College Admission Trends Include Increased Reliance on Early Decision and Wait Lists


Acceptance Rates on Par With Previous Year

The slight decline in overall acceptance rates at US colleges and universities reported last year looks to have leveled off, according to the 2010 State of College Admission report released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Meanwhile, uncertainty in a tight economy seems to have increased some colleges' reliance on Early Decision and wait lists. T

Although the recent decline in acceptance rates has leveled off in the past two admission cycles, college yield rates continue to decline. The average yield rate for the Fall 2009 admission cycle was down to 42.9 percent-down from 49 percent in 2001 - meaning that institutions, on average, are enrolling smaller proportions of their accepted students. The rise in applications submitted by individual students has made it difficult for colleges to predict how many accepted students will ultimately enroll.

The 2010 State of College Admission also documents changes in application volume and enrollment management strategies that may reflect the response of both students and colleges to the economic downturn. Although most colleges reported increases in the number of applications for Fall 2009, the largest proportion since 1996 (29 percent) reported decreases. Growth in Early Decision, Early Action and wait list activity also may be attributed to increased uncertainty among colleges due to the trend of declining yield rates and concern about the economy's effect on students' choices. The 2010 State of College Admission shows that a large majority of colleges that use Early Decision and Early Action reported an increased number of students accepted through these policies. In addition, a larger share of colleges used wait lists in comparison to most other recent years, and the percentage of students accepted off wait lists was up slightly. The report also shows an increased gap in acceptance rates between ED and regular decision applicants, which may rekindle debates about the effects of Early Decision admission, particularly as it relates to access for under-represented populations.

Overview of the 2010 State of College Admission report:

- Number of High School Graduates Has Peaked after Decade of Growth: The number of high school graduates in the US reached a peak of 3.33 million in 2008-09 after more than a decade of steady growth. An estimated 3.29 million students graduated in 2009-10. The number of graduates will continue to decline through 2014-15, but will rebound to 3.4 million by 2018-19.

- Application Growth Slows: Although most colleges continued to experience increases in the number of applications they received for Fall 2009, the largest proportion since 1996 (29 percent) reported decreases.

- Colleges Accept 67 Percent of Applicants: The average selectivity rate-percentage of applicants who are offered admission-at four-year colleges and universities in the United States was 67 percent for Fall 2009. The average institutional yield rate-percentage of admitted students who enroll-was 43 percent.

- Online Applications Continue to Increase: For the Fall 2009 admission cycle, four-year colleges and universities received an average of 80 percent of their applications online, up from 72 percent in Fall 2008, 68 percent in Fall 2007 and 58 percent in Fall 2006.

- Early Decision and Early Action Activity Increases: 65 percent of colleges with ED policies reported increases in the number of students accepted through Early Decision, compared to 43 percent in 2008 and 36 percent in 2007. Nearly three-quarters of colleges reported an increase in Early Action applications and Early Action admits.

- At Colleges with Early Decision (ED) Policies, Gap In Acceptance Rates Between ED and Regular Decision Applicants Increases: For the Fall 2009 admission cycle, colleges with Early Decision policies reported a 15-percentage point gap in acceptance rates between ED applicants and the overall applicant pool (70 percent versus 55 percent), up from an 8 percentage point gap in Fall 2006 (61 percent compared to 53 percent).

- Admission Offices Identify Grades, High School Curriculum and Test Scores as Top Factors: The top factors in the admission decision were (in order): grades in college preparatory courses, strength of curriculum, standardized admission test scores, and overall high school grade point average. Among the next most important factors were the essay, teacher and counselor recommendations, extracurricular activities, class rank, and student's demonstrated interest.

The State of College Admission report is an annual analysis of surveys of colleges and universities nationwide. The data helps counselors, admission professionals, students, and parents examine the transition process to postsecondary education. The 2010 edition contains analysis of key trends in the admission process, including information on high school graduation, college enrollment, the cost of applying, factors in the admission decision, social media trends in the admission process, and more.

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Coordination Efforts Could Boost After-School Programming, RAND Study Finds


Coordinating the work of the many different institutions involved in after-school activities -- including schools, nonprofits and municipal agencies like parks and libraries -- holds the promise of making programs better and more accessible to urban children and teens who need them, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

The study, "Hours of Opportunity," examines the coordinating efforts put into place by five cities that sought to improve and widen the reach of out-of-school-time programs -- after-school programs, summer school and other efforts offered outside standard classroom hours. Each region studied received funding from a Wallace Foundation out-of-school-time initiative launched in 2003.

"This initiative provided a proof of principle -- that organizations across cities could work together toward increasing access, quality, data-based decision making and sustainability," the report says.

The study is in three volumes, the first covering overall lessons, the second management information systems and the third profiles of five city-based efforts.

Research Brief
Volume 2
Volume 3

"Cities that offer high-quality, highly accessible after-school and out-of-school-time programs can help children develop to their fullest potential," said Jennifer Sloan McCombs, the report's lead author and an education policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Our research finds that the most successful efforts coordinate their assets and resources citywide, enjoy strong support and leadership from their mayors, and they use rich data systems to assess and deliver their programs."

At the same time, the report cautions that the efforts are too new to have withstood the test of time, and it is uncertain how they will fare once Wallace funding ends, especially as state and local governments are cutting funding for schools and other municipal services. Moreover, these efforts are not easy to put together and face a number of challenges. Perhaps the most prominent are the restrictions government and foundations placed on funding.

The cities participating in the initiative -- Boston, Chicago, New York, Providence, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. -- received Wallace grants ranging from $5 million to $12 million. Like many other regions, the cities faced this problem: the many institutions involved with out-of-school-time programs typically work in isolation from one another so that services are too fragmented to ensure high-quality opportunities for children citywide. This means there often is not enough programming in neighborhoods where it is badly needed, and too much of what is available is of poor quality, according to researchers.

The Wallace-funded efforts sought to change this by developing what amounts to citywide out-of-school-time systems that draw the institutions together to work as a coherent whole. The work also involved introducing features to help the overall system run well, including: quality standards applied to all the out-of-school-time programs; staff training to improve program quality; incentives for program providers to meet attendance targets; and regular computerized collection of data through newly-installed management information systems.

These information systems, which gathered data on basics such as how many kids were enrolled and daily attendance, allowed communities for the first time to make timely and informed decisions about programming, according to the study.

One key finding is that local system-building efforts get an important boost when mayors strongly back them by taking steps such as creating advisory positions to improve cooperation between different municipal agencies and by demanding information on progress.

"'Hours of Opportunity' demonstrates that with the commitment of mayors, cities can play a powerful role in ensuring that children have greater access to high-quality out-of-school-time programs," said M. Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation. "The report outlines key steps -- including tracking children's participation, setting goals for attendance and setting quality standards -- that we hope other cities will consider taking."

Other key findings include:

- Cities that used system-building strategies were able to increase participation in out-of-school-time programs. New York City almost doubled the number of students served (45,000 to 80,000), Providence nearly tripled (500 to 1,700), Boston launched out-of-school-time programs in five schools serving almost 1,000 students, and Washington D.C., which began its effort in a handful of middle schools, has gone on to offer programs in every city public school.

- Each city had unique circumstances that helped determine who would lead the effort and what the initial undertakings would be. In some cases, the efforts were located in schools or city agencies, while in other cases they were based in nonprofit organizations. "The decision about who will lead the effort and the structure of coordination needs to take into account the assets at hand, the locus of control, and the skills and talents of leaders," the study found.

- Through early planning, cities were able to develop a vision and goals shared among the various out-of-school-time players. This planning considered the specific resources in place, the organizations involved, the challenges faced and the funding available. This allowed those involved to identify common problems that better out-of-school-time programming could help ease, as well as agree-upon targets for improvements.

- Investments in data collection and analysis have multiplier effects. Management information systems that collect data on student enrollment, attendance and demographics allow cities to assess success, improve programs, and make the case for continued or increased funding.

- Support from schools was crucial, both to permit the use of school facilities and because principals and school staff could help encourage attendance at after-school programs.

