Do Low-Income Students have Equal Access to the Highest-Performing Teachers?


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Analyses using data from ten selected districts describes the prevalence of teachers ranked in the top 20 percent (highest-performing teachers). The overall patterns indicate that low-income students have unequal access, on average, to the districts’ highest-performing teachers at the middle school level but not at the elementary level. Within the ten districts studied, some have an under-representation of the highest-performing teachers in high-poverty elementary and middle schools. However, other districts have such under-representation only at the middle school level, and one district has a disproportionate share of the district’s highest-performing teachers in its high-poverty elementary schools.

These analyses were conducted as part of the implementation of an impact evaluation (Impact Evaluation Of Moving High-Performing Teachers to Low-Performing Schools) carried out by Mathematica Policy Research for the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance within the Institute of Education Sciences. The analyses are in support of NCEE’s work to advance our understanding of teacher quality and strategies to improve it. The districts that are the subject of this evaluation brief include eight of the ten districts currently participating in the impact evaluation and two additional districts. The impact evaluation is looking at using monetary incentives to attract higher-performing teachers into low-achieving schools. For both this evaluation brief and the impact study, the highest-performing teachers in the tested grades and subjects within school districts are identified by conducting value-added analyses using student test scores. In the impact study, teachers are offered a series of bonus payments totaling up to $20,000 over two years for transferring into and remaining in targeted low-achieving schools within their district. A report from the first year of data collection from the impact evaluation is expected in 2012.
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Working a lot in high school can short-change students' future


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Similar study: Working more than 20 hours a week in high school found harmful

High school students who work more than 15 hours a week during the school year may be short-changing their futures, risking long-term education and health.

New research from the University of Michigan, tracking young adults through their 20s nationwide, suggests that long hours at a job during 12th grade contribute to lower rates of college completion and may heighten the risk of chronic cigarette use

By age 29 or 30, more than half of the high school graduates who had worked 1-15 hours a week when they were in 12th grade had completed a bachelor's degree; but every additional 5 hours of work was associated with an 8 percentage point drop in completion, so that only about 20 percent of those who had worked 31 hours or more finished college. After statistical controls for other prior factors, rates of college completion for those who worked 1-15 hours were still one and a half times the rates for those who worked 31 or more hours.

This does not mean that parents should discourage their teenagers from holding any employment during the school year, according to U-M psychologist Jerald Bachman, the lead author on the study. "The students who seem to do best are those who are able to get and hold a job by the time they are seniors in high school," Bachman said, "but who do not work more than 15 hours per week, on average."

A great deal of recent research looking at students while still in school has shown that those who spend long hours on the job have poorer grades and lower college aspirations, and are more likely to smoke cigarettes and use illicit drugs. This new study, conducted by Bachman and colleagues at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), appears in the current (March) issue of Developmental Psychology.

The study makes use of longitudinal data from the Monitoring the Future project, which has been surveying nationally representative samples of high school seniors each year and following more than 68,000 of them throughout young adulthood, beginning with the class of 1976.

The study addresses two key questions. First, it explores whether working long hours in high school may have long-term consequences, well beyond graduation. The present set of analyses are the first use of Monitoring the Future data to show that employment during high school is linked with potentially negative outcomes more than a decade later.

"The fact that there appear to be residual effects when respondents reach age 30 strikes us as really important," Bachman said. "It means that at least some students during high school are trading off long-term educational opportunities for short-term earnings." Reflecting on his prior research, Bachman added that "most do not save much of their earnings for college; instead, many simply treat their earnings as spending money rather than investments for their futures. In the past we have called this 'premature affluence.' "

Second, the researchers asked which comes first: "Are long hours of paid work during high school an important cause of problem behaviors, or are they merely a symptom of prior problems?" They found, in essence, that both are true, but even when controlling for prior behaviors and circumstances, the researchers still found significant links between intensive work schedules in high school and negative outcomes later.

"Working more than 15 hours a week while in high school may have some costs that extend far beyond high school," Bachman said. "The most notable cost is reduced likelihood of college education—with lifelong consequences. A second possible cost is heightened risk of cigarette addiction—with potentially life-shortening consequences."

In addition to smoking, the study examined other forms of substance use, including annual marijuana use, annual cocaine use, and instances of heavy drinking. Although all of these behaviors are correlated with work hours during high school, the authors attribute these links to other prior causes. Their findings "… suggest little significant impact of 12th grade work intensity on illicit drug use or heavy drinking measured 3 or more years later."
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Digest of Education Statistics, 2010


The number of public school teachers has risen faster than the number of public school students over the past 10 years, resulting in declines in the pupil/teacher ratio. In the fall of 2010, there were a projected 15.6 public school pupils per teacher, compared with 16.0 public school pupils per teacher 10 years earlier. The Digest of Education Statistics, 2010 is the 46th in a series of publications initiated in 1962. The Digest's primary purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from prekindergarten through graduate school. The Digest contains data on a variety of topics, including the number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrollments, and graduates, in addition to educational attainment, finances, and federal funds for education, libraries, and international comparisons.

Other findings include:

• Record levels of total elementary, secondary, and college enrollment are expected through at least 2019.

• The status dropout rate—that is, the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds not enrolled in school and who have not received either a diploma or an equivalency credential—declined from 13 percent in 1989 to 8 percent in 2009. The percentage of young adults (25- to 29-year-olds) who had completed high school in 2010 was about the same as it was in 2000 (89 and 88 percent, respectively).

• Expenditures for public and private education, from prekindergarten through graduate school (excluding postsecondary schools not awarding associate's or higher degrees), are estimated at $1.1 trillion for 2009-10. Total expenditures for education are expected to amount to 7.9 percent of the gross domestic product in 2009-10, about 1 percentage point higher than in 1999-2000.

The Digest of Education Statistics (NCES 2011-015)
and the Mini-Digest (NCES 2011-016) are reports from the National Center for Education Statistics of the Institute of Education Sciences.
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Motivation Plays a Critical Role in IQ Test Scores


New psychology research at the University of Pennsylvania demonstrates a correlation between a test-taker’s motivation and performance on an IQ test and, more important, between that performance and a person’s future success.

Angela Lee Duckworth, an assistant professor of psychology in Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, led the research, which involved two related studies.

The first was a meta-analysis of previous research into the effect of incentives on IQ scores. For individuals who had above-average scores at baseline, motivation accounted for only about a quarter of a standard deviation, or about four points. But, for those who had below-average scores, motivation made up almost a whole standard deviation.

The second study involved an experiment in which researchers observed video footage of adolescent boys taking a standard IQ test to rate their motivation and then measured how well they fared in terms of criminal record, job status and educational attainment more than a decade later.

Coders, who were not aware of subjects’ IQ scores or the hypothesis of the study, rated each subject’s motivation based on a standard rubric of behaviors, such as refusing to answer questions or obviously rushing through the test to make it end as quickly as possible. Ratings of test motivation and IQ scores were about equally predictive of the adult outcomes of years of education, employment status and criminal record.

“What we were really interested in finding out was when you statically control for motivation, what happens to the predictive power of the IQ tests? What we found is that the predictive power goes down significantly,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth’s research was published yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“When people use IQ tests in social science research, where thousands of kids are taking IQ tests where it doesn’t matter to them what they get, what’s the effect of motivation on those scores?” Duckworth said.

“IQ scores are absolutely predictive of long-term outcomes. But what our study questions is whether that’s entirely because smarter people do better in life than other people or whether part of the predictive power coming from test motivation” Duckworth said.

“Could it be that part of the reason doing well on this test predicts future success is because the kinds of traits that would result in you doing well —compliance with authority, self-control, attentiveness, competitiveness — are traits that also help you in life?

“This means that for people who get high IQ scores, they probably try hard and are intelligent,” she said. “But for people who get low scores, it can be an absence of either or both of those traits.”
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Nearly 38% of U.S. Schools Do Not Make Adequate Yearly Progress Under NCLB


The share of public schools that did not make adequate yearly progress (AYP) in raising student achievement under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) reached an all-time national high of about 38% in 2010, according to a new report, Update with 2009-10 Data and Five-Year Trends: How Many Schools Have Not Made Adequate Yearly Progress?,, by the Center on Education Policy (CEP). This marks a rise from the estimated 33% of public schools that failed to make AYP in 2009. But the percentage of schools falling short has changed only modestly over the past five years, the report notes, and would have to more than double to reach the Obama Administration’s projections that more than 80 percent of schools will fail to make AYP next year.

