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Year in Review: Early Childhood and Other Research Interests From 2014

With early childhood programs starting to gain traction in many states, it's not entirely surprising that research on students at the start of their careers got a lot of attention this year.

Ironically, the most popular Inside School Research entries for 2014 took somewhat contradictory looks at the state of kindergarten, with one finding elementary-level academics crowding out finger-painting to make kindergarten a "new 1st grade," while the other found that students thrive under far more challenging academic work than is now on offer at the earliest grade and that "easy" content may be harmful to students.

This year also saw continuing high interest in the early-childhood curriculum Tools of the Mind, which is intended to improve executive function, problem-solving, and impulse-control among young students. A blog I wrote back in 2012 on federal evaluations of the curriculum—which shows up among the most-read blogs for now the third year in a row—highlighted lackluster results for preschool students in the program. This year, however, a new study suggests Tools of the Mind may have positive effects for slightly older students, with kindergarteners, particularly those in poverty, showing the most benefit from the curriculum. It's not clear yet what caused the difference in effectiveness from one age group to the next, but more studies are expected in the next year.

In order, here are the blogs you found most interesting this year:

  1. Study Finds That Kindergarten is Too Easy 
  2. Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? Researchers Say Yes 
  3. Study Links Teacher 'Grit' with Effectiveness, Retention 
  4. Studies Offer Practical Ways to Bring 'Growth Mindset' Research to Schools 
  5. U.S. Students Score Above Average on First PISA Problem-Solving Exam 
  6. Study: Third Grade Reading Predicts Later High School Graduation (2011) 
  7. Education Department Launches $3 Million Evaluation of Khan Academy 
  8. How Can Teachers Build on Gifted, Hyperactive Students' Strengths? 
  9. Survey: Teachers Worldwide Seek More Opportunities for Collaboration 
  10. Tools of the Mind Shows Lackluster Results in Experimental Trials 

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