- Cities were able to communicate with families and students about out-of-school-time program opportunities in order to increase enrollment. Chicago and New York City launched Web-based program locators, which allow families to identify programs by location, theme and grade level. The Wallace Foundation has invested $58 million in city system-building since 2003, to help develop, identify and disseminate knowledge about the key steps cities can take to increase access to and the quality of after-school programs for children and youth. In January 2008, the Wallace Foundation commissioned the RAND Corporation to document the progress through spring 2009 of these cities toward their goals and to examine the development and use of management information systems to improve the quality of programs. The researchers also studied data systems in three additional cities -- Denver, Louisville and San Francisco.
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No Time to Wait: Creating Contemporary School Structures for Students Today and Tomorrow,


NASBE's new policy report, No Time to Wait: Creating Contemporary School Structures for Students Today and Tomorrow, concludes that for the U.S. to prosper and compete in the 21st century, the education system will need to change its goals and practices so all students may succeed. That is, as information has become ubiquitous, schools need to emphasize 21st century skills such as analyzing, synthesizing, and creating along with understanding and applying the basics.

In this report and its companion study, Next Generation Learning: Transforming the Role of Educators Today for the Students of Tomorrow, state board of education members from across the country determined that developing sound, new structures for education and the methods of teaching within those systems is not only inevitable, but critical. Here, structures for education are not the physical plant, important as that is, but the systems of pedagogy and assessments, school calendars, credits hours, and all that follows.

Key Findings

Complete report
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NASBE Study Finds Teacher Training and Evaluation are Left Behind in Scramble to Deliver 21st Century Education to Students

The current education model in the United States, a relic of the Industrial Age, is increasingly out of touch with the needs of society and the students it serves. In addition to the continued use of dated models of educating students, our systems for teacher training and evaluation have not kept up with the fast pace of change.

Findings from a National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) study group, Next Generation Learning: Transforming the Role of Educators Today for the Students of Tomorrow, call for a reexamination of how America not only looks at teaching, but whether teachers are given even adequate professional development to keep up with the ever-changing demands of society on their students.

"We need our educators to be trained to help develop students' skills well beyond what the old methods of rote memorization and application have been able to do," said NASBE Executive Director Brenda Welburn. "The students of today and tomorrow need skills for higher-order thinking, creativity, and life-long learning, and to accomplish this we must improve and dramatically alter how we train our teachers."

In this report and its companion study, No Time to Wait: Creating Contemporary School Structures for All Students Today and Tomorrow, study group members determined that developing sound, new structures for education and the methods of teaching within those systems is not only inevitable, but critical to the future strength of the nation.

With this in mind, the panel arrived at 10 recommendations for state boards of education, prefaced by issues for state boards to consider before taking action. The recommendations include:

• State boards of education need to work with higher education institutions and accrediting entities to reexamine preparation programs to ensure that future educators are entering the workforce with 21st century skills and have the ability to transfer those skills to today's learning environment.
• Beginning educators need to be placed in learning teams as a means of ongoing learning, support, and growth in the profession.

States and districts need to consistently invest time and resources in developing 21st century skills in their current workforce through intentional, practical professional development that promotes collaboration, reflective practices, and the integration of technology.
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Evaluation Study of the Effects of Promethean ActivClassroom on Student Achievement


This report describes the findings for the evaluation study of the effects of Promethean ActivClassroom on student achievement conducted by Marzano Research Laboratory (MRL). During the 2008-2009 school year, 79 teachers from 50 schools throughout the country participated in independent studies regarding the effect of Promethean ActivClassroom on student achievement. The study was conducted in two phases. Phase I involved an analysis of student learning with and without Promethean ActivClassroom as it relates to demographic information and teacher self-reported experience with the technology. Phase II involved an analysis of student learning with and without Promethean ActivClassroom as it relates to teacher behaviors as evidenced in videotapes of teachers using the technology in their classrooms.

The evaluation study involved 1,716 students in the treatment group and 1,622 students in the control group. In the treatment group, teachers used Promethean ActivClassroom to augment their instructional practices. In the control group, teachers used strategies and materials to facilitate instruction without the use of Promethean ActivClassroom. The specifics of Promethean ActivClassroom can be found at Promethean’s website
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Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top third graduates to a career in teaching


Improving teacher effectiveness to lift student achievement has become a major theme in U.S. education. Most efforts focus on improving the effectiveness of teachers already in the classroom or on retaining the best performers and dismissing the least effective. Attracting more young people with stronger academic backgrounds to teaching has received comparatively little attention.

In a new report, “Closing the Talent Gap: Attracting and Retaining Top-Third Graduates to Careers in Teaching,” McKinsey & Co. reviews the experiences of the top-performing systems in the world—Singapore, Finland, and South Korea. These countries recruit, develop, and retain the leading academic talent as one of their central education strategies, and they have achieved extraordinary results. In the United States, by contrast, only 23 percent of new teachers come from the top third, and just 14 percent in high poverty schools, where the difficulty of attracting and retaining talented teachers is particularly acute. The report asks what it would take to emulate nations that pursue this strategy if the United States decided it was worthwhile.

The report also includes new market research with nearly 1,500 current top-third students and teachers. It offers the first quantitative research-based answer to the question of how the U.S. could substantially increase the portion of new teachers each year who are higher caliber graduates, and how this could be done in a cost-effective way.
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Odd Study about Willpower and Studying


In a paper published this week in Psychological Science, the researchers challenge a long-held theory that willpower -- defined as the ability to resist temptation and stay focused on a demanding task -is a limited resource. Scientists have argued that when willpower is drained, the only way to restore it is by recharging our bodies with rest, food or some other physical distraction that takes you away from whatever is burning you out.

Not so, says the Stanford team. Instead, they've found that a person's mindset and personal beliefs about willpower determine how long and how well they'll be able to work on a tough mental exercise.

"If you think of willpower as something that's biologically limited, you're more likely to be tired when you perform a difficult task," said Veronika Job, the paper's lead author. "But if you think of willpower as something that is not easily depleted, you can go on and on."

Job, who conducted her research at Stanford and is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Zurich, co-authored the paper with Stanford psychology Professor Carol Dweck and Assistant Professor Greg Walton.

The researchers designed a series of four experiments to test and manipulate Stanford students' beliefs about willpower. After a tiring task, those who believed or were led to believe that willpower is a limited resource performed worse on standard concentration tests than those who thought of willpower as something they had more control over.

They also found that leading up to final exam week, students who bought into the limited resource theory ate junk food 24 percent more often than those who believed they had more control in resisting temptation. The limited resource believers also procrastinated 35 percent more than the other group.

"The theory that willpower is a limited resource is interesting, but it has had unintended consequences," Dweck said. "Students who may already have trouble studying are being told that their powers of concentration are limited and they need to take frequent breaks. But a belief in willpower as a non-limited resource makes people stronger in their ability to work through challenges."

The Stanford researchers say their findings could help people who are battling distraction or temptation: diabetics following strict diets, people trying to overcome addictions, employees facing a tight deadline.

"This is an example of a context where people's theories are driving outcomes," Walton said. "Willpower isn't driven by a biologically based process as much as we used to think. The belief in it is what influences your behavior."
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Efficacy of Schoolwide Programs to Promote Social and Character Development and Reduce Problem Behavior in Elementary School Children


Seven Social and Character Development programs had no impact

The Institute of Education Sciences announces the release of a report, Efficacy of Schoolwide Programs to Promote Social and Character Development and Reduce Problem Behavior in Elementary School Children and the data from a study on the impacts of social and character development (SACD) programs on primary school students. Under the Social and Character Development Research Program seven research teams received funding through a peer reviewed competitive application process from the National Center for Education Research (NCER) in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the Division of Violence Prevention in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate one SACD program of their choosing under an experimental design. Schools were randomly assigned to implement one of the seven SACD programs for three years (the treatment group) or continue with their traditional SACD activities (the control group).

In addition to conducting their own evaluations, the seven research teams participated in an independent multi-program evaluation carried out by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc (MPR). MPR assessed the effect of the seven SACD programs using: 1) standardized data collection for all sites; 2) a common set of descriptive measures on the type and level of SACD activities taking place at both the treatment and control schools; 3) a common set of outcome measures grouped under four outcome domains: Social and Emotional Development, Behavior, Academics, and Perceptions of School Climate; and 4) a uniform statistical analysis. The evaluation followed one cohort of 3rd grade students at 84 schools for three years through fifth grade from fall 2004 through spring 2007. The sample included 6,660 students, their primary caregivers, teachers, and principals from the 84 schools.

