grade students in Ann Arbor already show markers of risk for cardiovascular events. Project Healthy Schools is a portable program that can positively affect the cardiovascular risk factor profile of these students," concludes Lin.
Teaching healthy habits
Project Healthy Schools is a 12-week program that incorporates fun, interactive activities with educational information to teach students the basics of proper nutrition and exercise. "We’re just trying to get kids excited about physical activity and healthy eating," says DuRussel-Weston.
The program begins in the fall with a kick-off assembly where U-M student athletes give motivational messages and do a group dance with the sixth-graders. Initial screenings and surveys measure a student’s health, physical activity, and eating habits. The voluntary wellness screening includes height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, and a three minute step test to measure heart rates. In addition, a full cholesterol test (known as a lipid panel) and random (non-fasting) glucose test are offered with parental consent.
Over the next few months, students participate in weekly activities designed to meet the project’s five goals:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Make better beverage choices, reducing high-sugar items
- Perform at least 150 minutes of exercise each week
- Eat less fast food and fatty food
- Spend less mindless time in front of the TV and computer
With their classes, students learn the updated food pyramid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and how and why eating a "rainbow of color" of fruits and vegetables is the best way to get all the nutrients they need. They also learn portion control, how junk foods fit into a healthy diet, how to interpret food’s nutrition facts panel and why limiting fat in the diet is important.
Students also learn about resting heart rates and the link between aerobic exercise and heart health. They learn how to calculate their target heart rate and the different activities they can do to achieve it.
Throughout the program period there are three interactive assemblies based on the Physical Education classes. Activities at these assemblies include exercises such as yoga, circuit-training, or dancing. In their classes, students also calculate the average time they spend in front of the TV or computer each day and identify other activities they could do instead.
To help motivate students, a friendly competition takes place between classrooms, with a monthly winner determined by an online "HealthyBlog." Students record their fruit, vegetable and healthy beverage consumption at lunch in addition to the number of minutes of exercise they do daily.
Monthly team winners receive "active" gadgets such as Frisbees, foot bags and yo-yo’s, and monthly individual winners receive Border’s bookstore gift certificates. At the end of the year, the overall winning team receives an "active" field trip of their choice. Previous years’ winners have chosen a softball game with healthy snacks, a swimming party and a rock climbing demonstration.
In addition to teaching students healthy habits, Project Healthy Schools aims to make the students’ surroundings more health-conscious. Changes have been made in cafeteria selections and vending machine options. For example, vegetables and dip and a fruit salad bar have been added to the cafeteria, and items like the double-bacon cheeseburger and high fat meat pizza have been eliminated. In addition, the soda pop vending machines have been changed to offer water instead. "We owe it to our children for school to be an environment that promotes health," says Eagle.
Supporting the healthy habits outside of school is also important. "The change has to be reinforced at home or it’s not going to last," DuRussel-Weston stresses. "Parents can talk to their kids about what they’re learning in school. It’s important that they are informed so that they know how to go out and buy food that fits in with the healthy behaviors being taught."
Project Healthy Schools keeps parents up-to-date through e-mail communication, the program’s website, and WE CAN! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) which is a program of the National Institutes of Health designed to reach parents and children together through after-school activities.
"This program is a long-term investment in the community and an investment in the future," says Dr. Eagle. "We hope that the Project Healthy Schools program not only impacts our students, but serves as a model to other school districts as well."
The current data suggests that the program has had an impact on its students, and other Michigan school districts have inquired about it. "Eventually, we hope to have a toolkit with all of our activities, props and educational materials so that the program will continue even when we can’t be there. If districts were interested, it would be great if it spread all over the country," says DuRussel-Weston.
For now, Project Healthy Schools continues to change the way Ann Arbor students think about food and beverage choices and exercise. The program is a true community-university collaborative, and Eagle stresses that it would have been "simply impossible" to implement the program without the help of the community and private donors.
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Math Isn’t Just Causing Kids Anxiety
Study Shows That Mom and Dad Are Stumped and Stressed When It Comes to Math Homework
A new survey reveals that math anxiety is alive and well – and it’s not just kids feeling the pressure. Over half of the parents contacted, (54%) report that they, too, experience some stress over their child's math homework.
Busy family schedules, increasing amounts of homework and new teaching styles are taking their toll on parents in every corner of the country. According to the survey, conducted by Russell Research, nearly 3/4 (72%) of parents surveyed reported that their child has math homework on most school nights. Seven out of ten parents (71%) say that because the approach to teaching math has changed since their school days, it’s taking them more time to help their child complete his or her math homework.
Tami Casey, mother of two school-aged children, agrees that math homework can be a struggle. “It’s been a long time since I sat in a math class and the subject is taught very differently now. I find myself spending quite a bit of time reviewing the textbooks and doing my own homework to help my kids with their questions.”
Getting help right when the student and parent need it is one of the most important strategies according to the tutors. Three out of five parents surveyed agree that getting help with homework when they need it would ease their anxiety.
Tutor.com offers a solution – on demand tutoring. On demand means students connect to a professional tutor the moment they need help via the Internet. Unlike traditional tutoring or even online tutoring where parents must predict their child’s needs and schedule tutoring sessions in advance, for a particular subject, Tutor.com’s on demand service empowers parents and students to get help now – right when they need it. A tutoring session can be just 10 minutes for a quick question or over an hour when a student needs more help. There are no appointments to make and no schedules to keep.
About the Survey
Russell Research conducted this online study from March 9 – March 12, 2007 among 595 online parents of school age children across the United States, drawn from Survey Sampling International’s SurveySpot online consumer panel. The results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.
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ISU Psychologists Publish Three New Studies on Violent Video Game Effects on Youths
New research by Iowa State University psychologists provides more concrete evidence of the adverse effects of violent video game exposure on the behavior of children and adolescents.
ISU Distinguished Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson, Assistant Professor of Psychology Douglas Gentile, and doctoral student Katherine Buckley share the results of three new studies in their book, "Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents" (Oxford University Press, 2007). It is the first book to unite empirical research and public policy related to violent video games.
Study One: kids' games still have behavioral effect
The book's first study found that even exposure to cartoonish children's violent video games had the same short-term effects on increasing aggressive behavior as the more graphic teen (T-rated) violent games. The study tested 161 9- to 12-year-olds, and 354 college students. Each participant was randomly assigned to play either a violent or non-violent video game. "Violent" games were defined as those in which intentional harm is done to a character motivated to avoid that harm. The definition was not an indication of the graphic or gory nature of any violence depicted in a game.
The researchers selected one children's non-violent game ("Oh No! More Lemmings!"), two children's violent video games with happy music and cartoonish game characters ("Captain Bumper" and "Otto Matic"), and two violent T-rated video games ("Future Cop" and "Street Fighter"). For ethical reasons, the T-rated games were played only by the college-aged participants.
The participants subsequently played another computer game designed to measure aggressive behavior in which they set punishment levels in the form of noise blasts to be delivered to another person participating in the study. Additional information was also gathered on each participant's history of violent behavior and previous violent media viewing habits.
The researchers found that participants who played the violent video games -- even if they were children's games -- punished their opponents with significantly more high-noise blasts than those who played the non-violent games. They also found that habitual exposure to violent media was associated with higher levels of recent violent behavior -- with the newer interactive form of media violence found in video games more strongly related to violent behavior than exposure to non-interactive media violence found in television and movies.
"Even the children's violent video games -- which are more cartoonish and often show no blood
-- had the same size effect on children and college students as the much more graphic games have on college students," said Gentile. "What seems to matter is whether the players are practicing intentional harm to another character in the game. That's what increases immediate aggression -- more than how graphic or gory the game is."
Study Two: the violent video game effect
Another study detailed in the book surveyed 189 high school students. The authors found that respondents who had more exposure to violent video games held more pro-violent attitudes, had more hostile personalities, were less forgiving, believed violence to be more typical, and behaved more aggressively in their everyday lives. The survey measured students' violent TV, movie and video game exposure; attitudes toward violence; personality trait hostility; personality trait forgiveness; beliefs about the normality of violence; and the frequency of various verbally and physically aggressive behaviors.
The researchers were surprised that the relation to violent video games was so strong.
"We were surprised to find that exposure to violent video games was a better predictor of the students' own violent behavior than their gender or their beliefs about violence," said Anderson. "Although gender aggressive personality and beliefs about violence all predict aggressive and violent behavior, violent video game play still made an additional difference.
"We were also somewhat surprised that there was no apparent difference in the video game violence effect between boys and girls or adolescents with already aggressive attitudes," he said.
The study found that one variable -- trait forgiveness -- appeared to make that person less affected by exposure to violent video games in terms of subsequent violent behavior, but this protective effect did not occur for less extreme forms of physical aggression.
Study Three: violent video games and school
A third new study in the book assessed 430 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, their peers, and their teachers twice during a five-month period in the school year. It found that children who played more violent video games early in the school year changed to see the world in a more aggressive way, and became more verbally and physically aggressive later in the school year -- even after controlling for how aggressive they were at the beginning of the study. Higher aggression and lower pro-social behavior were in turn related to those children being more rejected by their peers.
"I was startled to find those changes in such a short amount of time," said Gentile. "Children's aggression in school did increase with greater exposure to violent video games, and this effect was big enough to be noticed by their teachers and peers within five months."
The study additionally found an apparent lack of "immunity" to the effects of media violence exposure. TV and video game screen time was also found to be a significant negative predictor of grades.
The book's final chapter offers "Helpful Advice for Parents and Other Caregivers on Choosing and Using Video Games." The authors say that providing clear, science-based information to parents and caregivers about the harmful effects of exposure to violent video games is the first step in helping educate the people who are best able to use the information. The advice includes links to Web sites about entertainment media and parenting issues, including Anderson's and Gentile's Web pages at http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/caa/ and http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/dgentile/.
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Plays Promote Prevention of Drug Abuse
A new study finds that theatrical drama is an educational tool in the fight against drug addiction and abuse. Research published today in Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, shows that after watching the play Tunnels – a series of six vignettes depicting the effects of alcohol and drug abuse – over half of the audience left the theatre wanting to get involved directly in drug and alcohol prevention in their homes and communities.
Tunnels was inspired by 'life stories' developed by counsellors and researchers working in the substance abuse field and by Howard Craft, the local playwright who authored the play. The production was performed six times under the direction of Karen Dacons-Brock at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). The NCCU research team, led by Allyn Howlett and graduate student Aileen Stephens-Hernandez, asked the Durham, NC audience to fill out a 22-question survey as they entered the theatre lobby, together with a further post-performance survey. A follow-up telephone survey was then carried out three months after the play was shown, to assess people's participation in preventing drug abuse.
Almost half of those seeing the play said beforehand that they sometimes participated in some form of drug abuse prevention activities. Three months following the play, however, almost all those surveyed reported some involvement in prevention,either by generating discussions among their families and friends, or within their community by making charitable donations to organisations fighting addiction. Everyone could identify at least one memorable scene within the play, and nearly all believed that the scenes were life-like.
Discussions of drug and alcohol use and abuse can be difficult, and Howlett et al. have shown that plays and other forms of entertainment should be considered useful tools to help education and communication about these life-threatening issues. "Prevention begins with the awareness that the problem of drug and alcohol abuse exists in our culture," says Howlett, "and that each of us can make an impact on this problem within the family unit and other close social networks."
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Teachers College Report Says Nation Could Save $45 Billion Each Year By Investing in School Interventions Aimed at Reducing Dropouts
Biggest savings would come in minority student populations
The U.S. taxpayer could reap $45 billion annually if the number of high school dropouts were cut in half, according to a new study conducted by a group of the nation’s leading researchers in education and economics.
The savings would be achieved via extra tax revenues, reduced costs of public health, crime and justice, and decreased welfare payments. Even a one-fifth reduction would result in an annual $18 billion public savings, according to the study, whose figures do not even include the private benefits of improved economic wellbeing that would accrue to the new graduates themselves.
The study identifies five cost-effective educational strategies already shown to boost high school graduation rates and estimates that the country could save a net of $127,000 per each new graduate added through “successful implementation of the median” of the five interventions.
“Educational investments to raise the high school graduation rate appear to be doubly beneficial,” the study’s authors write. “The quest for greater equity for all young adults would also produce greater efficiency in the use of public resources.”
The study – titled “The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for America’s Children” – was conducted by Henry Levin, William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College; Clive Belfield, Assistant Professor of Economics and Education at Queens College, City University of New York; Peter Muennig, M.D., Assistant Professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health; and Cecilia Rouse, Theodore A. Wells ’29 Professor of Economics at Princeton University. Support for the study was provided by to Teachers College by Lilo and Gerry Leeds .
To arrive at their estimates, the researchers calculated the public benefit generated by each intervention and subtracted the investment required to implement them. The $127,000 figure reflects the mean for both genders and all ethnic groups. The net public savings for each new graduate added among black males – the group most at risk for dropping out – is estimated at $186,500.
The new findings build on data presented in October 2005 by the same team and other researchers that estimated that the U.S. loses hundreds of billions of dollars each year when young people fail to graduate from high school.