Between school years 2005-06 and 2009-10, the national percentage of schools not making AYP rose from 29% to an estimated 38%, and in two of the interim years, the percentage actually declined. AYP is the measure by which schools, districts, and states are held accountable for student performance under Title I of NCLB. To make AYP, schools and districts must annually meet state-set targets for the percentages of students scoring proficient on state tests and other indicators. Schools that fall short for two or more years must undergo a series of interventions outlined in the federal education law.

In twelve states and the District of Columbia, at least half of the public schools did not make AYP in 2010, CEP found, and in a majority of the states at least one-fourth of the schools fell short. The report, which includes tables with AYP trend data for every state, also revealed wide differences in the percentages of schools not making AYP in 2010—ranging from about 5% in Texas to about 91% in D.C. The report cautions, however, that AYP results are not comparable between states because of variations in states’ tests, cut scores for proficient performance, demographics, and other factors.

A companion background paper by CEP, State Policy Differences Greatly Impact AYP Trends,
The background paper reviews AYP trends in 10 states with some of the most dramatic AYP trends, including those with the greatest increases and the greatest decreases. The states included in the analysis are California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington.

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The State of Preschool 2010


In the 2009-2010 school year, the effects of the recession became fully apparent despite federal government aid to the states for education. Total enrollment barely increased over the prior year. Total spending by the states decreased, and per-child spending declined in inflation-adjusted dollars.

The 2010 State Preschool Yearbook is the eighth in a series of annual reports profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. This latest Yearbook presents data on state-funded prekindergarten during the 2009-2010 school year. The first report in this series focused on programs for the 2001-2002 school year and established a baseline against which we may now measure progress over nine years. Tracking these trends is essential, since changes in states' policies on preschool education will influence how successfully America's next generation will compete in the knowledge economy.

The 2010 Yearbook is organized into three major sections. The first section offers a summary of the data, and describes national trends for enrollment in, quality of, and spending on preschool. The second section presents detailed profiles outlining each state's policies with respect to preschool access, quality standards, and resources for the 2009-2010 program year. In addition to providing basic program descriptions, these state profiles describe unique features of a state's program and recent changes that can be expected to alter the future Yearbook statistics on a program. Profile pages are again included for states without state-funded programs. A description of our methodology follows the state profiles. The last section of the report contains appendices, which are available online only. The appendices include tables that provide the complete 2009-2010 survey data obtained from every state, as well as Head Start, child care, U.S. Census, and special education data.

State-funded preschool programs represent an important and sizeable component of the nation's patchwork of early childhood education programs. The National Institute for Early Education Research has developed the State Preschool Yearbook series to provide information on services offered through these programs to children at ages 3 and 4. We hope that this report will serve as a resource for policymakers, advocates, and researchers to make more informed decisions as state-funded preschool education moves forward.

While parents strive to guide children's growth and development in the home, state and local governments bear primary responsibility for classroom-based education in the United States. Programs that serve young children operate under a variety of names and auspices, including the federal Head Start program as well as privately and publicly funded child care. State prekindergarten programs will play an increasingly important role as part of this larger array of programs. The Yearbook seeks to improve the public's knowledge and understanding of state efforts to expand the availability of high-quality education to young children in the 21st century.
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Study Finds Rigorous Classroom Observations Can Identify Effective Teachers


Cincinnati’s teacher evaluation system pinpoints link between teaching practices and student achievement

A new study of Cincinnati’s Teacher Evaluation System (TES)
, a rigorous evaluation program based on classroom observations, finds that teachers receiving high ratings (as scored by trained peer and administrative evaluators) are more effective in promoting student achievement growth. For example, a student who begins the year at the 50th percentile on the state reading and math test and is assigned to a teacher in the top quartile in terms of overall TES scores will perform on average, by the end of the school year, three percentile points higher in reading and two points higher in math than a peer who began the year at the same achievement level but was assigned to a bottom-quartile teacher.

By way of comparison, the authors note that the impact of being assigned to a teacher in the top-quartile rather than one in the bottom quartile in terms of their total effect on student achievement as measured by student-test-based measures of teacher effectiveness is seven percentile points in reading and six points in math. In other words, the observed teacher practices included in the TES evaluation system appear to capture a little less than half of the overall differences in teacher effectiveness.

These results, based on a study by a team of scholars at Harvard, Brown and Stanford universities, are reported in the Summer 2011 issue of Education Next. Their findings from Cincinnati offer new evidence that “evaluations based on well-executed classroom observations do identify effective teachers and teaching practices.” During the yearlong TES process, teachers are typically observed and scored four times: three times by a peer evaluator external to the school and once by a local school administrator. Both peer evaluators (experienced classroom teachers who serve as full-time evaluators for three years) and administrators must complete an intensive training course and accurately score videotaped teaching examples according to a specific rubric.

The authors point out that the Cincinnati system of evaluation is different from the standard practice in place in most American school districts, where perfunctory evaluations assign the vast majority of teachers “satisfactory” ratings, leading many to “characterize classroom observation as a hopelessly flawed approach to assessing teacher effectiveness.”

The study’s results are based on a sample of 365 teachers in reading and 200 teachers in math. The researchers analyzed records of each TES classroom observation conducted by the Cincinnati district between the 2000-01 and 2008-09 school years. In addition to TES observation results, the researchers analyzed students’ demographic, program participation, and test score data from the 2003-04 through 2008-09 school years. For all teachers in the sample, the average score on the Overall Classroom Practices index (a teacher’s average score across eight standards of teaching practice) was 3.21 (between “Proficient” and “Distinguished” categories), yet one-quarter of teachers received an overall score higher than 3.53 and one-quarter received a score lower than 2.94, indicating, the authors note, that “there is a fair amount of variation from teacher to teacher.”

The researchers also used teachers’ scores on particular elements considered by the TES observation system to discern relationships between more specific teaching practices and student outcomes across academic subjects. For example, among students assigned to different teachers with similar overall TES scores, math achievement will grow more for those students whose teacher scores relatively better on the classroom management portions of the TES observations. They note that the data gleaned from the TES observations “allow researchers to connect specific teaching practices with student achievement outcomes, providing evidence of effective teaching practices that can be widely shared.”
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A Unique Opportunity to Improve School Meals Applications


PDF of this report (74pp.)

By improving school meals applications in the following ways, states and school districts can help families struggling against hunger get healthy meals for their children.

* Provide materials in a language and at a level parents can understand.
* Ask only for necessary information.
* Reduce opportunities for math errors.
* Encourage eligible families to apply.

This paper provides specific suggestions for revisions to school meals applications to help achieve these goals.


The school meals programs can play a critical role in supporting the healthy development of children and helping to ensure that low-income school-aged children have access to adequate nutrition. The process of enrolling for free or reduced-price meals and the application form itself are the gateway to these benefits. Typically school districts send home school meals applications and parents complete them at home without assistance. [1] In contrast to many other income-tested programs, there are no caseworkers dedicated to helping parents navigate the application process. Thus, it is particularly important that these applications be easy to use, provide clear directions, and avoid steps that might deter eligible families from applying.

As a result of changes in recent legislation reauthorizing the federal school meals programs, every school district in the country will have to revise its school meals application for the 2011-2012 school year.[2] While only three specific changes will be necessary, the fact that all applications will be revised and reprinted offers a unique opportunity to go beyond the required changes to improve the content and design of the application and related materials that are sent to households.

This paper is intended as a resource for states and school districts as they revise their materials for households related to the school meals programs.[3] It is not a comprehensive guide to developing these materials; rather, it highlights some best practices in school meals applications from around the country and points out areas where current materials often fall short. Fortunately, eligibility for the school meals programs is relatively straightforward, making a user-friendly application an achievable goal for states and school districts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes available a prototype application and related materials to assist states and school districts as they design household materials.[4] USDA recently published prototype materials that reflect the changes in the reauthorization legislation and will soon provide translations of those materials.[5]

This paper includes four sections. The first section explains the new requirements that necessitate changes to household materials. The second section describes our review of applications and related materials. The third section highlights opportunities to improve program access by making changes to applications (and related materials) and summarizes the findings of our review of these materials. The fourth section undertakes a similar discussion of verification materials (the notice school districts send to a small sample of households that have to provide documentation to confirm their eligibility). Appendices A and B provide more information about the materials we reviewed. Appendices C and D summarize all of the legally required elements of application and verification materials, respectively, including requirements adopted as part of the reauthorization legislation. Appendix E includes a link to each state’s school meals program homepage and school meals forms (where available). Alternatively, readers can access state school meals program web sites by clicking on a state name in the list or map below. Appendix F includes links to the school meals web site for the 100 largest school districts.
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Parent Involvement and Extended Learning Activities in School Improvement Plans


This REL Midwest study, Parent Involvement and Extended Learning Activities in School Improvement Plans in the Midwest Region, reports the findings of a content analysis of 1,400 school improvement plans in five Midwest Region states. Under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, Title I schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years are required to develop school improvement plans describing proposed activities for boosting student achievement.