The report, Efficacy of Schoolwide Programs to Promote Social and Character Development and Reduce Problem Behavior in Elementary School Children (NCER 2011-2001), provides the results from the evaluation of the seven SACD programs carried out by MPR. The report includes three key findings: 1) the seven SACD programs increased the reported implementation of classroom activities intended to increase students' social and character development, 2) the control schools also reported the use of a variety of activities intended to increase students' social and character development as "standard practice" but not at the same levels as the treatment schools, and 3) there were no differences in students' social and emotional competence, behaviors, academic performance, or perceptions of school climate between students in schools implementing one of the seven SACD programs and those in the control schools.

Researchers can obtain the data files, documentation, and an electronic codebook from the multi-program evaluation after obtaining a restricted-use data license from IES (for information please see This longitudinal data set includes child, primary caregiver, teacher and principal reports on 20 student and school outcomes related to social and emotional competence, behavior, academics, and perceptions of school climate collected at five time points (fall and spring of third grade, fall and spring of fourth grade, and spring of fifth grade) as well as annual teacher and principal reports on the level of SACD activities taking place in the classroom and school.

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Deliberate Practice Spells Success: Why Grittier Competitors Triumph at the National Spelling Bee


The expert performance framework distinguishes between deliberate practice and less effective practice activities. This longitudinal study is the first to use this framework to understand how children improve in an academic skill. Specifically, the authors examined the effectiveness and subjective experience of three preparation activities widely recommended to improve spelling skill.

Deliberate practice, operationally defined as studying and memorizing words while alone, better predicted performance in the National Spelling Bee than being quizzed by others or reading for pleasure. Rated as the most effortful and least enjoyable type of preparation activity, deliberate practice was increasingly favored over being quizzed as spellers accumulated competition experience.

Deliberate practice mediated the prediction of final performance by the personality trait of grit, suggesting that perseverance and passion for long-term goals enable spellers to persist with practice activities that are less intrinsically rewarding—but more effective—than other types of preparation.
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Cutting to the bone: How the economic crisis affects schools


Although the recession technically ended in 2009, district budgets are not expected to regain their pre-recession (2008) funding levels until late in the decade, for a number of reasons:

- Reduced local revenues from real estate taxes. Home prices are unlikely to get back to their 2006 highs for several years.

- Lagging state budgets. State revenues might recover to pre-recession levels by 2014, taking inflation into account, but the cost of providing the same services will have risen at a significantly higher rate, due to increased demand for Medicaid and other state programs with high cost increases. Most states will also have to increase their contributions to state employees’ retirement funds, which are substantially underfunded.

- Reduced funding from federal stimulus programs. State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) have helped districts limit their budget cuts, but those funds are expected to run out by 2011. The new Education Jobs Fund could mitigate part of the blow in 2011 and 2012.

Just how bad is it?

Since the average school district receives about half (47 percent) of its funding from state coffers—ranging from 31 percent in Illinois to 86 percent in Vermont—districts are directly impacted by the health of state budgets (FEBP 2010). And “states are facing a protracted budget crisis like none seen in the last 30 years and perhaps not since the Great Depression” (Thomasian 2010).

In 2010, every state except Montana and North Dakota faced budget shortfalls totaling $200 billion, or about 30 percent of state budgeted general expenditures—the largest gap on record (McNichol and Johnson 2010). Such a large drop in revenues called for dramatic spending cuts. States spent nearly $75 billion less in 2010 than in 2008—an almost 11 percent decrease.

When such drastic cuts are made, no area goes unscathed, including education. In fiscal year 2011, 33 states and the District of Columbia cut their K-12 funding (Johnson, Oliff and Williams 2010) to help balance their budgets. The cuts were broad and deep, affecting even the most essential budget areas.

Some districts are finding ways to grapple with rising costs and limit the impact on students—for the time being. But what will be the long-term impact of this economic crisis on our next generation of students? This paper, from the Center for Public Education, describes what districts are up against and what the long-term impact might be.
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Far Too Many States Are Allowing High School Science Teachers To Teach Subjects They May Know Very Little About


National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has released a report, THE ALL-PURPOSE SCIENCE TEACHER, revealing a little-known aspect of “the STEM crisis,” usually recognized as a shortage of publicschool teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. While U.S. students do, indeed, suffer because of the science teachers they don’t have, many states set unacceptably low expectations for the science teachers they do have. Among the report’s findings:

• By allowing certification in "general science," rather than a specific subject, most states do not guarantee that secondary biology, chemistry and physics teachers have mastered the content they teach. The resulting loose definitions of “science teacher” render everyone in the profession interchangeable.

• Although high-school-level science is quite specialized, all but 11 states allow secondary science teachers to obtain general-science certifications or combination licenses across multiple disciplines. In most cases, these teachers need only pass a general-knowledge science exam that does not ensure subject-specific knowledge.

• While resource-strapped districts—in rural areas, especially—believe they have to be “flexible” in assigning teachers to various subjects, employing technology, distance-learning and alternate routes can help improve science-teacher expertise.

For example, in a shocking number of states, a prospective chemistry teacher need only pass a 120- question general-science test that includes as few as 16 questions on chemistry, meaning the candidate could answer every chemistry question incorrectly and still pass."

As a result of NCTQ’s review of the states’ science-teacher licensure requirements, the report assesses whether each state ensures subject-specific expertise. Aside from awarding a green, yellow, or red light (see state list, next page), the report outlines each state’s strengths and weaknesses.

Among the state findings:

• In Nevada, to complete a major in general science, candidates only have to complete one course covering various subjects, including biology, chemistry and physics. They then take a general-science exam, which, because of its breadth, does not demand scoring highly in any one area. So, theoretically, a candidate could take just 3 hours in physics, answer many questions in that section of the test incorrectly and still go on to teach high school physics.

• In the same vein, Michigan offers a “group major,” also covering a variety of subjects at 36 total credit hours, which amounts to no major, or specialization in any one subject, at all. • Wisconsin, regardless of offering various science licenses, only requires candidates to pass a general-science exam. So, though a candidate may specialize in one subject, by passing the exam, he or she can go on to teach all science subjects.

• Florida does not offer general-science certification, nor does it allow any combined-subject science certifications. To teach biology, chemistry, Earth-space science or physics, candidates must specialize in those fields and demonstrate subject-matter knowledge in what they teach.

Green means a state ensures that its teachers possess the content knowledge necessary to teach specific subjects. Yellow states do not offer general-science licenses, but allow for combination certifications that fail to ensure sufficient knowledge in all covered areas. Red indicates catch-all certification requirements and, in some cases, no demands to demonstrate specific content expertise.


Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Virginia


Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Dakota


Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

To view the full report, including all of the findings and recommendations, please go to

The National Council on Teacher Quality is a non-profit organization comprised of reform-minded Democrats, Republicans and Independents. The organization supports reforms in a broad range of teacher policies and seeks to lend transparency and accountability to the three institutions that have the greatest impact on teacher quality: state governments, colleges of education and teachers unions.
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The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)
has released a policy brief, BUMPING HR: GIVING PRINCIPALS MORE SAY OVER STAFFING that identifies the contractual and institutional obstacles that stand in the way of principals having the authority to determine their staffs. These policies not only prevent schools from acquiring effective teachers; in some cases, they incur avoidable financial costs. Neither is good for students. The factors limiting principals’ autonomy include:

• Centralized hiring. In most districts, the human resources office controls the hiring process, determining whom to recruit and hire and where to place teachers. Principals, at most, are given the opportunity to voice their preferences.

• Inadequate evaluations. Teachers in most districts are not regularly, or sufficiently, evaluated, meaning that evaluations can only play a minor role in personnel decisions, when they should be paramount. It is seniority, not performance, that decides the movement of teachers within the district.

• Contractual obligations. Most teacher contracts stipulate that, if a teacher loses her current assignment—because of a shift in the student population, for example—the district has to find her a new assignment, regardless of whether another school wants to accept the teacher.

Compounding the problem is that most state laws limit the reasons districts can dismiss a teacher, and being without a classroom assignment is not one of them. Districts are left with little choice but to either assign teachers to positions or keep them on the payroll, sometimes for years, even if they aren’t teaching.