“What makes this study so powerful is that it has been conducted by economists of the first rank, using sophisticated approaches that, if anything, understate the potential value of investing up front in education,” said former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, who heads the Alliance for Excellent Education, based in Washington, D.C. “At a time when Congress is reevaluating the effectiveness of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, it provides lawmakers with a valuable tool to make the case that schools must be given more capacity to improve the achievement of their students.”
The conservative approach used by the researchers does not include some of the benefits of graduation such as reductions in juvenile crime and teenage pregnancy that cannot be accurately quantified. In addition, national data tends to underestimate the numbers of high school dropouts, suggesting that the actual savings from increasing dropouts might be higher than those presented in the study. Among the study’s other findings:
- The average lifetime benefit in terms of additional taxes paid per expected high school graduate is $139,100.
- The average lifetime public health savings per expected high school graduate (achieved through reduction in Medicare and Medicaid costs) is $40,500. For black females, the highest users of these programs, the figure is $62,700.
- The average lifetime crime-related cost reduction per expected high school graduate is $26,600.
- Being a high school graduate is associated with a 40 percent lower probability of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); a 1 percent lower probability of receiving housing assistance; and a 19 percent lower probability of receiving food stamps. For college graduates, the probability reductions are 62 percent, 35 percent and 54 percent.
Of the five successful interventions identified by the researchers, two take place in preschool, one in elementary school, one in high school and one throughout the K-12 years. In general, the study’s authors identify several features that characterize effective school interventions: small-size schools; personalization; high academic expectations; strong counseling; parental engagement; extended time; and competent and appropriate personnel. They note that one of the interventions, First Things First, has the largest economic benefits relative to costs and combines all these features. Other interventions (described in the attached summary) include Perry Preschool Project, Chicago Parent-Center Program, class size reduction, and increasing teacher salaries.
The Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education (CBCSE) conducts research on the benefits and costs of alternative educational policies and interventions. The CBCSE brings together scholarship on both benefits and costs so that the full value of investments in education can be evaluated, and the most productive use of resources can be chosen.
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School Interventions Proven to Raise High School Graduation Rates
- Perry Pre-School , the oft-chronicled pre-K program in Ypsilanti, Michigan . Perry provides children with 1.8 years of a center-based program for 2.5 hours per weekday, offering a child-to-teach ratio of 5:1; home visits; and group meetings of parents. The researchers estimate that, implemented on a broad scale, Perry’s benefit-to-cost ratio would be 2.31 to 1, and that it would create an additional 19 new high school graduates per 100 students.
- Class-size reduction. This approach – based on the parameters of Project Star, a four-year, randomized field trial in Tennessee – would include four years of schooling (from kindergarten through third grade) with class size reduced from 25 to 15. The researchers estimate that, implemented on a broad scale, class-size reduction along these lines would achieve a benefit-to-cost ratio of 1.46 to 1, and that it would create an additional 11 new high school graduates per 100 students.
- First Things First, a comprehensive school reform of small learning communities that includes dedicated teachers, family advocates and instructional improvement. FTF would achieve an estimated benefit-to-cost ratio of 3.54 to 1 and create an additional 16 high school graduates per 100 students.
- Chicago Child-Parent Center Program. A center-based preschool program with parental involvement, outreach and health/nutrition services, based in public schools. This approach would achieve an estimated benefit-to-cost ratio of 3.09 to 1 and create an additional 11 high school graduates per 100 students.
- Teacher salary increase of 10 percent for all years K-12. This approach would achieve an estimated benefit-to-cost ratio of 2.55 to 1 and create an additional five high school graduates per 100 students.
The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for All of America's Children
The authors provide an answer for those individuals who currently fail to graduate from high school. The present cohort of 20-year olds in the US today includes over 700,000 high school dropouts, many from disadvantaged backgrounds. The authors investigate the economic consequences of improving their education.
The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education -- Technical Appendix
This Technical Appendix provides supporting information for "The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for All of America's Children." This appendix includes calculations of the costs of the interventions, discussions of methodology, and further information on the economic consequences of inadequate education.
The Public Returns to Public Educational Investments in African American Males
What is the Cost of Preschool?
The authors delineate the root causes of differences in per-student costs of states’ preschool programs, and suggest cost tradeoffs as different features such as smaller class size or longer school days are introduced or substituted for each other. Their goal is to aid state and local governments in assessing the most effective mix of characteristics for any given budget constraint.
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"It's Being Done" Academic Success in Unexpected Schools
By Karin Chenoweth
This straightforward and inspiring book takes readers into schools where educators believe—and prove—that all children, even those considered “hard-to-teach,” can learn to high standards. Their teachers and principals refuse to write them off and instead show how thoughtful instruction, high expectations, stubborn commitment, and careful consideration of each child’s needs can result in remarkable improvements in student achievement.
“Every American must read this book. It demonstrates unequivocally that an unyielding belief in the ability of all children—regardless of background—to excel at the highest levels combined with a relentless commitment to excellent instruction can radically transform public education in this nation. If every school in America adopted the lessons of ‘It’s Being Done,’ then the achievement gap—in my view, the greatest injustice facing our nation—would be relegated to the history books.”
- Jason Kamras, 2005 National Teacher of the Year
“Can a good school enable disadvantaged children to catch up? Some say, ‘No, we must change society first.’ This scrupulous and humane book shows that a good school can make a decisive difference in giving every child a chance to achieve the American Dream. Karin Chenoweth is to be warmly thanked for showing in detail how some schools and their devoted staffs have refuted the idea that demography is fate.”
- E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia
“‘It’s Being Done’ is a refreshingly honest and thoughtful analysis of American K-12 education. It comes at a time when so many people are asking if it is possible not to leave children behind, especially children who are poor and of color. Chenoweth’s research carefully documents important examples of academic achievement among these children in a variety of challenging circumstances. She identifies the many characteristics of successful schools, including setting high expectations for students, data-driven instruction, the wise use of school time, ongoing professional development of teachers, and comprehensive leadership teams made up of principals, teachers, parents, and community members. ‘It’s Being Done’ will contribute significantly to the national conversation on the education of our children. Perhaps more important, it will give us reason to hope.”
- Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
About the Author:
Karin Chenoweth is a long-time education writer who currently writes for The Achievement Alliance. From 1999 to 2004 she wrote a column on schools and education for The Washington Post, and before that was senior writer and executive editor of Black Issues in Higher Education (now Diverse).
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Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort
With computers now commonplace in American classrooms, and districts facing substantial costs of hardware and software, concerns naturally arise about the contribution of this technology to students' learning. The No Child Left Behind Act (P.L. 107-110, section 2421) called for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to conduct a national study of the effectiveness of educational technology. This legislation also called for the study to use "scientifically based research methods and control groups or control conditions" and to focus on the impact of technology on student academic achievement.
In 2003, ED contracted with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) and SRI International to conduct the study. The team worked with ED to select technology products; recruit school districts, schools, and teachers; test students; observe classrooms; and analyze the data. The study used an experimental design to assess the effects of technology products, with volunteering teachers randomly assigned to use or not use selected products.
The main findings of the study are:
- Test Scores Were Not Significantly Higher in Classrooms Using Selected Reading and Mathematics Software Products. Test scores in treatment classrooms that were randomly assigned to use products did not differ from test scores in control classrooms by statistically significant margins.
- Effects Were Correlated With Some Classroom and School Characteristics. For reading products, effects on overall test scores were correlated with the student-teacher ratio in first grade classrooms and with the amount of time that products were used in fourth grade classrooms. For math products, effects were uncorrelated with classroom and school characteristics.
Intervention: Sixteen products were selected by ED based on public submissions and ratings by the study team and expert review panels. Products were grouped into four areas: first grade reading, fourth grade reading, sixth grade math, and algebra.
Participants: Thirty-three districts, 132 schools, and 439 teachers participated in the study. In first grade, 13 districts, 42 schools, and 158 teachers participated. In fourth grade, 11 districts, 43 schools, and 118 teachers participated. In sixth grade, 10 districts, 28 schools, and 81 teachers participated, and for algebra, 10 districts, 23 schools, and 71 teachers participated. Districts and schools could participate in the study at more than one grade level, and some did. Districts were recruited on the basis that they did not already use technology products that were similar to study products in participating schools.
Research Design: Within each school, teachers were randomly assigned to be able to use the study product (the treatment group) or not (the control group). Control group teachers were able to use other technology products that may have been in their classrooms. The study administered tests to students in both types of classrooms near the beginning and end of the school year. The study also observed treatment and control classrooms three times during the school year and collected data from teacher questionnaires and interviews, student records, and product records. Because students were clustered in classrooms, and classrooms were clustered in schools, effects were estimated using hierarchical linear models.
Outcomes Analyzed: Student test scores, classroom activities, and roles of teachers and students.
Educational technology is used for word processing, presentation, spreadsheets, databases, internet search, distance education, virtual schools, interactions with simulations and models, and collaboration over local and global networks. Technology also is used as assistive devices for students with disabilities and to teach concepts or skills that are difficult or impossible to convey without technology. This study is specifically focused on whether students had higher reading or math test scores when teachers had access to selected software products designed to support learning in reading or mathematics. It was not designed to assess the effectiveness of educational technology across its entire spectrum of uses, and the study's findings do not support conclusions about technology's effectiveness beyond the study's context, such as in other subject areas.
This report is the first of two from the study. Whether reading and mathematics software is more effective when teachers have more experience using it is being examined with a second year of data. The second year involves teachers who were in the first data collection (those who are teaching in the same school and at the same grade level or subject area) and a second cohort of students. The second report will present effects for individual products. The current report will present effects for groups of products.
Executive Summary http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pdf/20074006.pdf
Full Report http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pdf/20074005.pdf
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English Language Learning
English language learners (ELLs) are among the most academically at-risk groups in our schools today and their numbers will rise steadily in the near future. On average, ELL students receive lower grades, score below their classmates on standardized reading and mathematics tests, and are often judged by their teachers as academic "underachievers." The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) review focuses on interventions designed to improve the English language literacy and/or academic achievement of elementary school students who are English language learners.
This WWC review focuses on ELL elementary school students, meaning the intervention is offered to students in K-6 classrooms. In addition, curricula are being characterized based on whether they target special subpopulations of children (e.g., learners disabled, language impaired, ESL). The review could include studies in which students may no longer be considered limited English proficient by the school, but where students still possess limited English language skills. Students who no longer are considered limited English proficient, but who were considered ELL in the preceding two school years, often possess limited English language proficiency. Therefore, findings for such students are of high value for teachers and administrators.
Only research on interventions that are replicable (i.e., documented well enough that they can be reproduced, which are generally materials-based designed for a specific sub-population of ELLs) will be reviewed. Studies that compare differing languages of instruction (e.g. teaching first graders in Spanish vs. English) were excluded. Furthermore, the review excluded studies where all instruction is conducted in a students' native language. The purpose of this review is to determine which approaches for teaching academics to second language learners are effective. A study of teaching reading or mathematics in a students' native language is a legitimate mathematics or reading study, but does not provide information on how to deal with the challenging task of teaching academic material to students using a language that they have not yet mastered. Should a study provide evidence about the merits of a broad theory for language acquisition and not offer information on a curriculum that can be used in today's schools, the study will be considered as outside the scope of the review. More information regarding the English Language Learners review is now available.
Intervention: Bilingual Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition | February 15, 2007
The Bilingual Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (BCIRC) program, an adaptation of the Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) program, was designed to help Spanish-speaking students succeed in reading Spanish and then making a successful transition to English reading. In the adaptation, students complete tasks that focus on reading, writing, and language activities in Spanish and English, while working in small cooperative learners groups. The intervention focuses on students in grades 2-5.
BCIRC was found to have potentially positive effects on reading achievement and English language development.
Read the Intervention Report. http://whatworks.ed.gov/InterventionReportLinks.asp?iid=21&tid=10
Intervention: Instructional Conversations and Literature Logs | October 26, 2006
Developer: William Saunders and Claude Goldenberg, published by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE)
The goal of Instructional Conversations is to help English language learners develop reading comprehension ability along with English language proficiency. Instructional Conversations are small-group discussions. Acting as facilitators, teachers engage English language learners in discussions about stories, key concepts, and related personal experiences, which allow them to appreciate and build on each others' experiences, knowledge, and understanding. Literature Logs require English language learners to write in a log in response to writing prompts or questions related to sections of stories. These responses are then shared in small groups or with a partner.
Instructional Conversations and Literature Logs was found to have potentially positive effects on reading achievement and English language development.
Read the Intervention Report. http://www.whatworks.ed.gov/InterventionReportLinks.asp?iid=245&tid=10
Intervention: Vocabulary Improvement Program for English Language Learners & Their Classmates | October 19, 2006
The Vocabulary Improvement Program for English Language Learners and Their Classmates (VIP) is a vocabulary development curriculum for English language learners and native English speakers (grades 4-6). The 15-week program includes 30-45 minute whole class and small group activities, which aim to increase students' understanding of target vocabulary words included in a weekly reading assignment.
VIP was found to have potentially positive effects on reading achievement and English language development.