Sections 1116 and 1118 of NCLB outline requirements and recommendations for involving parents and providing extended learning activities (before-school, afterschool, or summer program), two sets of activities that some research suggests improve student outcomes. The study examines the extent to which school improvement plans:

• Met the requirements of NCLB section 1116 on notifying parents of the school’s improvement status, collaborating and communicating with parents, and including strategies that promote effective parent involvement.

• Included parent involvement activities specified in section 1118.

• Included parent involvement activities not specified in sections 1116 and 1118.

• Included plans for providing information to parents with limited English proficiency.

• Included before-school, after school, and summer programs.

The results indicate a wide variety of practices across states. More than 90 percent of plans included at least one “potentially effective” parent involvement activity, and 70 percent included at least one extended learning activity. However, few (between 3 percent in Wisconsin to 29 percent in Illinois) of the extended learning activities were described in the school improvement plans as providing academic support.
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If It Looks Easy To Learn, It Isn't


We hold many beliefs about memory—for instance, if you study more, you learn more. We are also constantly making judgments about particular instances of learning and remembering—I’ll never forget this party! That was easy to understand. I’ll ace it on the test.

But do beliefs influence judgments, and how do judgments affect memory performance? “There’s a disconnect among beliefs, judgments, and actual memory,” says Williams College psychologist Nate Kornell. Ask people to predict how or what they will learn and “in many situations, they do a breathtakingly bad job.”

Why? A new study by Kornell—with Matthew G. Rhodes of Colorado State University, Alan D. Castel of University of California/Los Angeles, and Sarah K. Tauber of Kent State University—posits that we make predictions about memory based on how we feel while we’re encountering the information to be learned, and that can lead us astray. The study will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The researchers conducted three experiments, each with about 80 participants from teenagers to senior citizens. To test the relationships between “metamemory”—or beliefs and judgments about memory—and performance, they looked at two factors: the ease of processing information and the promise of future study opportunities.

The participants were serially shown words in large or small fonts and asked to predict how well they’d remember each. In one iteration of the experiment, they knew they’d have either one more chance or none to study the words; in another, three more chances or none. Afterwards, they were tested on their memory of the words.

As expected, font size affected judgment but not memory. Because the larger fonts felt more fluently processed, participants thought they’d be easier to remember. But they weren’t. The number of study opportunities did affect memory—and the more repetitions, the better the performance. Participants predicted this would be so, but significantly underestimated the improvement additional study would yield. Belief affected judgment, but not much.

In a third experiment, participants were asked questions estimating the influence of font size and study on their learning. They still thought, incorrectly, that font size made a difference. But they were 10 times more sensitive to the number of study trials than in the earlier experiments. This time, they based their answers on their beliefs, not their immediate experiences and judgments.

What fools us? First, “automatic processing”: “If something is easy to process, you assume you will remember it well,” says Kornell. Second, there’s the “stability bias”: “People act as though their memories will remain the same in the future as they are right now.” Wrong again.

Actually, “effortful processing” leads to more stable learning. And “the way we encode information is not based on ease; it’s based on meaning.” We remember what is meaningful to us.

It’s unlikely we’ll start checking our judgments every time we make one, says Kornell: “That’s too slow.” So we’ll just have to study more than we think we have to. And to preserve memories, we’d be wise to keep a journal.
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Genes are the major force on reading achievement, environment on math for ADHD


Humans are not born as blank slates for nature to write on. Neither are they behaving on genes alone.

Research by Lee A. Thompson, chair of Case Western Reserve University's Psychological Sciences Department, and colleagues found that the link between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and academic performance involves a complex interaction of genes and environment.

Genetic influence was found to be greater on reading than for math, while shared environment (e.g., the home and/or school environment the twins shared) influenced math more so than reading. The researchers don't know why.

Their study of twins, published in Psychological Science, Vol. 21, was the first to look simultaneously at the genetic and environmental influences on reading ability, mathematics ability, and the continuum of ADHD behavior.

"The majority of the twins used in the study don't have ADHD," Thompson said. "We are looking at the continuum of the behavioral symptoms of ADHD - looking at individual differences - not a disorder with an arbitrary cutoff."

This type of continuum is a normal distribution or bell curve, with scores symmetrically distributed about the average and getting much less frequent the farther away a score is from the average. Disability is usually classified as the lower extreme on the normal distribution.

The symptoms of ADHD, according to Thompson, can be described with such a continuum, as can reading and mathematics ability. Only a small percent of individuals fall below the common medical cutoff between ability and disability.

For what we refer to as gifted or disabled, Thompson points out, "There is no difference in cause, just different expression of achievement."

Thompson collaborated with Sara Hart, a graduate student at the Florida Center for Reading Research, and Stephen Petrill, a professor at the Ohio State University, in analyzing 271 pairs of ten-year-old identical and fraternal twins.

The twins were selected from the Western Reserve Reading and Mathematics Project, a study that began in 2002 with kindergarten and first grade-age twins and has collected data yearly about their math and reading ability.

The study focused on two ADHD symptoms: inattention and hyperactivity, which are viewed as extremes of their respective attention and activity continuums.

As part of the study, the mother of the twins rated each child on 18 items such as the child's ability to listen when spoken to, play quietly, and sit still, to assess attention and activity levels. A researcher testing each twins' mathematics and reading ability also rated the twins each year on their attention to tasks and level of hyperactivity.

The researchers assessed reading ability by evaluating the twins' recognition and pronunciation of words and passage comprehension.

They measured the twins' capacity for mathematics by focusing on the twin's ability to solve problems, understanding of concepts, computational skills, and the number of computations completed in 3 minutes.

Researchers analyzed the data from three perspectives: one looked at the overall ADHD behavior, one at the level of attention, and at the activity level.

They then determined the similarities in genetic and environmental influence between ADHD symptoms and reading and between the symptoms and mathematics.

To do so, researchers looked at the variance and covariance of ADHD symptoms and academic ability. Variance measures the individual differences on a given trait within a population and covariance is a measure of how much two traits are related.These measures were broken down into identified components: additive genetic effects, shared environment and non-shared environment.

Using quantitative analysis of the components, the researchers found that there are some general genes that influence the symptoms of ADHD simultaneously with reading and mathematics ability and some genes that influence each specifically.

This study also found that both inattention and hyperactivity were related to academics.

"If we have this much overlap between genes that affect behaviors of ADHD and academic achievement," Thompson said, "it gives validity to the relation of ADHD behaviors and poor academics."

But genes are not everything, Thompson adds.

There are different approaches for interventions that can be taken based on the extent of environmental influence on ADHD behavior, reading ability, and mathematics ability across the entire continuum of expression.

Future research, the study notes, should focus on the underlying connection between ADHD symptoms and poor academic achievement in order to identify the influences that may alter these often co-occurring outcomes.
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Languages Studied by K–12 Public School Students


Complete report summary

2004–05 Foreign Language Enrollments by Language.

Language FL Enrollment Percent CI Percent of FL Enrollment
SPANISH 6,295,512 +/- 1.33% 72.87%
FRENCH 1,296,249 +/- 2.35% 15.00%
GERMAN 365,040 +/- 2.65% 4.23%
OTHER 362,462 +/- 1.15% 4.20%
LATIN 225,372 +/- 2.61% 2.61%
JAPANESE 61,981 +/- 2.84% 0.72%
CHINESE 20,292 +/- 3.57% 0.23%
RUSSIAN 12,082 +/- 4.25% 0.14%
TOT AL 8,638,990 +/- 1.04%

2007–08 Foreign Language Enrollments by Language.

Language FL Enrollment Percent CI Percent of FL Enrollment
SPANISH 6,418,331 +/- 1.75% 72.06%
FRENCH 1,254,243 +/- 2.93% 14.08%
OTHER 489,356 +/- 0.68% 5.49%
GERMAN 395,019 +/- 1.81% 4.43%
LATIN 205,158 +/- 1.67% 2.30%
JAPANESE 72,845 +/- 1.37% 0.82%
CHINESE 59,860 +/- 2.13% 0.67%
RUSSIAN 12,389 +/- 2.96% 0.14%
TOT AL 8,907,201 +/- 1.33%
FL=foreign language; CI=confidence interval

This ranking of the most commonly studied languages remained consistent. Chinese had the largest percentage growth, increasing by 195%. Despite this large growth, Chinese remained the seventh most studied language. Japanese, German, Russian, and Spanish also increased. In contrast to these increases, French and Latin enrollments declined by 3% and 9%, respectively.

