Education Research Report

IN THIS ISSUE:

 
   

November 2006
Volume 2

Copyright © 2006 Queue, Inc.



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EDUCATION NEWS

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Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

The Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education (DIAE) is in need of some published data that shows that arts integration with academic studies has a positive effect on student test scores across the curriculum.  Do you have any articles that have some data of this sort that we could quote?  Thank You.

From the Editor:

Please see the article "Arts in the Schools Paint Masterpiece: Higher Scores" (below) in response to your query.

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Bilingual Pupils Do Better in Exams, Report Finds

Bilingual children are far more likely to get top-grade passes in exams in all subjects, a report has found.

A study of Portuguese children at secondary schools in London showed that those who were encouraged to continue studying their native language were five times as likely to achieve five top grade A* to C grade passes at GCSE.

The study also found that 11-year-olds in Hackney who speak more than one language at home were outperforming pupils who only speak English, even in reading, in their national curriculum tests.

The report, Positively Plurilingual, is published today by Cilt, the national centre for languages, to coincide with a drive to encourage the take-up of community languages.

In an introduction to the report, Sir Trevor McDonald - who led a major inquiry into the teaching of languages in schools and is now Cilt's patron - says too many schools miss out on the opportunity to ensure bilingual pupils develop their skills in languages other than English. "Rather than thinking in terms of an 'English-only' culture, we should be promoting 'English-plus'," he says. "We know that children are capable of acquiring more than one language and that doing so brings a range of educational benefits, including cognitive advantages, enhanced communication skills and an openness to different cultural perspectives."

The report also cites research by Ellen Bailystock of York University in Canada, which showed that bilingual people were better at multi-tasking than those who only speak one language. This is because they regularly exercise the part of the brain known as the pre-frontal cortex which reinforces attention span…

To read the rest of this article please go to: http://education.independent.co.uk/news/article1943292.ece

For more information on CILT, the National Centre for Languages: http://www.cilt.org.uk/index.htm

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Middle School Math Textbooks and the Equals Sign

The Question

How do the ways in which mathematics textbooks present the equal sign interact with students' operational understanding of “equals”?

The Context

The equal sign is an important mathematical symbol that represents a variety of interpretations depending upon the way it is taught to students. At its most simplistic, the sign can be interpreted as a symbol requiring completion of an operation (e.g., 7 + 3 =__ means add 7 and 3). Mathematical instruction in elementary school typically approaches the equal sign in this manner, firmly entrenching in students an operational definition of the sign. As students engage in more complex mathematics, such as algebra, it becomes much more important that they understand the actual meaning of the equal sign—as representing relational equivalence. In other words, students need to understand that the equal sign is a relational symbol that implies an equivalence relationship between the quantities on both sides of the symbol (e.g., 5 + 6 = 3 + 8).

Historically, the assumption has been that young children cannot developmentally grasp the sign as a relational symbol. Recently, however, researchers have begun to question whether this is indeed the case, arguing instead that understanding is also affected by context, and that given the appropriate context (e.g., 4 = 4), even young children can generate a relational understanding of the symbol. Textbooks—and the ways in which they present the equal sign—are an important aspect of the broader discussion of context, because it is through texts that students most frequently interact with mathematical operations…

To read the rest of this article describing the study please go to:
http://r.smartbrief.com/resp/eKzQlewpBnePqTCibvafUAoE

To read the study itself: Middle-school students' understanding of the equal sign: The books they read can't help.
http://labweb.education.wisc.edu/knuth/taar/papers_rep_pub/CI_galley.pdf

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Reading Disabilities Put Students at Risk for Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior, Dropping Out of School

Teenagers with reading problems are at significantly higher risk for suicide and for dropping out of school than typical readers, according to a study by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center researchers.

       "In our study, poor readers were three times more likely than typical readers to consider or attempt suicide and six times more likely to drop out of school," said lead author Stephanie Sergent Daniel, Ph.D. "Educators and parents should be aware of the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior among adolescents with reading problems."

       The results, are from a study of 188 students recruited from six public high schools at age 15. They were followed for a mean of 3.3 years.

       Researchers initially screened 1,074 students and identified a sub-group willing to participate in the long-term study. From this group, they recruited a group of poor readers and a group of typical readers that were matched for gender and race.

       Standard educational tests were used to measure single-word reading ability, one of several skills involved in reading. Students scoring in the lowest 18 percent were considered poor readers - a cutoff commonly used to diagnose dyslexia. In addition, each student and his primary caretaker were interviewed by master's level trained research clinicians to assess psychiatric disorders and suicidal behaviors. The median length between interviews for students and parents was twelve months.

       The follow-up interviews revealed that students with poor reading skills were more likely to experience suicidal thoughts or attempts and were more likely to drop out of school. In addition, suicidal thoughts or attempts and school drop-out were strongly associated with each other.

       The researchers found that psychiatric disorders were also related to thoughts of suicide and to school drop-out, but that poor reading was a risk factor on its own.

       "Significant reading difficulties were independent of, or over and beyond, the risk from the psychiatric conditions," said Frank Wood, Ph.D., senior researcher. "Regardless of whether they have independent psychiatric disorders, these students begin to get depressed or suicidal in higher numbers than typical readers."

       Previous studies have suggested that youths with learning disabilities are at increased risk of suicidal behavior. However, few studies have examined whether reading difficulties specifically are associated with suicide or whether there is a relationship between suicidal tendencies and school drop-out.

       In addition to this study involving public school students, the researchers also noted a high suicide rate in a group of 50 randomly selected students with reading disabilities that they followed for 25 years. Four of the students died by suicide, a rate much higher than found in the general population.

       However, Daniel said, "It is important to note that a significant number of students with reading problems did not drop out of school or have thoughts of suicide."

       "More research is needed to determine which youths with poor reading might be most vulnerable to these outcomes and which factors might be associated with resilience in the face of the stresses of school problems and poor reading ability," she said.

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Students of Color Make Dramatic Gains in College Enrollment But Still Trail Whites in the Rate at Which They Attend College

Total minority enrollment at the nation’s colleges and universities rose by 50.7 percent to 4.7 million students between 1993 and 2003, according to the Minorities in Higher Education Twenty-second Annual Status Report (2006) released by the American Council on Education (ACE). Students of color made up 27.8 percent of the nearly 17 million students on America’s college campuses, up from 21.8 percent in 1993.

Although students of color made significant gains in college enrollment, African-American and Hispanic students still lag behind their white peers in the rate at which they enroll in college. In 2002-04, 47.3 percent of white high school graduates age 18 to 24 attended college compared with 41.1 percent of African Americans and 35.2 percent of Hispanics.

The Minorities in Higher Education Twenty-second Annual Status Report, made possible with support from the GE Foundation, is widely recognized as the national source of information on advances made by students of color in higher education. The report summarizes high school completion and college participation rates, college enrollments, educational attainment, degrees conferred and higher education employment.

“As I look at this report I am pleased to see people of color making gains in college enrollment and degree attainment over the 10 years covered in the report, but I am more struck by the gaps that still persist and believe they only hold our nation back politically and economically,” said ACE President David Ward. “Our nation faces many global challenges—among them are those related to national security, energy policy, and healthcare—and our answers to each will depend on the creativity and innovation of an educated citizenry and workforce. That makes our educational system a matter of national priority and means we cannot afford to leave anyone behind.”

The Status Report uses data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the U.S. Census Bureau. The Status Report no longer relies on data from tables constructed by NCES. Instead the report uses data calculated from author analysis of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
Among the Report’s Major Findings:

High School Completion Rate

College Enrollment

“We live in an era where the U.S. economy is increasingly reliant on a more educated and racially and ethnically diverse workforce, a sentiment echoed in the report issued by the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education,” said Bryan J. Cook, associate director of ACE’s Center for Policy Analysis and co-author of the report. “While the increasing number of minority students enrolled in and graduating from college is positive, the persisting gaps in the college enrollment rates of white, African American and Hispanic students suggest that there is still much work to be done.” "Although minority students have made great strides in the numbers of students completing high school and enrolling in college the Status Report again highlights the ground that remains to be covered in terms of full educational access for students from diverse backgrounds," said GE Foundation President Bob Corcoran. "The GE Foundation applauds the work undertaken by ACE and looks forward to using the report's data to guide its own programs to improve access, equity and quality of education."

Hispanic-Serving Institutions

For the first time in its 22-year history, the Status Report includes enrollment data for Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). In 1995, HSIs totaled 163 two- and four-year colleges and universities and accounted for 39 percent of all Hispanic enrollment. By 2003, the number of HSIs rose to 316 institutions and accounted for more than half of all Hispanic enrollment.

[Because of data limitations, this report defines HSIs as accredited, degree-granting institutions with an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic.]

“In light of the demographic shift taking place in the country and the tremendous growth in the Hispanic population in the United States, we felt it necessary to include data on Hispanic-serving institutions,” said Diana I. Córdova, director of ACE’s Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity, and co-author of the report. “The Status Report has traditionally included data on historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and tribal colleges and universities, so including HSI enrollment data is an important addition to this year’s report.”

Additional Key Findings:

College Graduation Rates

Degrees Conferred

Degrees Conferred by Field

Professional and Doctoral Degrees

Employment in Higher Education

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Many Kids Still Left Behind—States Show Weak Gains for Needy Students

Fordham study finds half of states miss the bus on vital education reforms

A new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation finds that just eight states can claim even moderate success over the past 15 years at boosting the percentage of their poor or minority students who are at or above proficient in reading, math or science.

The study also finds that most states making significant achievement gains—including California, Delaware, Florida, New York, Massachusetts, and Texas—are national leaders in education reform, indicating that solid standards, tough accountability, and greater school choice can yield better classroom results.

"Many state officials have claimed credit for gains in student achievement," said Chester E. Finn, Jr., the Foundation's president. "But this study casts doubt on many such claims. In reality, no state has made the kind of progress that's required to close America's vexing achievement gaps and help all children prepare for life in the 21st Century. Nor are most states making the bold reforms most likely to change this reality. Real leaders will study these data, then focus on what needs doing, not what's been done."

The Fordham Report 2006: How Well Are States Educating Our Neediest Children? appraises each state according to thirty indicators across three major categories: student achievement for low-income, African-American, and Hispanic students; achievement trends for these same groups over the last 10-15 years; and the state's track record in implementing bold education reforms.

More information on the indicators and methodology: http://www.edexcellence.net/doc/TFR06Methodology.pdf

A table listing states' performance in all three categories: http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/global/page.cfm?id=388#TFR06fullstategrades

Rankings for each category are available at the links below.

Key Findings

Student Achievement

Student Achievement grades are based primarily on the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), specifically the reading, mathematics, and science proficiency of low-income, African-American, and Hispanic students. The average state grade is D; three states flunked, and none earned better than D+. State student achievement grades in rank order can be found at: http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/global/page.cfm?id=388#TFR06achieve.

"Some will say that NAEP's 'proficient' level is a high bar and that our grading scale is unrealistic," said Michael J. Petrilli, Fordham's vice president for national programs and policy and a former official at the U.S. Department of Education. "However, when the same scale is applied to white students, the national average is a not-so-shabby B. The problem isn't our grading scale, but America's shameful achievement gaps."

