NOTE: This is a guest post by Steven Ross, Professor in the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University With the upcoming reauthorization of ESEA pending, and the future of Supplemental Educational Services (SES) in question, it is due time to reflect on the research and implementation lessons of this program. Making tutoring available to increase the academic performance of low-achieving and disadvantaged students is a noble idea. After all, one-on-one and small-group tutoring have been supported by extensive research evidence, while having universal appeal as a teaching strategy. However, expectations that tutoring can be delivered ...


The road to wisdom? Well, it's plain And simple to express: Err and err and err again But less and less and less. -Piet Hein This past summer, a project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) carried out a test of the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2), the fastest airplane ever built. Traveling at 13,000 miles per hour, the pilotless plane will be able to go anywhere on Earth in an hour or less. In the test, the plane worked perfectly, soaring into near-space orbit and then gliding as planned for nine minutes. It then "lost...


Fans of evidence-based reform in education have likely been spending some time this week combing through Sen. Harkin's draft proposal for any language that could encourage or bolster greater use of effective strategies and programs. Meanwhile, there are extraordinary developments taking place in England that can teach us some lessons on advancing evidence based reform here in the States. The new Conservative-led coalition government has been slashing government expenditures in every area, including education. However, despite the same budget pressures we have in the U.S., David Cameron's government is investing in proven programs in education, on the basis that, ...


The Senate draft language for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), released yesterday, gives me hope for evidence-based reform in education. Busy policy shops and newsrooms are still digesting the 860-page draft, and will surely provide thorough analysis in the coming days. In the meantime, I would like to highlight three critical developments for evidence-based reform: 1) The Investing in Innovation Fund (i3), only funded through appropriations in the past, would be codified in law. Already in its second round of competition, this program is no longer "new," but a permanent authorization would be a real ...


In federal education policy, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the big kahuna, the 800-pound gorilla, the nec plus ultra. As the Senate HELP committee prepares to take action on the long-stalled ESEA renewal next week, it is timely to consider the law's role in innovation. ESEA is the bedrock of educational innovation, at least for high-poverty schools. It's been around since 1965, and it may be renamed (No Child Left Behind) or repurposed, but it's unlikely to ever go away. Including over $14 billion a year for Title I alone, ESEA is a big chunk of change, ...


Note: This is a guest post by Jon Baron, President of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, and Chairman of the National Board for Education Sciences In today's tough economic climate, quality evaluations of education reforms - to determine which are truly effective in improving student achievement, graduation rates, and other key outcomes - are especially important. They enable us to focus our limited resources on strategies that have been proven to work. Well-conducted randomized controlled trials are generally recognized as the most reliable method (the "gold standard") for evaluating a program's effectiveness. However, widespread misconceptions about what such studies involve ...


For 30 years, education policymakers have been promising that if we just had the right tests and the right accountability systems, our education outcomes would advance by leaps and bounds. Yet each stage of enthusiasm is followed by a period of disappointment, and then a new improved set of tests and accountability (and a shiny new set of promises). Texas, which has always been ahead of the curve in assessments and accountability, started its TAAS system in 1982, but remains near the bottom of all states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The latest enthusiasm about new tests ...


How many innovative companies does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, if there's a prize involved. Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the winner of the $10 million L-Prize, a competition to create a light bulb capable of producing as much light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb but using less than 10 watts of energy, an 83 percent reduction in energy use. The Department of Energy estimates that if Americans replaced all of their current 60 watt bulbs with the winning entry from Philips, we'd save $3.9 billion in energy costs per year. ...


NOTE: This is a guest post from Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education. Whether for reasons of economic growth, competitiveness, social justice or return on tax-payer investment, there is little rational argument over the need for significant improvement in U.S. educational outcomes. Further, it is irrefutable that the country has made limited improvement on most educational outcomes over the last several decades, especially when considered in the context of the increased investment over the same period. In fact, the total cost of producing each successful high ...


If you read media reports about education, a lot of the stories you see make extraordinary claims about remarkable, heart-warming turnarounds in student achievement, which are often debunked some time later. This cycle of enthusiasm-debunking-disappointment gets us nowhere in improving outcomes for kids. Genuine miracles--dramatic turnarounds in formerly low-achieving schools--are just as likely in education as they are in any other field. That is, not very likely at all. In fact, most miracles in education turn out on inspection to be due to a change in the students served (as when a new charter or magnet school attracts higher performing ...


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