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New state-by-state reports examine STEM learning outcomes


New reports by Change the Equation (CTEq), find that most states have not set the bar high enough when measuring student proficiency in STEM subjects. For instance, while many states report that most students are meeting state standards, results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show only 38 percent of 4th graders and a third of 8th graders are proficient or advanced in math. The CEOs added that states must strengthen instructional supports to ensure students clear a higher bar.

National Report

State Reports

“We’re doing students, parents and America’s competitiveness a disservice by not demanding higher standards for STEM learning,” said Craig Barrett, retired CEO/Board Chairman of Intel and Change the Equation Board Chair. "Students in every state deserve the opportunity of a STEM education on par with the best in the world. America’s standing as the most innovative and prosperous nation on earth depends on our ability to boost student performance. As business leaders, we are pledging to stand with governors who commit to high achievement standards in math and science."

Despite such concerns, Linda Rosen, CTEq CEO, said the reports contain some positive trends. In most states, NAEP math scores have climbed since 1996, especially for students of color. Some states, such as Massachusetts and Missouri, have maintained high expectations for their students. Other states, such as Michigan, New York, Oregon and Tennessee, recently raised the passing scores on their state tests. Forty-three states have joined forces to create a common set of academic content standards in English and math that aim to be clearer and more rigorous than most individual state standards. All of those states are developing tests that align with those standards. Similar work is underway in science.

But real challenges lie ahead. As states implement standards and raise the bar on state tests, student pass rates will fall, and state leaders will face pressure to lower standards. CTEq and its member CEOs pledged to stand firm with state leaders as they resist such pressure and uphold the need for high expectations—and as state leaders and educators do the hard work of ensuring that teachers have the support they need to help students reach those high standards.

The national and state “Vital Signs” reports, released today at a forum in Washington, D.C., show states still have a long way to go:

* Most states set a low bar. Across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the average difference between state test results and NAEP was 37 percentage points. A handful of states break the pattern by setting higher proficiency standards.

* Achievement gaps between different groups of students remain large and widespread. In math, gaps separating white students from black and Hispanic peers narrowed substantially between 1973 and 1990 but have barely budged since then. No state has closed these gaps, and some states with the highest overall achievement also have the widest gaps.

* For most students, college is more a dream than reality. The U.S. faces a shortage of 3 million college-educated workers by 2018, yet students still attend and graduate from college at low rates:

* Only 10 percent of the class of 2010 took an Advanced Placement test in math, and 10 percent took an AP test in science. Students who take and pass an AP test are significantly more likely to graduate from college than academically similar students who do not take an AP test.

* Elementary and middle school teachers need stronger grounding in math content. Most states set passing scores on content licensure tests for elementary teachers well below the average for all test takers. Only 57 percent of the nation’s 8th graders have teachers with an undergraduate major or minor in math.

* Fifty-four percent of the nation’s 4th graders and 47 percent of its 8th graders report that they “never or hardly ever” write reports about science projects. Thirty-nine percent of 8th graders report that they “never or hardly ever” design a science experiment.

The 51 reports were generated by compiling the most recent public data on the condition of STEM learning in each state. Research has already begun for a more in-depth set of Vital Signs reports which will be the most complete examination of STEM learning in each state ever assembled. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the new reports will give key information on where each state is making gains, where it has work to do and what it can do to prepare many more of its students for life and work in the coming decades.
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Full-Day K Improves Student Achievement


A new report released today by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) shows a connection between full-day kindergarten enrollment and later success in elementary school on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). In Full-Day Kindergarten: A Proven Success, PPC notes that statewide, school districts that elected to provide full-day kindergarten through Accountability Block Grant (ABG) funds are seeing improved performance on standardized assessments. The evidence emerged when the first cohort of children who attended full-day kindergarten after the beginning of Accountability Block Grant (ABG) funds in the 2004-05 school year reached third grade and took the PSSAs in spring 2008. Overall, school districts with students attending full-day kindergarten improved third grade reading proficiency by 50 percent more than districts with part-day kindergarten programs when compared to third grade reading proficiency in 2005.

The pattern of improved performance continued at the state level for the next two years. In 2010, school districts with full-day kindergarten saw math proficiency scores rise twice as much as districts with part-day programs.

Since ABG funds first became available to school districts, the number of full-day kindergartners in Pennsylvania has grown 91 percent. In 2008-09, about 80,000 kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs in public school districts, charter schools and cyber charter schools. And about 66 percent of the full-day enrollment – two out of three full-day students - were financed through the ABG program.

And now, just as PSSA results are showing a correlation between full-day kindergarten and scores in third and fifth grade, the Accountability Block Grant has been eliminated from Governor Corbett's 2011-12 budget.

"Nearly 350 school districts use ABG to fully or partially fund their FDK programs for more than 50,000 children," said Joan L. Benso, President and CEO, PA Partnerships for Children. "Eliminating this flexible funding source will force school districts to make difficult decisions which could hamper student outcomes. If school districts can't make up the difference in their budget gaps due to the loss of ABG, thousands of children may be forced to start their academic journeys without the proven benefits of full-day K."

"Full-day kindergarten is too vital to be eliminated," said Rich Fry, superintendent of Big Spring School District in Cumberland County. "We hope to maintain the program through staff attrition this year, but in the future we could be looking at furloughing teachers which could impact other education programs."

First-grade teacher Katie Richter, of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District in Allegheny County, has witnessed the difference in reading skills between full- and part-day kindergarten students. "Overall the full-day kids are much more prepared for first grade. These students come with routines, procedures and rules in place. They've already mastered the expectations."

Richter said that first grade teachers whose students come from full-day kindergarten can jump into lessons at the start of a new school year without having to spend prolonged time on letter names and sounds. "My experience is the full-day K students are better readers in first grade than the part-day students were," she said.

"We urge our legislature to work to restore the Accountability Block Grant or create a dedicated funding stream for full-day kindergarten," Benso implored. "Full-day K is a proven strategy for success and an important building block in our early learning continuum. Children won't have the opportunity to go back and do kindergarten again when our state budget situation improves. We must make restoration of state funds for full-day K a high priority in budget negotiations this spring."
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Numbers and Types of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools


Numbers and Types of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools From the Common Core of Data: School Year 2009-10 - First Look

Findings include:

• About 49 million students attended 98,817 operating public elementary/secondary schools in the 2009–10 school year.

• Almost 1.6 million students were enrolled in 4,952 charter schools in 2009-10.

• Across all active regular public schools with students, the pupil/teacher ratio in 2009-10 was 16.1. Pupil/teacher ratio ranged from 10.9 in Vermont to 23.4 in Utah.
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Lecture-Style Presentations Lead to Higher Student Achievement


A new study finds that 8th grade students in the U.S. score higher on standardized tests in math and science when their teachers allocate greater amounts of class time to lecture-style presentations than to group problem-solving activities. For both math and science, the study finds that a shift of 10 percentage points of time from problem solving to lecture-style presentations (for example, increasing the share of time spent lecturing from 60 to 70 percent) is associated with a rise in student test scores of 4 percent of a standard deviation for the students who had the exact same peers in both their math and science classes – or between one and two months’ worth of learning in a typical school year.

These estimates are based on the actual implementation of teaching practices that the researchers observe in practice. Thus, while problem-solving activities may be very effective if implemented in the correct way, simply inducing the average teacher employed today to shift time in class from lecture style presentations to problem solving, without concern for how this is implemented, contains little potential to increase student achievement. On the contrary, the study’s results indicate that there might even be adverse effects on student learning.

Guido Schwerdt, a postdoctoral fellow in Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, and Amelie C. Wuppermann, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Mainz, Germany, conducted the study. A research article, “Sage on the Stage,” presenting the study’s findings will appear in the Summer 2011 issue of Education Next.

The researchers used data from the 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Their sample includes 6,310 students in 205 U.S. schools with 639 teachers (303 math teachers and 355 science teachers, of which 19 teacher both subjects). In addition to test scores in math and science, the TIMSS data include information on teacher characteristics, qualifications, and classroom practices. Most important for the analysis, teachers were asked what proportion of time in a typical week students spent on each of eight activities, and the authors’ methodology focused on three of these activities — listening to lecture-style presentations, working on problems with the teacher’s guidance, and working on problems without guidance — as a “good proxy for the time in class in which students are taught new material.” They divide the amount of time spent listening to lecture-style presentations by the total amount of time spent on each of these three activities to generate a single measure of how much time the teacher devoted to lecturing relative to how much time was devoted to problem-solving activities.