Achievement Trends

Looking at student achievement over time reveals some brighter spots. Thirty-one states have made at least "minimal" progress among poor or minority students. Thirteen, however, have posted no gains for these students over the last decade or so. With both low current scores and no progress to speak of, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin are among the worst offenders. To see how all states fared on this analysis of achievement trends, see http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/global/page.cfm?id=388#TFR06achievetrend.

Education Reform

States receive somewhat higher marks for their school reform efforts: the national average is C-minus. Arizona, New Mexico, and California lead the nation in reform, measured by nine indicators in three categories: curricular content, standards-based reform, and school choice. Yet half the states received D's or F's--a disturbing sign that their policymakers still aren't taking the bold actions needed to raise achievement and close achievement gaps. Grades and rankings for all fifty states are found at http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/global/page.cfm?id=388#TFR06edreform.

The Reform/Achievement Nexus

A majority of the states with high marks on Fordham's education reform measure also show some gains in achievement among poor and minority students. And five of the eight states making the greatest NAEP gains also rank among the top ten jurisdictions for education reform. A table that matches state performance on student achievement with education reforms is available at: http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/global/page.cfm?id=388#tfr06edreformachieve.

"While this doesn't constitute definitive proof," said Finn, "it does imply that tough-minded education reforms tend to get results. Strong curricular content, real accountability, and expanded parental choice can help raise the achievement of our neediest students. Isn't it time for all states to get on this bus? Isn't it time for voters to choose leaders who will deliver?"

Nationally and in Ohio, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation strives to close America's vexing achievement gaps by raising standards, strengthening accountability, and expanding high-quality education options for parents and families. For more information about the Foundation's work, visit http://www.edexcellence.net.

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Growth and Disparity: A Decade of U.S. Public School Construction

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In 1995, a federal report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) estimated that $112 billion was needed to bring the nation's school facilities into good repair. Subsequent studies estimated it would take more than $320 billion to build new schools to handle swelling enrollments, renovate aging buildings, and equip all buildings with the technologies needed to prepare students for success in the 21st century. By far, though, the most troubling findings were that the academically neediest students—minorities and impoverished students—were most likely to attend the most decrepit facilities. Now, for the first time ever, this report provides a comprehensive analysis of who has benefited from school construction spending across the nation. In this report, the Building Educational Success Together (BEST) research team looks at how much was spent, what was accomplished, and which students and communities saw benefits. The analysis looks at the decade from 1995, when the GAO report was first released, to 2004, the most current information available.

We found unprecedented spending and growth in school facility construction across the country:

But this report confirms what many educators and communities have suspected for years: these billions of dollars spent on facilities have not been equally available to affluent and low-income communities and for minority and white students.

Overall, the schools in poor condition 10 years ago received the least investment in their facilities, even as the nation’s schools have seen record spending in school facilities. The inadequacy of funding in low-income districts and communities and the disparity in who benefitted from this spending would not be of such importance if the condition, design, and use of school buildings did not affect the quality of education. An increasing body of research indicates that poor building conditions such as a lack of temperature control, poor indoor air quality, insufficient daylight, overcrowded classrooms, and a lack of specialty classrooms are obstacles to academic achievement.

Although the plight of students in the country’s most decrepit school buildings has not been entirely ignored, federal and state policies to address the problems have been inadequate. The scale, scope and distribution of school construction spending need to be better understood and monitored. Improving the quality of school facilities should be part of state education policy and funding.

This report is a step in recognizing the tremendous opportunity and challenge of providing the highest quality education and the highest quality school buildings to all our children.

Read the report, "Growth and Disparity: A Decade of U.S. Public School Construction 1995-2004,"
http://www.21csf.org/csf-home/publications/BEST-Growth-Disparity-2006.pdf available from the 21st Century School Fund: http://www.21csf.org/csf-home/

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Reading Doesn't Matter Anymore...

David Booth argues that teachers must redefine reading as an activity that embraces the needs and interests of students. Reading isn't just about Dick and Jane or great literature any more: it's about the Internet, comic books, technical manuals, graphic novels, iPods, and much more.

Booth outlines twelve simple steps to help teachers and parents alike revolutionize the way they view – and encourage – children's reading in all kinds of genres and formats. He argues forcefully that we must:

Contents of "Reading Doesn't Matter Anymore..." Unless We:

  1. Expand our definition of literacy
  2. Include comics, magazines, poems, songs, manuals, and novels as part of reading
  3. Understand the use of technology as literacy
  4. Remember that story is the heart of literacy
  5. Help students build strong reading muscles
  6. Value the reading responses of young people
  7. View writing as literacy
  8. Recognize the ages and stages of individuals
  9. Explore how words work
  10. Turn printed texts into active learning
  11. Focus on literacy in every subject
  12. Welcome kids into the culture of literacy

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Unsatisfactory Behavior Is Best Tackled as Part of a Whole-School Improvement Program

Boring teachers blamed for rowdy classes

Poor behaviour in schools is caused by boring, repetitive and badly planned lessons, according to Ofsted, the schools watchdog.

Far from blaming the usual culprits of yob culture or irresponsible parenting for persistent poor discipline, Ofsted said that the teaching profession was guilty of failures that disheartened pupils and staff alike. “In most cases, behaviour issues stemmed from students’ frustration with unsatisfactory teaching in a few classrooms and a curriculum that did not motivate a vocal minority,” it said.

The report drew an angry response from the National Union of Teachers, the main teaching union. It gave warning of a return to the “bad old days” of the late 1990s, when Ofsted, with Chris Woodhead as its controversial chief inspector, was constantly at loggerheads with teachers.

Ofsted’s verdict coincided with the publication of a new study from the IPPR think-tank, which claimed that Britain’s teenagers were among the most unruly in Europe…

To read more of this article, please go to: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2435490,00.html

According to Ofsted schools are reducing low-level disruption by improving teaching, making learning more enjoyable and providing wider choice within the curriculum, alongside ensuring that all staff understand and consistently implement procedures for managing behaviour.

Schools succeeding in tackling unsatisfactory behaviour spell out what is considered to be unacceptable behaviour and its consequences, make good use of monitoring and celebrate good behaviour. They seek students’ views about each stage of the improvement process.

In consultation with their local authorities, schools held their nerve when exclusion rates rose as firmer and more consistent disciplinary arrangements bedded down. Some used internal exclusion rooms rather than excluding students from the school site. This meant that students’ work was supervised and less time was lost from learning.

As low level disruption reduces, any deep-seated behavioural problems are unmasked.

Successful schools identify vulnerable students, including those at risk of permanent exclusion, and provide one-to-one mentoring to discuss issues and work on solutions.

Staff review meetings, closer links with parents and use of external support including educational welfare officers and social workers was also important, and learning support units (LSUs) played a key role in the support provided by the most successful schools.

Miriam Rosen, Director of Education, said:

“Strategies for managing low-level disruption should be understood and implemented consistently by all staff, while strategies for managing behaviours that staff find very challenging should be based on a thorough analysis of issues, focus on ways forward for each individual, and blend the range of available expertise into a coherent, phased programme of support.” 

Barriers to improvement included recruitment and retention of staff, some senior managers being distracted by other priorities and schools feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead.

Ofsted also reported that learning support units are successfully re-engaging disaffected students with their education.

To read the complete report, please go to: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/2377

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Districts That Face Toughest Challenges Often Hire Least Experienced Teachers

Schools in Connecticut's poorest cities and towns face some of education's toughest challenges but often hire the state's least experienced teachers, a new study says.

Many of those school districts get off to a late start in filling teaching vacancies each year, and, as a result, must choose from a thinner, less qualified applicant pool, according to a study by the nonprofit Connecticut Center for School Change.

The difference in qualifications between teachers in wealthy and poor districts has grown between 2001 and 2005, the study found.

"This study has clearly shown that high-poverty districts do not have equal access to qualified teachers," researchers said.

To read the rest of this article, please go to:
http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-ctteacherstudy.artnov02,0,3014032.story?coll=hc-headlines-education

To read the Executive Summary of the study: http://www.ctschoolchange.org/pdf/res-executive-summary.pdf

To read the full study: http://www.ctschoolchange.org/pdf/res-Technical-study.pdf

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Double the Numbers for College Success

This study reports that the District of Columbia's public schools (DCPS are failing most of their students, particularly when it comes to college preparedness. According to the report, only 9 percent of D.C. ninth-graders will complete college within five years of graduating high school (compared with 23 percent nationwide). As its title suggests, the report focuses on how to double this number for today's ninth-graders—the high school class of 2010.

The study: http://www.seo.dc.gov/seo/frames.asp?doc=/seo/lib/seo/news_room/2006/DoublingNumber_FINAL.pdf

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Expanding Learning Time

Many of the American high schools succeeding at raising student achievement and closing the achievement gap have figured out ways to increase the length of their school day and/or year. The idea of expanding the time for learning as we raise standards and expectations for students deserves more attention in high school reform debates, particularly for students in low-performing schools who are unlikely to reach higher standards without more time and support.

A new Center for American Progress report, authored by Hilary Pennington, examines high schools that implement extra learning time as part of the required educational program for all students (rather than providing voluntary after-school programs). It explores particular issues related to expanding time at the high school level, presents examples of how schools accomplish this, and analyzes the implications that would arise for school design, capacity, and financing if such approaches were applied on a more systemic scale.

“High schools that serve large numbers of low-income students and successfully prepare them for postsecondary education and the workplace invariably expand learning and development time,” said Cindy Brown, Director of Education Policy for the Center for American Progress. “We need to find ways to expand these efforts through the design of publicly funded incentives. Expanding learning time may be the only way to catch kids up and get them on a pathway to productive adulthood.”

The report: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2006/10/pdf/extended_learning_report.pdf

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Finding Quality Teachers for Public Schools

Education policy in America is one of the hottest topics in communities across the country. The United States, however, is hardly alone in its increasing concern about getting and keeping the quality teachers it needs to remain economically competitive in the 21st century. Shortages of qualified teachers are pervasive in all advanced industrial countries today. Like us, these countries are finding it especially difficult to recruit teachers in mathematics, sciences, technology and computer science, and foreign languages.

A new report from the Center for American Progress, "Teacher and Principal Compensation: An International Review," presents a comprehensive review of education reforms in developed countries around the globe. The purpose: to find those reforms that work and those which might be applicable to the American public educational system.

“We undertook this study because of our deep concern about finding strategies that improve teacher quality and our hope that some other industrialized countries had initiated effective ones,” said Cindy Brown, Director of Education Policy for the Center for American Progress. “The results of our investigation are sobering and demonstrate that increasing the number of effective teachers is an international challenge.”

The authors, Susan Sclafani of the Chartwell Education Group and Marc Tucker of the National Center on Education and the Economy, note the fact that most of the advanced industrial countries are encountering many of the same problems, such as recruiting and keeping well qualified teachers in public school classrooms, is directly attributable to the fundamental changes taking place in the global economy. Most workers in advanced industrial societies need a far higher level of education—the kind needed to do what Peter Drucker dubbed "knowledge work" some years ago—to be able to cope with ideas in ways that was certainly not needed even recently by most workers.

To address these challenges, advanced industrial countries in Europe and elsewhere are trying many of the same remedies with which the U.S. is experimenting, such as across-the-board salary adjustments for teachers, and incentives targeted at attracting individuals to particular shortage areas. Though many of these actions roughly parallel developments in the United States, there are interesting and important variations on these themes that some countries have tried that could potentially be very interesting to American policymakers. And there are some points of substantial difference.

