June 2012 Archives

In honor of Independence Day, I was thinking about how America's founders would think about evidence-based education reform if they were around today. George Washington would certainly be a big fan. He was always interested in disseminating the latest technology, agricultural techniques, and other innovations. If he'd been around today, he'd surely want education to use proven programs and practices and for government to invest in creating better methods. Though never realized, his greatest desire at the end of his life was to found a university in the nations' capital to add to knowledge and disseminate it among future leaders. ...


By Gary Huggins, Chief Executive Officer, National Summer Learning Association Research has long documented the phenomenon of summer learning loss. Over the three-month summer vacation, children forget some of what they have learned during the previous school year. It's an unfortunate, unintended consequence of the ideal of a lazy, fun-filled summer. Most youth lose about two months in grade equivalents in math computational skills over the summer. Low-income youth lose more than two months in reading achievement while their middle-income peers make slight gains. Worse, these losses are cumulative, contributing to a widening achievement gap. A study by Johns Hopkins ...


I recently heard a thought-provoking speech by Baroness Estelle Morris, former Secretary of State for Education in England. She was talking about the spheres of activity in which evidence is most and least likely to make a difference in education policy. Her argument was that in questions of values, such as school governance, standards, and curriculum, it is appropriate for the political process to argue alternative visions of the future, and come to decisions that are inherently political. Evidence may be taken into account, but many issues are just not questions of "what works," they are questions of "what kind ...


For many years, the main focus of educational policy in the U.S. has been on accountability for students, for school and district leaders, and, increasingly, for teachers. Perhaps the most important form of accountability, however, is accountability of federal, state, and local governments to see that schools have the wherewithal to ensure maximum achievement. But what are governments doing to set up students, teachers, and school leaders up for success? Beyond basic financial accountability for salaries, buildings, books, and busses, government has the responsibility to see that educators have access to effective programs, professional development, and materials. At the ...


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