Schwerdt and Wuppermann observe that in recent years, a consensus has emerged among researchers that teacher quality “matters enormously for student performance,” but that relatively few rigorous studies have looked inside the classroom to see what kinds of teaching styles are the most effective. Their study of teaching styles finds that “teaching style matters for student achievement, but in the opposite direction than anticipated by conventional wisdom: an emphasis on lecture-style presentations (rather than problem-solving activities) is associated with an increase — not a decrease — in student achievement.” They report that prominent organizations such as the National Research Council and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, for at least the last three decades, have “called for teachers to engage students in constructing their own new knowledge through more hands-on learning and group work.” The emphasis on group problem-solving instructional methods has been incorporated into most U.S. teacher preparation programs, and the authors found that teachers in the study’s sample allocated, on average, twice as much time to problem-solving activities as to lecturing, or “direct instruction.”

The researchers recognize that a key challenge in studying the effects of teaching practices is that “teachers may adjust their methods in response to the ability or behavior of their students,” perhaps relying more on lectures when assigned more capable or attentive students. To address these concerns, they “exploit the fact that the TIMSS study tested each student in both mathematics and science,” which allowed them to compare the math and science test scores of individual students whose teacher in one subject tended to emphasize a different teaching style than their teacher in the other subject. They found that in both math and science, the positive relationship between lecture-style methods and test score gains was maintained. The estimated .04 standard deviation impact of a greater emphasis on lecturing is based on students who had the same peers in both classes, because that minimizes the chances that teaching styles — and their consequences — might differ depending on the composition of the class.
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Parents want more physical activity at school for kids


Childhood obesity affects 1 of every 6 kids in the United States, in part due to a lack of physical activity. Schools can play a key part in offering elementary-age kids lots of chances to be active—on the playground during recess and when they're in gym.

But recent increasing expectations about academic achievement, coupled with budget cuts, have prompted many schools to cut back on both recess and gym class.

The U-M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health asked parents of children 6 to 11 years old for their views about physical activity in schools.

"Parents are virtually unanimous that it's very important for elementary-school kids to get physical activity during every school day," says Sarah Clark, M.P.H., associate director of the poll and associate director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit at the U-M Medical School . "However, one-third of parents think that their kids do not get enough physical activity at school."

35 percent of parents feel their children's elementary schools have too little time in gym class, 26 percent think there is not enough playground equipment and 22 percent say there is too little time for recess.

"Academic and budget pressures threaten schools' ability to provide outlets and opportunities for children's physical activity. Many parents are noticing that something is missing," says Clark.

Another key result from this poll is that parents' own weight is related to perceptions of the need for schools to help children be physically active. With regard to time for gym, playground equipment, time for recess and playground space, overweight and obese parents were more likely than other parents to say their kids did not have enough during the school day.

"This is a new insight at the national level, indicating that parents with their own weight challenges are even more likely to see schools as a key partner in addressing the risks of obesity for their own kids," says Clark.

"School officials should note the strong support from parents for the importance of physical activity during the school day for children in the elementary grades," continues Clark. "Parents see many reasons why physical activity is valuable for their children—not just in preventing obesity but also in promoting healthy physical development. For parents of children in elementary school, it is critically important that children get the physical activity they need during the school day."
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Crash rates higher for teen drivers who start school earlier


A study in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows increased automobile crash rates among teen drivers who start school earlier in the morning.

Results indicate that in 2008 the weekday crash rate for 16- to 18-year-olds was about 41 percent higher in Virginia Beach, Va., where high school classes began at 7:20 - 7:25 a.m., than in adjacent Chesapeake, Va., where classes started at 8:40 - 8:45 a.m. There were 65.8 automobile crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Virginia Beach, and 46.6 crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Chesapeake. Similar results were found for 2007, when the weekday crash rate for Virginia Beach teens (71.2) was 28 percent higher than for Chesapeake teens (55.6). In a secondary analysis that evaluated only the traditional school months of September 2007 through June 2008, the weekday crash rate for teen drivers was 25 percent higher in Virginia Beach (80.0) than in Chesapeake (64.0). An investigation of traffic congestion in the neighboring cities did not reveal differences that might account for the teen crash findings.

“We were concerned that Virginia Beach teens might be sleep restricted due to their early rise times and that this could eventuate in an increased crash rate,” said lead author Robert Vorona, MD, associate professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va. “The study supported our hypothesis, but it is important to note that this study does not prove cause and effect. We are planning to perform subsequent studies to follow up on these results and to investigate other potential ramifications of early high school start times.”

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the average teen needs a little more than nine hours of sleep each night. However, chronic sleep restriction is a common problem among teens. During adolescence, a biological change shifts the typical onset of sleepiness later at night. This delay can make it a challenge for teens to get enough sleep when they have to wake up early for school.

Vorona says that starting high school later in the morning may promote driver alertness by allowing teens to get more sleep at night.

“We believe that high schools should take a close look at having later start times to align with circadian rhythms in teens and to allow for longer sleep times,” he said. “Too many teens in this country obtain insufficient sleep. Increasingly, the literature suggests that this may lead to problematic consequences including mood disorders, academic difficulties and behavioral issues.”

Another study in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggests that delaying school start times by one hour could enhance students’ cognitive performance by improving their attention level and increasing their rate of performance, as well as reducing their mistakes and impulsivity. The Israeli study of 14-year-old, eighth-grade students found that the teens slept about 55 minutes longer each night and performed better on tests that require attention when their school start time was delayed by one hour.

Vorona’s study involved data provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. In Virginia Beach, there were 12,916 registered drivers between 16 and 18 years of age in 2008, and these teen drivers were involved in 850 crashes. In Chesapeake there were 8,459 teen drivers and 394 automobile accidents. The researchers report that the two adjoining cities have similar demographics, including racial composition and per-capita income.

Further analysis by time of day found that, in the morning, the teen crash rates peaked when students would be commuting to school, from 7 a.m. to 7:59 a.m. for Virginia Beach and 8 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. for Chesapeake. Teen crash rates were highest in the afternoon hours, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Virginia Beach, where schools dismissed at about 2 p.m., and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Chesapeake, where schools dismissed between 3 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.

Read more from the AASM about teens and school start times at
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New systems for measuring teacher effectiveness

Ambitious reforms across the country are reshaping teacher evaluation and performance management. Designing new systems for measuring teacher effectiveness and using that information to increase student achievement are at the heart of these efforts and at the center of important policy debates. Yet little information exists about how these systems work in practice and how to use evaluations in concert with other levers to improve teaching and learning.

As policymakers and education leaders seek to accelerate reform in this area, it is essential to learn from efforts already underway. The Education & Society Program  of the Aspen Institute published three new reports: profiles of the performance management work in District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and the Achievement First (AF) charter school network; and a synthesis of issues that emerge from the two profiles. Both DCPS and AF are at the forefront of efforts to re-design teacher evaluation, performance management, and compensation policies. The commonalities, distinctions, and early lessons learned in these initiatives represent an important learning laboratory for the field.

Download Building Teacher Evaluation Systems: Learning from Leading Efforts.

Download Achievement First: Developing a Teacher Performance Management System that Recognizes Excellence.

Download District of Columbia Public Schools: Defining Instructional Expectations and Aligning Accountability and Support.

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America’s High School Graduates: Results of the 2009 NAEP High School Transcript Study


The National Center for Education Statistics has just released the results of the 2009 High School Transcript Study, performed by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The High School Transcript Study
presents information about the types of courses that high school graduates in the class of 2009 took during high school, how many credits they earned, what grades they received, and how their course-taking patterns related to their performance on the 2009 NAEP mathematics and science assessments.

The Transcript Study also presents information on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) course taking; possible ways in which students found time to earn more credits (summer school, online courses, and high school courses taken in middle school); and the course-taking patterns of students with disabilities and English language learners.

NAEP conducted the High School Transcript Study by collecting transcripts from a nationally representative sample of over 37,000 high school graduates from over 700 public and private schools.

Highlights of the results include:

• In 2009, graduates earned over three credits more, or about 420 additional hours of instruction during their high school career, than high school graduates in 1990.

• A greater percentage of 2009 graduates completed more challenging curriculum levels, midlevel and rigorous, than 1990 or 2005 graduates.

• A greater percentage of female graduates compared to male graduates completed a midlevel or rigorous curriculum.

• Male graduates generally had higher NAEP mathematics and science scores than female graduates completing the same curriculum.

• In 2009, graduates from all four racial/ethnic groups reported in NAEP (Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, and White students) earned more credits and higher grade point averages.

• More graduates from all racial groups completed a rigorous curriculum than they did in 1990. However, racial gaps in the percentage of graduates completing a rigorous curriculum persist.

• The percentage of White and Asian/Pacific Islander graduates who completed a rigorous curriculum increased more than the percentage of Black or Hispanic graduates completing a rigorous curriculum increased.