We should not be surprised that relatively modest financial incentives are not working very well in this country or in any other. Researchers speculate that the effects will not be larger unless the incentives approach those of comparable private sector professions as a proportion of base pay. Moreover, highly qualified young people today are less interested in a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work than they are in an outstanding day’s pay for an outstanding day's work. And they are much less interested in a career than they are in doing something next that is interesting and personally rewarding.

The paper takes a key feature of teaching policy—teachers’ compensation—and examines it from the perspective of the way policies on that topic are evolving in a variety of countries. In addition, it examines what researchers are reporting about: both the problems and the effects of the policy approaches that other nations have been trying.

The report: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2006/10/teacher_compensation.html/pdf/education_report.pdf

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Charter Achievement: What Do We Know (Third Edition)

The authors evaluated 58 recent (2001 or later) comparisons of charter school and district school performance, evaluating each by its methodology and findings. Of the 58 studies, 25 were ''snapshot studies'' (which looked at data from separate points in time) and 33 evaluated performance change over time.

http://www.publiccharters.org/content/publication/detail/1554/

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New Research Shows Startling Success of Reading Initiative Backed by Government, Charities and Business

Research published on 7 November on more than 500 children shows massive gains in reading ability made by children receiving Reading Recovery support through the Every Child A Reader project.

Results from the first year of the initiative, involving the most difficult-to-reach children in the country’s most disadvantaged areas, showed that children made an average gain of 21 months in reading age in 4-5 months of teaching – well over four times the normal rate of progress.

Every Child A Reader is a three-year project which aims to help 5,000 six-year-olds with significant literacy difficulties learn to read. It does this by placing specialist literacy teachers trained in Reading Recovery into schools to provide intensive one-to-one support to those children most in need. Every Child A Reader also aims to explore the potential for those teachers to support tailored literacy teaching more broadly within a school, beyond those receiving intensive one-to-one support.

It is estimated that 35,000 children, equivalent to 6 per cent of the age group, leave primary school each year well below the expected literacy level for their age. Every Child A Reader was set up last year to address these children’s difficulties. Children benefiting from the Reading Recovery literacy intervention programme receive intensive one-to-one support for 30 minutes each day over a period of four to five months.

The DfES is contributing around half the cost of the £10m project. Other sponsors include the KPMG Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, SHINE, the Indigo Trust, the JJ Charitable Trust, the Mercers' Company and the Man Group plc Charitable Trust.

Schools minister Andrew Adonis said:

"The results are great news for children and parents. They show that with the right teaching and support virtually every child can become a successful reader after starting primary school.

"Getting literacy right in the early years is the key to children's long-term educational success. That is why we are implementing the Rose recommendations and why we have renewed our literacy strategy to support faster progression in the early years. Quality first teaching for all children should always be the first priority but for some children additional intervention will be necessary. Reading Recovery is a well-established programme that demonstrates what gains can be made when children are offered intensive tailored support by well-trained teachers. We are helping schools to decide which interventions will best suit the particular needs of their pupils. This is one of a number of programmes available to schools to help those children facing the greatest reading difficulties."

Every Child A Reader’s first annual report contains the results of research by a team from the Institute of Education, University of London, who followed 234 of the lowest achieving children aged six in 42 inner London schools between September 2005 and July 2006. They compared the progress in reading of 87 children who had received the Reading Recovery programme with 147 children with comparable reading difficulties who had not.

The two groups started at very similar levels (with an average reading age of 4 years and 11 months and 4 years and 10 months respectively, according to British Ability Scales). By the end of the period, the Reading Recovery group had caught up with their classmates and had an average reading age of 6 years and 7 months. The rest were 14 months behind them with an average reading age of 5 years and 5 months. In the academic year, the Reading Recovery group had gained 20 months whereas the control group had improved their reading skills by only 7 months and had fallen further behind their peers.

Dr Sue Burroughs-Lange, leader of the research team at the Institute of Education, said: “The progress made by children who received Reading Recovery was startling in comparison to the other group and statistical tests show it to be highly significant. The research also showed that for these low achieving children the intensive reading tuition narrowed the gender gap - at the end of the year although girls in schools without Reading Recovery had pulled 3 months ahead of boys, in schools with Reading Recovery both girls and boys were doing equally well, making on average 20 months progress in the year.”

The annual report also covered the results of Reading Recovery programmes among 373 children nationally – in 61 schools in Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Sheffield as well as London. The children moved on average from a reading age of 4 years 10 months to a reading age of 6 years 7 months. There was also evidence that standards in many cases rose for all children in schools supported through Every Child A Reader, not just those directly taught, because of the presence of a skilled literacy expert in the school.

Jean Gross, Director of Every Child A Reader, said: “Over three quarters of the children involved – the hardest to teach in the schools where there is the biggest challenge to raise standards – have been returned to average or above literacy levels for their age after around 38 hours of one-to-one teaching. The majority of these children were poor, with 58 per cent of them on free school meals as compared to a national average of 17 per cent. Two thirds were boys. The initiative has shown that schools can raise their aspirations for the lowest attaining children, and begin to break the link between poverty, gender and attainment.”

She added: “Our research shows that it is not the type of reading scheme that is important so much as teaching that is exactly matched to what each child knows and needs to know, and takes place every single day for a short period. The teachers are very highly trained and that matters, too.”

The Institute of Education is a college of the University of London, specialising in teaching, research and consultancy in education and related areas of social science and professional practice.

Every Child A Reader: The results of the first year is published by Every Child A Reader. It contains case histories of individual children who have benefited from the Reading Recovery scheme.

The report: http://www.everychildareader.org/pubs/first_year_final%20.pdf

Evaluation of Reading Recovery in London schools: Every Child A Reader 2005-2006 is published by the Institute of Education, University of London and available at http://www.everychildareader.org/pubs/ECAR_London_Evaluation_Report.pdf

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New Research Dispels Myths Surrounding Single-Sex Schooling

A study of people now in their 40s has revealed that those who went to single-sex schools were more likely to study subjects not traditionally associated with their gender than those who went to co-educational schools. Girls from single-sex schools also went on to earn more than those from co-educational schools.

The research, by the Institute of Education’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies, has followed almost 13,000 individuals born in 1958 throughout their lives and so can tell us about longer-term consequences of types of schools.

The researchers found that at age 16, girls in girls’ schools were more likely to gain maths and science A-levels, and boys in boys’ schools more liable to gain A-levels in English and modern languages than their peers in co-educational schools. Girls and boys in single-sex schools also had more confidence in their ability to do well in these subjects.

The pattern carried through to university, with women from girls’ schools more likely than co-educated women to gain qualifications in subjects typically dominated by men and to go on to earn higher salaries in their jobs.

Researcher Dr Alice Sullivan explains: “Single-sex schools seemed more likely to encourage students to pursue academic paths according to their talents rather than their gender, whereas more gender-stereotyped choices were made in co-educational schools. This suggests that co-educational schools need to examine the ways in which they have, probably unwittingly, enforced powerful gender stereotypes on both girls and boys.”

Researcher Professor Diana Leonard says: “Although having been to a single-sex school is not significantly linked to a gender atypical occupation, girls from single-sex schools do get higher wages in later life. This could be because they are carrying out more technical or scientific roles even within female-dominated jobs, for example, becoming science teachers rather than French teachers, or because they have learned to be more self-confident in negotiating their wages and salaries.”

But single-sex education brought almost no advantage in terms of exam results. Girls from girls’ schools did only slightly better in exams than their co-educational peers. Boys did no better at all (allowing for differences in ability and family background). While girls at girls’ schools were slightly more likely than girls in mixed schools to gain five or more O-levels at grades A – C, this advantage did not carry through to further and higher education. There was no impact of single-sex schooling on maths test scores at age 16, nor did single-sex schooling make it more likely for pupils to gain any A-levels at all, to get a university degree by age 33, or to enter high-status occupations.

Dr Sullivan says: “Our research emphatically does not support the suggestion that achievement is higher in single-sex schools.”

Other findings showed that boys in boys’ schools were more likely to dislike school than boys in co-ed schools, but both sexes were less likely to truant in single-sex schools.

Single-sex schooling appeared to have no impact on the likelihood of marriage or childbearing, or on the quality of partnerships formed. Neither did it appear to affect the division of labour in the home, nor attitudes to women’s work outside the home. However, men who had attended single-sex schools were more likely to be divorced by age 42.

Report: http://www.cls.ioe.ac.uk/core/documents/download.asp?id=656&log_stat=1

Article Discussing Report: http://www.cls.ioe.ac.uk/core/documents/download.asp?id=657&log_stat=1

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American Institutes for Research Issues Updated Rating of 22 Widely Used Comprehensive School Reform Models

      The American Institutes for Research (AIR) has released an updated consumer guide rating the effectiveness and quality of 22 widely used comprehensive elementary school reform models. The new report, issued one year after the first guide was released, upgrades the ratings of two models to "moderate" on evidence of success in demonstrating positive effects on student achievement. The status of the 20 other reform models remains unchanged.

       The "CSRQ Center Report on Elementary School Comprehensive School Reform Models" was produced by AIR's Comprehensive School Reform Quality (CSRQ) Center, a multi-year project funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The initial report was issued in November 2005. The updated findings are based on new research evidence that meet strict scientific criteria set by AIR researchers.

       "The updated report marks the first time that a follow-up guide of this type has been issued, demonstrating that the research evidence on whole school improvement models is continuing to grow," said Steve Fleischman, an AIR vice president and director of the study. "Progress is being made in establishing scientific criteria for measuring success as well as in producing evidence that meets that standard."

       In the latest findings two models, National Writing Project, in Berkeley, Calif., and Literacy Collaborative of Columbus, Ohio were upgraded from "limited" to "moderate" in Category 1: Evidence of Positive Effects on Student Achievement. Both Literacy Collaborative and the National Writing Project also went from a "no rating" to "very strong" in evidence of a research base for the model's design.

       The 22 reform models serve thousands of mostly high-poverty, low-performing schools nationwide. The CSRQ Center review framework was developed in consultation with an Advisory Group composed of leading education experts and researchers, and is closely aligned with the requirement for scientifically based evidence that is part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

       In the latest report, no model received a rating of "very strong." Direct Instruction (Full Immersion Model), based in Eugene, Ore., and Success for All, located in Baltimore, Md., received a "moderately strong" rating.

       Five other models also met the standards for the "moderate" rating: Accelerated Schools PLUS, in Storrs, Conn.; America's Choice School Design, based in Washington, D.C.; Core Knowledge, located in Charlottesville, Va.; School Renaissance in Madison, Wis.; and the School Development Project, based in New Haven, Conn. Models receiving a "moderate" rating may still show notable evidence of positive outcomes, but this evidence is not as strong as those models receiving a "moderately strong" or "very strong" rating.

       Six models earned a "limited" rating in Category 1: ATLAS Communities in Cambridge, Mass.; Pearson Achievement Solutions (formerly Co-nect), in Glenview, Ill.; Different Ways of Knowing, located in Santa Monica, Calif.; Integrated Thematic Instruction, based in Federal Way, Wash.; Modern Red Schoolhouse, based in Nashville, Tenn.; and Ventures Initiative Focus System, located in New York, N.Y. The "limited" rating indicates that while the CSRQ Center found some evidence of positive effects on student achievement, much more rigorous research and evidence needs to be presented on the model to fully support its effectiveness.