In preparing this brief, NCTQ studied district and state regulations found in its TR3 database, which covers 101 large districts nationwide. The brief identifies and analyzes those policies relevant to teacher assignment and transfer, and follows up with a list of recommended policy changes that would ensure principal autonomy in staffing decisions. Those changes, with examples of how they’re currently practiced in some districts, include:

• Right of refusal. A California law gives principals at low-performing schools the right to refuse teachers assigned to their building, thus granting them the authority to seek alternative candidates in trying to build effective staffs.

• No guarantees. School districts should not guarantee a teacher a job for life, seeing as student interests are paramount. Accordingly, excessed teachers—those laid off due to staff downsizing—should be given no more than a year to find a new position, with the district providing support, such as hiring fairs and counseling. If, after a year, a new job is not found, the teacher should be placed on unpaid leave (Colorado’s practice), if not terminated (as is the practice in Chicago and Washington, D.C.).

• Adding teacher performance to the equation. Improving transfer policies goes hand in hand with improving evaluation policies. Washington, D.C., for example, accounts for a school’s needs and a teacher’s performance when making excessing decisions. Instead of the central office, a team of teachers at each school, along with the principal, decides which positions will be cut, based on the following criteria:

- Previous year’s final evaluation (50%)
- Unique skills and qualifications (20%)
- Other contributions to the local education program (20%)
- Length of service (10%)

• No more passing the buck. The Palm Beach County, Florida, district challenges those principals who try to move poor-performing teachers from their schools, a popular strategy known as the “dance of the lemons.” Seniority is used to identify teachers for excessing, but those with “unsatisfactory” evaluations are prohibited from transferring. In addition, if an excessed teacher exhibits performance problems during the first year of a new assignment, she can be returned to the principal who previously rated the teacher as “satisfactory.” Montgomery County, Maryland, takes a similar tack, forcing principals, during district meetings, to select from among excessed teachers and openly discuss with their supervisors which arrangements would ensure that no one school has a disproportionate share of such teachers.
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Literary Study in Grades 9, 10, And 11: A National Survey,


A newly released study by the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW) strongly suggests that two factors—a fragmented English curriculum and a neglect of close reading—may explain why the reading skills of American high school students have shown little or no improvement in several decades despite substantial increases in funds for elementary and secondary education by federal and state governments.

The ALSCW report, entitled Literary Study in Grades 9, 10, And 11: A National Survey, analyzes the responses of more than four hundred representative public school teachers who were asked what works of literature they assign in standard and honors courses, and what approaches they use for teaching students how to understand imaginative literature and literary non-fiction.
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New Report Reveals Current Strengths, Shortcomings
of Engineering Students' Academic Pathways

America's higher education system is widely regarded to be one of the largest and most flexible systems in the world. Despite this advantage, the U.S. is in danger of being outpaced by other countries in producing innovative scientists and engineers. Recent reports by the federal government underscore the challenge faced by the U.S.: science and engineering students need to be better prepared with the motivation, competence, and critical thinking skills required to solve problems and generate technological breakthroughs if the nation is to remain a global economic leader.

Enabling Engineering Student Success,
a new report released by the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE) addresses this challenge by identifying key opportunities for improving how engineering students are currently being prepared for professional practice. A major component of the report, the recently concluded Academic Pathways Study (APS), involved a broad collaboration of scholars who conducted innovative multi-year studies involving over 5,400 students at more than 20 institutions. The APS research also included over 100 newly hired graduates to round out a detailed picture of the paths engineering students take as they enter, experience, and graduate from undergraduate degree programs.

This collection of both qualitative and quantitative data challenges many assumptions about instruction and learning. For instance, despite formal instruction, engineering students risk falling short of the communication or professional skills demanded of today's engineers. Even as they approach graduation, students may not fully appreciate the need to engage and collaborate with a wide range of individuals in a globally distributed team. Moreover, some students are not learning how to integrate considerations of the broad context of engineering problems into their design processes.

"A significant number of seniors aren't firm on wanting to be engineers and don't always have a complete picture of what engineering work is," says lead investigator of the APS, Sheri Sheppard, professor at Stanford University. "This is surprising, in part because there's been a national movement to include project-based learning activities, or activities that more closely resemble real-world problems, in regular coursework. There's still work to be done in helping students see the connections between their school activities and engineering practice." She goes on to emphasize the need for more accessible undergraduate programs, "Thinking like an engineer is an incredibly powerful way of processing and organizing ideas that has applications far beyond engineering; how do we get students to see that studying engineering is a good educational investment?"

In addition to the APS, the report details other CAEE research and programs, including faculty decision-making, teaching preparation for future faculty, and expanding capacity for educational research in engineering. Jennifer Turns, lead investigator of the Studies of Engineering Educator Decisions and professor at the University of Washington, notes that the research on faculty decision-making represents an important and novel approach to studying teaching: "A decision represents the point where educator thinking connects with educator action, and the decision-making process represents a context in which educators can apply research findings about students." Cindy Atman, director of CAEE and professor at the University of Washington, adds that understanding the engineering student experience is not enough: "We need educators who are capable of using the research. Therefore, in addition to our analyses, we included questions in the report that can be asked by engineering educators to evaluate the effectiveness of their own programs or approaches." The result is a robust discussion of the current direction of engineering education, where improvements might best be made, and how more students might be attracted to and retained in engineering programs.
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Economic Housing Integration Promotes Academic Achievement


The education reform debate is dominated by efforts to make high-poverty schools work better, but a new report released by The Century Foundation suggests that a more promising strategy involves providing low-income families a chance to live in more-advantaged neighborhoods, where their children can attend low-poverty public schools.

The Century Foundation study, Housing Policy Is School Policy, conducted by Heather Schwartz of the RAND Corporation, compares two strategies being used by Montgomery County, Maryland, that have shown promising results for their public schools, a highly acclaimed system that is a finalist for the prestigious Broad Prize in education. On the one hand, Montgomery County school officials have poured extra resources into about half of the district's higher-poverty elementary schools designated as being part of the "red zone." The extra resources allow for specialized instruction, reduced class sizes in grades K-3, and intensive teacher development. On the other hand, the county's "inclusionary zoning" housing policy, dating back to the mid-1970s, creates an opportunity for the children of low-income families in public housing to attend more-affluent "green zone" schools in the county (which spend less per student than red zone schools). Under the housing policy, developers of large subdivisions are required to set aside 12-15 percent of units for moderate- and low-income families, and the public housing authority can purchase up to one-third of the apartments. Schwartz's study traces the academic progress of 850 public housing students in red and green zone elementary school between 2001 and 2007.

Among the study's key findings are the following:

- By the end of elementary school, students in public housing who attend more-affluent green zone schools through the inclusionary housing program cut the achievement gap with non-poor students in the district by one-half in math, and by by one-third in reading.

- Despite the district's extra investments in its most disadvantaged (red zone) schools, by the end of elementary school, children living in public housing who attended lower poverty (green zone) schools far outperformed their public housing peers in red zone schools. The size of the effect from attending a low-poverty (green zone) school for children living in public housing in math was 0.4 compared with attending a higher-poverty (red zone) school. This low-poverty effect is quite large relative to other educational interventions, where research has often identified an effect of approximately 0.1 on student test scores.

- The educational benefits of socioeconomic integration are significant, but they take time. Only after four years in the district did public housing children in low-poverty schools notably outperform public housing children in the district's moderate-poverty schools.

The findings are particularly powerful because families who apply for public housing in Montgomery County are randomly assigned to their homes by lottery. In this way, the study minimizes the "self selection" effects that cloud much educational research. Urban research consultant David Rusk calls Schwartz's research "the definitive study of the impact of economic integration in the classroom on low income children's school achievement levels."

Currently, approximately 80 school districts across the country consider socioeconomic status as a factor in assigning students to schools. More than one hundred municipalities employ "inclusionary zoning" policies of the type used in Montgomery County, Maryland.
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Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card

National report card on school funding fairness finds Illinois one of four states ranking poorly on all measures

"Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card," a national study conducted by Rutgers University researchers and the Education Law Center in Newark, N.J., ranks states and the District of Columbia on how fairly they fund public schools based on four interrelated "fairness indicators"—funding level, funding distribution, state fiscal effort and public school coverage.

“Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card” posits that fairness depends not only on a sufficient level of funding for all students, but also the provision of additional resources to districts where there are more students with greater needs.

The results show that many states do not fairly allocate education funding to address the needs of their most disadvantaged students, and the schools serving high numbers of those students.

Among the Report Card’s key findings are:

- Six states do relatively well on all four indicators (NJ, CT, MA, VT, IA and WY);
- Four states are below average on all the indicators (IL, LA, MO and NC);
- Several states have high levels of education spending but allocate less funding to higher poverty districts (e.g., NY, ME, NH, MI);
- Most states need improvement in at least one area, and many do poorly on the indicators most influenced by policy decisions – effort and funding distribution.

The study reports these findings for Illinois:

-Illinois received a grade "F" in funding fairness, one of only three states to receive this failing grade. The most recent data indicate that Illinois now has the second highest disparity of funding between high-poverty and low-poverty schools nationally.
-Illinois is one of only four states that fall below average on all four measures evaluated, placing it among "low-effort, regressive states... and ranking below average in terms of the overall level of funding provided and coverage." Illinois shares this ranking with Louisiana, Missouri and North Carolina. A state is considered "regressive" if a 30-percent-poverty district receives at least five percent less funding than a zero-percent-poverty district. In Illinois—one of only six states with a statistically significant "regressive" funding structure—districts with 30-percent poverty can expect to receive 21 percent less than a district with zero percent poverty.
-Illinois scored a "D" in "effort"—a measure based on the ratio of state spending on education to per capita gross domestic product.
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Large study shows females are equal to males in math skills


The mathematical skills of boys and girls, as well as men and women, are substantially equal, according to a new examination of existing studies in the current online edition of journal Psychological Bulletin.

One portion of the new study looked systematically at 242 articles that assessed the math skills of 1,286,350 people, says chief author Janet Hyde, a professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

These studies, all published in English between 1990 and 2007, looked at people from grade school to college and beyond. A second portion of the new study examined the results of several large, long-term scientific studies, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

In both cases, Hyde says, the difference between the two sexes was so close as to be meaningless.

Sara Lindberg, now a postdoctoral fellow in women's health at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, was the primary author of the meta-analysis in Psychological Bulletin.

The idea that both genders have equal math abilities is widely accepted among social scientists, Hyde adds, but word has been slow to reach teachers and parents, who can play a negative role by guiding girls away from math-heavy sciences and engineering. "One reason I am still spending time on this is because parents and teachers continue to hold stereotypes that boys are better in math, and that can have a tremendous impact on individual girls who are told to stay away from engineering or the physical sciences because 'Girls can't do the math.'"

Scientists now know that stereotypes affect performance, Hyde adds. "There is lots of evidence that what we call 'stereotype threat' can hold women back in math. If, before a test, you imply that the women should expect to do a little worse than the men, that hurts performance. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"Parents and teachers give little implicit messages about how good they expect kids to be at different subjects," Hyde adds, "and that powerfully affects their self-concept of their ability. When you are deciding about a major in physics, this can become a huge factor."

Hyde hopes the new results will slow the trend toward single-sex schools, which are sometimes justified on the basis of differential math skills. It may also affect standardized tests, which gained clout with the passage of No Child Left Behind, and tend to emphasize lower-level math skills such as multiplication, Hyde says. "High-stakes testing really needs to include higher-level problem-solving, which tends to be more important in jobs that require math skills. But because many teachers teach to the test, they will not teach higher reasoning unless the tests start to include it."

The new findings reinforce a recent study that ranked gender dead last among nine factors, including parental education, family income, and school effectiveness, in influencing the math performance of 10-year-olds.

Hyde acknowledges that women have made significant advances in technical fields. Half of medical school students are female, as are 48 percent of undergraduate math majors. "If women can't do math, how are they getting these majors?" she asks.

Because progress in physics and engineering is much slower, "we have lots of work to do," Hyde says. "This persistent stereotyping disadvantages girls. My message to parents is that they should have confidence in their daughter's math performance. They need to realize that women can do math just as well as men. These changes will encourage women to pursue occupations that require lots of math."

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Eighth-Grade Algebra Enrollment Focus of New NCES Report


Algebra is a “gateway” course for the sequence of mathematics and science courses that prepares students for success in college and careers in competitive mathematics- and science-related disciplines. Eighth-grade algebra enrollment in the United States is on the rise, but this trend has sparked discussion about the potential benefits and drawbacks.

Eighth-Grade Algebra: Findings From the Eighth-Grade Round of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K)
is a Statistics in Brief from the National Center for Education Statistics. It provides descriptive statistics on algebra enrollment for the cohort of students from the first-grade class of 1999-2000 who had progressed to eighth grade in the 2006-07 school year -- representing about 80 percent of the eighth-grade class of 2006-07.

It also examines mathematics performance at the end of eighth grade by algebra enrollment and other characteristics, including prior mathematics ability and schools’ level of eighth-grade algebra enrollment. The findings suggest that some groups of students were differentially enrolled in algebra, including among those who showed earlier potential.

Key findings include:
Some 39 percent of the 2006-07 eighth-grade students from the cohort were enrolled in an algebra class or a course more advanced than algebra (such as geometry or algebra II).

Students in the cohort who had higher mathematics scores at the end of the fifth grade were enrolled in algebra by the eighth grade in 2006-07 at higher rates compared to those with lower fifth-grade scores. However, about a quarter of the students who scored in the top quintile (highest 20 percent) of fifth-grade mathematics scores and about half of the students who scored in the second quintile (next highest 20 percent) of fifth-grade mathematics scores had not moved on to an algebra class by the eighth grade.

Male students and Black students in the top 40 percent of fifth-grade mathematics scores proceeded on to algebra by the eighth grade at lower rates than other students in these top two quintiles. For all students in this high-scoring group, 62 percent proceeded on to algebra, compared to 35 percent for Black students and 56 percent for male students.

Not all relationships between the variables are fully investigated and readers are cautioned not to draw causal inferences based on the results presented. Additionally, it is important to note that there may be variables related to algebra enrollment and mathematics achievement which are not examined in this report.

This Statistics in Brief is a product of the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education.
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State Education Ranking Shows Vermont #1, South Carolina Last

ALEC publishes 16th Edition of its Report Card on American Education

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has released its Report Card on American Education: Ranking K-12 State Performance, Progress, and Reform, a comprehensive overview of education achievement levels within the 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.). In its 16th edition, the Report Card ranks academic proficiency and education reform along rigorous standards, holding each state responsible for its transitions—whether positive or negative. It discusses what resources are being wasted, what students are being left behind, and what administrators, parents, and teachers can do make a difference in real education.

Authors Dr. Matthew Ladner, Andrew T. LeFevre, and Dan Lips rank states based on student performance and their corresponding improvements on the fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which are nationally administered exams, with Vermont coming in first and South Carolina last. The authors also graded each state (A to F) based on its education reform policies including academic standards, school choice programs, charter schools, online learning, and that state’s ability to hire good teachers and fire bad ones. Florida is the clear leader, based on the reforms implemented over the past decade.

Top Rated - Student Performance:

1. Vermont
2. Massachusetts
3. Florida
4. New Hampshire
5. New York

“Ensuring students receive a first-rate education isn't a matter of more money; it's a matter of policy. Spending more money on a broken system does not guarantee higher student achievement,” said Colorado State Sen. Nancy Spence, who co-chairs ALEC's Education Task Force. “When states are facing the largest budget deficits in recent memory, we need to focus on reforms that work. We can no longer throw more money at a failing system and expect change.”

“The design of the Report Card isn’t merely to show which state has had the best performing students. We wanted to give legislators the tools they need to fix their state’s education system.” said Ladner, one of the book’s authors. “This report highlights the most promising and effective reforms that will give all students access to an outstanding education.”

The report provides extensive information on different reform initiatives. An interactive map is available for easy viewing of individual state's results.
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New Survey of Education Professors Shows Subtle Signs of Change


More than eighty percent of the nation’s education professors think it’s “absolutely essential” that teachers be lifelong learners, but far fewer believe it’s as necessary for teachers to understand how to work with state standards, tests, and accountability systems (24 percent), maintain discipline and order in the classroom (37 percent), or work in high_need schools (39 percent). Still, there are signs that some of the education faculty is warming to change, including a small cadre of reformers that are strongly dissatisfied with the status quo in their institutions.