Read the Intervention Report. http://www.whatworks.ed.gov/InterventionReportLinks.asp?iid=326&tid=10
Intervention: Read Naturally | October 5, 2006
Read Naturally is designed to improve reading fluency using a combination of books, audio-tapes, and computer software. This program includes three main strategies: repeated reading of English text for oral reading fluency development, teacher modeling of story reading, and systematic monitoring of student progress by teachers. Students work at a reading level appropriate for their achievement level, progress through the program at their own rate, and work, for the most part, on an independent basis. The Read Naturally strategy is designed to increase time spent reading by combining teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring.
Read Naturally was found to have no discernible effects on elementary school ELL students' reading achievement.
Read the Intervention Report. http://www.whatworks.ed.gov/InterventionReportLinks.asp?iid=325&tid=10
Intervention: Enhanced Proactive Reading | September 28, 2006
Enhanced Proactive Reading, a comprehensive, integrated reading, language arts, and English language development curriculum, is targeted to first-grade English language learners experiencing problems with learners to read through conventional instruction. The curriculum is implemented as small group daily reading instruction, during which English Language Learners instructors provide opportunities for participation from all students and give feedback for student responses.
Enhanced Proactive Reading was found to have potentially positive effects on reading achievement and no discernible effects on English language development.
Read the Intervention Report. http://www.whatworks.ed.gov/InterventionReportLinks.asp?iid=243&tid=10
Intervention: Fast ForWord Language | September 28, 2006
Fast ForWord Language is a computer-based instructional program developed to build cognitive skills students need to improve English language proficiency and reading skill. It consists of seven game-like exercises, including nonverbal and verbal sound discrimination, phonological processing, vocabulary recognition, and language comprehension. Each exercise begins with basic skills and builds up to more complex skills. The difficulty of each task is continuously adapted so that students would get about 80% of the items correct.
Fast ForWord Language was found to have potentially positive effects on English language development and no discernible effects on the reading achievement of elementary school English language learners.
Read the Intervention Report. http://www.whatworks.ed.gov/InterventionReportLinks.asp?iid=245&tid=10
Intervention: Reading Mastery / SRA / McGraw-Hill | September 28, 2006
Reading Mastery is a direct instruction program designed to provide explicit, systematic instruction in English language reading. Reading Mastery is available in two versions, Reading Mastery Classic levels I and II (for use in grades K-3) and Reading Mastery Plus, an integrated reading-language program for grades K-6. The program begins by teaching phonemic awareness and sound-letter correspondence and moves into word and passage reading, vocabulary development, comprehension, and building oral reading fluency. Later lessons continue to emphasize accurate and fluent decoding while teaching students the skills necessary to read and comprehend and to learn from expository text. Lessons are designed to be fast-paced and interactive. Students are grouped by similar reading level, based on program placement tests. The program includes placement assessments and a continuous monitoring system.
Reading Mastery was found to have potentially positive effects on the reading achievement of English language learners.
Read the Intervention Report. http://www.whatworks.ed.gov/InterventionReportLinks.asp?iid=243&tid=10
Intervention: Read Well | September 21, 2006
Read Well is a research-based reading curriculum designed to improve student literacy. This program includes explicit, systematic instruction in English decoding, sustained practice of decoding skills and fluency, and instruction in vocabulary and concepts presented in text. It also provides support for English language learner (ELL) students through scaffolded lesson instruction and oral language priming activities.
Read Well was found to have potentially positive effects on reading achievement of elementary school English language learners.
Read the Intervention Report. http://www.whatworks.ed.gov/InterventionReportLinks.asp?iid=324&tid=10
Intervention: Arthur | September 14, 2006
Developer: WGBH Boston and Cookie Jar Education, Inc.
Arthur, a book-based educational television program designed for children ages 4-8, is popular among preschool and kindergarten students. The program is based on the storybooks, by Marc Brown, about Arthur, an 8-year-old aardvark. Each show is 30 minutes in length and includes two stories involving characters dealing with moral issues. The show has been used as a listening comprehension and language development intervention for English language learners students.
Arthur was found to have potentially positive effects on English language development.
Read the Intervention Report. http://www.whatworks.ed.gov/InterventionReportLinks.asp?iid=259&tid=10
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The Most Recent Reports From the What Works Clearinghouse
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) was established in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to provide educators, policy-makers, researchers, and the public with a central and trusted source of scientific evidence of what works to improve student outcomes.
Education decision-makers confront differing messages from high-quality research and from promotional claims. WWC is a decision-making tool for locating and understanding evidence that is credible and reliable.
WWC conducts systematic reviews of existing research. Reviews under way in 2006 cover seven topic areas selected because many WWC customers identified them as the most pressing issues in education:
- Beginning Reading
- Character Education
- Dropout Prevention
- Early Childhood Education
- Elementary School Math Curricula
- English Language Learning
- Middle School Math Curricula
WWC rates studies as "Meets Evidence Standards," "Meets Evidence Standards with Reservations," or "Does Not Meet Evidence Screens," based on the relevance of the study to the review and the strength of the study design and conduct. Based on all studies that "Meet Evidence Standards" or "Meet Evidence Standards with Reservations," an intervention earns one of the following ratings:
- Positive: Strong evidence of a positive effect with no overriding contrary evidence
- Potentially positive: Evidence of a positive effect with no overriding contrary evidence
- Mixed: Evidence of both positive and negative effects
- No discernible effects: No affirmative evidence of effects
- Potentially negative: Evidence of a negative effect with no overriding contrary evidence
- Negative: Strong evidence of a negative effect with no overriding contrary evidence
The intervention ratings are a new feature of WWC Intervention Reports that pull together findings from several studies. They help WWC users focus on all the available evidence for an intervention. They build on and use the WWC Study Standards; they do not change or replace those standards.
Products and Services
Intervention Reports summarize the strength of the evidence from all studies reviewed for a particular intervention and provide an intervention-level rating.
Topic Reports build on Intervention Reports, summarizing findings on all interventions relevant to a particular topic.
The Registry of Outcome Evaluators is an online database of evaluators who conduct studies on the effects of educational interventions. Users can search for evaluators by geographic region, individual, organization, content area experience, and target population.
The What Works Help Desk provides practical, easy-to-use guides for those sponsoring or conducting rigorous evaluations of educational programs, as well as resources for those seeking to identify evidence-based programs. http://www.whatworkshelpdesk.ed.gov
Neither the WWC nor the U.S. Department of Education endorses any interventions. For more information, visit http://www.whatworks.ed.gov, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-866-WWC-9799.
Review the most recent reports from the What Works Clearinghouse:
March 26, 2007:
Middle School Math: I CAN Learn® Pre-Algebra and Algebra - The WWC found I CAN Learn® Pre-Algebra and Algebra to have positive effects on math achievement.
Middle School Math: University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) Algebra - The WWC found University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) Algebra to have potentially positive effects on math achievement
March 19, 2007:
Beginning Reading: Reading Recovery® - The WWC found Reading Recovery® to have positive effects on students' alphabetics skills and general reading achievement outcomes. The program was found to have potentially positive effects on comprehension and fluency
March 12, 2007:
Dropout Prevention: Middle College High School - The WWC found Middle College High School to have no discernible effects on staying in school or completing school.
Dropout Prevention: Twelve Together - The WWC found Twelve Together to have potentially positive effects on staying in school and no discernible effects on progressing in school.
Early Childhood Education: Words and Concepts - The WWC found Words and Concepts to have no discernible effects on oral language.
Middle School Math: Transition Mathematics - The WWC found Transition Mathematics to have mixed effects on mathematics achievement.
February 15, 2007:
English Language Learning: Bilingual Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition - The WWC found Bilingual Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition to have potentially positive effects on reading achievement and English language development.
February 8, 2007:
Early Childhood Education: Dialogic Reading - The WWC found Dialogic Reading to have positive effects on oral language and no discernible effects on phonological processing.
Early Childhood Education: Sound Foundations - The WWC found Sound Foundations to have potentially positive effects on phonological processing and early reading/writing.
February 1, 2007:
Character Education: Positive Action (Revised) - The WWC found Positive Action to have positive effects on elementary school students' behavior and academic achievement.
January 18, 2007:
Early Childhood Education: Interactive Shared Book Reading - The WWC found Interactive Shared Book Reading to have mixed effects on oral language and potentially positive effects on phonological processing.
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The Root of Dyscalculia Found - The Inability to Do Math
Scientists led by University College London have induced dyscalculia in subjects without the math learning difficulty for the first time. The study, which finds that the right parietal lobe is responsible for dyscalculia, potentially has implications for diagnosis and management through remedial teaching.
Dyscalculia is just as prevalent in the population as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – around 5% of the population is affected. However, dyscalculia has not been given the same attention as other disorders and the underlying brain dysfunction causing dyscalculia is still a mystery. It is hoped that this study will provide a better understanding of the condition and lead to better diagnosis and treatment.
Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh, of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said: “This is the first causal demonstration that the parietal lobe is the key to understanding developmental dyscalculia. Most people process numbers very easily – almost automatically – but people with dyscalculia do not. We wanted to find out what would happen when the areas relevant to maths learning in the right parietal lobes were effectively knocked out for several hundred milliseconds. We found that stimulation to this brain region during a maths test radically impacted on the subjects’ reaction time.
“This provides strong evidence that dyscalculia is caused by malformations in the right parietal lobe and provides solid grounds for further study on the physical abnormalities present in dyscalculics’ brains. It’s an important step to the ultimate goal of early diagnosis through analysis of neural tissue, which in turn will lead to earlier treatments and more effective remedial teaching.”
Using neuronavigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to stimulate the brain, scientists were able to bring about dyscalculia in normal subjects for a short time while the subjects completed a maths task that involved comparing two digits, one larger in physical size than the other and the other larger numerically. For example, the subjects compared a 2 and a 4. The 2 was in a larger font than the 4 and subjects had to decide which digit was numerically larger.
The effect of TMS lasted only a few hundred milliseconds in the subjects and was brought on just at the point when the subject had to evaluate the numbers and decide which had the greater value or which was physically bigger. The test was designed to measure the subjects’ automatic processing of numbers and was rolled out to both people with the dysfunction and those without it.
The researchers found that non-dyscalculic participants displayed dyscalculic-like behaviour in number processing only during TMS-induced neuronal activity disruptions to the right intraparietal sulcus. These findings were further validated by testing participants suffering from developmental dyscalculia. The results of the dyscalculic group reproduced the behavioural results obtained in non-dyscalculic volunteers during right parietal TMS, but not after left parietal TMS or sham stimulation.
This novel approach of directly comparing healthy participants with TMS-induced virtual dyscalculia to participants suffering from developmental dyscalculia enabled the researchers to propose a direct causal relationship between malfunctions along the right intraparietal sulcus and developmental dyscalculia.
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Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline
Texas Appleseed has worked in collaboration with Advocacy, Inc. and the Texas Public Policy Foundation to produce a brief aimed at improving school discipline policies.
A quick glance at the sobering statistics surrounding youth and Texas schools' overuse of Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs) quickly dissolves any question one may have of why interest in the School-to-Prison Pipeline is so high amongst legislators. A study conducted in conjunction with eight school districts in the state of Texas, five refusing to participate, revealed that:
- Over 100,000 students per year are sent to DAEPs;
- Nearly 600 Pre-K and Kindergarten, as well as over 3,000 First Grade students have been sent to DAEPs over the past five years; and
- Children in DAEPs have five times the dropout rate of mainstream disciplinary programs.
The high dropout rates associated with these Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs strongly correlate with entry of youths and adults into the criminal justice system, producing a school-to-prison pipeline. According to the policy brief, entitled "Keeping Schools Safe While Reducing Dropouts: Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline", 31% of youths were dropouts before entering the Texas Youth Commission and more than 80% of Texas prison inmates are dropouts. Furthermore, most of the students that have been referred to DAEPs over the course of five school years from 2000 - 2006 have committed nonviolent offenses and are disproportionately African-American, Latino and Special Education students - making DAEPs virtual dumping grounds for students whom teachers deem undesirable.
Statistics clearly show that not only do DAEPs, as they are presently administrated, fail to make mainstream schools safer places for Texas youth to learn, but they also open gateways to even greater social issues at the state level.
Texas Appleseed recommends increased parental involvement, improved TEA monitoring and higher DAEP requisites as possible keys to solving the behavior management issues faced within Texas schools.
Click the following link to read the report:
Keeping Schools Safe While Reducing Dropouts: Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline
To see a related article: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4697821.html
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No Child Left Behind Receives Failing Grade from Teachers in UCR Study
A recent University of California, Riverside study conducted by Professor of Sociology Steven G. Brint and Susan Teele, director, UCR Extension, shows that nearly 80 percent of teachers polled see the No Child Left Behind Act in an unfavorable light. Nearly 40 percent held a very unfavorable view of the bill, which passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress and was signed into law in 2002.
“Only one out of every five respondents in our sample had an overall favorable assessment of the act,” said Brint. “Teachers polled who held favorable views of the act worked in low-performing schools with high minority populations.”