       Seven CSR models received a "zero" rating in Category 1: Breakthrough to Literacy, from Coralville, Iowa; Comprehensive Early Literacy Learning, in Redlands, Calif.; Community for Learning, based in Philadelphia, Pa.; Coalition of Essential Schools, located in Oakland, Calif.; Expeditionary Learning, based in Garrison, N.Y.; First Steps, in Salem, Mass.; and Onward to Excellence II, located in Portland, Ore. A rating of "zero" means that evidence was found to provide a rating for this category, but none was of sufficient quality to be counted as reliable evidence.

       None of the 22 models earned a "no" or "negative" rating, which indicate that a model has no evidence available for review, or strong evidence demonstrating negative effects in a given category or subcategory, respectively.

To read the report: http://www.csrq.org/CSRQreportselementaryschoolreport.asp

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Arts in the Schools Paint Masterpiece: Higher Scores

By Charles Leroux and Ron Grossman 1999

In an era when school arts programs often have been considered expendable as budgets were tightened, the first comprehensive study of the effects of such instruction shows a statistical rise in student achievement, especially among low-income students.

The study, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the GE Fund, found that art programs have a dramatic influence on elementary and high school students’ performance—not just in painting a still life or playing the trombone but also in standardized test scores. The study looked at programs across the country, including one currently used in 30 Chicago public schools.

"The people who run our schools have been looking for some hard evidence that what happens in arts classes impacts on learning. Well, here it is," said Dick Deasy, director of the Arts Education Partnership, a sponsor of the study along with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

To be released Friday, the study "Champions of Change" comes after decades when hard-pressed school districts often have considered art and music programs the first targets of budget-cutting. It demonstrates that such policies are educationally questionable—especially for a nation committed to leveling the field for disadvantaged students, the authors say.

James Catterall, a UCLA professor and co-author of the report, found that, "high arts participation makes a more significant difference to students from low-income backgrounds than for high-income students."

"Champions of Change" studied various arts-educational programs—creating an original opera, mounting a Shakespeare play—and involved researchers from UCLA, Stanford University, Columbia University, Harvard University and the University of Connecticut. As one part of the study, Department of Education data from 25,000 students were analyzed.

Though the report is a compilation of seven studies conducted independently, the results were remarkably consistent: The arts reach students who are not otherwise being reached; they connect students to themselves and to each other; they connect learning experiences to the world of real work, the findings suggest.

In Chicago, the study involved 14 high-poverty schools using programs created by CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnership in Education), an innovative approach to integrating arts in the academic subjects of a public school curriculum, funded by a consortium of corporations and foundations.

The MacArthur/GE report found that "schools across Chicago, including those in the study, have been improving student performance. But when compared to arts-poor schools in the same neighborhoods, the CAPE schools advanced even more quickly and now boast a significant gap in achievement along many dimensions."

On Wednesday, Jessica Juarez, 9, a 4th grader at Healy School in Bridgeport, one of the schools in the CAPE program, was all over the map.

"I had to run all the way to Maine, then galloped to North Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee," she said. "I hopped through Texas and did a spin in the ocean and I ended up in Nebraska."

The U.S. map she crossed was painted on the asphalt of the school’s playground. To a casual observer, it might have seemed like play. But Jessica’s ramble was part of a CAPE dance/geography class.

Principal Analila Chico credits these arts in education programs with helping Healy make surprising gains in reading, math and science, especially considering the school’s demographics. At Healy, 84 percent of the students come from families living below the poverty line, and about 400 of its 1,300 students enroll not speaking English.

Nine years ago, before the program, only 37.8 percent of the students were reading at or above grade level. Now 60 percent are. At the same time, the percentage of students doing math at grade level rose from 49 percent to 67.8 percent. Chico noted that her students with discipline or learning problems got the most out of the program.

"Our arts program makes those kids excited about learning," Chico said.

Referring to Healy’s rise in test scores, Tammy Steele, arts coordinator, said: "We can’t prove exactly how much of the improvement is due to arts education, but we’re sure that our success disproves the theory that the arts are a waste of time."

"Champions of Change" shows that the Healy School’s experience was not unique. The researchers found that, nationally, "problem" students often became high achievers when exposed to arts education. "Success in the arts became a bridge to learning and eventual success in other areas of learning," the report notes. "The arts provided a reason, and sometimes the only reason, for being engaged with school or other organizations. These young people would otherwise be left without access to any community of learners."

Chico has been principal at Healy for five years and taught there for 15 years. She recalled that when she came to the school, support for the arts from the Board of Education was, at best, spotty.

"Back then, if you asked for an arts program, they’d say, ‘You’ve got a music teacher, be happy with that,"’ she said. "Teaching meant you told the kids to open a book and to close a book."

Deasy, who was then assistant state superintendent of schools in Maryland, reports the same lack of enthusiasm for the arts among educational administrators in the 1970s. "There never was a golden age for arts funding," he said. "But when schools felt the budgetary crunch then, the arts were the first to go."

The CAPE program has been in partnership with Healy School since 1993, operating in a variety of classes. For example, one kindergarten class recently danced its way through the prepositions in a kinetic demonstration of "in," "around," "through" and others. Led by Dennis Wise from the Chicago Moving Company, a professional dance company, and accompanied by taped rhythms from a Nigerian percussionist, the children acted out the linguistic function of prepositions.

Steve Seidel, a Harvard researcher, theorizes: "Kids like making sense of things that aren’t immediately obvious." Seidel examined 10 high schools in which artists from Shakespeare & Company, a Lenox, Mass., professional theater company, offered instruction. Instead of simply reading the text, as English classes traditionally have, each class in the program went over a play, word by word, until they understood it in detail. Then they mounted a 90-minute production of that play.

Seidel reports that the nearly 800 students in that study reported "with virtual unanimity that they developed a strong sense of their own capacities to understand and engage deeply with Shakespeare’s plays."

Many of the students also noted that their success with Shakespeare carried over to other complex works of literature and to math and physics as well.

To see the complete report, please go to: http://www.aep-arts.org/PDF%20Files/ChampsReport.pdf

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Online Learning Courses Providing New Opportunities

A new study reveals a dramatic increase in student enrollment in online learning courses throughout the country, with up to 50 percent increases in some states, according to the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL). The results of the study was highlighted at the Council's annual conference in Dallas, Nov. 5-7.

The conference—the 2006 Virtual School Symposium—brought together more than 500 teachers, administrators, and policy makers representing virtual schools and online learning programs for grades K-12.

"Online learning is opening access and opportunity for all students by providing high quality courses and highly qualified teachers over the Internet—regardless of their neighborhood or geography," said NACOL president Susan Patrick. (Patrick is the former director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, where in 2005 she published the visionary National Education Technology Plan.)

Background

Research, Trends and Statistics
K-12 Online Learning and Virtual Schools: Expanding Options and Opening Access

High School Reform and Redesign

Today’s Students
The Pew Internet Project reports “the Internet is an important element in the overall educational experience of many teenagers”:

To see the report, please go to: http://www.nacol.org/docs/Keeping%20Pace%20with%20K-12%20Online%20Learning%202006.pdf

To see a separate survey that provided snapshots of virtual learning programs in 30 different countries:
http://www.nacol.org/docs/InternationalSurveyResultsSummaries.pdf

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Rand Study Finds Most Schools Fail to Fully Adopt Reform Models Designed to Boost Student Achievement

Schools that embrace comprehensive reform models designed to improve student achievement frequently do not fully adopt all practices recommended by the model developers, according to a RAND Corporation report.

The findings call into question whether the comprehensive school reform model approach that has been adopted by more than 8,000 schools nationally can become a key strategy to help improve student performance.

A survey of 250 schools from Florida and Texas that embraced comprehensive school reform models found that none had adopted all of the changes the models called for to boost student achievement, according to the study by RAND Education.

The reason most often cited for failing to adopt all aspects of the reform packages was a shortage of support for needed improvements and investments such as teacher training.

“At the current level of implementation, comprehensive school reform models are likely to have only modest or no effect on student achievement,” said lead author of the report Georges Vernez, who is a senior social scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Without substantially more support, it is not likely most schools will be able to faithfully adopt these models of school improvement.”

Read more about Georges Vernez: http://www.rand.org/media/experts/bios/vernez_georges.html

Comprehensive school reform is based on the idea that a school should have a coherent educational strategy that addresses every aspect of its operation. More than $2 billion in federal funds have been used to implement the approach at schools nationally.

Studies assessing the success of comprehensive school reform models have been mixed, with some showing a modest improvement in student achievement and others finding no impact. Most of those studies assumed schools had adopted all aspects of the reforms.

RAND researchers surveyed principals and teachers at the schools in the study, and visited a number of campuses in order to more closely assess adoption of the chosen comprehensive school reform model.

Researchers found some types of changes were embraced more often than others. Schools were most likely to adopt the curriculum prescribed by the model developer, but were less likely to adopt the recommended instructional practices. Practices designed to increase parental involvement were the aspect least likely to be adopted.

Most of the schools in the study did not have the level of support recommended by developers of the models. Teachers reported receiving about half of the recommended initial training and only one-quarter of the recommended ongoing professional development, according to RAND researchers.

In general, teachers reported a lukewarm commitment to adopting their school's reform model and most felt the training they received was not adequate. However, in schools where the level of support increased, so did adoption of the developer-recommended practices, according to researchers.

RAND researchers also surveyed a number of similar schools in Florida and Texas that had not embraced a formal reform program and found those schools had adopted many of the same changes in curriculum, instruction and governance as those schools following comprehensive school reform.

“Every school is trying something to improve student achievement, even if they have not embraced one of the many formal reform models,” Vernez said.

However, schools that embraced comprehensive school reform models were more likely to follow certain practices, such as having students work collaboratively in groups, having teachers follow word-for-word scripts, grouping students by performance, assigning daily homework and obtaining parent signoff on that homework.

Vernez said the RAND findings show that studies designed to measure the impact of school reform models also must examine the extent to which schools have embraced the details of the model.

“Research examining the success of educational reform efforts cannot be valid unless you first examine the extent to which the reform model has been adopted,” Vernez said.

The RAND study focused on schools in Florida and Texas because those states have a large number of schools that have adopted comprehensive school reform models.

Researchers focused on four models that have been used widely across the nation, but differ from each other significantly. The models were Accelerated Schools, Core Knowledge, Direct Instruction and Success for All.

Although each program is based on a different philosophy and set of practices, each generally emphasizes six core areas of schooling: curriculum, methods of instruction, appropriate student grouping, student assessments, parent involvement, and governance (such as establishing a school steering committee and working groups).

Funding for the study, titled “Evaluating Comprehensive School Reform Models at Scale: Focus on Implementation,” was provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Other authors of the report are Rita Karam, Lou Mariano, and Christine DeMartini of RAND.

RAND Education conducts research and analysis on a variety of topics, including school reform, educational assessment and accountability, and trends among teachers and teacher training.

Read the Full Document: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG546/

Read the Research Brief: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9221/

Education Research Area: http://www.rand.org/research_areas/education/

E-mail sign up: http://www.rand.org/publications/email.html

About the RAND Corporation
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world. http://www.rand.org/education/

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Improving Mathematics and Science Education

A multiyear, National Science Foundation-funded RAND Corporation study found weak positive associations between reform-oriented mathematics and science instruction and achievement. Encouraging teachers to adopt such instruction is unlikely to be an effective strategy for promoting large and rapid student improvement.