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Michelle Rhee's DC Record


Two recent reports, one by a committee of the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council (NRC), the other by Alan Ginsburg, a former director of Policy and Program Studies in the U. S. Department of Education examine the record of Michelle Rhee as Chancellor of Schools for the District of Columbia from 2007-2010.

The two reports are:

National Research Council, “A Plan for Evaluating the District of Columbia’s Public Schools: From Impressions to Evidence,” a report prepared by the Committee on the Evaluation of the D.C. Public Schools, co-chaired by Christopher Edley, UC Berkeley Law School dean, and Robert Hauser, executive director of the NRC’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. The committee has issued a pre-publication version of its report on its website at

Alan Ginsburg, “The Rhee D.C. Record: Math and Reading Gains No Better Than Her Predecessors Vance and Janey.”

An analysis of these studies has been prepared by Paul E. Peterson, director of Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance. His review will appear in the Summer 2011 issue of Education Next. Peterson says that Rhee was in office for too short a period to draw firm conclusions one way or another as to her impact on student performance, but there is no doubt that the reports critical of her tenure have made erroneous claims.

The report by the NRC committee claims that gains in test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) between 2007 and 2009 were no better than in the ten other school districts for which comparable data is available. Peterson shows, however, that in both reading and math in 4th grade and, again, in 8th grade math, gains by D.C. students far outpaced the average gains in the other districts. At the 4th grade level in math and reading, D.C. students gained 6 scale score points between 2007 and 2009, while the average gain in the other districts was only 1 point and 2.2 points, respectively. In 8th grade math, he finds that the D.C. gains were 7 points, as compared to an average of 2.9 points for the other cities. 8th grade reading scores did not differ significantly between D.C. and the other districts, however.

Alan Ginsburg claims that improvements in NAEP scores under Rhee were no better than the gains made under her two predecessors between 2000 and 2007. In making that claim he fails to use appropriate NAEP data for 2007 in 8th grade math, and fails to adjust for national trends in student achievement during this period. When those corrections and adjustments are made, Peterson shows that students under Rhee made much larger strides toward closing the district-national achievement gap than they did under her predecessors. For example, “during the Rhee years, 4th grade students, in both reading and math, gained an average of 3 points each year relative to the scores earned by students nationwide, a gain twice that of her predecessors.”

“These numbers may seem small but over time they add up,” Peterson says. “Had students gained as much every year between 2000 – 2009 as they did during the Rhee era, the gap between D.C. 4th graders and the nation in math would have decreased from 34 points to just 7 points in 2009. Similarly, in 8th grade math,” he writes, “had Rhee-like progress been made each year beginning in 2000, the gap would in 2009 have been just 14 points, with near closure in 2012.”

The NRC report suggests that demographic changes might account for gains in DC test score performance. But Peterson explores this possibility and shows that no demographic changes that occurred between 2007 and 2009 are likely to have reduced the educational challenges the district faced.

Peterson says that the NRC report also fails to call for the kind of experimental research that would be required if causal connections are to be identified. For example, the NRC committee acknowledges that 8th grade teacher absenteeism declined significantly between 2007 and 2009. The days on which 98 percent or more of the teachers were at school climbed from about 68 percent to approximately 85 percent of school days. The committee says there is no scientific evidence that proves Rhee’s policies caused that absenteeism to decline. Peterson points out, however, that the committee does not explore the available evidence to see whether a causal connection is probable or propose an experimental research design that could demonstrate whether such a connection exists.
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Characteristics of Career Academies


This REL Southeast study, Characteristics of Career Academies in 12 Florida School Districts, responds to a Florida Department of Education request for information on Florida career academies prior to enactment of the state’s 2007 Career and Professional Education Act. The 2007 act requires each school district in the state to have at least one career academy and establishes benchmarks and procedures to support high-quality career academies.

Career academies are a leading high school reform designed to better prepare students for college and the workplace through more personalized learning environments, integrated academic and technical courses organized around career themes, and work-based learning opportunities.

This study uses data from the Florida Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data for 2006/07. The study examines their structure and career clusters, the high schools offering them, and the students enrolled.

Key findings include:

• Career academies were offered by 79 percent of high schools (145 of 183) in the 12 districts in 2006/07, for a total of 596 career academies.

• Of the 145 high schools offering career academies, 70 (48 percent) used a school-within-a-school structure (career academies embedded in an existing high school), and 45 (31 percent) used a wall-to-wall career structure (an entire school organized around multiple career academies). Information on school structure was missing for the remaining 30 high schools (21 percent).

• On average, high schools offering wall-to-wall career academies had higher rates of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (42 percent compared with 37 percent) and of racial/ethnic minority students (84 percent and 53 percent) than did school-within-a-school career academies.

• Of the 332,010 high school students enrolled across the 12 school districts, 49,795 (15 percent) were enrolled in a career academy. More students enrolled in school-within-a-school career academies (25,587) than in wall-to-wall career academies (20,818).
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Achievement Effects of Four Early Elementary School Math Curricula—


This study examines the relative effectiveness of four early elementary school math curricula: Investigations in Number, Data, and Space; Math Expressions; Saxon Math; and Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics. The study compared end-of-year test scores on a nationally normed math assessment for first-graders and on a similar assessment for second-graders in schools randomly assigned to use one of the four curricula. For first-graders, the authors found no statistically significant differences in student math achievement among the curricula after adjusting results for multiple curricula comparisons within the same analysis. For second-graders, after taking multiple curricula comparisons into account, second-grade students attending Saxon Math schools scored higher than students attending Scott Foresman-Additon Wesley Mathematics schools. The difference was roughly equivalent to moving a student from the 50th to the 57th percentile in math achievement. The WWC rated the research described in this report as meets WWC evidence standards.
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'Generation Y' Teachers Want More and Better Feedback From Principals and Their Peers, a New Study Finds


A new report issued jointly by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) finds that three out of four Generation Y (Gen Y) teachers support the idea of more rigorous and frequent feedback from their principals and peers on the effectiveness of their instruction.

The study, "Workplaces That Support High-Performing Teaching and Learning: Insights from Generation Y Teachers," provides insights into the attitudes of Gen Y teachers - those born between 1977 and 1995 - as well as the implications for school policy and practice. The report was released at the annual conference of the national Education Writers Association in New Orleans on April 7, 2011. Gen Y teachers represent a rapidly growing proportion of the teaching workforce. Research shows that Gen Y will make up nearly half of all workers by 2020 as the Baby Boomer generation transitions out of those positions. These generational shifts have significant implications for teacher workforce development, which education leaders need to be aware of in order to develop and sustain high performing schools.

The study, funded by the Ford Foundation, found that:

- Gen Y teachers tend to desire more frequent feedback on their teaching and impact from peers, mentors, and principals. They want to know when they are on track and if not, how to do better. Seventy-five percent of Gen Y teachers preferred a principal who frequently observed their classrooms and provided feedback on how they were doing, versus a principal that conducts one formal evaluation per school year with general feedback.

- Gen Y teachers tend to desire differentiation in rewards and sanctions for themselves and their colleagues based on effort and performance. A total of 75 percent support efforts by their unions to negotiate for adding performance considerations into salary decision-making. However, Gen Y teachers would also like poor teacher performance addressed more effectively for colleagues not putting in enough effort to their profession or meeting expectations. For them, treating those teachers the same as their colleagues who go above and beyond their expected duties has a demoralizing effect.

- Gen Y teachers tend to be more open to, and have more experience with, shared practice than do their more experienced colleagues. However, the structures that exist in schools to support collaboration vary widely. Gen Y teachers especially want the opportunity to observe other teachers and learn from their other teachers' practice, as well as be observed themselves.

- Gen Y teachers want to be evaluated, but tend to be very concerned about equity and validity in teacher evaluation. Only about a third of Gen Y teachers felt their most recent formal evaluation was effective in helping them become a better teacher. Many also had concerns about relying on standardized student test scores in their evaluations, which the study notes may be related to a lack of experience with using high-quality student assessment data to understand the impact of instruction. Most teachers believed multiple measures of student learning and performance measurement instruments should be used to evaluate teachers.

- Gen Y teachers tend to be very enthusiastic about instructional and social networking technology, but expect more from technology than what many schools can deliver. Access to computers with internet and instructional devices helps teachers engage students, teach them important skills, and catch them up faster when they have been absent. It also supports collaboration among teachers (virtual conferencing) and shared practice, and enhance the ability of school leaders to provide meaningful data-based feedback.