The study, based on survey responses from 300 randomly selected teachers from five school districts in Southern California, included in-depth interviews conducted with 28 participants.
“Criticism of the act centers around the opinion that it de-professionalizes teaching and stifles creativity in the classroom,” said Brint. He said the study indicates that teachers believe the act sets unrealistic goals, fails to use the skills and experiences of teachers, and causes students to lose interest in learning. More than 70 percent of survey respondents reported that instruction time in their schools had been reduced in subjects such as science, music or art to add time for reading and mathematics – the two core subjects tested for No Child Left Behind.
Ironically, the law requires teachers to adhere to strict standards of professionalism, but teachers say that following a script mandated by someone else actually makes them feel less like professionals.
Under NCLB, teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree and have full state certification without any certification requirements being waived on an emergency or temporary basis. The law also calls for teachers to adhere strictly to state curriculum standards. Experienced elementary teachers must still pass a state test demonstrating subject knowledge and teaching skills in reading/language arts, writing, mathematics and other areas of basic grade school curriculum. Middle and high school teachers must pass a state test in each academic subject they teach.
“Since teachers are on the front lines, they are in a good position to see the impacts of the law,” Brint said. They can tell lawmakers about the unintended consequences of No Child Left Behind.
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Majority of Michigan Schools in No Child Left Behind’s “Restructuring” Raise Student Achievement Enough to Meet State Targets
Hiring a “Turnaround Specialist” Becomes Most Popular Reform Option,
But Report Finds that a Combination of Reform Strategies Proves Most Successful
About two-thirds (64 percent) of Michigan schools in restructuring – the No Child Left Behind Act’s ultimate sanction for chronically failing schools – improved achievement enough to meet targets for adequate yearly progress under the law in 2005- 06, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy (CEP). The study, What Now? Lessons from Michigan about Restructuring Schools and Next Steps under NCLB, also finds that more than half of the 90 Michigan schools in restructuring – 51 schools – had met adequate yearly progress targets for two consecutive years, allowing them to exit the restructuring process altogether in 2006-07.
The full report is available at: http://www.cep-dc.org/nclb/michigan/07049MichiganRestruct.pdf
However, it is unclear to what extent the achievement gains are due to school improvement efforts and other instructional changes, and to what extent they are due to federal and state policy changes that have made it easier for schools to demonstrate AYP, according to the report. Restructuring, No Child Left Behind’s controversial last consequence for schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward their state’s student achievement targets for five or more years, requires schools to undertake drastic reforms intended to transform schools and increase achievement that can range from wholesale replacement of school staff to becoming a charter school.
And while the schools in restructuring have been steadily improving, according to the report, the options they have implemented to boost achievement have changed dramatically. In 2005-06, 72 percent of schools chose to hire turnaround specialists – up from just 16 percent the previous year – making it the most popular reform strategy for schools in restructuring. The specialists have limited powers over the school in regards to curriculum, staff development, and decision-making.
The report also finds that while almost all of the schools in restructuring – 94 percent – opted against more radical strategies and implemented the “any other” reform option in 2004-05, only 23 percent of schools did so in 2005-06. In addition, far fewer schools – 8 percent – chose to replace their principal in 2005-06, compared with 63 percent of schools just one year earlier. But the report indicates that no single factor is the most responsible for the achievement gains, and that schools that implemented a combination of five or more reforms over the past two years were significantly more likely to exit restructuring in 2006-07 than those implementing fewer reforms.
“The experience of these schools suggests that there is no silver bullet, and that solving the problems of struggling schools requires a variety of solutions and strategies,” says Jack Jennings, president and CEO of CEP. “But pursuing multiple reform strategies requires a greater investment than many schools are presently capable of making without additional support – an imbalance that must be remedied in order for more schools to follow the approach that is clearly the most promising at this point.”
In fact, a majority of officials at schools in various stages of restructuring interviewed for case studies conducted for the report say they have insufficient funds and that they were unable to implement all of the restructuring reform strategies that they would like. And while the Michigan Department of Education provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $45,000 to struggling schools, reform options are in part limited due to a decline in federal Title I allocations prompted by new federal formulas that calculate funding based on population gains and losses, as well as loss of revenue from declining enrollments.
Schools profiled in the report’s case studies did indicate a common approach to reform efforts: using a variety of strategies to improve achievement beyond their “official” restructuring strategy. These efforts included making greater use of data to make instructional decisions, increasing collaboration among teachers, and sharing decision making at the school rather than relying on the principal alone.
The case study districts and schools include: · Detroit Public Schools: Cerveny Middle School, Cleveland Middle School, and William Beckham Academy; · Flint Community Schools: Brownell Elementary School; · Harrison Community Schools: Larson Elementary School and Hillside Elementary School; and · Willow Run Community Schools: Willow Run Middle School.
The No Child Left Behind Act requires all schools and districts to meet AYP targets to ensure that 100 percent of students are academically proficient by 2014. After five consecutive years of missing AYP, schools must plan for restructuring – after six years schools must then implement those plans. A few states, like Michigan, are home to the first restructured schools in the nation because they began calculating AYP based on data collected prior to NCLB to meet the goals of the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994.
Over the past three years, the Center on Education Policy has conducted a series of analyses of the school restructuring processes in Maryland, Michigan and California as part of its comprehensive, multiyear study of the No Child Left Behind Act. The reports are all available at www.cep-dc.org.
The Michigan findings are included in two reports: Makeovers, Facelifts, or Reconstructive Surgery: An Early Look at NCLB School Restructuring in Michigan (2004) and Hope but No Miracle Cures: Michigan’s Early Restructuring Lessons (2005).
The Center on Education Policy is a national, independent advocate for public education and for more effective public schools. The Center helps Americans better understand the role of public education in a democracy and the need to improve the academic quality of public schools. We do not represent any special interests. Instead, we try to help citizens make sense of the conflicting opinions and perceptions about public education and create the conditions that will lead to better public schools.
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Kids' Share 2007
This study reports on trends in federal spending on children from 1960 to 2017, looking across over 100 major federal programs, including tax credits and exemptions. Children's spending increasingly shifted from broad-based programs to programs targeting low-income or special needs children over the 1960 to 2006 period. Thirteen major programs enacted between 1960 and 2006, which include Medicaid, the earned income tax credit, and Food Stamps, comprised 65 percent of federal spending on children in 2006.
Overall, federal children's spending increased in real terms from $53 billion in 1960 to $333 billion in 2006, or from 1.9 to 2.6 percent of GDP. Yet as a share of federal domestic spending, children's spending declined from 20.1 to 15.4 percent. Meanwhile, spending on the automatically growing, non-child portions of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, nearly quadrupled from 2.0 to 7.6 percent of GDP ($58 billion to $993 billion) over the same time period. Over the next ten years, children's programs are scheduled to decline both as a share of GDP and domestic spending, because they do not compete on a level playing field with these rapidly growing entitlement programs.
Full text: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411432_Kids_Share_2007.pdf
Executive Summary: http://www.urban.org/publications/411432.html
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The Princeton Review 2007 "College Hopes & Worries Survey" Report
Findings below are based on responses from 5,854 people: 4,594 (78%) were high school students applying to colleges and 1,260 (22%) were parents of college applicants.
Survey Questions / Findings
1) What would be your "dream" college? "What college would you most like to attend (or see your child attend) if chance of being accepted or cost were not an issue?
This was the only "fill-in-the-blank" question on the survey.
The 10 colleges most named by students were: 1-New York Univ., 2-Harvard Univ., 3- Stanford Univ., 4- Princeton Univ., 5-Columbia Univ., 6-Yale Univ., 7- Univ. of California-Los Angeles, 8-Brown Univ., 9-Georgetown Univ., 10-Univ. of Pennsylvania.
The 10 colleges most named by parents were: 1- Stanford Univ., 2- Princeton Univ., 3-Harvard Univ., 4-Brown Univ., 5-Univ. of Notre Dame, 6-Boston College, 7-Massachusettes Institute of Technology, 8-Northwestern Univ., 9-Yale Univ., 10-Georgetown Univ.
2) How many colleges will you (your child) apply to?
- 27% One to 4 (26% Students, 27% Parents)
- 52% Five to 8 (52% Students, 54% Parents)
- 16% Nine to 12 (17% Students, 15% Parents)
- 05% Thirteen or more (05% Students, 04% Parents)
To see rest of survey: http://www.princetonreview.com/college/research/articles/CoHopesReport07.asp
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Million Dollar Babies: Why Infants Can't be Hardwired for Success
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Georgia hospitals sent every newborn baby home with a classical music CD, courtesy of former Governor Zell Miller and his belief that Mozart and Bach promote brain growth and intellectual development in young children. "Listening to music at a very early age," Miller suggested, "affects the spatial-temporal reasoning that underlies math and engineering and even chess."
The Georgia governor has been far from alone in preaching the importance of Bach for babies. Over the past decade, it has become conventional wisdom in many education circles that sufficient stimulation in the first three years of life can go a long way toward hardwiring the brain for success. Bookstores are brimming with books with titles like Smart-Wiring Your Baby's Brain, states have launched Smart Start programs, and a booming, multi-billion dollar industry led by companies such as Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby has tapped into parental angst over doing enough for their kids with foreign-language classes for newborns, toddler day spas, and a host of other products and services aimed at unleashing a baby's inner genius.
Lawmakers have been swayed by the argument that if they invest in building brainier babies, they'll collect dividends later in the kids' lives in the form of savings on job training, corrections and welfare. As the advocacy group Kansas Action for Children has argued: "While more than 85 percent of a child's core brain structure is formed by age five, only 2.5 percent of state and federal investments in education and development have occurred by that time."
More darkly, some have seized on the importance of early brain development in an effort to excuse elementary and secondary schools from the difficult task of working hard on behalf of all students—on the grounds that by the time many students get to school they are already hopelessly and permanently behind.
There's a problem, however, with the new conventional wisdom about building brighter babies: It's based on misinterpretations and misapplications of brain research. While neural connections in babies' brains grow rapidly in the early years, adults can't make newborns smarter or more successful by having them listen to Beethoven or play with Einstein-inspired blocks. Nor is there any neuroscience evidence that suggests that the earliest years are a singular window for growth that slams shut once children turn three. To the contrary, the social programs with the strongest evidence of positive long-term impacts, including high-quality preschool programs, take place outside the zero-to-three window.
The new now-or-never stance toward child development has drawn sharp rebukes from leading neuroscientists such as Harvard University's Carla Shatz.3And the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group, has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Disney (which now owns Baby Einstein), Brainy Babies LLC and other makers of learning products for very young children, have no hard evidence to support the implications of their advertising—that their products will make tots smarter.
Shatz and other experts say that the first three years of children's lives are undeniably important. But they reject the claim that they are the most important years, much less the only years that really matter, in a child’s mental development.
But hardly anyone's listening. State and federal governments have poured millions of dollars into programs focused on children from birth through age three, many of which have little evidence of effectiveness. And many parents are in a state of near-paralysis over whether they are sufficiently stimulating their babies' brains.
Please download this entire Evidence Suggests Otherwise report:
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The Impact of Science Knowledge, Reading Skill, and Reading Strategy Knowledge on More Traditional "High-Stakes" Measures of High School Students’ Science Achievement
This study examined how well cognitive abilities predict high school students’ science achievement as measured by traditional content-based tests. Students (n = 1,651) from four high schools in three states were assessed on their science knowledge, reading skill, and reading strategy knowledge. The dependent variable, content-based science achievement, was measured in terms of students’ comprehension of a science passage, science course grade, and state science test scores. The cognitive variables reliably predicted all three measures of science achievement, and there were also significant gender differences. Reading skill helped the learner compensate for deficits in science knowledge for most measures of achievement and had a larger effect on achievement scores for higher knowledge than lower knowledge students. Implications for pedagogy and science assessment are discussed.
Full text: http://aer.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/44/1/161
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Community Voices: California Preschool Directors Speak on Policy Options
PACE's statewide survey of 439 directors of community preschools, those funded outside of school districts, inquired about basic facts and their perceptions of long-term issues. Preschool access and quality remain unfairly distributed among California's diverse communities. Persisting questions examined include how to grow more plentiful and higher quality preschools, and how to ensure a robust balance between organizations run by schools or community organizations. Despite rising interest among policy makers, we know little about how preschool directors themselves understand and evaluate differing policy options. PACE's working paper amplifies the views and voices of local practitioners. Policy Analysis for California Education is a nonprofit research group based at the University of California, Berkeley.
Full text: http://pace.berkeley.edu/reports/WP%2007-1.Web.pdf
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State Strategies to Improve Low-Performing Schools: California's High Priority School Grants Program
This study examines how schools spent High Priority Schools Grant (HPSG) Program funds.
Full text: http://pace.berkeley.edu/reports/HPSGP_Final.pdf
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New Study Points to Gap Between U.S. High School Curriculum and College Expectations
A new study by ACT points to a gap between what U.S. high schools are teaching in their core college preparatory courses and what colleges want incoming students to know in order for them to succeed in first-year courses.