The term reform-oriented teaching describes a collection of instructional practices that are designed to engage students as active participants in their own learning and to enhance the development of complex cognitive skills and processes. This monograph presents the findings of a multiyear National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded study of the effectiveness of reform-oriented science and mathematics instruction. It builds on an earlier RAND study, called the Mosaic project, which found “a weak but positive relationship” between reform-oriented practices and student achievement. The present study, called Mosaic II, extends this earlier research in two important ways. First, it incorporates more-diverse indicators of student exposure to reform-oriented practices, including innovative, vignette-based measures. Second, it follows students for three years in order to measure the relationship after longer exposure to reform practices.

Mosaic II was designed to answer two major research questions:

The research was conducted in three districts that participated in the NSF Local Systemic Change program, although the study is not an evaluation of the implementation or impact of that specific program.

We found nonsignificant or weak positive relationships between reform-oriented instruction in mathematics and science and student achievement measured using multiple-choice tests. The results also reinforce the message that measurement matters — i.e., the observed relationship between reform-oriented instruction and achievement may depend on how achievement is measured. It is common practice to use existing state or district tests as measures of program effectiveness, because it is often not feasible to administer additional tests. Our analysis indicates that this decision may influence findings.

Results should be of interest to educators and policymakers concerned with improving mathematics and science education.

Full Document: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG480.pdf

Summary Only: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG480.sum.pdf

Appendixes: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG480.appendixes.pdf

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Delaware’s Vision 2015 Coalition Unveils Comprehensive Plan for Improving Public Education in Delaware

Calling for “no exceptions, no excuses,” the Vision 2015 Steering Committee  issued a comprehensive plan to develop a world class public education system in Delaware. As designed, th Steering Committee  claimed it would serve as a model for the nation and the world.

 The six building blocks of Vision 2015, containing dozens of recommendations, reinforce one another:

  1. Set Sights High. Set high academic standards for every child, coupled with high-quality curricula and additional instructional time to give students the best opportunity to meet them.
  2. Invest in Early Childhood Education. Target more resources to high-need children to build an early foundation for long-term success.
  3. Develop and Support High-Quality Teachers. Give teachers the tools, coaching and resources needed to customize instruction for each and every child, and reward teachers for their skills and effectiveness.
  4. Empower Principals to be Great Leaders. Empower principals with the knowledge, authority, flexibility, resources, and technology required to focus tightly on student achievement and to get results.
  5. Encourage Innovation and Require Accountability. Provide a rich set of school options and instructional methods to meet the varying needs of students and their families. And require accountability for student success from all involved, including parents, community groups, teachers, principals, business leaders, and public officials.
  6. Establish a Simple and Equitable Funding System. Establish a school funding formula that is easy to understand and weighted to address the needs of individual students, so that taxpayers can be sure that public funds are well spent and so that all students have the resources they need to reach the same high standards. Although Vision 2015 cannot be implemented overnight, the work begins today. The first initiatives will be rolled out in early 2007, and several will require significant changes in policies and practice.

Early work will focus on: providing more professional support to principals and teachers; benchmarking our academic standards internationally; generating high-quality curricula; and improving assessments and technology systems so they can help school leaders, teachers, and parents alike to better understand what is needed for each student’s individual success. Top-notch infrastructure paired with highly-trained and well-supported educators set the foundation for Vision 2015.

Beginning in 2007, interested school districts and charter schools will be invited to join a statewide network that adopts a full set of Vision 2015 recommendations. Recruitment of an initial group of “Vision districts” and “Vision schools” will pave the way for every other district and school within the state.

In addition, a new entity, the Delaware Public Education Partnership, will be established to reinforce Vision 2015 goals. The partnership—to be governed by a coalition of education, government, business and community leaders—will hold public and private leaders accountable for the transformation and ensure that the Vision 2015 schools and districts receive the resources and support they need to succeed.

To view the full Vision 2015 plan: http://www.vision2015de.org/Portals/0/Vision2015report10-12.pdf

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Strong Growth Trend in U.S. Online Learning; Nearly 3.2 Million Higher Education Students Taking Courses Online

      The Sloan Survey of Online Learning, "Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006," shows tremendous growth in online learning in America.

       "This is the largest study to date and it tells us online learning is growing without any sign of a plateau," says Jeff Seaman, chief information officer and survey director, The Sloan Consortium. "There were nearly 3.2 million students taking at least one course online this past fall, up from 2.3 million just last year."

       The fourth annual survey is a collaborative effort between the College Board and the Sloan Consortium. It's based upon responses from more than 2,200 colleges and universities nationwide and represents the state of online learning in U.S. higher education.

      "We include Sloan questions in the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges to better understand the state of online learning at our country's institutions of higher education," said Hal Higginbotham, chief information officer, the College Board. "The insight we gain from the survey enables us to better serve those who benefit from online courses, those who traditionally wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to connect to college success."

       The survey also finds a larger percentage (62 percent) of chief academic officers agree the learning outcomes in online education are now as good as or superior to face-to-face instruction while 57 percent say it is critical to their institution's long-term strategy.

       In addition 73 percent agree online education reaches students not served by face-to-face programs. "Offering courses online increases enrollment particularly among populations like working adults and others who traditionally have not been able to access higher education," says Frank Mayadas, program director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The complete report is available at http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/pdf/making_the_grade.pdf

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Nation's School Counselors Call for Student Loan Reforms

      Most of the nation's high-school counselors are worried about the exorbitant loan debt students are incurring to pay for college, according to preliminary findings from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), which called on the U.S. Department of Education to reform federal student loan rules that put millions of students and borrowers at risk.

       In a national survey co-sponsored by NACAC and the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), nearly nine in 10 counselors (86 percent) said they are concerned about the amount of debt that students are taking on to pay for college. The survey also asked counselors about their views on who should and should not use student loans, how much students at their schools could afford to borrow, and how much help students and families need to make good choices about loans. NACAC and TICAS will issue a report with the complete survey findings this winter.

       As part of testimony submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC, NACAC called for regulatory changes to protect responsible student-loan borrowers from punitive repayment requirements. These changes are part of the Five-Point Plan for Fair Loan Payments, which is supported by students, parents, colleges, the loan industry, teachers, social workers, and many others concerned about the effect of rising student debt on educational opportunity.

       "For most high-school students and their families, counselors are the main source of information about how to pay for college," said NACAC President Mary Lee Hoganson. "School counselors are first-hand witnesses to how the prospect of debt can affect students' choices and aspirations. That is why we are so concerned about rising student debt and the need to bring it under control."

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Civic Mission of Schools Needs to be Revitalized, Says State Boards of Education Association

American democracy is at risk because civic education has been downplayed amid a decade’s-long push for more testing and accountability in reading, math, and science, according to a new study released by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).

Schools need to re-emphasize citizenship as a fundamental mission of public education, the study concludes, and state boards of education must promote civic learning to prepare students for their responsibilities as engaged citizens. The resulting report of the year-long analysis, Citizens for the 21st Century: Revitalizing the Civic Mission of Schools, is being released at NASBE’s national conference.

“Our representative democracy can only be sustained by an informed and engaged citizenry. Civic education is a basic purpose of public schooling. As such, we must again infuse this core value into every part of the school curriculum. We need to teach students to be the ethical, responsible, active, and informed citizens this country expects—and demands—of them,” said Brenda Welburn, NASBE Executive Director.

The lack of civic instruction among students has resulted in lackluster levels of awareness about the basic functions of domestic government and a dangerous ignorance about international affairs that could have profound implications for the nation in today’s global society, concludes the report.
“Promoting civic engagement in our schools and among our students is fundamental to preserving our traditional American values of self-government and our leadership among nations. It is that personal connection to an individual’s community that creates, nourishes, and renews the soul of civil society,” said James Carignan, chairman of the report committee and chairman of the Maine State Board of Education.

The report recommends that state boards of education transform the culture of schools and re-emphasize civic education in the standards-based reform movement. The topics of government, history, law, and democracy need to be incorporated into a state’s core academic standards. Schools should be encouraged to offer students service-learning opportunities and other experiential learning activities. State boards of education are also urged to align pre- and in-service requirements for teachers with the goals of civic learning.

The executive summary is here: http://www.nasbe.org/publications/Civic_Ed/civic_ed.html

The full report is available for $14 by calling 800-220-5183 or by ordering online on NASBE’s website, www.nasbe.org.

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Testing Strengthens Recall Whether Something's on the Test or Not

Remember those kids who wanted to study only what was on the test? They may have cheated themselves. New research reveals that the simple act of taking a test helps you remember everything you learned, even if it isn't tested. In three experiments, psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis determined that testing enhanced long-term recall for material that was not tested initially. Untested students recalled significantly less of what they'd studied—even after having extra time to go over the material.

This confirmation of how mid-term or final-exam type tests foster learning is reported in the November issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Tests are more than efficient scoring tools. The authors call them a "powerful memory enhancer." Although psychologists knew that testing strengthened the subsequent recall of the tested learned material, it hadn't been clear whether typical classroom tests (as distinguished from high-stakes standardized tests) also strengthened recall of the material not put on the test.

In the first experiment, 84 undergraduates were given 25 minutes to study a long factual article about the biological characteristics and living habits of the toucan bird. Afterward, participants were divided among three groups. Students in the testing group answered 22 questions about the material. Students in an "extra study" group read 22 additional statements about toucans, essentially giving them a head start – though they did not take a test. Students in a control group were immediately dismissed.

One day later, all 84 students took a final test with 44 questions (22 old, 22 new). The lead author, doctoral student Jason Chan, MA, points out that the 24-hour interval simulated the way most students cram the day before a test. Students tested on related questions on Day 1 significantly outperformed, on the new questions, both students who had received extra study on Day 1 and students in the control group. Thus the testing, not the extra study, accounted for improved performance.

The results "imply that as long as students have retrieved a concept, other related concepts should also receive a boost." The authors may soon hear from their own students for suggesting that, "educators might consider increasing the frequency of testing to enhance long-term retention for both the tested and the related, non-tested material."

In Experiment 2, each of 72 undergraduates studied two of four articles – the one about the toucans, and/or "The Big Bang Theory, " "The History of Hong Kong," or "The Shaolin Temple" – topics expected to be relatively unknown to most undergraduate psychology majors. For each student, one article was tested and one was not, creating an experimental and control condition for each student – a "within subjects" design. Again, 24 hours later, all students were tested – and having been tested on Day 1 accounted for a significantly better performance on Day 2.

A third experiment with 54 undergraduates manipulated the strategies that students used when they completed the first test. In response, accurate recall of the new questions on Day 2 increased with time spent on answering questions on Day 1. This relation was especially pronounced for students with lower performance on the test, highlighting the value of giving students -- particularly struggling students -- ample time during exams. In other words, given more time, they can more fully demonstrate their knowledge.

Also, students who were encouraged to guess during Day 1's test (an all-inclusive strategy) did significantly better on Day 2 than did students who were discouraged from guessing. Thus, the researchers think the use of memory strategies during learning could be especially helpful for answering short-answer and essay exams, which tend to be more conceptual and rely on the recall of a range of information.

The authors say their findings might be especially encouraging to teachers who regularly give essay or short-answer exams, for which students tend to recall related or extraneous information. They note, "This sort of all-inclusive retrieval strategy might be beneficial to retention in the long run."