"This study offers new insights into the thinking and motivations of an important part of the nation's teaching workforce. Gen Y teachers are increasingly shaping how our children learn, and it is important for education leaders on both sides of the bargaining table to understand their needs," said Sabrina Laine, an AIR vice president and expert on teacher quality issues. The study included an analytical review of 11 existing, nationally representative teacher surveys, the analysis of seven scenario-based focus groups with Gen Y teachers around the country, and three case studies profiling local AFT affiliates that partnered with school districts to implement important aspects of high performing workplaces. The districts were in Austin, Texas, Philadelphia, Pa., and St. Francis, Minn.
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Student Bullying and Victimization in Grades 3–8


This REL Northwest study, Student-Reported Overt and Relational Aggression and Victimization in Grades 3–8, examined aggression, victimization, and approval of aggression among elementary and middle grades students in two Oregon counties. Data for the study were collected in 2005 through surveys; participation was voluntary. Students reported on beliefs about aggression, how frequently they were the victims or the perpetrators of either overt aggression (verbal and physically aggressive behavior intended to threaten or physically harm another student) or relational aggression (behaviors intended to harm another student’s relationships with others).

This study found that for students in grades 3-8, boys reported more overt victimization, overt aggression, and relational aggression than did girls; however, no significant differences were found in relational victimization reported by boys and girls. The study includes detailed summaries of students’ responses to specific questions about victimization and bullying.
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The Project CRISS Professional Development Program in Literacy Shows No Effect on Grade 9 Reading Comprehension


REL Northwest conducted a randomized controlled trial, An Experimental Study of the Project CRISS Reading Program on Grade 9 Reading Achievement in Rural High Schools, in rural high schools in six states to test the impact of a teacher professional development program in literacy on students’ reading comprehension.

Project CRISS— Creating Independence through Student-owned Strategies—aims to help teachers teach students new ways to read and comprehend text, and to apply these literacy strategies across the core curriculum. Teachers received professional development from national trainers, who are themselves teachers with many years of experience using Project CRISS, and ongoing support from a local facilitator who received advanced training during the two-year course of implementation.
In the small rural and town schools where the study was conducted over two years, core subject teachers in the treatment group received 24 hours of formal training plus an additional four to five days of on-site consultation and assistance by a certified Project CRISS trainer. Control schools did not receive Project CRISS and operated in a “business as usual” mode.

This study of Project CRISS included 2,460 students in 23 treatment schools and 2,499 students in 26 control schools.

The study found that the Project CRISS literacy program did not produce significantly greater improvement in grade 9 students’ reading comprehension relative to the students whose teachers did not experience Project CRISS and that reading comprehension did not differ between male and female students.
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Why does teacher-led small group literacy instruction matter?


Elementary reading teachers can use teacher-led small group literacy instruction to assist students. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine why teacher-led small group literacy instruction matters. Data were collected from 5 elementary teachers. Findings revealed that teacher-led small group literacy instruction can improve students’ reading fluency.
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What Does Washington State Get for Its Investment in Bonuses for Board Certified Teachers?


Washington State is set to spend nearly $100 million in the next two years on pay bonuses for teachers who receive national board certification. This investment is supposed to improve the state’s teaching force and encourage the most capable teachers to work in high-poverty schools. Does it accomplish those goals?

Governor Christine Gregoire's 2011–13 budget proposal called for suspension of annual $5,000 bonuses for national board certified teachers (NBCTs) and the additional $5,000 bonuses paid to NBCTs who teach in low-income “challenging” schools. Suspending these incentives is projected to save the state $99.5 million over the biennium.

This paper examines the available evidence in an effort to shed light on what the NBCT bonus program set out to do—namely, to reward strong teachers across the state and encourage them to teach in high-poverty schools—and whether it is achieving the desired effects. A study of the four years since the current incentive program began reveals that:

- The number of NBCTs statewide has nearly tripled, causing the state’s program costs to escalate by about $10 million per year;
- Even with an additional $5,000 “challenging schools” bonus, fewer than 1% of Washington’s NBCTs move from low-poverty to high-poverty schools each year;
- The proportion of NBCTs teaching in challenging schools is increasing, but only because teachers already in those schools are gaining certification and because the state’s challenging schools list has grown each year;
- Washington’s NBCTs appear no more likely than other teachers to stay in challenging school assignments;
- Some districts have worked hard to garner more bonuses for their own teachers. Per-pupil state NBCT bonus funding varies by a factor of more than 15 to 1 from one district to another, raising the question of whether bonuses are being distributed equitably across schools in the state.

“Not only has the $10,000 annual bonus failed to move effective teachers to high-poverty schools, it has also failed to make those teachers any more likely to stay in high-poverty schools than other teachers,” said the report’s author, Jim Simpkins.

Washington State provides $5,000 bonuses to those teachers who undergo and pass the rigorous national board certification process, a credentialing program that marks its graduates as among the best teachers. The evidence, however, on whether national board certified teachers (NBCTs) are actually more effective teachers is mixed.

In 2007, state legislators added a second $5,000 bonus for NBCTs who teach in a high-poverty school, defined as one where a large portion of students are on free or reduced-price lunches. According to the Center’s report, “ . . . less than 1% of Washington’s NBCTs move from low-poverty to high-poverty schools each year.”

In fact, the report shows, “The proportion of NBCTs teaching in challenging schools is increasing, but only because teachers already in those schools are gaining certification and because the state’s challenging schools list has grown each year.” The report notes that the number of NBCTs has tripled since 2007–2008, driving up the costs of the bonus program to almost $50 million a year. Now, in the context of the state’s ongoing budget crisis, Gov. Christine Gregoire has proposed suspending the bonus program in order to save $99.5 million over the coming biennium. Washington is not alone. Other states, including Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, and Florida are also rethinking their NBCT bonus programs.
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8th-Grade Achievement: Improvement in Most States


Contrary to the perception that 8th-grade achievement is stagnating, a new analysis by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) finds upward trends in reading and math test scores in most states.

Progress is strongest in math, where every state with sufficient data made gains in the percentage of 8th grade students reaching the advanced level and all but one of these states showed gains at the proficient level. In most of these states, however, gaps have widened between lower- and higher-achieving subgroups of 8th graders at the advanced level in math.

The report, State Test Score Trends Through 2008-09, Part 3: Student Achievement at 8th Grade, is the third in a series of CEP reports on test score trends between the 2002 and 2009 school years. This report examines 8th grade trends at three achievement levels: basic and above, proficient and above, and advanced, and tracks changes in achievement gaps by race, ethnicity, gender and income.

The analysis draws on data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia but focuses on the 43 states with three or more years of comparable test data. Individual state profiles are available for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. CEP chose the 8th grade for its middle school analysis because it has longer trend lines than grades 6 and 7, and because it is the grade tested for other national and international assessments. For the first time, CEP also looks at gaps between student subgroups performing at the advanced level at grade 8.

“It’s widely perceived that students in the middle grades are doing poorly. If that were true, we would expect to see flat scores and little progress when compared with elementary or high schools,” said Jack Jennings, CEP’s president and CEO. “To the contrary, more states showed gains at grade 8 than showed gains at grade 4 and high school.” All states with sufficient data on advanced achievement (42 states) showed gains in the percentage of 8th graders reaching the advanced level in math, while 35 of them posted similar gains in reading with five showing declines and two showing no change. Some states were noteworthy for their annual gains at the advanced level. For example, Virginia 8th graders gained an average of 5 percentage points a year in both reading and math.

The report also analyzes 2009 reading and math scores by student subgroups, including African American, Asian American, Latino, Native American, white, and low-income students. Overall, Asian American 8th graders outperformed all subgroups in reading and math at the proficient and advanced levels. A median of 41 percent of Asian Americans reached the advanced level in math across all states with sufficient data – far higher than any other subgroup. In 10 of 28 states with sufficient data, the percentage of Asian Americans scoring at advanced in math was more than 20 points higher than the percentage for white students.

“Our analysis found an unexpectedly large achievement gap between Asian American and white students in math at the advanced level,” Jennings said. “This gap has largely escaped the attention of researchers, policymakers and the public.”

CEP also looked at the trends in gaps at the advanced level for 8th grade from as far back as 2002 through 2009. Among the key findings, achievement gaps at the advanced level widened for African American, Latino and Native American 8th graders in the majority of states with sufficient data. The gap in math achievement between students who are low-income and those who are not also widened in all but one of these states. Overall, Asian American students tended to have the largest annual gains in both reading and math at the advanced level.

In many states, average annual gains for African American, Latino, Native American and low-income students were smaller at the advanced level than gains for white, Asian or students who were not low-income. As a result, gaps have widened between lowerachieving and higher-achieving groups, despite progress by all groups.

“We still have a lot of work to do to move more African American, Latino, Native American and low-income students up to the advanced level,” Jennings said. “These students have shown gains, but their achievement must accelerate.”