The findings of the study—a national curriculum survey completed by thousands of high school and college instructors across the country—suggest that colleges generally want all incoming students to attain in-depth understanding of a selected number of fundamental skills and knowledge in their high school courses, while high schools tend to provide less in-depth instruction of a broader range of skills and topics.
ACT has been conducting surveys of this nature for roughly 30 years. Data from the organization's research has helped establish the most widely recognized definition of college readiness in the United States.
The problem identified by the ACT research lies more with the state education standards that high school teachers are required to follow than with the teachers themselves, according to Cynthia B. Schmeiser, president and chief operating officer of ACT's education division.
"State learning standards are often too wide and not deep enough," said Schmeiser. "They are trying to cover too much ground—more ground than colleges deem necessary—in the limited time they have with students. As a result, key academic skills needed for success in college get short shrift. This is a serious problem that states must address to better prepare our young people for success after high school."
College instructors take a dim view of the effectiveness of their state's learning standards. Nearly two-thirds (65%), overall, say their state standards prepare students "poorly" or "very poorly" for college-level work in their subject area. This is quite contrary to what high school teachers believe, with most saying their state standards prepare students "well" or "very well" for college coursework.
"There clearly is a significant gap between what high school teachers and college faculty expect of students," said Schmeiser. "State policymakers and education leaders must work to close this gap by taking a more integrated approach to education and aligning their learning standards with college requirements."
Differences between what high schools are teaching and what colleges want incoming students to know exist across the curriculum.
- In mathematics, high school teachers tend to give advanced content greater importance than do college instructors. College instructors rate a rigorous understanding of math fundamentals as being more important than brief exposure to advanced content.
- In science, high school teachers consistently rate knowledge of content (specific facts and information) as more important than an understanding of science process and inquiry skills. College instructors, in contrast, rate these skills in the opposite way—science process skills are more important for students to possess when they enter college, they say, than knowledge of specific content.
- In English and writing, college instructors place more importance on basic grammar and usage skills than do high school teachers. Many college instructors express frustration that students who enter their classes often can't write a complete sentence, which forces them to re-teach these basic skills and interferes with their efforts to teach higher level skills.
- In reading, high school and college instructors tend to agree on the relative importance of specific skills. However, instruction of reading skills diminishes in high school, suggesting the reading skills students have acquired in middle school/junior high are not being expanded or enriched in high school.
Some states, such as Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan, have already taken steps to improve the alignment of their learning standards with college expectations, Schmeiser acknowledged.
"There are a number of state initiatives underway that have taken a comprehensive approach to address the issue of misalignment," said Schmeiser. "We support and encourage those efforts, and we hope other states will follow suit."
ACT conducts its National Curriculum Survey every three to four years to determine what skills and knowledge postsecondary institutions expect of their entering students and how these expectations compare to what is being taught in high school core preparatory courses. The company uses the results to guide development of its educational assessments, including EXPLORE for 8th graders, PLAN for 10th graders, and the ACT college admission and placement exam, and to ensure that these assessments continue to measure college-ready skills.
A total of 6,568 surveys were completed nationally by instructors of middle school, high school, first-year college, and college remedial courses across the country. The surveys covered various subject areas, including English, writing, math, science, social studies, and reading.
Respondents were provided a list of specific topics and skills in their content area and asked to rate how important each is for students to learn and know. Secondary teachers were also asked if they teach each topic/skill in their classes.
View the full ACT research report (ACT National Curriculum Survey, 2005–2006)
http://www.act.org/path/policy/pdf/NationalCurriculumSurvey2006.pdf and the companion policy implications report (Aligning Postsecondary Expectations and High School Practice: The Gap Defined).
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School System Cancels Sixth-grade Experiment
A yearlong experiment that held select sixth-graders in elementary school rather than moving them up to middle school is being halted by the Mobile County Public School System…
Though the plan was touted last year as a way to help the puberty-aged students academically and socially, that has not been the case, according to a system report released recently. At the four elementary schools participating in the pilot program this year, behavior problems were up and grades were down….
Sixth-graders at the four elementary schools, on average, scored lower on the system's quarterly standardized tests, known as CRT's, than sixth-graders in the county's middle schools did, according to the report.
There was a negative stigma attached to the sixth-graders who were "held back," according to the report. And younger children at the schools tried to emulate bad behaviors and actions of the sixth-graders….
The original thought behind the sixth-grade experiment was that students would benefit by staying in the system's elementary schools, which have improved over the last couple of years…
Instead, Bryant said, the students longed to be in middle school…
To read the complete article: http://www.al.com/news/press-register/index.ssf?/base/news/1176024264144260.xml&coll=3
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Literacy in Everyday Life: Results from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy
The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) assessed the English literacy skills of a nationally representative sample of more than 19,000 U.S. adults (age 16 and older) residing in households and prisons. NAAL is the first national assessment of adult literacy since the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey. Three types of literacy were measured: Prose, Document, and Quantitative. Results were reported in terms of scale scores (on a 500-point scale) and in terms of four literacy levels—Below Basic, Basic, Intermediate, and Proficient. This report, Literacy in Everyday Life, presents findings from the 2003 assessment. It examines changes in literacy levels for the total adult population of the United States, as well as for adults with different demographic characteristics (gender, race, age, and ethnicity). Changes in literacy levels are reported for 2003 as well as between 1992 and 2003. In addition, the report describes how American adults age 16 and older at varying literacy levels use written information in their everyday lives. Specifically, this report describes the relationship between literacy and a number of self-reported background characteristics including education, employment, earnings, job training, family literacy practices, civics activities, and computer usage. It examines the relationship between educational attainment and literacy and reports changes between 1992 and 2003. In addition, the relationship between literacy and adult education, including basic skills classes, English as a second language classes, and information technology certification is reported. The findings discuss the relationship between literacy and employment status, occupation, weekly wage or salary, job training, and participation in public assistance programs. Moreover, the report examines how parents, grandparents, and guardians at different literacy levels interact with the children living in their homes around issues related to literacy and school. Finally, the report discusses how adults at different literacy levels participate in government and community affairs by voting, staying informed, and volunteering.
Full text: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007480
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The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2005 Performance in Puerto Rico—Focus on the Content
This report focuses on the performance of fourth- and eighth-grade students in Puerto Rico in various mathematics content areas on the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in mathematics. The NAEP mathematics assessment was administered to public school students in Puerto Rico for the first time in 2003. Although NAEP had previously administered some of the assessment in Spanish to students who required accommodations, this was the first time an entire NAEP administration was in a language other than English. The NAEP mathematics assessment was administered again to public school students in both fourth- and eighth-grades in Puerto Rico in 2005. Average scores are presented for all students and for male and female students in Puerto Rico for mathematics overall and for five subscales that represent mathematics content areas. Average scores for public school students in the nation (excluding Puerto Rico) are shown for comparison. In all cases, students in Puerto Rico scored lower than the nation.
Numerous sample questions are presented for each content area for each grade, along with response percentages for Puerto Rico and the nation.
Full text: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007460
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Expert Teachers Say Time Is Right for Performance-Pay
Performance-pay that rewards teachers for helping students make progress, developing relevant skills and taking leadership roles will help improve teaching quality for all students, says first report from TeacherSolutions Research Triangle, N.C. – Teachers will support performance-pay plans that advance student achievement and the teaching profession, says a first-of-its-kind report written by a diverse group of expert teachers from across the United States. The new TeacherSolutionsSM study proposes radical changes in the way teachers have traditionally been compensated, including:
- Rewarding small teams of teachers who raise student achievement together;
- Rewarding teachers who accept challenging assignments in high-needs schools and strengthen connections between school and community; and
- Redesigning pay systems so that teacher success, not seniority or graduate degrees, determines maximum teacher pay.
The report, Performance-Pay for Teachers: Designing a System that Students Deserve, is the first to be issued by TeacherSolutions, an initiative of the Center for Teaching Quality to bring the views of expert teachers to bear on critical issues facing public education and offer solutions based on their classroom experience.
The report proposes a comprehensive new framework for teacher compensation, where base pay would still be tied to level of experience but where teachers could earn more through a variety of incentives as they progress from “novice” to “expert.” The incentives would be tied to student progress, professional improvement, school and community leadership, and collaborative work, including mentoring and coaching, that extends teacher expertise beyond a single classroom. To read the full report, go to: www.teachingquality.org.
Performance-Pay for Teachers was produced after a year of research and study by a team of 18 award-winning teachers, including former National Teacher of the Year Betsy Rogers and four winners of the prestigious Milken teaching award. Much of the project, supported by the Joyce, Gund and Stuart foundations, was conducted on the Internet and included a series of live online discussions with leading experts in the field.
“These are the authentic voices of educators who have been successful with every kind of student, in every kind of school,” said team member Lisa Suarez-Caraballo, a bilingual math teacher in inner-city Cleveland and winner of the Milken National Educator award. “We know how teachers think and what will motivate them.”
To achieve the ultimate goal of improving learning for all students, says the panel of teacher experts, compensation plans must not only create opportunities for all teachers to be rewarded for their impact on student progress, they must provide incentives to attract and retain quality teachers and support their professional development in meaningful ways.
“We have to do a better job of ensuring every single student has great teachers,” said team member Renee Moore, a former Mississippi Teacher of the Year and Milken Award winner, who serves on the board of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. “The best way to do that is to recruit quality candidates, give them access to top-notch training and development opportunities, and provide rewards for superior performance.”
“We should use financial incentives,” Moore said, “to encourage all teachers to work closely in teams, mentor other teachers, take on leadership roles or teach in high-needs schools. We need to build pay systems that challenge every teacher to reach his or her professional best, while recognizing that some will be more effective than others and should be paid accordingly.”
The report argues that by encouraging teachers to improve their own professional practices and share what they’ve learned with colleagues and other stakeholders, school systems can reduce ineffective teaching and create a support system that will encourage the best teachers to remain in the classroom. Traditional pay systems, says Anthony Cody, a team member and teacher coach in Oakland, California, reward longevity and advanced degrees that may or may not be relevant to students’ needs. They fall short in failing to reward good teaching or promote meaningful professional development and collaboration.
The report’s teacher-authors caution against pay-for-performance plans that focus too narrowly on test scores while failing to take into account teachers’ actual impact on student progress, which is more nuanced than the “snapshot” of knowledge that standardized tests are designed to measure. Though the report offers guidelines for building an effective teacher compensation system, the TeacherSolutions team recognizes that one size does not fit all. The group recommends that incentives be linked to the strategic goals of individual districts or states and strongly advocates for teachers’ participation in the process of designing and implementing pay reform to ensure well-intentioned plans avoid pitfalls and gain needed teacher buy-in.
“What’s unique about this report is that it’s the first time that classroom teachers – not policy wonks or politicians, but great teachers – have weighed in on this policy issue in a nationally publicized report,” said Barnett Berry, founder and president of the Center for Teaching Quality. “If we want pay plans to gain acceptance on the ground, the voices of accomplished teachers must be heard.”
The Center for Teaching Quality launched the TeacherSolutions model in February 2006 when a select team of 18 highly accomplished teachers from throughout the nation (including both union and non-union members) was assembled in a first-of-its-kind approach to begin to study professional compensation. TeacherSolutions panelists include National Board Certified Teachers, several state teachers of the year, winners of the Milken National Educator of the Year Award, Presidential Award recipients and a National Outstanding Young Educator of the Year award winner. The team includes: Sarah Applegate, Lacey, Wash.; Susan Bischoff, Manatee County, Fla.; Anthony Cody, Oakland, Calif.; Bill Ferriter, Wake County, N.C.; Nancy Flanagan, Howell, Mich.; Theresa Killingsworth, Phoenix; Becky Malone, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Valdine McLean, Pershing County, Nev.; Renee Moore, Cleveland, Miss.; Ford Morishita, Portland, Ore.; Jennifer Morrison, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; Carole Moyer, Columbus, Ohio; Lori Nazareno, Denver; Marsha Ratzel, Overland Park, Kan.; Betsy Rogers, Brighton, Ala.; Lisa Suarez-Caraballo, Cleveland, Ohio; Amy Treadwell, Chicago; and Maria Uribe, Denver.
About the Center for Teaching Quality
The Center for Teaching Quality seeks to improve student learning through developing teacher leadership, conducting practical research and raising public awareness about what must be done to ensure that every student in America has a qualified, well-supported and effective teacher. Over the past eight years, the Center’s work, rooted in the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (1996) landmark report, has sought to promote a coherent system of teacher recruitment, preparation, induction, professional development, compensation and school-design policies that could dramatically close the student achievement gap. Through initiatives like TeacherSolutions and the Teacher Leaders Network (www.teacherleaders.org), the Center is committed to cultivating leadership, spreading expertise and elevating the voices of accomplished teachers so that their knowledge of students and schools can inform the next generation of teaching policies and practices.
Executive Summary http://www.teacherleaders.org/teachersolutions/TSexec_summary.pdf
Full Report http://www.teacherleaders.org/teachersolutions/TSreport.pdf
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Early Child Care Linked to Increases in Vocabulary, Some Problem Behaviors in Fifth and Sixth Grades
The most recent analysis of a long-term NIH-funded study found that children who received higher quality child care before entering kindergarten had better vocabulary scores in the fifth grade than did children who received lower quality care.