 (Full text of the article is available at http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/xge1354553.pdf)

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Adolescents, Risks and the Pitfalls of Rationality

Is it a good idea to swim with sharks? Is it smart to drink a bottle of Drano? What about setting your hair on fire -- is that a good thing to do?

People of all ages are able to give the correct answer (it's "no," in case you were wondering) to each of these questions. But adolescents take just a little bit longer (about 170 milliseconds longer, to be exact) to arrive at the right answer than adults do. That split second may contain a world of insight into how adolescents tick -- and how they tick differently from adults.

A major new report by Valerie F. Reyna (Cornell) and Frank Farley (Temple University), "Risk and Rationality in Adolescent Decision Making," in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, summarizes the present state of psychological science research on decision making, on why adolescents make the (sometimes bad) decisions they make, and on how interventions may be better designed to steer young people toward better choices.

It is often believed that adolescents think they are immortal, just plain invulnerable to life's slings and arrows. This notion is often used to explain why young people are liable to drive fast, have unprotected sex, smoke, or take drugs -- risks that adults are somewhat more likely to shy away from.
Research shows that adolescents do exhibit an optimistic bias -- that is, a tendency to underestimate their own risks relative to their peers. But this bias turns out to be no more prevalent in adolescents than in grownups; adults commit the very same fallacy in their reasoning. And actually, studies on perception of risks by children, adolescents, and adults show that young people tend to overestimate their risks for a range of hazards (including car accidents and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS), both in absolute terms (i.e., as compared with actual risks) and relative to adults. Their estimation of vulnerability declines rather than increases with age.

So why do adolescents take risks? Decision research answers this with another counterintuitive finding: Adolescents make the risky judgments they do because they are actually, in some ways, more rational than adults. Grownups tend to quickly and intuitively grasp that certain risks (e.g., drunk driving, unprotected sex, and most anything involving sharks) are just too great to be worth thinking about, so they don't proceed down the "slippery slope" of actually calculating the odds. Adolescents, on the other hand, actually take the time to weigh risks and benefits -- possibly deciding that the latter outweigh the former.

So adolescents engage in just the sort of calculations—trading off risks against benefits—that economists wish that all people would make. But economists notwithstanding, research is showing more and more that a faster, more intuitive, less strictly "rational" form of reasoning that comes with increased experience can often be more effective. Mature or experienced decision makers (e.g., experienced vs. less experience physicians) rely more on fuzzy reasoning, processing situations and problems as "gists" rather than weighing multiple factors and evidence. This leads to better decisions, not only in everyday life but also in places like emergency rooms where the speed and quality of risky decisions are critical.

These counterintuitive conclusions about the decision-making processes of young people have major implications for how to intervene to help steer them in the right direction. For example, interventions aimed at reducing smoking or unprotected sex in young people by presenting accurate risk data on lung-cancer and HIV may actually backfire if young people overestimate their risks anyway. Instead, interventions should focus on facilitating the development of mature, gist-based thinking in which dangerous risks are categorically avoided rather than weighed in a rational, deliberative way.

The full article is available at: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/index.cfm?journal=pspi&content=pspi/7_1

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SAT Gauges More Than Collegiate Success

On February 13, high-school juniors and seniors were able to access their January 2006 SAT scores through the College Board website. The test is an important step toward gaining college acceptance. But new research shows that the test may go far beyond predicting college success; when taken in the early teens, it may actually foretell a person’s success and life satisfaction after university.

According to Vanderbilt University psychology researchers David Lubinski and Camilla Benbow, along with Rose Mary Webb (Appalachian State University) and April Bleske-Rechek (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire), high SAT scores at young ages can reveal individuals who have cognitive and creative potential for future success as doctors, engineers and professors. Their study provides evidence that students who scored in the top .01 percentile of their age group on the SAT before age 13 were more likely than a comparison group of graduate students to later achieve a MD degree, earn an annual salary of at least $100,000, or secure a tenure-track position in a top-50 ranked institution.

The findings are reported in the article "Tracking Exceptional Human Capital Over Two Decades" in the March issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science (previously the American Psychological Society).

The study compared 380 young SAT takers and 586 graduate students. Students under age 13 who scored in the top .01 percentile of their age group on the SAT in the early 1980s were considered having exceptional cognitive abilities; 20 years later (2003-2004), these students were surveyed on their education, career, success, and life satisfaction. Graduate students who had been enrolled in a top-ranked engineering, mathematics, or physical science program in 1992 also took the survey in 2003-2004.

Survey results found education levels and career paths to be very similar between the two groups. A minimal difference was found between the percentage of graduate students and young SAT-takers who obtained a doctoral-level degree from a highly-ranked institution. Likewise, similar careers were frequently reported between the two groups, including careers in postsecondary education, engineering, science, medicine and law.

Success of graduate students and young SAT-takers was measured by tenure and income. Survey results revealed higher income and tenure status as a university professor among the SAT-taking group than the graduate students in the follow-up study. More doctoral-level graduate students were found in academic positions than were SAT-takers who went on to receive a doctorate, but those SAT-takers who did go into academia secured more tenure-track positions at highly ranked institutions than the doctoral-level graduate students did. The young SAT-takers also reported higher incomes.
Despite income and tenure differences, both SAT-taking and graduate student participants reported high overall life satisfaction, including career fulfillment, perceived success, and positive relationships with significant others.

The results of this longitudinal study on the ability of the SAT to predict long-term achievement and life satisfaction come as other research is demonstrating the potential flexibility of the SAT to be an accurate measure of IQ.

Download the Article: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/ps/sat_success.pdf

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The Principal Difference

Key Issues in School Leadership and How to Deal with Them Successfully

Principals in today's schools face the complex challenge of being both visionary educational leaders and effective managers. They struggle to meet the conflicting needs and expectations of the staff and students, the parents, trustees, and even those in the wider community. They constantly strive to create a quality school environment that encourages learning for all.

A teacher educator, researcher and consultant, Susan Church has a long-standing interest in the complexities and challenges of educational leadership. In The Principal Difference she explores the issues that confront school administrators, and demonstrates how best to provide the leadership today's schools need. It draws on the latest research and personal case studies to outline how educational leaders can:

While demanding and at times stressful, the work of a principal can offer great rewards. This practical book shows principals how to transform their schools into more efficient, responsive learning communities as they learn to better meet the needs of students, staff, and the whole community.

The entire book is available for download here:

Chapter 1: Professional Learning Communities: http://www.stenhouse.com/pdfs/8193ch01.pdf
Chapter 2: Students, Parents, and the Wider Community: http://www.stenhouse.com/pdfs/8193ch02.pdf
Chapter 3: Schools as Diverse Multicultural Communities: http://www.stenhouse.com/pdfs/8193ch03.pdf
Chapter 4: Gender and Schooling: http://www.stenhouse.com/pdfs/8193ch04.pdf
Chapter 5: Making Sense of Accountability: http://www.stenhouse.com/pdfs/8193ch05.pdf
Chapter 6: Managing to Lead: http://www.stenhouse.com/pdfs/8193ch06.pdf

Conclusion: http://www.stenhouse.com/pdfs/8193conclusion.pdf

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Helping Children Resolve Past Conflicts May Be Beneficial

When young children argue with their siblings, they are rarely counseled to address their conflicts after the fighting is over. Rather than encouraging children to forget past disagreements, it might be better for parents to use these quarrels to help their children develop useful skills in conflict resolution.

That's the conclusion of researchers at the Universities of Waterloo and Chicago, who asked 64 pairs of siblings ages 4 to 12 to try to solve an ongoing conflict between them. Their goals: to determine whether young children can negotiate with each other to resolve long-standing disagreements; to learn whether siblings can reach compromises that allow both children to meet at least some of their goals, and to identify strategies used when children agree and when they fail to resolve their differences.

The study, reported in the November/December 2006 issue of Child Development, found that at the time conflicts occur, it's difficult for siblings to negotiate constructively and compromise with one another. In contrast, when dealing with past disagreements, many children are able to productively discuss and resolve their differences.

Research shows that children don't readily forget past grievances. But siblings were able to resolve their past differences when they worked together, compromised, and made flexible plans for the future. When children failed to discuss the future or lobbed accusations at each other, they were unable to resolve these conflicts. Even when disagreements were expressed in a reasoned or toned-down manner, they often stood in the way of solutions.

Much of the time, older siblings were the leaders in efforts to resolve conflicts—suggesting, modifying, justifying, and asking their younger siblings to accept proposed solutions. Younger siblings countered and disagreed, but they also helped plan and, at times, agreed to their older brothers' and sisters' plans. When older siblings thought highly of their younger siblings, the children were more likely to reach a compromise.

These findings may provide a lesson to parents, suggest the authors. "By not encouraging after-the-fact negotiations, parents may be losing a valuable opportunity to inspire children to take their siblings' interests into account and to develop effective conflict-resolution skills," concludes Hildy Ross, lead author of the study and a psychology professor at the University of Waterloo.

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Hi-tech Toys Offer No Educational Gain

…A government-funded study examining the role of technology in the lives of three- and four-year-old children and their families found that the hi-tech devices - one of the fastest growing sectors of the toy market, aimed at infants as young as nine months - are no more effective than traditional ways of introducing basic literacy and number skills.

Toy laptops and mobile phones were of greater value to young children as an aid to imaginative play such as pretending to make phone calls than in teaching specific skills, researchers at the University of Stirling concluded after tracking families for 15 months.

Youngsters also gained an understanding of the social role of technology simply by watching their parents use computers, digital cameras and mobile phones for work and leisure - far outstripping the benefits of using computers for unrealistic exercises and games while at nursery.

The study, which examined 24 families of varying social backgrounds in detail and analysed written responses from 346 families in total, found parents were universally keen to prepare their children not only for school but also for the world of work, but felt unsure whether to buy them electronic toys billed as supporting both play and learning…

Lydia Plowman, professor of education at Stirling University, said parents interviewed experienced "a lot of anxiety" about the role of new technology, and felt under pressure from manufacturers to buy educational electronic toys such as Leappads and games consoles.

Professor Plowman, announcing her research yesterday at a conference, Happy Families?, hosted by the Family and Parenting Institute, said such toys were neither harmful nor "particularly beneficial"…

To see complete article please go to: http://education.guardian.co.uk/earlyyears/story/0,,1947092,00.html

Related research: Technologies and  learning in pre-school education. Paper presented at American Educational  Research Association conference, San Francisco, April 2006.  http://www.ioe.stir.ac.uk/Staff/Plowman_Stephen_AERA06.pdf

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College Students Fall Short in Demonstrating the ICT Literacy Skills Necessary for Success in College and the Workplace

Despite the assumption that today’s college students are tech savvy and ICT literate, preliminary research released by ETS today shows that many students lack the critical thinking skills to perform the kinds of information management and research tasks necessary for academic success.

ETS reached these conclusions after evaluating the responses of 6,300 students who took the company’s ICT (information and communication technology) Literacy Assessment this year.

The ICT Literacy Assessment measures a student’s ability to use critical thinking to define, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create and communicate information in a technological environment. Test takers are asked to perform 15 information management tasks—such as extracting information from a database, developing a spreadsheet, or composing an e-mail summary of research findings—in a simulated online testing environment.

