On a family trip to Minneapolis, I happened to see an end-of-the-year article on the dramatic reduction in gunshot incidents in the Twin Cities in recent years. The article in the Star Tribune attributed the decline to better policing strategies, such as use of data to focus police on areas of particularly high crime, as well as other prevention efforts such as keeping local recreation centers open late. What the Star Tribune failed to note is that the reduction in violence and crime is not limited to the Twin Cities, but is a national phenomenon. In fact, there have been ...


There's an old story about a town that was planning to build a playground. In the town council, someone brought up the problem that the proposed site was at the edge of a cliff, so there was a danger that children might fall off. The council then got into a debate about whether to build a fence at the top of the cliff or station an ambulance at the bottom! The point of the story, of course, is that it's ridiculous to invest in remediation of problems that could have been prevented. Yet in education, that is what happens all ...


I will be taking a brief break from posting to Sputnik over the holidays, but I look forward to continuing the dialogue on evidence-based education reform in 2012. In the meantime, I leave you with this seasonal cartoon and remind readers that even during the season of miracles, remember to be wary of miraculous claims in education. Illustration: Slavin, R.E. (2007). Educational research in the age of accountability. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Reprinted with permission of the author....


NOTE: This is a guest post by Steve Fleischman, deputy executive officer at Education Northwest, a nonprofit headquartered in Portland, Ore., that conducts research, evaluation, technical assistance, training, and strategic communications activities to promote evidence-informed education policy and practice. In the late 1990s, I once found myself in a social conversation with a member of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, a small agency of leading economists charged with providing the Executive Office with objective analysis and advice. When I asked about her views on education policy, she offered up a set of policy solutions largely based on the traditional ...


Updated As college application season is coming to a close, parents and kids are embarking on a more daunting task: figuring out how to pay for college. Unfortunately, difficulties in navigating the financial aid process can result in many students forgoing college altogether. Could there be a better way to help kids get beyond this single but life altering barrier? Stanford researcher Eric Bettinger did a study recently in which H&R Block took data from peoples' tax forms to fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for their high school seniors. The cost of doing this ...


I recently saw a remarkable article in Education Next, Studying Teacher Moves, by Michael Goldstein, the founder of a charter high school in Massachusetts and of a teacher residency program that supplies teachers to schools like KIPP. The article criticizes educational research for its failure to study "teacher moves," the day-to-day, minute-to-minute decisions teachers make to solve the predictable problems of teaching: how to call on students, assign homework, create a positive environment for learning, and so on. Why, he asks, should Microsoft spend 15% of its revenues on R&D, while the education enterprise nationally spends about 0.03%? ...


In a recent blog, Rick Hess explains "Why Education Innovation Tends to Crash and Burn." His analysis of why promising innovations so often flame out does a good job of describing the situation as it has been for many years. He notes that many innovations depend initially on exceptional funding, rare expertise, temporary enthusiasm, or one-off policies unlikely to be maintained for long, and discusses the problems of trying to innovate in entrenched institutions. These factors may all be important in explaining how things have been. Where I take issue with Hess is in his suggestions for building support for ...


In last Saturday's New York Times, Annie Lowrey wrote about a proposal in the House Appropriations Committee to cut funding for five of six Education and Health and Human Services programs that provide support to proven programs. One of these is Investing in Innovation (i3), which funds the development, validation, and scale up of proven and promising education programs. Education is not alone in the possibility of dramatic cuts to effective programs. Nurse-Family Partnerships have not only been found in rigorous evaluations to be effective in improving the development impoverished mothers and their children, it has also shown to reduce ...


NOTE: This is a guest post by Steve Fleischman, deputy executive officer at Education Northwest, a nonprofit headquartered in Portland, Ore., that conducts research, evaluation, technical assistance, training, and strategic communications activities to promote evidence-informed education policy and practice. Our family vacation this past summer included a visit to the Hoh Rain Forest on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. If you haven't been, go. But, expect to pass through the Twilight zone. More precisely, you will likely drive through the town of Forks, where the Twilight series takes place. Before you go be sure to consult the Forks Chamber of Commerce website ...


This blog hosts occasional guests who share a deep commitment to advancing education innovation with evidence. Here are a few recent contributions that you may have missed: Education Innovation: What It Is and Why We Need More of It By Jim Shelton Education not only needs new ideas and inventions that shatter the performance expectations of today's status quo; to make a meaningful impact, these new solutions must also "scale," that is grow large enough to serve millions of students and teachers or large portions of specific under-served populations. True educational innovations are those products, processes, strategies, and approaches that ...


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