The study authors also found that the more time children spent in center-based care before kindergarten, the more likely their sixth grade teachers were to report such problem behaviors as "gets in many fights," "disobedient at school," and "argues a lot."
However, the researchers cautioned that the increase in vocabulary and problem behaviors was small, and that parenting quality was a much more important predictor of child development than was type, quantity, or quality, of child care.
The study appears in the March/April 2007, issue of Child Development.
Jay Belsky, Ph.D., Director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues and Professor of Psychology at Birkbeck University of London, was the first author of the current article.
The 1,364 children in the analysis had been tracked since birth as part of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, the largest, longest running, and most comprehensive study of child care in the United States. Families were recruited through hospital visits to mothers shortly after the birth of a child in 1991 in 10 locations in the U.S. The children studied were not a representative sample of children in the U.S. population.
During the study, researchers measured the quality, quantity and type of child care the children received from birth until they were 54 months old. Child care was defined as care by anyone other than the child’s mother that was regularly scheduled for at least 10 hours per week. This included care by fathers, grandparents and other relatives.
The researchers then evaluated the children’s academic achievement, cognitive (intellectual) functioning from kindergarten through fifth grade and social development through sixth grade. Other factors, such as parenting quality and the quality of classroom instruction, were also measured. These other factors were taken into account when examining the association between early child care and children’s subsequent development. The study tracked children’s experience in child care. It was not designed to determine cause and effect and so could not demonstrate conclusively whether or not a given aspect of the child care experience had a particular effect.
For more information about the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, visit: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/research/supported/seccyd.cfm
In the current analysis, the researchers evaluated whether developmental characteristics that had been observed between kindergarten and 3rd grade were still present in fifth or sixth grade and if any new patterns had arisen.
An evaluation of the children in fifth grade showed that the children who had higher quality child care continued to show better vocabulary scores, a correlation that was seen previously from kindergarten to third grade. Vocabulary was assessed using the Picture Vocabulary subtest of the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery – Revised, which measures children's ability to name objects depicted in a series of pictures.
The researchers found that the correlation between high quality care and better vocabulary scores continued regardless of the amount of time the child had spent in child care or the type of care. The researchers wrote that this finding was consistent with other evidence indicating that children with greater early exposure to adult language were themselves more likely to score higher on measures of language development. However, child care quality was not associated with improved reading skills after 54 months of age.
The researchers also found that, as in the earlier grades, children with more experience in child care centers continued to show, through sixth grade, a greater frequency of what the researchers termed teacher-reported externalizing problem behavior. These behaviors were listed on The Child Behavior Checklist Teacher Report Form, which consisted of 100 problem behaviors.
Using this report form, teachers were asked to rate the child on items such as: child demands a lot of attention; argues a lot; bragging and boasting; cruelty, bullying or meanness to others; destroys things belonging to others; disobedient at school; gets into many fights; lying or cheating; screams a lot.
Children who had been in center care in early childhood were more likely to score higher on teacher reports of aggression and disobedience. This was true regardless of the quality of the center-based care they received.
The researchers emphasized that the children's behavior was within the normal range and were not considered clinically disordered.
It would not be possible to go into a classroom and with no additional information, pick out which children had been in center care, Dr. Belsky explained.
The study authors suggested that the correlation between center care and problem behaviors could be due to the fact that center-based child care providers often lack the training, as well as the time, to address behavior problems. For example, center-based child care providers may not be able to provide sufficient adult attention or guidance to address problems that may emerge when groups of young children are together, such as how to resolve conflicts over toys or activities.
Dr. James Griffin, the NICHD Science Officer for the Study, noted that the persistence of these findings demonstrates the importance of longitudinal research studies that follow children from infancy onwards.
"These findings add to the growing body of research showing that the quality and type of child care a child experiences early in life can have a lasting impact on their development" said Dr. Griffin.
The authors stressed the importance of continuing to follow the children’s development in high school to see if the effects shown in the current paper persisted.
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Heightened Risk Taking During Adolescence Likely Biologically Driven and Possibly Inevitable, According to a Temple University Expert
While the government spends billions of dollars on educational and prevention programs to persuade teens not to do things like smoke, drink or do drugs, a Temple University psychologist suggests that competing systems within the brain make adolescents more susceptible to engaging in risky or dangerous behavior, and that educational interventions alone are unlikely to be effective.
Laurence Steinberg, Distinguished University Professor and the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology at Temple, outlines his argument in, “Risk Taking in Adolescence: New Perspectives from Brain and Behavioral Science,” in the April issue of the journal, Current Directions in Psychological Science.“While it is probably not fair to say that none of the programs we have developed works, most of the educational efforts to persuade kids to not smoke or to not use drugs or alcohol, to engage in safe sex or to drive more safely have not been effective,” says Steinberg, Director of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. “There is a program here or there that works, but, by and large, we have spent billions of dollars on initiatives that have not really had much of an impact.”
Steinberg says that over the past 10 years there has been a great deal of new research on adolescent brain development that he believes sheds light on why kids engage in risky and dangerous behavior, and why the educational programs or interventions that have been developed have not been especially effective.
According to Steinberg, heightened risk taking in adolescence is the result of competition between two very different brain systems, the socioemotional and cognitive-control networks, that are undergoing maturation during adolescence, but along very different timetables. During the adolescence, the socioemotional system becomes more assertive during puberty, while the cognitive-control system gains strength only gradually and over a longer period of time.
The socioemotional system, which processes social and emotional information, becomes very active during puberty allowing adolescents to become more easily aroused and experience more intense emotion, and to become more sensitive to social influence.
Conversely, says Steinberg, the cognitive-control system is the part of the brain that regulates behavior and makes the ultimate decisions, but is still maturing during adolescence and into a person’s mid-20s at least.
In the article, Steinberg says that the socioemotional network is not in a state of constantly high activation during adolescence. When the socioemotional network is not highly activated -- for example, when individuals are not emotionally excited or are alone -- the cognitive-control network is strong enough to impose regulatory control over impulsive and risky behavior, even in early adolescence.
In the presence of peers, however, or in situations where emotions run high, the socioemotional network becomes sufficiently activated to diminish the regulatory effectiveness of the cognitive-control network.
“The presence of peers increases risk taking substantially among teenagers,” writes Steinberg in his article. “In one of our lab’s studies, for instance, the presence of peers more than doubled the number of risks teenagers took in a video driving game. In adolescence, then, not only is more merrier -- it is also riskier.”
“There is a window of vulnerability in teens between puberty and mid-to-late adolescence in which kids have already started to experience the increased arousal of the socioemotional system, but they don’t yet have a fully mature cognitive control system,” he says. “Because their cognitive-control system is still not fully mature, it is more easily disrupted, especially when the socioemotional system is quite excited. And it gets excited by the presence of other people.”
Steinberg advocates stricter laws and policies that would limit opportunities for immature judgment that often have harmful consequences. For example, strategies such as raising the price of cigarettes, more vigilantly enforcing laws governing the sale of alcohol, expanding adolescents’ access to mental-health and contraceptive services, or raising the driving age would likely be more effective than education in limiting adolescent smoking, substance abuse, pregnancy, and automobile fatalities.
“I don’t want people to think that education should not continue,” he says. “I just think that it alone is not going to make much of a difference in deterring risky behavior. Some things just take time to develop, and, like it or not, mature judgment is probably one of them.”
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RAND Study Finds Qatar Successfully Implements Redesign of Education System
In only a few years, the State of Qatar has successfully implemented a bold redesign of its K-12 education system, incorporating school autonomy, variety in curriculum, parental choice and accountability measures, according to a report issued today by the RAND Corporation.
With an eye towards supporting ambitious social and economic development, the State of Qatar asked RAND, a nonprofit research organization, to examine its K-12 education system and recommend improvements. The report describes the first phase of the project, which took place from 2001 to 2004, when the first generation of independent schools was opened.
"Our work shows that significant education reform is possible if a country has the political will and sufficient resources," said Charles A. Goldman, associate director of RAND Education, a unit within RAND, which performed the project funded by a contract from the State of Qatar.
"A significant decentralization of education, incorporating parental choice and school accountability, is possible and practical, while still respecting cultural and religious traditions," Goldman added.
RAND and the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development collaborate in operating the RAND-Qatar Policy Institute, based in the nation's capital of Doha. The chair of the Qatar Foundation and the co-chair of RQPI's board is Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, the Consort of the Emir of Qatar.
"Our team of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and education advisors have all worked hard to bring genuine educational change to Qatar," Her Highness said. "We highly value the expertise and support RAND brought to the implementation of our reforms. We are proud of our collective achievements in building innovative models of education excellence."
At the time the RAND project began, Qatar, with a population of about 885,000, had about 100,000 children in school. Two-thirds of the students were enrolled in government-financed and operated Ministry of Education schools and the rest were in private schools, which varied in quality.
Although many Ministry of Education teachers were enthusiastic and open to change, the curriculum mostly relied on rote memorization, and the system was not capable of assessing the performance of the schools. In addition, teachers received low pay and many school buildings were in poor condition.
RAND experts proposed several possible education models. The model the Qatari government chose included internationally benchmarked curriculum standards; independent, government-funded schools; accountability measures for the schools; variety in education plans; and parental choice among the schools.
It will take Qatar about 10 years to experience the full effect of these changes, according to RAND researchers. But since 2002, the Qataris have made significant progress. They have developed new academic standards in Arabic, English, mathematics and science, and almost all students have been tested according to those standards. Already, nearly half of the government-funded students have been enrolled in learner-centered independent schools with improved facilities.
The new Arabic curriculum, in particular, features a standards-based approach that teaches Arabic as a functional native language, using both religious and secular texts, a design unique in the Gulf region, Goldman said.
"As a result of this process, Qatar has a set of curriculum standards for grades K-12 that are benchmarked against the best standards in the world," the report said.
Teachers at these new independent schools are now better trained and prepared. Although schools are expected to meet content standards and performance standards, the textbooks, teaching methods and lesson plans are determined by the schools, encouraging variety. For the first time parents have access to reports on schools' performance, which RAND analysts think will help spur further reforms, as parents select the schools most suited to their children's needs.
"Although the reforms are still in the initial stages, early indicators are very promising," Goldman said. "These student and school assessments are the first of their kind in the Arab world, and we expect that using these data will lead to schools improving over time."
Several of the independent schools opened with waiting lists because of strong parental demand. These schools vary in their offerings, with some emphasizing math and science, others information and communications, health sciences, or industrial technology.
Some of the changes have required the Qataris to adjust their expectations: many Qatari parents were initially concerned when their children reported that they liked school. Previously, if a child liked school, the curriculum was thought to be too easy. Now, it is a sign that schools are placing students at the center of the learning process, Goldman said.
The reform model involved the creation of three new government institutions. The Supreme Education Council is responsible for setting national education policy. The Education Institute oversees the new independent schools and allocates resources to them, in addition to developing national curriculum standards in Arabic, mathematics, science and English and developing a teacher-training program. The Evaluation Institute monitors student and school performances in both the Ministry and independent schools.
By the fall of 2004, the Education Institute opened 12 independent schools, which were selected from a pool of 160 applicants. In 2005, 21 additional independent schools opened, and last year, 13 more opened. Today, there are about 46 independent schools; parents also can opt to send their children to private schools or Ministry of Education schools.
Although Qatar's K-12 education system has made a great deal of progress, the RAND team, which continues to work with the Qatari government and offer advice on the education reform program, has four recommendations to strengthen the reforms:
- Increase the number of Qatari teachers trained according to the curriculum standards as well as Institute staff who are trained to manage the reforms.
- Continue to promote the basic principles of the reforms: autonomy, accountability, variety and choice.
- Expand the number of high-quality schools with the best-qualified operators regardless of nationality.
- Integrate education policy with broader social policies. For example, the Qatari civil service system provides ample job security, but doesn't contain enough incentives to encourage teachers to strive for excellence.
Goldman said the Qatari education reforms also can serve as an example to educators in the United States and other countries that schools and the institutions that support them can be dramatically restructured in a relatively short period of time. The keys to success, he said, are agreeing on a clear set of guiding principles, planning implementation in advance, and then sticking closely to the principles through the implementation.
Full text: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG548/
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U.S. Education Department Gives RAND $6 Million Grant to Evaluate Math Curriculum of Carnegie Learning
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the RAND Corporation a $6 million grant to conduct a five-year study of the effectiveness of a technology-based mathematics curriculum created by Carnegie Learning, Inc., of Pittsburgh.
RAND researchers will examine the impact of Carnegie Learning's Cognitive Tutor Algebra I curriculum. The curriculum supplements classroom instruction with a software program that adapts to individual students' understanding of algebraic concepts to improve their problem-solving skills.
The grant to RAND is the largest available under the Department of Education grant program for scientific assessment of academic courses.