Some of the most surprising preliminary research findings are that only 52% of test takers could correctly judge the objectivity of a Web site, and only 65% could correctly judge the site’s authoritativeness. In a Web search task, only 40% entered multiple search terms to narrow the results. And when selecting a research statement for a class assignment, only 44% identified a statement that captured the demands of the assignment. More results are available at ets.org/ictliteracy/prelimfindings.html (PDF).

The results may be surprising to the general public because there is an assumption that because students have grown up with computers, they are ICT literate,” says Irvin R. Katz, Senior Research Scientist at ETS. “Those in academia have long suspected that while college-age students can use technology, they don’t necessarily know what to do with the content the technology provides. Our preliminary findings show that, in large part, those suspicions are well founded."

Alexius Macklin, Associate Professor of Library Science at Purdue University, said that the preliminary research findings illustrate that most students do not have the ICT literacy skills needed to complete college-level assignments efficiently.

“The reality is that when you give students a research assignment, they go straight to Google™ without any thought to their actual research question or the information need,” Macklin says. “They draw information from questionable resources because they don’t know the difference between information they find from an ad or a biased source, and that which they find on an authoritative, timely, objective site. The preliminary research from ETS shows us that a majority of our students are not ICT literate enough to succeed academically . . . they do not currently have the skills to analyze and synthesize information into something manageable and useful for their needs.”

The findings were compiled from students who took two versions of the company’s ICT Literacy Assessment, which is used voluntarily by higher education institutions and high schools that want to assess their students’ ICT literacy skills. The Core level of the assessment is designed for high school seniors and first-year students at community colleges and four-year institutions. The Advanced level is designed for rising juniors at four-year institutions and students transitioning from community colleges to four-year institutions.

“The ICT Literacy Assessment really grew out of a concern expressed by colleges and universities that while they understood the importance of ICT literacy skills, they had no standard way to measure them,” says Mary Ann Zaborowski, ETS’s Executive Director of Product Management. “ETS worked with educators to develop a tool that would be useful to them.”

In 2001, ETS formed an international panel of education, business and government leaders to help define ICT literacy, and then pulled together a consortium of librarians, professors and administrators from college and university systems, representing about 25 percent of U.S. college students. This consortium of educators and ICT literacy experts advised ETS in the development of the test, participating in field trials and pilot tests, and providing feedback about how the test could be improved.

While the initial snapshot of students’ ICT literacy skills is bleak, Macklin says, the good news is that it is possible to teach these skills. “The preliminary findings from ETS show us that institutions need to consider how to better integrate ICT literacy skills into and across the curricula. It may require initiating an ICT literacy initiative or allocating resources differently. It’s important to help our students better evaluate, manage and communicate information so that they can succeed in school, at work and in life. And now we know that the results are measurable.”

Additional findings are available at www.ets.org/ictliteracy/prelimfindings.html (PDF). For more information about the ICT Literacy Assessment, visit www.ets.org/ictliteracy. To view an online demo, visit www.ets.org/ictliteracy/demo.html.

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Oregon Study Meets Highest Standards in U.S. for Research on Reading Programs

At least one in three children in this country has difficulty learning to read. Research shows that children's aggressive behavior and reading difficulties during early elementary school years are risk factors for adolescent problem behaviors such as delinquency, academic failure, and substance use. Oregon Research Institute (ORI) scientists recently received high marks for their work to reverse this trend.

An evaluation of a reading program for elementary students conducted by ORI scientists has been identified as the only study in the country that met the highest standards for research on programs for English language learners. The What Works Clearinghouse, in their review of research on effective interventions for English language learners, identified the reading program used in ORI's Schools and Homes in Partnership (SHIP) project as having potentially positive effects on the reading achievement of English language learners.

"This is quite an honor for us," notes ORI scientist Barbara Gunn, Ph.D., who directed the study. "Although there are many studies of the effectiveness of instructional practices, few are well-designed experimental evaluations and even fewer focus on effective approaches for teaching beginning readers."
As teachers face growing requirements to improve academic outcomes for their students it is very important that researchers give them the information they need to make knowledgeable decisions on programs and approaches to use in their classrooms. This research was unique because it used the highest standards set for educational research and demonstrated that this kind of study can be done in schools across the state.

Gunn and colleagues tested the Reading Mastery program in a clinical trial conducted in Oregon with Hispanic and non-Hispanic students in early elementary school. All students received their usual reading instruction and half were randomly assigned to also receive supplemental instruction with the Reading Mastery program. Results showed that the program had significant effects on oral reading fluency, letter-word identification, word attack, and reading vocabulary. One year later, three of these factors still showed substantively important effects. Reading Mastery is a direct instruction program designed to provide systematic explicit instruction in English language reading. The program was developed at the University of Oregon.

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What Teachers Can Teach about Planning for Retirement

New AIG VALIC/Harris Interactive Study Suggests That Educators Are Better Prepared for Retirement Than Many U.S. Adults

Act Early, Be a Proactive Planner, and Consult a Professional Advisor

A new study sponsored by AIG VALIC, a national leading provider of retirement plan services to for-profit and not-for-profit education, healthcare and government organizations, and conducted by Harris Interactive®, strongly suggests that teachers are well ahead of many U.S. adults in preparing for retirement. Based on comprehensive interviews with nearly 2,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 45 and 65, the study indicated that teachers not only exhibited better planning and saving habits than the general population, but they also expressed higher levels of confidence that they would hit established savings targets and achieve a comfortable retirement.

AIG VALIC sponsored the survey to better understand the similarities and differences of retirement preparation among one of its principal client groups – professional educators – compared to the general population. Theresults offer new insights into how and why some U.S. adults are more successful than others at preparing for the financial demands of a modern retirement that can extend beyond 30 years.

"Teachers clearly have much to teach us beyond our ABCs," said Bruce R. Abrams, President and CEO of VALIC and the VALIC Retirement Services Company. "The lessons revealed in this study are as simple as they are effective: Begin early, save regularly, be an active planner and take advantage of professional advice. And, perhaps the biggest lesson of all, you don’t have to earn a huge income to build a solid nest egg."

While many teachers have an advantage in retirement preparation – a defined benefit pension that typically replaces about 24% of their working household income – the AIG VALIC 2006 Teachers Retirement Survey discovered that they also tend to be better planners and savers. Teachers in the study were more likely than non-teachers to report establishing a savings goal (48% vs 38%), saving money each month (65% vs 56%), developing a financial plan for retirement (26% vs 13%), and working with a professional advisor (34% vs 19%). Those who reported these behaviors also were more likely to feel "financially comfortable" and "looking forward" to retirement.

In stark contrast, those in the survey who felt least prepared for retirement typically had not developed a financial plan, did not have a savings goal and, when they had established a goal, expressed more concern about actually achieving it.

"It's good news that so many teachers have taken their retirement preparation seriously. They are potential role models for many other middle-income Americans," said Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll® , Harris Interactive.

Here are the ABCs of Retirement Planning:

Key findings in the AIG VALIC 2006 Teachers Retirement Survey are shown below:

Report Card

 
Teachers / General Population
Preparedness for Retirement
47 / 36
Concern About Reaching Retirement Goals
49 / 61 
Currently Working With an Advisor
34 / 19 

Most Important Sources of Retirement Income

  • Employer-sponsored Pension
  • IRA / Savings
  • Social Security 

 

54 / 37
39 / 28 
26 / 45 

 

Additional findings include:

Teachers Are More Confident About Their Preparations for Retirement …
They are more likely to describe themselves as "very or fairly well prepared" than the general population (47% vs. 37%) and are more apt to say they are “financially comfortable or well-off” (54% vs. 44%).

… And That Knowledge Translates into Fewer Worries About the Future.
Nearly one-half (47%) of teachers report they are looking forward to retirement “a great deal/a lot” compared to four in 10 (39%) of the general population. They are less likely to express concern about reaching retirement savings goals and more likely to express confidence that they will accumulate enough money to fund their preferred retirement lifestyle. In fact, teachers express fewer fears across the board than non-teachers.

More Broadly, Preparation Equates with a Confident, Positive View of Retirement …
Among all adults, those with a plan are considerably more likely than those without a financial plan to claim they are financially prepared for retirement (76% vs. 35%), report a higher likelihood of reaching their retirement savings goal (52% vs. 35%), and less likely to express concern about it (5% vs. 18%). And those who feel better prepared are much more likely to have a financial advisor (36% vs. 8%).

…While Lack of Preparedness Directly Affects Retirement Expectations.
Those who acknowledge being financially unprepared are less likely than those who feel they are financially prepared to say they look forward to retirement (27% vs. 58%), more likely to express concern about reaching retirement savings goals and securing health care coverage (43% vs.6%), and see a greater likelihood of working in retirement (9% vs. 46%).

Recognition Among the Financially Unprepared Often Comes Relatively Late …
The average age of those feeling unprepared for retirement is about 48 among teachers and the general population, males and females.

… And Is Often Triggered by Rising Costs, Especially Health Care Costs.
Health care costs are the number one concern cited about retirement, with six in ten (61%) adults saying they fear it “a great deal/a lot.” One-half (50%) say they are concerned about paying for health care coverage; almost one-half (45%) say they would be willing to work a few extra years for coverage or go back to work after retirement for health care. Some would consider staying at a job they did not like for health insurance coverage (38%).

Despite It's Uncertain Future, Many People Still See Social Security as Their Major Source of Retirement Income.
Social Security is ranked as the most important source of money in retirement for almost one-half (45%) of the general population. A similar number (50%) express fears that Social Security will be cut back or eliminated.

Methodology:
This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of AIG VALIC among a total of 1,988 adults in four distinct groups: adults 45 to 54 years of age (n=610) and between 55 and 65 years of age (n=583), and teachers and principals for K-12 schools between 45 and 54 years of age (n=406) and 55 and 65 years of age (n=389) within the United States between March 16 and 31, 2006. Figures for gender, age, income, education, region and ethnicity were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

With a pure probability sample of 1,988 adults one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points. Sampling error for results from sub-samples is higher and varies. However that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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Black-White Test Scores: Neighborhoods, Not Schools, Matter Most

"In statistical models that include both school and neighborhood segregation, the effects of relative exposure of black and Hispanic students to their white schoolmates are uniformly small and statistically insignificant… the neighborhood composition matters more than school composition."

The large gap in student achievement, particularly between blacks and whites, has long troubled Americans. Fifty years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, persistently large black-white differences in standardized test scores remain central to education policy.

In Racial Segregation and the Black-White Test Score Gap, National Bureau of Economic Research researchers David Card and Jesse Rothstein cast some fresh and perhaps surprising light on this issue. Using data from SAT records for roughly one third of test takers in the 1998-2001 high school graduation classes, they find that the black-white achievement gap is clearly linked to racial segregation.

To reach this conclusion, the authors match test-takers to information on the racial composition of their high schools and to an extensive set of family background characteristics of black and white students in their metropolitan areas. They compare the black-white achievement gap across areas with more- and less-segregated neighborhoods and schools. Within a metropolitan area, families living in integrated neighborhoods (and students attending integrated schools) may be different in a variety of unobserved ways from those in segregated neighborhoods and schools, confounding the effect of inter-racial exposure. The focus on across-area differences in segregation eliminates biases deriving from this sort of within-city sorting. Similarly, the focus on metropolitan-level black-white test score gaps removes the impact of a variety of omitted characteristics -- potentially including school quality and resource levels -- that do not vary within a city but might be correlated with inter-racial contact.