Cracks in the Ivory Tower? The Views of Education Professors Circa 2010 surveyed 738 teacher-educators in four-ear colleges and universities to determine their views on pressing questions surrounding teacher preparation and school reform, including tenure, academic standards, measures of accountability, and alternative programs for preparing and certifying teachers. (A similar survey was given in 1997—and some of the changes since then are instructive.)

“Too many education professors still cling to outmoded, romantic views of what education is about and what teachers need,” said Fordham Institute President Chester E. Finn, Jr. “America has grown very practical and demanding about its primary_secondary education system. Unfortunately, most of the professoriate hasn’t kept pace.”

Education professors, for example, are far likelier to believe that the proper role of a teacher is to be a “facilitator of learning” (84 percent) not a “conveyor of knowledge” (11 percent). When asked to choose between two competing philosophies of teacher education, 68 percent believe they should be preparing tomorrow’s class instructors to be “change agents” versus 26 percent who believe they should prepare teachers to “work effectively within the realities of today’s public schools.” And while 83 percent of professors believe it’s “absolutely essential” to teach 21st Century skills, just 36 percent say that about teaching math facts and 44 percent about teaching phonics in the younger grades.

Yet the survey also revealed cracks in this worldview, including signs that some attitudes are shifting in a more pragmatic direction. For example, the pool of professors who believe it’s more important for kids to struggle with questions than end up with the right answer has dropped from 86 to 66 percent since 1997. And only 37 percent of today’s professors believe that early use of calculators will improve children’s problem_solving skills, a 20 percent drop from 1997.

“The success of Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion indicates that teachers crave practical tips and tools that will improve their classroom practice,” said Michael J. Petrilli, Fordham’s Executive Vice President. “To date, however, our colleges of education remain keener on teaching theory than providing pragmatic preparation. It looks like that might be starting to change.”

A few more key findings:

*Professors of education show some support for financial incentives for teachers who work in tough neighborhoods with challenging schools (83 percent favor this). Yet by 65 to 30 percent, they resist tying teacher pay to student test scores. And they’re evenly split on whether it’s a good idea to measure teacher effectiveness by the academic gains that teachers produce in their pupils.

*Most education professors (66 percent) believe that the present teacher preparation system has many good qualities but “needs many changes.” The study also identifies two factions that feel quite strongly: Twelve percent of professors—dubbed “Reformers” —are particularly unhappy with the current teacher education system and are strong advocates for reform while another 13 percent—dubbed “Defenders” — are mostly content with teacher education programs and resistant to reform.

*A full 63 percent of education professors think programs like Teach For America are generally a good idea. Just 33 percent however, think it’s a good idea to recruit school leaders based on their success in other fields, and just 17 percent support teacher prep programs run by school districts or charter organizations.

*Seventy_eight percent of education professors support the idea of a core curriculum with specific knowledge and skill standards spelled out for each grade. Forty_nine percent believe state governments should adopt the same set of standards and give the same tests in math, science, and reading nationwide.
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More Attention Should Be Paid To Developmental Sciences


In Both Educator Preparation and School Reform

While the belief that teachers and school leaders must understand and address the needs of all children has become a core premise of how we prepare educators, too few enter the profession with an understanding of the developmental sciences, which research says have a critical impact on students’ ability to learn.

A new report
from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the professional accrediting organization for schools, colleges, and departments of education, says that despite growing evidence of the impact that developmental sciences knowledge and ability to apply it have on student learning, little effort has been made to ground school reform and educator preparation in the developmental sciences, which includes cognitive science, neuroscience, and the science of child and adolescent development.

The report, The Road Less Traveled: How the Developmental Sciences Can Prepare Educators to Improve Student Achievement: Policy Recommendations, was prepared by a multi-disciplinary panel of experts, including some of the nation’s most prominent educators, psychologists, and authorities on young people from related disciplines. Its findings include:

• Educator preparation programs provide insufficient grounding in the developmental sciences, including cognitive science and the science of child and adolescent development.

• Programs must integrate academic study in the behavioral sciences with real opportunities to implement child and adolescent development best practices in classrooms and communities.

• Policymakers must consider the importance of child and adolescent development as they design new standards and assessments of evaluating student and teacher performance—particularly when turning around low-performing schools, whose students are often in particular need of developmental supports to improve achievement.

“Teachers cannot improve learning if they don’t know how to help address the social, emotional, and cognitive needs of children and adolescents,” says Dr. James P. Comer, founder of the Yale Child Study Center School Development Program and associate dean of the Yale School of Medicine, and co-chair of the NCATE expert panel. Dr. Robert Pianta, a prominent psychologist who is the dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and who co-chaired the panel, noted the urgency of the matter.

“Developmental science is not ‘fluff’ that can be considered optional or an add-on to what schools do or how educators are prepared,” he says. “If we don’t act now to integrate development sciences knowledge into preparation programs, we may lose another generation of learners.”

Growing Evidence that Behavioral Science Is Crucial to Achievement

The report draws on more than a decade of research linking teachers’ ability to address social, emotional, and cognitive development with increased student achievement results. Studies suggest that as many as half of all students become chronically disengaged from school, and that key social, emotional, and cognitive traits are more likely to be underdeveloped among at-risk students, contributing to higher dropout rates and persistent achievement gaps. Conversely, a meta-analysis of 213 school programs that employ developmentally focused approaches to social and emotional learning found an 11 percentile-point gain in student achievement, as well as reduced behavioral issues. The report details such research and cites the example of Asheville City Schools in North Carolina, where achievement gaps between black and white students closed rapidly following a systemic reform implementing James Comer’s School Development Program, which is based on developmental principles.

The report was developed to identify ways to improve educators’ developmental knowledge and ability to apply it following a 2007 report from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) that concluded that key elements of a child’s development, including social, physical, emotional, and cognitive factors, can have “far-reaching effects” on that child’s ability to learn.

NCATE and NICHD collaborated to identify gaps between what is known about child development and what is taught in educator preparation programs, which led NCATE to convene a national expert panel to produce this report, with funding from the Strategic Knowledge Fund, a partnership between the Foundation for Child Development and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


The report urges policymakers, teacher preparation programs, and other stakeholders to:

• Revamp educator preparation programs to improve teachers’ knowledge of child and adolescent development. This can be done, the report says, “by providing quality coursework, along with deep and sustained opportunities for candidates to practice teaching.” To do so, educator preparation programs must develop new tools and resources to guide educators in learning and improving developmentally sensitive instructional techniques, such as evidence-based “common denominators” that identify effective practices in the classroom.

• Include child and adolescent developmental strategies in standards and evaluation systems. Key elements of child and adolescent development science should be incorporated into accreditation and new academic content standards and into assessment practices. In equal fashion, emerging measures of teacher effectiveness should include measures of an educator’s knowledge and application of child and adolescent development strategies.

• Acknowledge the need to address developmental issues in turning around low performing schools. Evidence suggests that culturally specific knowledge of child and adolescent development can improve student learning in schools that serve high poverty, high-need communities.

The Complete Commissioned Papers

Increasing the Application of Developmental Sciences Knowledge in Educator Preparation: Policy Issues and Recommendations, Robert C. Pianta, Randy Hitz, and Blake West (Adobe PDF)

Principles and Exemplars for Integrating Developmental Sciences Knowledge into Educator Preparation, Jon Snyder and Ira Lit (Adobe PDF)

Supplementary Materials

Yale Child Study Center School Development Program: Impact of Systemic Reform: Academic Achievement for Selected Districts from the Dissemination Phase, James P. Comer and Christine Emmons (Adobe PDF)

Abstracts of Meta-Analysis Results of Developmentally-Oriented Programs

Briefs of the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education

Learning How Much Quality is Necessary to Get Good Results for Children (Adobe PDF)

Readiness for School Involves an Array of Skills (Adobe PDF)

Expanding School Readiness Gains in Kindergarten (Adobe PDF)

Supporting Language and Literacy Development in Pre-School Classrooms Through Effective Teacher-Child Interactions (Adobe PDF)

Effects of a Web-Based Teacher Professional Development Program on Children's Development of Social Skills During Pre-K (Adobe PDF)

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STEM - Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation


In order for the United States to maintain the global leadership and competitiveness in science and technology that are critical to achieving national goals, we must invest in research, encourage innovation, and grow a strong and talented science and technology workforce. Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation explores the role of diversity in the science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) workforce and its value in keeping America innovative and competitive. According to the book, the U.S. labor market is projected to grow faster in science and engineering than in any other sector in the coming years, making minority participation in STEM education at all levels a national priority.

Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation analyzes the rate of change and the challenges the nation currently faces in developing a strong and diverse workforce. Although minorities are the fastest growing segment of the population, they are underrepresented in the fields of science and engineering. Historically, there has been a strong connection between increasing educational attainment in the United States and the growth in and global leadership of the economy. Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation suggests that the federal government, industry, and post-secondary institutions work collaboratively with K-12 schools and school systems to increase minority access to and demand for post-secondary STEM education and technical training.

The book also identifies best practices and offers a comprehensive road map for increasing involvement of underrepresented minorities and improving the quality of their education. It offers recommendations that focus on academic and social support, institutional roles, teacher preparation, affordability and program development.
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Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top third graduates to a career in teaching


Improving teacher effectiveness to lift student achievement has become a major theme in U.S. education. Most efforts focus on improving the effectiveness of teachers already in the classroom or on retaining the best performers and dismissing the least effective. Attracting more young people with stronger academic backgrounds to teaching has received comparatively little attention.

McKinsey’s experience with school systems in more than 50 countries suggests that this is an important gap in the U.S. debate. A new report, “Closing the Talent Gap: Attracting and Retaining Top-Third Graduates to Careers in Teaching,” reviews the experiences of the top-performing systems in the world—Singapore, Finland, and South Korea. These countries recruit, develop, and retain the leading academic talent as one of their central education strategies, and they have achieved extraordinary results. In the United States, by contrast, only 23 percent of new teachers come from the top third, and just 14 percent in high poverty schools, where the difficulty of attracting and retaining talented teachers is particularly acute. The report asks what it would take to emulate nations that pursue this strategy if the United States decided it was worthwhile.

The report also includes new market research with nearly 1,500 current top-third students and teachers. It offers the first quantitative research-based answer to the question of how the U.S. could substantially increase the portion of new teachers each year who are higher caliber graduates, and how this could be done in a cost-effective way.
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Two Working Papers

Goldhaber, D., Gross, B., & Player, D. (2010). Teacher Career Paths, Teacher Quality, and Persistence in the Classroom: Are Public Schools Keeping Their Best?. CEDR Working Paper 2010-2. University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Goldhaber, D., & Hansen, M. (2010). Is It Just a Bad Class? Assessing the Stability of Measured Teacher Performance. CEDR Working Paper 2010-3. University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
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Parallel Patterns: Teacher Attrition in Charter vs. District Schools


Recent research and media reports have raised serious concerns about teacher turnover rates in charter schools. But it isn’t exactly clear why teacher turnover rates might be high in charter schools: is it a consequence of their less regulated labor market, or is it the types of students and neighborhoods where they tend to operate?

This study tracked the careers of 956 newly hired charter school teachers and 19,695 newly hired traditional public school teachers in Wisconsin between 1998 and 2006. Although not representative of the charter school sector overall, the study’s analysis of Wisconsin’s charter school sector provides some important clues about the nature of teacher turnover in charter schools: (1) high teacher turnover rates in Wisconsin’s charter schools are mostly a function of teacher characteristics (young and inexperienced) and school contexts (poor and urban), rather than a “charter effect,” and (2) teachers in Wisconsin's urban charter schools are less likely to leave their schools than similar teachers in urban traditional public schools.

To better understand teachers’ motivations for leaving and staying, researchers turned to national data from the U.S. Department of Education’s 1999–00 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and 2000–01 Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS). The SASS-TFS asked traditional public school teachers and charter school teachers who left their schools why they left. In response, teachers in both sectors pointed to a lack of administrative support, poor working conditions, and low salaries. However, compared to traditional public school teachers, charter school teachers were more likely to say that they left because of a lack of job security and the expansive nature of their work.

The study's findings suggest that the “charter effect” may not be a big driver of teacher turnover. Instead, turnover in charter schools appears to be driven by the same factors at work in traditional public schools—a combination of inexperienced teachers and demanding teaching environments. Although this observation likely stems from some of the particulars of Wisconsin’s charter school context, it nevertheless suggests that policymakers might help all public schools by better targeting resources (both financial and human capital) to schools that arguably need them the most—those that enroll the most underserved students—be they charter schools or traditional public schools.
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Searching for Effective Teachers with Imperfect Information


Over the past four decades, empirical researchers -- many of them economists -- have accumulated an impressive amount of evidence on teachers. In this paper, the authors ask what the existing evidence implies for how school leaders might recruit, evaluate, and retain teachers. The authors begin by summarizing the evidence on five key points, referring to existing work and to evidence.

The authors have accumulated from their research with the nation's two largest school districts: Los Angeles and New York City. First, teachers display considerable heterogeneity in their effects on student achievement gains. Second, estimates of teacher effectiveness based on student achievement data are noisy measures. Third, teachers' effectiveness rises rapidly in the first year or two of their teaching careers but then quickly levels out. Fourth, the primary cost of teacher turnover is not the direct cost of hiring and firing, but rather is the loss to students who will be taught by a novice teacher rather than one with several years of experience. Fifth, it is difficult to identify at the time of hire those teachers who will prove more effective.

As a result, better teachers can only be identified after some evidence on their actual job performance has accumulated. The authors then explore what these facts imply for how principals and school districts should act, using a simple model in which schools must search for teachers using noisy signals of teacher effectiveness.

The implications of their analysis are strikingly different from current practice. Rather than screening at the time of hire, the evidence on heterogeneity of teacher performance suggests a better strategy would be identifying large differences between teachers by observing the first few years of teaching performance and retaining only the highest-performing teachers.
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Washington State High Schools Pay Less for Math and Science Teachers than for Teachers in Other Subjects


Download Full Report

(PDF: 495 K)

Washington State recently passed a law (House Bill 2621) intending to accelerate the teaching and learning of math and science. However, in the two subject areas the state seeks to prioritize, this analysis finds that nineteen of the thirty largest districts in the state spend less per math or science teacher than for teachers in other subjects.

Existing salary schedules are part of the problem. By not allowing any differential compensation for math and science teachers, and instead basing compensation only on longevity and graduate credits, the wage system works to create the uneven salaries.

The analysis finds that in twenty-five of the thirty largest districts, math and science teachers had fewer years of teaching experience due to higher turnover—an indication that labor market forces do indeed vary with subject matter expertise. The subject-neutral salary schedule works to ignore these differences.

Washington state personnel data do not identify teachers or teaching assignments by subject. This analysis meticulously coded teachers by subject matter to understand how actual spending on math and science teachers differs from those of other subjects. Researchers collected and analyzed data from Washington’s thirty largest school districts, including 122 high schools employing 7,151 teachers, of whom 1,792 teach either math or science or both.

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Have States Disproportionately Cut Education Budgets During ARRA? Early Findings

The Tradeoff Between Teacher Wages and Layoffs to Meet Budget Cuts

Separation of Degrees: State-By-State Analysis of Teacher Compensation for Master’s Degrees

Ranking the States: Federal Education Stimulus Money and the Prospects for Reform

Projections of State Budget Shortfalls on K-12 Public Education Spending and Job Loss

Seniority-Based Layoffs Will Exacerbate Job Loss in Public Education

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Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade


This practice guide presents five recommendations intended to help educators improve students’ understanding of fractions.

Recommendations include strategies to develop young children’s understanding of early fraction concepts and ideas for helping older children understand the meaning of fractions and the computations involved. The guide also highlights ways to build on students’ existing strategies to solve problems involving ratios, rates, and proportions.

These include:

• Build on students’ informal understanding of sharing and proportionality to develop initial fraction concepts.

• Help students recognize that fractions are numbers and that they expand the number system beyond whole numbers. Use number lines as a central representational tool in teaching this and other fraction concepts from the early grades onward.