Carnegie Learning is a leading publisher of core, full-year mathematics programs as well as supplemental intervention applications for middle school, high school and postsecondary students. The company's Cognitive Tutor programs are currently used by more than 475,000 students in 1,300 school districts across the United States.
The math programs of Carnegie Learning are based on cognitive science research at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where researchers study how students think, learn and apply new knowledge in mathematics.
The RAND study will be led by researchers in the nonprofit research organization's Pittsburgh office. The work will be carried out by RAND Education, which conducts research and analysis on a variety of topics, including school reform, educational assessment and accountability, and trends among teachers and teacher training.
The algebra readiness, Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II curricula of Carnegie Learning are already being used in several high school transformation initiatives in large urban school districts in Los Angeles, Miami-Dade County, Chicago and elsewhere.
Carnegie Learning was selected for the study because its Algebra I program is one of a few math courses that meet the Department of Education's grant requirement for strong prior evidence of effectiveness.
RAND researchers will examine how students using the Carnegie Learning curriculum fare on a standardized algebra assessment as compared with peers who receive traditional classroom instruction.
“This study will contribute to the evidence base that educators use when making math curriculum decisions,” said John Pane, a RAND research scientist who will lead the study. “Improving math education is a priority for the United States, in part because our economy needs future graduates with strong math and science backgrounds. Finding ways to leverage technology is a strategic way to help get there.”
Pane said RAND researchers will use rigorous experimental methods to examine what he called a “very promising technology-based math curriculum” and how well it works in a diverse set of public schools around the country.
Classrooms in participating school districts will be randomly assigned to use either Carnegie Learning Algebra I or the school's existing Algebra I course. The new study will show whether the Cognitive Tutor curriculum is effective for a wide range of students and environments.
“We are tremendously proud to be selected as the curriculum for this important study,” said Dennis Ciccone, chief executive officer of Carnegie Learning. “Our company was founded on the guiding principle that research-based programs are the best tools to equip our teachers and students for success in the classroom.”
“No Child Left Behind was established to measure effective teaching and learning, and this study is a model for the accountability that we believe will improve education in this country,” Ciccone added. “We welcome an honest and objective analysis of the effectiveness of our curriculum as a means to better understand what we are doing well, and how we can serve our students better.”
The study is part of a growing national trend to rigorously test educational programs using experimental methods, and is designed to further the evidence-base for mathematics instructional materials and practices.
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Teen Magazines Giving Better Sex Education than Teachers and Parents!
Teen magazines doling out information about sex may not be going down so well with teachers, but school inspectors in the UK have praised them for being a positive source of advice for teens who can't speak to their parents about the subject
The mags have raised the ire of teachers, and have been banned in some schools across the UK, but the report on personal social and health education in primary and secondary schools by Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has commended the mags for tackling sensitive issues when parents and teachers fail.
"Many young people say that many parents and some teachers are not very good at talking about the more sensitive issues such as sex and relationships," the Ofsted report stated.
"They feel that parents and teachers leave it too late and do not talk about such issues until they have reached puberty or have started feeling sexual desire," it added.
The inspectors insisted that while some of the magazines, whose target audience was adolescent males, was at times sexist, they still helped provide useful information.
"For example, the increase in magazines aimed at young men, while at times reinforcing sexist attitudes, has helped to redress the balance of advice available to young people," the inspectors said.
"The 'problem pages' in magazines remain a very positive source of advice and reassurance for many young people," they added.
However, they admitted that mags such as these were also complicit in spreading the perception that all young people in the UK are sexually active.
"The range of topics and the explicitness in dealing with them have increased in many magazines read by young people. While many now stress the importance of safe sex, some communicate, inaccurately, the perception that all young people are sexually active," they said.
Ofsted also reported that according to data from the schools health education unit, parents were less likely than previously to be seen as the main source of advice.
Full report: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/070049
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Early Learning Centers Doing a Good Job in UK
Early learning centers are doing a good job in UK according to a new Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) report, The Foundation Stage: a survey of 144 settings. However, the quality of provision varies between them.
Ofsted visited a variety of different settings, including primary and special schools, first schools, nursery schools and children’s centres, to evaluate standards, achievement and the quality of provision for children aged three to five.
The report found that leadership and management of the Foundation Stage was good or better in almost two thirds of the settings. Teaching was good or better in seven out of ten settings, with meticulous planning of activities that built on positive relationships and combined skills teaching with imaginative enjoyment.
Standards were higher than expected in aspects of personal, social, emotional and physical development. However, standards in communication, language and literacy were lower than expected in one third of settings visited.
Most children achieved well in the majority of the early learning goals. However, achievement was lower in calculation, early reading and writing, a sense of time and place, an understanding of culture and beliefs, and imaginative play because practitioners gave these too little attention.
Girls achieved better than boys in all areas of learning. Children with learning disabilities usually did well; some more able children underachieved.
Inspectors found that parents appreciated the high level of care their children received, but many settings did not involve parents in children’s progress enough.
Full report: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/2610
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Urban School Progress Continues on State Tests
Report Includes City-by-City Profiles of Large-City School District Trends
on Math and Reading State Assessments
The nation’s big-city school districts continue to improve in reading and mathematics on state-mandated tests, with evidence of racial achievement gaps narrowing and low-performing students making gains, according to a new study.
Students in 67 major city school systems in 37 states posted substantially higher test scores in 2006 than in 2002 in fourth-and eighth-grade mathematics and reading on state assessments, according to Beating the Odds: A City-by-City Analysis of Student Performance and Achievement Gaps on State Assessments by the Council of the Great City Schools.
In the report’s seventh annual analysis, Council Executive Director Michael Casserly notes, “The data not only show consistent gains over the past several years, but a more complete picture of progress in urban schools is emerging.”
The Beating the Odds findings for the 2005-2006 school year show that 59 percent of urban school students scored at or above proficiency in fourth-grade math on their respective state assessments, a whopping 15 percentage point increase from 44 percent in 2002. For eighth graders, the percentage climbed to 46 percent, compared with 35 percent in 2002, an 11-percentage point rise.
In reading, urban schoolchildren also have posted gains over the last five years. From 2002 to 2006, the percentage of fourth graders scoring at or above proficiency in reading on state tests rose to 55 percent from 43 percent in 2002 – a 12-percentage point gain. For eighth graders, the percentage increased to 42 percent from 34 percent in 2002, an 8 percentage point hike.
Last year’s report revealed evidence of a parallel upward trend of big-city school districts that volunteered to take the often more-rigorous federal test – the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – compared with their state tests, two distinctly different assessment tracks now showing similar trends.
Although urban school achievement is advancing, it still lags behind state averages. However, 20 percent of big-city school systems scored at or above their respective states in fourth-grade math, while 16 percent did at the eighth-grade level.
Seven major urban school districts – Anchorage, Broward County (Fort Lauderdale), Palm Beach, Portland (Oregon), Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco -- had both fourth- and eighth-grade math scores that were equal to or greater than their respective states.
Other urban school systems that had average math scores in the fourth grade equal to or greater than their states were Charleston, Christina (Delaware), Long Beach and Seattle. In eighth grade, the urban systems were Hillsborough County (Tampa), Omaha, and Orange County (Orlando).
In examining the proficiency gap in math achievement between city school systems and their respective states, the study found the city-state gap declined by 4 percentage points among fourth graders from 2002 to 2206. The city-state gap among eighth graders proficient in math fell by 2 percentage points.
Beating the Odds VII also examined for the first time academic trends among the most “struggling urban students” – those who scored “below basic” levels of proficiency.
From 2002 to 2006, the percentage of urban fourth graders who scored “below basic” achievement levels in math on their respective state tests decreased from 29 percent in 2002 to 19 percent in 2006 – an improvement of 10 percentage points.
In eighth-grade math, urban students who scored “below basic” achievement levels on their respective state tests decreased from 30 percent in 2002 to 26 percent in 2006 – an improvement of 4 percentage points.
“Urban schools are clearly increasing the numbers of students scoring above proficiency levels and decreasing the numbers at the lowest, contributing to overall progress where America wants it most,” said Casserly.
Similar to math, reading scores in urban schools were generally below state averages. But some 18 percent of urban districts had reading scores in grade four that were equal to or greater than their respective states, and 20 percent scored at that level in eighth-grade reading.
Five urban districts – Anchorage, Broward County (Fort Lauderdale), Portland (Oregon), San Diego and San Francisco – showed reading scores that were equal to or greater than their respective states.
Other urban districts – Long Beach, Norfolk, Christina (Delaware) and Seattle -- had fourth-grade reading scores matching or exceeding their states. In eighth-grade reading, Charleston, Orange County (Orlando), Palm Beach and Tucson had scores equal to or greater than their states.
In analyzing the proficiency gap in reading achievement between city school districts and their respective states, Beating the Odds found the city-state gap declined by 3 percentage points among fourth graders from 2002 to 2006. The gap of eighth graders proficient in reading fell by 2 percentage points.
Among the most low-performing students, the study found that the percentage of urban fourth graders who scored “below basic” achievement levels in reading on their respective state tests decreased from 27 percent in 2002 to 21 percent in 2006 – an improvement of 6 percentage points.
In eighth-grade reading, urban students who scored “below basic” achievement levels of their respective state tests decreased from 29 percent in 2002 to 25 percent in 2006 – an improvement of 4 percentage points.
Racial Achievement Gaps
Beating the Odds VII indicates that racial gaps in math achievement in urban schools appear to be narrowing. Between 2002 and 2006, 67 percent of urban school districts in the study narrowed the gap between their fourth-grade African-American students and their white peers statewide in math proficiency. In eighth grade, it’s 60 percent.
Among Hispanic students, 62 percent of urban school districts narrowed the gap between their fourth graders and white peers statewide, while 53 percent did in the eighth grade.
The study also found evidence of racial achievement gaps narrowing in fourth- and eighth-grade reading. Between 2002 and 2006, 77 percent of urban school districts in the study reduced the gap between their fourth-grade African-American students and their white peers statewide in reading proficiency. In eighth grade, it’s 67 percent.
Sixty-seven percent of urban school districts narrowed the reading gap between their fourth-grade Hispanic students and their white peers statewide. Some 60 percent reduced the reading gap in eighth grade. Data are also presented on changes in the gaps between students eligible for a free or reduced price lunch and those who are not.
City-by-city profiles of the seventh edition of Beating the Odds can be found on the Council’s Web site at http://www.cgcs.org/publications/BTO_citybycity.aspx
Download analysis - 30 pages: http://www.cgcs.org/pdfs/BTO7_Analysis.pdf
Download city-by-city data - 464 pages: http://www.cgcs.org/pdfs/BTO7.pdf
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Big-City Schools Improve Implementation of No Child Left Behind,
According to New Study
The nation’s big-city school districts have improved implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act since it was enacted five years ago, resulting in higher numbers of students participating in choice and supplemental service programs. But the impact of the law’s sanctions on raising student achievement in urban schools remains unclear, according to a comprehensive new survey released today.
The analysis, “No Child Left Behind in America’s Great City Schools: Five Years and Counting,” is based on a preliminary review of data on big-city school compliance with key provisions of the law from 2002-03 to 2005-06. Thus far, 36 districts, enrolling 5.1 million students nationwide, have responded to a survey conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools, the Washington, D.C.-based coalition of big-city schools.
“The law is living up to many of the promises that its strongest proponents hoped for and most of the pitfalls that its harshest critics warned against,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council.
Collectively, the number of schools in the districts surveyed that needed improvement or were in “corrective action” or “restructuring” status under NCLB rose from 975 in the 2002-03 school year to 2,203 in the 2005-06 school year, despite substantial gains in student achievement on both state tests and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The total comprises 29.6 percent of all schools in the cities surveyed, or about 26.1 of all U.S. schools “in need of improvement.”
Conversely, the survey finds that across responding districts 143 schools exited the sanctions process by making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for two consecutive years after first being identified for improvement, while 388 schools made enough progress to have sanctions placed on “hold.”
In addition, results from the survey showed that most urban schools were in sanction status for not making NCLB targets in reading, although large numbers of schools had also not made math benchmarks. Most schools, moreover, were in sanction status for not making targets for multiple racial, income, language and disability subgroups.
Among the many findings, the report notes that states are returning spring testing data to their districts somewhat earlier, are making AYP determinations earlier, and that cities appear to be somewhat better positioned to use the data to improve programs.
But it also appears that in order to get results to districts before the next school year, some states have moved up test dates to earlier in the school year, resulting in less instructional time before assessments are given and sanctions are levied; have submitted incomplete data for local use; and have reduced the amount of time that cities have to review the data for errors.
School Choice & Supplemental Education Services
In an investigation of two of the law’s much-discussed provisions for students in struggling schools, the survey finds that more urban students are taking advantage of the option to transfer out of a poor-performing school while a larger number is making use of supplemental education services and tutoring.
Within the districts surveyed, about 2 percent of eligible students transferred schools under the NCLB choice provision. Though the overall number is small, it represents an increase of nearly 100 percent, with 22,553 students transferring in 2005-06 compared with 11,292 in 2002-03.