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Governors Link Success of Universities and Colleges to Needs of Marketplace

Strengthening the Role of Higher Education in Driving Economic Growth

Degrees for What Jobs? Raising Expectations for Universities and Colleges in a Global Economy

Governors and state policymakers have come to realize that higher education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and research universities, cannot help drive economic growth in their states unless students' academic training is linked to the needs of the marketplace, according to a report released by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center).

Degrees for What Jobs? discusses how governors and policymakers in some states are demonstrating that state governments–through leadership, policy decisions and funding strategies–can help higher education institutions recognize and embrace the critical role they play in preparing a state's workforce for 21st century jobs that will enable the state to prosper in the new economy.

"States are looking at ways to move beyond the focus of simply getting more students to earn degrees," said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center. "Tailoring degrees to the needs of industry and staying attuned to market changes not only serves a state's economy, but also leads to greater marketability for students seeking employment after graduation. When states and higher education institutions coordinate, everyone wins."

Governors and state policymakers in Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington have undertaken comprehensive strategies to align postsecondary education with the state's economic goals.

These pioneering states have taken the following steps, which can serve as a guide for others, to strengthen universities and colleges as agents of workforce preparation and sources of more opportunity, more growth and more competitive advantages in the following ways:

- Set clear expectations for higher education's role in economic development;
- Emphasize rigorous use of labor market data and other sources to define goals and priorities;
- Encourage employers' input in higher education;
- Require public higher education institutions to collect and publicly report impacts; and
- Emphasize performance as an essential factor in funding.

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Strategies to Fix Failing Schools and Districts


At least 5,000 public schools, serving more than 3 million children, are considered failing in the United States because they have failed to meet their academic achievement targets for at least five consecutive years. A new issue brief released today by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) offers states ideas to fix failing schools and districts.

State Strategies for Fixing Failing Schools and Districts
looks at ways to cope with the underlying causes of failing schools including: weak leadership; inadequate skill levels among teachers; and insufficient, high-quality teaching materials.

"The underlying causes of school failure are similar, regardless of whether the schools are located in urban, rural or suburban communities," said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center. "In a time when states and localities must maximize their investments, this brief describes what states can do to move these schools quickly and permanently out of the failing category."

In 2009, the NGA Center awarded competitive grants to four states to participate in the State Strategies to Improve Chronically Low-Performing Schools project. The project provided Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts and Mississippi with grant funds and consulting services to develop policies and plans that create the conditions to turn around chronically low-performing schools and districts. It yielded valuable lessons and suggested strategies that states and territories can use to fix failing schools and districts.

States can use the lessons learned from the NGA Center's project, along with new federal funding, to step up their efforts to fix failing schools and districts in these ways:

- Build state capacity to support the turnaround of failing schools and districts;
- Engage external partners to manage school and district turnarounds;
- Set ambitious but realistic goals for school improvement that incorporate multiple measures;
- Develop a human capital strategy to improve the quality of leadership and teaching; and
- Increase state authority to intervene in failing schools and districts, if other approaches prove insufficient.

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Teenagers Who Feel Like They Don’t Fit In Less Likely to Attend College


High school students who feel they do not fit in are less likely to attend college — particularly girls who are gay or obese — according to new research from The University of Texas at Austin.

“Because social experiences in high school have such demonstrable effects on academic progress and attending college, the social concerns of teenagers are educational concerns for school,” says sociologist Robert Crosnoe.

Crosnoe has completed one of the most comprehensive studies of the long-term effects on teenagers who say they don’t fit in. He used national statistics from 132 high schools and spent more than a year inside a high school in Texas with 2,200 students, observing and interviewing teenagers. His findings will be published in his new book “Fitting In, Standing Out” (Cambridge University Press, April 11).

“Kids who have social problems — often because they are overweight or gay are at greater risk of missing out on going to college simply because of the social problems they have and how it affects them emotionally,” says Crosnoe, a Sociology Department professor and Population Research Center affiliate. “Not because of anything to do with intelligence or academic progress.”

Girls were 57 percent and boys 68 percent less likely than peers of the same race, social class and academic background to attend college if they had feelings of not fitting in, according to the study. Particularly at risk were girls who are obese, who are 78 percent less likely to attend college than non-obese girls, and those who are gay, who are 50 percent less likely to attend.

Crosnoe found feelings of not fitting in led to increased depression, marijuana use and truancy over time. Those coping strategies interrupt the education process — the classes teenagers take, the grades they make — which, in turn, affect their ability to go to college.

“Teenagers cope with the discomforts of not fitting in, including being bullied, in ways that are protective in the short term, but disastrous in the long term,” says Crosnoe.

His research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and William T. Grant Foundation, has resulted in recommendations for how parents, teachers and policymakers can ensure that the social side of high school supports, rather than undermines, academics. It comes at a time when state lawmakers and federal policymakers are tackling bullying — often a cause of teenage social problems — as a national crisis.
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Teaching students to compose music


K-12 music teachers have little trouble teaching students to read and notate music, perform on an instrument, evaluate a musical performance, or achieve competence in most of the other nine music standards that underpin music education in Vermont and the nation.

But nearly 20 years after the standards revolution swept the country -- and 17 after Vermont’s Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities was put in place -- one music standard still leaves many of them flummoxed, according to research conducted by professor Patricia Riley, who directs UVM’s music education program: teaching students to compose.__Since she arrived at the University of Vermont five years ago, Riley has sought to make the future music teachers in her care as comfortable with content standard #4 – “composing and arranging music within specified guidelines” -- as they are with its eight companions.

The goal isn’t to nurture a crop of pre-pubescent Stravinsky’s (although that would be a fine outcome) but something more accessible and inclusive.

Learning to create music “makes you a better listener and performer,” Riley says. The standards “all work together to create a well rounded person who understands music.”

Riley employs two major strategies to help the students in her General Music Education class learn to teach others to compose. All are required to cover composition as part of their student teaching duties. Riley also asks them to pick up pen and music paper -- or computer keyboard and mouse -- and tackle the business of composition themselves, using skills they’re learned in their music theory courses.

Both strategies were on display recently at a special concert at UVM’s Recital Hall for two classes of third graders from the Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington, formerly H.O. Wheeler Elementary School. About 20 UVM students performed a piece written by Andy Gagnon, a sophomore from Hardwick, Vt., called “Susan and Her Friends Take Flight.”

The UVM students then helped small groups of third graders create with their own group compositions.

Gagnon’s sonic comedy, as he describes it, is meant to entertain, but also to teach. To convey the idea of musical timbre, it employs over 20 different instruments, ranging from bassoon, trumpet, flute, and alto sax to tom-tom, tambourine, chimes, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, and tabla. In an introduction to the performance, Gagnon asked different instrumentalists to play the same note for the children, to attune them to the timbral variety that was to come.

The piece also conveys ideas about musical form. “Susan” is grouped into five movements, which students could think of as small songs within a larger song, Gagnon explained in his introduction.

The third graders were rapt as they listened to the 30-minute performance, which features spoken narration at the opening of the piece and between movements.

The composition tells the story of a UVM music student named Susan (the story is rooted in the real life adventures of Gagnon and his friends, the composer says), who is so buoyed with confidence after scoring a 96 on a percussion test that she’s able to fly.

Susan and her classmates, who pick up the skill by osmosis, open the window of their percussion classroom and -- with the blessing of instructor Jeff Salisbury -- take flight, circling the globe with stops in Africa, the Middle East, the Arctic, and other locales to play music either inspired by the setting or reflecting the musical traditions of the region.

The piece’s narrators, junior voice majors Holly Mugsford and Lindsey Soboleski, added zest to the performance by waltzing across the stage in masks and other garb meant to convey the local color.

After the performance, the UVM students divided the third graders into groups of five or six, spread them out around the Recital Hall, and helped them create a group composition using instruments a beginner could sound good on, from metal xylophones to various drums and shakers. Judging from smiling faces, animated ideas about what their parts could be, and generally coherent and pleasant sounding results, the teaching sessions were a success.

Teachers facing the prospect of a composition lesson in music class tend to think, “Oh, my gosh; harmony, voice-leading. How am I going to teach all that?” says Riley, who published her research on music educators’ discomfort with the composition standard in the journal Visions of Research in Music Education.

The process can be much simpler, she says, with teachers communicating broad ideas about music -- melodies can be smooth or jagged, short or long, high or low in pitch, for instance. Measures are spaces that contain a certain number of beats. The more technical aspects of composition can be covered in the upper grades, when students have self-selected for advanced learning and teachers have textbooks to guide them.

“The underlying principles are easy to grasp,” Riley says. “You just need a framework to work within.”
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