The reading instruction discussion in this policy brief echoes recommendations that have been made by FEC board member Sheree Brown-Kaplan. FEC does not endorse District Management Council as an organization.
This policy brief by Nathan Levenson, Managing Director at the District Management Council and former superintendent of the Arlington (MA) Public Schools, offers informed advice to school districts seeking to provide a well-rounded, quality education to all children in a time of strained budgets. Levenson recommends three strategies:
1. Prioritize both achievement and cost-efficiency.
Allocating scarce resources effectively means funding what works and obtaining ample information before making funding decisions, including information about what drives achievement—and drives it cost-effectively.
2. Make staffing decisions based on student needs, not adult preferences.
Districts should establish guidelines for what constitutes a full and fair workload for staff members, then staff accordingly. This may include “trading down” to less-expensive services of equivalent quality, considering alternatives to maintaining class sizes, and closely monitoring insurance eligibility.
3. Manage special education spending for better outcomes and greater cost-effectiveness.
How money is spent matters more than how much is spent; that’s true for special education, too. Districts can reduce their special-education costs by ensuring that all children read at grade level; hiring a few behaviorists in lieu of many paraprofessionals; and staffing according to service hours, rather than numbers of students served.
This paper presents a model where students have cognitive and non-cognitive ability and a teacher’s effect on long-run outcomes is a combination of her effect on both ability types. Conditional on cognitive scores, an underlying non-cognitive factor associated with student absences, suspensions, grades, and grade progression, is strongly correlated with long-run educational attainment, arrests, and earnings in survey data. In administrative data teachers have meaningful causal effects on both test-scores and this non-cognitive factor. Calculations indicate that teacher effects based on test scores alone fail to identify many excellent teachers, and may greatly understate the importance of teachers on adult outcomes.
The math and science achievement of U.S. students continues to surpass the global average for nations taking part in a prominent assessment, results issued Tuesday show, but several East Asian countries and jurisdictions far outpace the United States, especially in mathematics.
The most striking contrast comes in the 8th grade, where nearly half of all students tested in South Korea, Singapore, and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) reached the “advanced” level in math, compared with only 7 percent of American test-takers, according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS, for 2011.
“One obvious stark takeaway of some concern in a global environment is the huge gap that the Asian countries have achieved in mathematics,” said Ina V.S. Mullis, the co-executive director of the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College. “This is a gap that has its roots in 1995 [when TIMSS was first administered], and the gap has not narrowed over the years. And in some cases, such as [South] Korea, it’s even widening.”
Too many educators here, according to numerous parent witnesses, share a stubborn blind spot about disabilities that can be mistaken for sloth or carelessness.
Beavers’s children attended the Montgomery County schools, which appear no worse by this measure than other local districts. Dana Tofig, a Montgomery schools spokesman, said specialists are training teachers on this issue. Beavers briefly enrolled her daughter in a well-regarded private school to see whether that would make a difference. It didn’t.
Academic Parent-Teacher Teams can help parents learn to work with
teachers to support their children, writes Anne O'Brien, deputy director of the
Learning First Alliance. Under the model, a classroom team is formed, including
the teacher and parents, who meet as a group, O'Brien writes. Teachers also
hold at least one 30-minute conference each year with students and their
families to discuss the student's performance and establish plans for
improvement. The model has grown from one Phoenix school district to five
states and Washington, D.C. Edutopia.org/Anne O'Brien's blog (11/26)
The time students spend on math and science homework doesn’t necessarily mean better grades, but it could lead to better performance on standardized tests, a new study finds.
“When Is Homework Worth The Time?” was recently published by lead investigator Adam Maltese, assistant professor of science education at Indiana University, and co-authors Robert H. Tai, associate professor of science education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, and Xitao Fan, dean of education at the University of Macau. Maltese is a Curry alumnus, and Fan is a former Curry faculty member.
The authors examined survey and transcript data of more than 18,000 10th-grade students to uncover explanations for academic performance. The data focused on individual classes, examining student outcomes through the transcripts from two nationwide samples collected in 1990 and 2002 by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Contrary to much published research, a regression analysis of time spent on homework and the final class grade found no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not. But the analysis found a positive association between student performance on standardized tests and the time they spent on homework.
“Our results hint that maybe homework is not being used as well as it could be,” Maltese said.
Tai said that homework assignments cannot replace good teaching.
Although statutory working hours and teaching hours only partly determine teachers’ actual
workload, they do give valuable insight into the demands placed on teachers in different countries.
Together with teachers’ salaries (see Indicator D3) and average class size (see Indicator D2), this
indicator presents some key measures regarding the working lives of teachers. Teaching hours and
the extent of non-teaching duties may also affect the attractiveness of the teaching profession.
The proportion of working time spent teaching provides information on the amount of time
available for activities such as lesson preparation, correction, in-service training and staff
meetings. A large proportion of working time spent teaching may indicate that less time is
devoted to tasks such as student assessment and lesson preparation.
In addition to class size and the ratio of students to teaching staff (see Indicator D2), students’
hours of instruction (see Indicator D1) and teachers’ salaries (see Indicator D3), the amount of
time teachers spend teaching also affects the financial resources countries need to allocate to education (see Indicator B7).
New products are designed to improve aptitude, fulfill Common Core State Standards, provide unlimited access to
online libraries and bring 21st-century learning into the classroom. School districts today
have a range of choices and specific services to meet the various needs of students. [There] is also the issue of the digital divide. Wealthier districts have the funds and freedom toexperiment with new programs, while districts in low-income areas are limited.
In 2002/03, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina initiated a broad program of accelerating entry into algebra coursework. The proportion of moderately-performing students taking algebra in 8th grade increased from half to 85%, then reverted to baseline levels, in the span of just five years. We use this policy-induced variation to infer the impact of accelerated entry into algebra on student performance in math courses as students progress through high school. Students affected by the acceleration initiative scored significantly lower on end-of-course tests in Algebra I, and were either significantly less likely or no more likely to pass standard follow-up courses, Geometry and Algebra II, on a college-preparatory timetable. Although we also find that the district assigned teachers with weaker qualifications to Algebra I classes in the first year of the acceleration, this reduction in teacher quality accounts for only a small portion of the overall effect.
Quality of instruction is more important than
the language used