The results indicate that segregation has large, negative effects on black students' relative test scores. When a city is completely integrated, the gap in relative SAT scores between blacks and whites proves to be one quarter smaller (about 45 points) than in a city with the races fully segregated in different neighborhoods, holding family background characteristics constant.

The authors also attempt to distinguish between the effects of residential and school segregation. Considered separately, each appears to have a negative effect on the relative test scores and educational attainment of blacks students. In statistical models that include both school and neighborhood segregation, though, the effects of relative exposure of black and Hispanic students to their white schoolmates are "uniformly small and statistically insignificant." Although the authors acknowledge that the data could be consistent with equally negative effects of neighborhood and of school segregation, they write that, "Our tentative conclusion is that the neighborhood composition matters more than school composition."

These results -- both the negative effects of segregation, and the indication that neighborhood segregation matters more than does school segregation -- stand up in the face of a variety of statistical tests designed to rule out competing explanations. The segregation effects do not appear to be attributable to differential family background characteristics of black students living in more- and less-segregated cities, nor to resource differences between students' schools.

One potential explanation for the apparent lack of a school segregation effect is the prevalence of within-school segregation: if black students rarely attend class with white students even in cities with integrated schools, these cities may not post higher black test scores even though truly integrated education would have a positive effect. Indeed, the authors find a strong relationship between school integration and at least one proxy for classroom-level exposure: white students are more likely to take honors and advanced placement classes, which typically have few black students, in cities where the schools are integrated than in cities where schools are segregated. Although the authors have no way of measuring direct interactions between students of different races at school, this result suggests that school integration may not achieve high exposure rates of black to white students, potentially accounting for the lack of an integration effect on black students' test scores.

To read the full report, please go to: http://papers.nber.org/papers/w12078

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The Supergirl Dilemma

Girls Feel the Pressure to Be Perfect, Accomplished, Thin, and Accommodating

Girls Incorporated study reveals increasingly unrealistic expectations facing today's girls.

The Supergirl Dilemma: Girls Grapple with the Mounting Pressure of Expectations, a new research report from Girls Inc., reveals that girls today experience intense pressure, at ever younger ages, to be everything to everyone all of the time. Girls are particularly frustrated with the growing expectations that girls should please everyone, be very thin, and dress "right." And while stereotypes about girls' leadership capabilities and math and science abilities have diminished, persistent gender stereotypes and escalating stress levels limit girls' potential and undermine their quality of life.
"There are so many pressures of being a teenage girl," writes a 9th grader who participated in the study. "You never feel like you're thin enough, pretty enough, or just good enough."

The survey was commissioned by Girls Incorporated and conducted online by Harris Interactive between March 14 and 30, 2006. The survey of 2,065 U.S. students (including 1,059 girls and 1,006 boys) in grades 3-12 and 1,005 adults ages 18 and over focused on the ways gender stereotypes and expectations shape the lives of girls and boys. The study generated complex, compelling data that give voice to girls' opinions, aspirations, and fears.
Key findings and conclusions:

"Society still sees girls through a gender lens that requires them to be pretty and passive, while increasingly expecting girls to be smart and successful. The findings in The Supergirl Dilemma underscore the need to pay close attention and deconstruct the messages girls receive in and outside of the home," says Joyce M. Roché, President and CEO of Girls Inc. "We have to acknowledge girls' concerns, contributions, and experiences and help them be 'super' in ways that are comfortable and healthy."

The study makes it clear that girls are internalizing our culture's conflicting and unrealistic expectations of girls and women. Particularly troubling is the overemphasis on physical perfection, even at very young ages. Half of girls in grades 3-5 (54%) and three-quarters of girls in grades 6-8 (74%) and grades 9-12 (76%) report that they worry about their appearance. "Even today," sums up one 9th grade girl, "society values beauty in girls over intelligence and talent."

The Supergirl Dilemma examines the implications of the findings and offers recommendations for addressing the issues raised by the data. Here, too, girls themselves offer cogent directions. "It is hard to live up to what everyone wants for us," says a 3rd grade girl. "We need to do things at our own pace and in our own time. And just believe in us; support us as we grow up."

The study was made possible with support from IBM Corporation and additional generous support from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

To obtain the full report of The Supergirl Dilemma in PDF format, contact Taiia Smart Young at TSYoung@girls-inc.org.

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Summer Programs with an Academic Focus can Yield Significant Improvement in Learning

Summer programs with an academic focus can yield significant improvement in learning. That’s the conclusion of a policy brief by the Harvard Family Research Project.

The brief highlights current research and evaluation of programs that take place outside of school time. It concludes that summer school programs led to an increase in students’ knowledge and skills. It points out that the impact on learning was greater when summer programs provided small-group or individual instruction, rather than larger classes. The brief also lays out seven criteria that can help improve the effectiveness of summer programs.

To read the full report, please go to: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~hfrp/content/projects/afterschool/resources/issuebrief9.pdf

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Summer Programs with a Sports Focus can Yield Significant Improvement in Self-Esteem, etc.

      Participation in a national summer day-camp program has a significant effect on the attitudes of children regarding education, self-perception and sportsmanship, according to a new study.

       A national study of more than 3,500 children enrolled in the 2006 National Youth Sports Program found that children, ages 10 to 16, demonstrated positive changes in their attitudes and perceptions regarding education, self-perceptions and sportsmanship at the end of the program. The program, for students who qualify for either free or reduced lunch programs defined by federal guidelines, promotes physical activity and positive living by teaching new sports, healthy lifestyles, learning skills and community service.

       Students were surveyed at the beginning of 39 programs around the country. They were asked about their attitudes regarding whether school is important, if they want to graduate from college, if they like the way they look and act, if playing fair is important, and if they are responsible for their own actions. Questions also addressed drug use, nutrition and physical activity. The children were asked the same questions again at the end of the program, and the researchers found a significant increase in their positive attitudes toward these topics.

       As part of the survey, children were asked to rate 24 items on a four- point scale. The surveys were then analyzed to determine if there were differences between pre- and post-test responses on four factors reflecting attitudes toward education, self-perceptions, physical activity and sportsmanship. Researchers found that three of the four primary attitudes examined were significantly more positive at the end of the program.

       The national study was conducted by Sarah Ullrich-French, a Purdue doctoral student in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, and was supported by a grant from USA Funds. During the summer camps, USA Funds supplemented the regular programming with an educational lesson called "Unlock the Future." This lesson plan focused on emphasizing the importance of education after high school and what children can do now to prepare for additional education.

       Additional analysis by Ullrich-French found statistically significant increases in perceptions about the connection between education and income and the benefits of hard work.

       "The observed changes in a relatively short time period supports the usefulness of such programs with youth," said Ullrich-French, who is studying sport and exercise psychology. "Middle-school age children had the greatest amount of change for attitudes toward education, self-perceptions and sportsmanship. We didn't see as much change regarding the children's physical activity. However, the physical activity items were largely about behavior patterns, and it would be difficult to expect a large degree of behavior change in such a short period."

       "But it is very encouraging to see increases in self-perceptions and healthy core values that can possibly lead to children adopting more healthy lifestyles."

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It Takes a Parent: Transforming Education in the Wake of the No Child Left Behind Act

September 2006

This report documents an effort to combine practical, on-the-ground perspectives, based upon interviews, and on federal, state, and district policy research, with current social science research on key parental involvement issues and effective practices. Mostly, it reflects an effort to assemble and analyze what we know as a matter of practice and as a matter of research in framing an action agenda promoting more effective parental involvement practices by schools, districts, and states.

To read the full report please go to: http://appleseeds.net/servlet/PublicationInfo?articleId=211

Additional Resources: http://appleseeds.net/servlet/PublicationInfo?articleId=210

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Taking Science to School

New report suggests major changes to boost K-8 science achievement

Improving science education in kindergarten through eight grade will require major changes in how science is taught in America's classrooms, as well as shifts in commonly held views of what young children know and how they learn, says a new report from the National Research Council (NRC), part of the private, non-profit U.S. National Academies.

According to the report, compiled by a 14-member committee of experts in education and learning, today's standards are too broad and result in superficial coverage of science that fails to link concepts or develop them over successive grades. It also says teachers need more opportunities to learn how to teach science as an integrated whole and to diverse student populations. Teacher preparation and professional development should focus on boosting teachers' knowledge of science, how students learn the subject, and methods and technologies that aid in science learning for all, the report says.

The committee found the commonly held view that young children are simplistic thinkers is outmoded. Instead, studies show that children think in surprisingly sophisticated ways. All children, the report says, have basic reasoning skills, personal knowledge of the natural world and curiosity that teachers can build on to achieve proficiency in science.

The report also urges education leaders, policymakers, researchers, and school administrators to tackle gaps in science achievement among different student groups, including those between white students and non-Asian minority students and between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students.

The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Merck Institute for Science Education.

Read the full text at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11625.html#toc

Overview of NSF Education Research: http://www.nsf.gov/news/overviews/education/index.jsp

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Enriching Education Throughout Childhood Pays Big Dividends for Disadvantaged

Additional programs build on impact of preschool

While studies have shown that disadvantaged children benefit from high-quality preschool programs, they would benefit even more if they had additional tutoring and mentoring during their elementary and high school years, according to research at the University of Chicago.

Researchers have previously noted that many of the advantages children receive from preschool experiences begin to wane as they continue through school. A study by James Heckman, a Nobel-Prize winning economist at the University of Chicago and an expert on early childhood education, now shows for the first time that systematic interventions throughout childhood and adolescence could sustain the early gains and build on them.

"Childhood is a multistage process where early investments feed into later investments. Skill begets skill; learning begets learning," wrote Heckman in the paper, "Investing in our Young People." Heckman, the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, co-wrote the paper with Flavio Cunha, a graduate student in economics at the University of Chicago.

The scholars studied data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth to estimate a model that would describe how different inputs contribute to the accumulation of abilities. They used the model to predict the outcomes of children born to disadvantaged mothers when the children received a variety of extra learning assistance. In particular, they simulated the potential outcome of continued high-quality interventions beyond preschool.

Because programs for young people now focus on one period in a child's life, such as preschool, or high-school, little research has been done studying a group of students receiving continued interventions systematically.

Heckman and Cunha's computer simulation showed that the sustained investments in disadvantaged children would have dramatic results. The attention would improve the children's school performance as well as their social skills. The children who perform better in school, would likely complete more education and not become involved in crime or dependent upon welfare. With no early childhood investments, only 41 percent of the students would finish high school and more than 22 percent would be convicted of crime or on probation. Just 4.5 percent would enroll in college. The study also showed:

Other research has shown dramatic economic advantages for society when more students complete high school and attend college. The costs to society decrease becaise fewer people would be involved in crime. Among African Americns, 30 percent of men who did not graduate from high school are in prison, studies have shown. Crime costs Americans more than $600 billion per year.

Heckman and Cunha's work shows that the benefits of increased investments in young people come from improving both cognitive and noncognitive skills. Although preschool can have an impact on improving cognitive skills, interventions later on can improve noncognitive skills such as perseverance and self-control, they wrote.

Paying attention to the skills gap is vital to the future economic success of the country, Heckman said. College attendance rates have stalled, and the percentage of students completing a conventional four-year high school program is decreasing."Currently 17 percent of all new high school credentials or GEDs are issued to people who earn about as much as high school dropouts."

"The growth in the quality of the workforce, which was a mainstay of economic growth until recently, has diminished," Heckman said. This trend must change or America's economy will be undermined, he said.

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