Notably, another 325,000 students were transferring to other schools using non-NCLB options such as charter and magnet schools, and open enrollment programs. In all, over 30 percent of students in urban communities were exercising some choice option, according to the analysis.
“The upward trend suggests that districts have gotten better at identifying available space and informing parents about their options,” Casserly said.
Meanwhile, 34 of the 36 responding districts must offer supplemental services. About 16 percent of eligible students – averaging 111 students per eligible school –participated. The number of students enrolled in supplemental services increased from approximately 110,000 in 2003-04 to over 180,000 in 2005-06.
Approximately 95 percent of all participating students now receive their services from private providers. However, the limited number of available local evaluations suggests that tutorial sessions have had only modest effects on student achievement, at best.
Corrective Action & Restructuring
District approaches to boosting achievement in schools that have been placed in “corrective action” or “restructuring” phases after missing AYP targets for four and five straight years have largely focused on providing technical assistance, curriculum reform, professional development and planning support. Fewer districts have pursued the law’s more punitive sanctions, including reopening the schools as charters, replacing all or most of the school staff, contracting with a private entity to run the schools, or turning the schools over to the state—probably due to the lack of clear evidence that such strategies boost achievement.
“Congress faces critical questions about the law’s accountability system and whether it is effectively calibrated to improve instruction,” Casserly said. “Although NCLB has proven complicated to implement and cumbersome to administer, it has also helped America’s urban schools direct attention to students who, for too long, were out of sight and out of mind.”
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Falling Into the Autonomy Gap
Principals report little control over key decisions
Though most public school principals believe that effective leadership of their schools requires authority over personnel decisions (e.g. staff selection, deployment, dismissal), they report having little such authority in practice. That's a key finding of a new study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the American Institutes for Research.
The Autonomy Gap: Barriers to Effective School Leadership was authored by Hartford Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski with Susan Bowles Therriault and Anthony P. Cavanna. Based on a series of interviews with a small sample of district and charter-school principals, the report shows that most district principals encounter a sizable gap between the extent and kinds of authority that leaders need to be effective and the authority that they actually have. Regrettably if understandably, many principals have also come to accept this gap as a fact of life. They learn to work the system, not change the system.
"Steve Jobs recently asked, ‘What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them that when they came in, they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good?'" noted Fordham Institute President Chester E. Finn, Jr. "Sadly, the answer to his question is ‘most public-school principals.' Many do a fine job of ‘making do' with the system-as-it-is, but that system also fosters a corps of school leaders who, no matter what change-agent aspirations they arrived with, end up seeing themselves as middle managers in a vast bureaucratic enterprise. Yet those same leaders are held accountable for results as if they were CEO's. The first rule of good organizations is to ensure that executives have authority commensurate with their responsibility. But that's not how U.S. school systems work."
Personnel decisions aren't the only hindrances reported by principals of district-operated schools. They also have little autonomy over decisions involving school calendars, instructional time and much else. Charter school principals, on the other hand, report greater authority in virtually every category.
The researchers interviewed thirty-three principals in five cities located in three states-one western, one mid western, and one southeastern state. Participants were asked to rate the importance of twenty-one job functions, then report on their perceived level of autonomy over those functions. The complete list, as well as a sample information packet from the interview, is found at http://www.edexcellence.net/doc/2007AutonomyGapAppendix.pdf.
School principals clearly want more authority to make important decisions, and it's our job as superintendents to give it to them," said Dr. Steven Adamowski, Superintendent of the Hartford, Connecticut School District and lead author of the report. "The best way to attract and retain top-notch leaders is to give them the running room to get the job done."
To download the full report, visit http://edexcellence.net/doc/041107AutonomyGap.pdf
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Nine States Join Forces to Launch Algebra II Test
Common Assessment Represents New Model For Multi-State Efforts to Improve High
A consortium of nine states has joined forces to launch a new, common student assessment in Algebra II, marking the largest effort a group of states has ever undertaken to develop a common assessment based on common standards. The test represents a promising new model for multi-state reform efforts at a time when the overall lackluster achievement of high school students has fueled debates about the creation of national standards and extending No Child Left Behind Act to high schools.
The consortium of states includes Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The project is an initiative of the ADP Network, a group of 29 states committed to preparing all students for college and work. ADP Network states educate nearly 60 percent of all U.S. public school students.
The ADP Network, formed by Achieve at the 2005 National Education Summit on High Schools, helps states align high school standards, assessments, curriculum and accountability with the demands of college and work. Achieve provides policy leadership, technical assistance and other support to the ADP Network states. It will assist the Algebra II test consortium of states by supporting development of the test, providing an annual report comparing the performance of participating states, and helping the states share and develop tools and strategies for improving teaching and learning in high school math.
The test will first be administered in May 2008, when it is projected that more than 200,000 students will participate in the assessment. The test will initially be used by the nine states that are part of the consortium, but other states, including those that are not members of the ADP Network, will be allowed to administer the test and join the partnership. The test will be used differently across states as each decides how best to phase in the new assessment over time.
“This test demonstrates the ability of states to come together to establish consistent expectations for student achievement, anchored in the real world demands students will face when they complete high school,” said Dr. Ken James, Arkansas Commissioner of Education. “The test will allow us to compare performance across states and to drive consistent rigor and content in high school Algebra II courses. Most importantly, it will help us determine what works so we can adjust both the curriculum and instruction accordingly.”
Algebra II is one of several “gatekeeper” courses in high school that research indicates can be a significant predictor of college-readiness and success. Two landmark studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Education have indicated that the highest level of math taken in high school is the most powerful predictor of whether a student will ultimately earn a bachelors degree, and that students completing Algebra II in high school more than doubled their chances of earning a four-year college degree.
“Doing well on this test will signify that students are prepared to do college-level work in math, so we are exploring using this exam for college placement purposes,” said Jack Warner, Rhode Island Commissioner of Higher Education. “We are also excited about the possibility that as more students take the exam and understand the importance of Algebra II, we will reduce the need for remedial math in higher education and improve students overall ability to succeed in college.”
“Regardless of whether they choose to continue their education or enter the workforce after high school graduation, students need to know how to analyze and solve problems,” said Prudential Financial Chairman and CEO Arthur F. Ryan, co-chair of the Achieve Board of Directors. “Students who can pass a rigorous Algebra II exam will have a definite advantage in the job market and will be more likely to get jobs that pay well.”
The test is being developed and will be owned by Pearson Educational Measurement. The test will be based on standards developed by Achieve, Inc. as part of its work to create and support the ADP Network. Later this year, Achieve will release a set of guides that can be used to ensure that academic standards and instruction throughout high school are consistent with knowledge and skills required for success on the new test.
Created by the nation’s governors and business leaders, Achieve, Inc., is a bipartisan, non-profit organization that helps states raise academic standards, improve assessments and strengthen accountability to prepare all young people for postsecondary education, work and citizenship. Achieve was founded at the 1996 National Education Summit and has sponsored subsequent Summits in 1999, 2001 and 2005. At the 2005 Summit, Achieve launched the American Diploma Project Network. For more information, please visit www.achieve.org.
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College Admissions and Placement Tests Pose Problems as State Assessments
Aligned Expectations? A Closer Look at College Admissions and Placement Tests is an Achieve report that examines what admissions and placement tests measure with recommendations for K-12 and higher education policymakers
See full report: http://www.achieve.org/node/839
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Creating a World-Class Education System in Ohio
Creating a World-Class Education System in Ohio is intended for Ohio policymakers and all other stakeholders interested in moving Ohio’s K-12 system to world-class levels. The report was commissioned by Achieve, Inc., with its fact base, international benchmarking of Ohio’s K-12 system, and identification of best practice implications for Ohio (in order to attain the goal of a world-class system) conducted by McKinsey & Company, drawing upon the work of leading international education experts.
See full report: http://www.achieve.org/files/World_Class_Edu_Ohio_FINAL.pdf
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NEA Issues Report on Status of Hispanics in Education
NEA and LULAC Emphasize Shared Responsibility to Address Challenges
The National Education Association has issued A Report on the Status of Hispanics in Education: Overcoming a History of Neglect. The report finds that Hispanic students often face unique challenges in student achievement, influenced by the fact that Hispanics have poverty rates that are two to nearly three times higher than whites; Hispanics cite Spanish as their dominant language and more than 20 percent say they do not speak English or do not speak English well; and 40 percent of the Hispanic population is foreign born.
The result is that many Hispanic students must overcome language, cultural and socioeconomic barriers to succeed in school. In March 2006, NEA and the League of United Latin American Citizens convened an education summit in Denver to address the challenges that are hindering Hispanic youngsters from achieving educational success. Educators and community activists gathered to share views and make recommendations on how to improve the education of Hispanics. The results of the summit discussion along with supporting research are published in the NEA report.
“As educators we must do all that we can to ensure that the gaps in student achievement are closed and that students receive the tools and resources necessary to conquer the many obstacles they may face,” said NEA President Reg Weaver. “Overcoming these challenges will take the collective will of policymakers, parents and the community.”
Some of the report’s key findings include:
- While the high school completion rate among Hispanics rose between 1970 and 2004, it still lags far behind the completion rate of whites. The same holds true for the college completion rate among Hispanics.
- Hispanic student scores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress between 1990 and 2005 improved in math and reading, but not enough to close the large gaps between them and white students. Most troubling, less than half of Hispanic fourth-graders have achieved a basic level of reading performance on NAEP.
In addition, summit participants expressed strong sentiments against the so-called No Child Left Behind Act and other policies such as vouchers and charter schools, noting they are harming rather than helping Hispanic children. Among the report’s recommendations to improve the education of Hispanic students are reducing class sizes; creating new classroom strategies to engage Hispanic students; and enhancing teacher preparation and professional development to better understand the culture of Hispanic students and to help students master English. The report also calls for building parent-community-educator alliances and increased school funding so that educators have the tools and resources to meet the needs of Hispanic youth.
“The NEA is committed to providing a great public school for every child—native born or immigrant, black, brown or white, poor or prosperous,” Weaver said. “We have a shared responsibility with the community-at- large to deliver on this promise. And we must all step up to ensure that Hispanic students receive the quality public education that they deserve.”
A Report on the Status of Hispanics in Education is NEA's third report on underserved groups. The previous two reports focused on American Indians and Alaska Natives and on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Still to come are reports on Blacks; women and girls; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students; English-language learners; and students with disabilities.
The complete report is available here: http://www.nea.org/mco/images/hispaniced.pdf
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AFT Salary Survey: Teachers Need 30 Percent Raise
Teacher Pay Insufficient To Meet Rising Debt, Housing Costs in Many Areas
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Anemic growth in teacher salaries is making it increasingly difficult for teachers, especially new ones, to find affordable housing in their communities and to pay off student loan debts, according to the latest teacher salary survey released today by the American Federation of Teachers.
These and other factors place the teaching profession—already plagued by high turnover and recruiting challenges—in further peril. The AFT report asserts that, to make teacher pay competitive with pay in other professions by the end of the decade, teachers need a 30 percent raise—an additional investment in our children’s future of almost $15 billion per year.
“Given the difficulty many districts have attracting and keeping educators, the financial penalty for deciding to become a teacher is unacceptable,” said AFT President Edward J. McElroy. “If we’re serious about placing the most qualified professionals in the classroom and keeping them there, we simply need to make a significant investment in teacher salaries.”
The AFT teacher salary survey for the 2004-05 school year found that the average teacher salary was $47,602, a 2.2 percent increase from the previous year. This falls short of the rate of inflation for that year, which was 3.4 percent. Between 2003 and 2005, the buying power of the average teacher salary decreased by almost $800. The 2005 report uses the most complete data available, but a look at more recent data from the 50 largest U.S. cities indicates the salary situation is not improving.
The 2005 salary survey also examines the impact of rising housing costs and student loan debt on teachers in the 50 largest cities. The study concludes that the incomes of mid-career teachers in these cities will limit them to purchasing lower-priced homes. In cities such as Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Francisco, many career teachers will be unable to realize the middle-class dream of home ownership.
“It’s become fashionable in some circles to portray teaching as a lucrative career choice,” said McElroy. “But research shows that this is clearly not the case. It’s going to become increasingly difficult to retain teachers if we’re not even paying them enough to live near the schools where they work.”
Teachers continue to lose ground when their pay is compared with the pay of the American workforce as a whole. For the first time since 1982, teacher salaries are less than the average earnings of government workers, making them among the lower-paid public employees. When adjusted for inflation, real teacher pay is decreasing as private sector salaries are on the rise.
Other highlights of the 2005 salary survey:
- Connecticut had the highest average teacher salary, at $57,760, while South Dakota posted the lowest, at $34,039.
- The average beginning teacher salary in the 2004-05 school year was $31,753, up 3.1 percent from the previous year.
- In 37 states, teacher salaries did not keep pace with the 3.4 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index.
“It’s fine to have discussions and hear proposals to improve education by raising the level of accountability for teachers. But these ideas are destined to fail if the basic pay inequities between teachers and other professions are not remedied,” McElroy said.
The Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends 2005 uses data from state education agencies, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The full report, including state-by-state teacher salary information, is available here:
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