• Help students understand why procedures for computations with fractions make sense.

• Develop students’ conceptual understanding of strategies for solving ratio, rate, and proportion problems before exposing them to cross-multiplication as a procedure to use to solve such problems.

• Professional development programs should place a high priority on improving teachers’ understanding of fractions and of how to teach them.

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New Practice Guide: Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade


Students who read with understanding at an early age gain access to a broader range of texts, knowledge, and educational opportunities, making early reading comprehension instruction particularly critical.

This guide,
Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade, recommends five specific steps that teachers, reading coaches, and principals can take to successfully improve reading comprehension for young readers. Each recommendation includes a summary of supporting research, implementation strategies, and potential roadblocks and solutions. These include:

• Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies.

• Teach students to identify and use the text’s organizational structure to comprehend, learn, and remember content.

• Guide students through focused, high-quality discussion on the meaning of text.

• Select texts purposefully to support comprehension development.

• Establish an engaging and motivating context in which to teach reading comprehension.

Download the guide now at:
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Post-High-School Outcomes of Youth with Disabilities


A new report shows that youth with disabilities were more likely to be attending college in 2005 compared to 1990. The report, Comparisons Across Time of the Outcomes of Youth With Disabilities up to 4 Years After High School, was released by The National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) within the Institute of Education Sciences. The study uses data from two National Longitudinal Transition Study datasets to provide comparison data on a wide range of post-high school outcomes across time (between 1990 and 2005) of youth with disabilities who had been out of high school up to 4 years.

The outcomes cover several key areas, including: postsecondary education enrollment and educational experiences; employment status and characteristics of youth’s current or most recent job; productive engagement in school, work, or preparation for work; household circumstances, including residential independence, parenting and financial independence; and social and community involvement.

The selected findings include:

• Postsecondary enrollment rates were 19 percent higher in 2005 (46%) than in 1990 (26%) for youth with disabilities.

• Youth with disabilities were more likely to have a savings account in 2005 (56%) than in 1990 (44%).

• Reported rates of youth with disabilities participating in volunteer or community service activities were higher in 2005 (25%) than in 1990 (13%).

• Youth with disabilities as a whole did not vary significantly between 1990 (62%) and 2005 (56%) in their reported employment status

• However, in 1990, youth with disabilities were more likely to report receiving paid vacation or sick leave, compared to 2005 (60 percent vs. 38 percent).

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Study of Teacher Preparation in Early Reading Instruction


The final report of a study of teacher preparation in early reading instruction describes pre-service teachers’ perceptions about the content of their training programs and summarizes their scores on an assessment of their knowledge of the essential components of reading instruction, as defined in the Reading First legislation.

The pre-service teachers were surveyed and assessed in the spring/summer prior to their graduation. Key findings include:

• On average, pre-service teachers rated the overall focus on the essential components of reading of their training programs as being above “little” but below “moderate.” (1.76 on a 0 to 3 scale).

• Pre-service teachers were twice as likely to report that their field experience offered them a strong focus on the essential components of reading compared to their coursework (40 percent versus 21 percent).

• Pre-service teachers were about twice as likely to report a strong overall programmatic focus on alphabetics (40 percent) and fluency (34 percent) than on meaning (18 percent).

• On average, pre-service teachers responded correctly to 57 percent of the items on the Knowledge Assessment, which included items on fluency, meaning, and alphabetics.

The report, Study of Teacher Preparation in Early Reading Instruction, uses data collected from 2,237 pre-service teachers in a nationally representative sample of 99 institutions that prepare teacher for initial certification. The pre-service teachers were sampled from all students in the sampled institutions who would be eligible to graduate with an elementary teacher education certificate in spring or summer 2007.

Pre-service teachers’ perceptions of program focus were measured through a survey administered in the spring and summer of 2007. Pre-service teachers’ knowledge of the essential components of reading instruction was assessed in spring and summer of 2007, using an assessment consisting of multiple-choice items about the essential components, especially as they are taught in kindergarten to grade 3.
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English Language Learners and Dropout Prevention Reports, and Three New Quick Reviews


The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has released six new reports this week that review the research on education programs, curriculums, and strategies.

English Language Learners

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies is a peer-tutoring program for use in elementary school classrooms to improve student proficiency in reading. The program is meant to supplement students’ existing reading curriculum and uses peer-mediated instruction to provide tutoring in three reading strategies.

See how WWC rated the effectiveness research on Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies and its effects for reading achievement for English language learners.

Dropout Prevention

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is a residential education and training program designed for youth ages 16 to 18 who have dropped out of or been expelled from high school. During the 22-week residential period, participants are offered GED preparation classes and other program services intended to promote positive youth development.

Read about what the WWC found in terms of the effectiveness of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe on completing school for at- risk youth.

Service and Conservation Corps engages young adults in full-time community service, job training, and educational activities. The program typically serves youth between the ages of 17 and 26 who have dropped out of school, been involved with the criminal justice system, or face other barriers to success.

Read the report and see the outcome of the WWC review.

Quick Reviews

These reviews give timely guidance about whether education research in the news meets WWC standards. See how the WWC rated the research design used in the following studies:

Addressing Summer Reading Setback Among Economically Disadvantaged Elementary Students—This study examined whether providing summer reading books to economically disadvantaged first- and second-grade students for three consecutive summers improved reading achievement.

Toward Reduced Poverty Across Generations: Early Findings From New York City’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program—This study examined whether offering low-income families cash rewards for engaging in activities related to children’s education, family preventive health care, and parental employment improves family and child outcomes. This quick review focuses specifically on the effects of the Opportunity NYC-Family Rewards program on children's core educational outcomes.

An Evaluation of the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) in Chicago—This study examined whether the Chicago Teacher Advancement Program, which provides financial incentives for teachers, leads to improved student achievement and teacher retention.
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Nontraditional K-12 Schools in Michigan


Michigan statutes allow a variety of public education entities to authorize PSAs, and impose a number of restrictions, such as requiring certified teachers, standardized testing, and the new high school curriculum, seeking to balance restraints on PSAs with opportunities to innovate and tailor programs to target students. Some charters have contracted with national school management organizations that have developed, and seek to replicate, successful education models that include longer school days and years, and specific governance, personnel, assessment, and community relations approaches. Advocates claim the competition from charter schools will force traditional schools to improve in order to compete.

Critics fear charters will skim the students who are the easiest or cheapest to educate, leaving the neediest (and most expensive to educate) students concentrated in traditional schools. As charters attract students and the state and federal funding that follows those students, they exacerbate the financial stresses on traditional public schools (these financial challenges have been detailed in previous CRC reports). Critics also express concern that PSA board members are appointed, not elected as are members of public school district boards.

In Michigan, PSAs are geographically concentrated in 23 school districts (50 are located in Detroit). Research indicates that while some PSAs produce excellent academic results (the school that ranked highest in MEAP performance in 2009 was a PSA operated by National Heritage Academies), standardized test scores of PSA students lag the statewide averages. However, PSAs are often concentrated in lower performing districts and, in general, PSAs perform better than the host district. This result is consistent with a recent national study that found that charter schools were more effective for low income, lower achieving students. In 2008-09, 71.6 percent of PSAs made adequate yearly progress, compared to 85.6 percent of all Michigan schools.

A controversial 2009 study of charter schools in 16 states found that 17 percent of those charter schools provided superior educational opportunities for their students, nearly half had results that were no different from the local traditional public schools, and 37 percent delivered academic results that were significantly worse than their students would have achieved had they remained in traditional schools. In spite of the inability of charter schools to prove that they produce consistently higher academic achievement, they are very popular with parents, and two-thirds of Michigan PSAs have waiting lists.

In addition to describing charter schools and the issues associated with them, Nontraditional K-12 Schools in Michigan also explores the public policy context and public funding implications of private schools and homeschooling.

This paper is the third in the series of papers CRC is publishing on important education issues facing Michigan. The first, Public Education Governance in Michigan, was released in January, 2010; the second, State and Local Revenues for Public Education in Michigan, was released in September. The goal of this comprehensive review of education provision is to provide the data and expertise necessary to inform the education debate in Lansing and around the state.

Access Nontraditional K-12 Schools in Michigan.

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