Last week, I wrote about how the future of instruction needs to rely on both non-technology and technology-based innovations. It may sound like a hedge, but trust me that I am excited about the promise technology has to offer! In work we're doing in England and the U.S., we're using interactive whiteboards to help teachers manage complex instruction using many teaching resources. Whiteboards are not particularly interesting technology in themselves; they merely make it possible for all students in a class to see anything that can be put on a computer screen. However, if set up to do so, ...


Think about the best teacher, the best class, the best learning experience you ever had. In that class, you were engaged. You were challenged. You were excited. You had new insights, and left the class a different person, confident in your new knowledge and skill, but even more, confident in yourself as a learner. In educational innovation, all we have to do is to make every hour of every educational day as good as that best learning day of your life. How hard could that be? The path to creating outstanding lessons every hour in every subject is being made ...


Sputnik will not publish during the month of August. I hope my loyal readers enjoy the last weeks of summer. If you are seeking your "fix" of evidence-based education commentary, I have collected a few of the top stories from the year: Seeds, Bricks, and Sand: Stages of School-Reform Readiness A metaphor for three types of schools in terms of readiness for reform is seeds, bricks, sand. The "seeds" metaphor implies an environment so conducive to reform that anything can grow there. The staff and leadership of the school are capable, aware of research, participating in professional development, well-coordinated, cohesive, ...


"We learned from correlational research that students who speak Latin do better in school. So this year we're teaching everything in Latin." The oldest joke in academia goes like this. A professor is shown the results of an impressive experiment. "That may work in practice," she says, "but how will it work in the laboratory?" For practitioners trying to make sense of the findings of educational research, this is no laughing matter. They are often left to figure out whether or not there is meaningful evidence supporting a given practice or policy. Yet all too often academics report findings from ...


"My multiple choice test on bike riding was very reliable. How come none of my kids can ride a bike?" As an advocate for evidence-based reform in education, I'm always celebrating the glorious possibilities of having educational policies and practices be based on the findings of "rigorous" research. Who could disagree? For this idea to have a little bite in it, however, it is important to understand what I mean by "rigorous." In general, a rigorous study evaluating an educational program is one that compares, say, some number of teachers or schools in an experimental program using program X, to ...


Every school, no matter how effective at improving student outcomes, could probably be even more effective, and some schools have a particularly long way to go. Various proven reform models for whole schools, particular subjects, or specific purposes stand ready to help all of these schools improve. Yet schools vary a great deal in terms of readiness for particular approaches to reform. A metaphor for three types of schools in terms of readiness for reform is seeds, bricks, sand. The "seeds" metaphor implies an environment so conducive to reform that anything can grow there. The staff and leadership of the ...


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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