Thursday, December 10, 2009

Reading research

Research shows brain connections improve with reading practice
Students who practice reading can strengthen their brains -- especially the white-matter connections essential to learning, according to research by scientists at the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Researchers scanned students' brains, then enrolled struggling readers in an intensive reading program. Researchers again scanned students' brains, this time after 100 hours of reading practice, and found the training improved "not just their reading ability, but the tissues in their brain."
Marcel Just and Timothy Keller. (2009). Altering Cortical Connectivity: Remediation-Induced Changes in the White Matter of Poor Readers. Neuron, 64(5) pp. 624 - 631

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Teen literacy report

Literacy instruction: The key to education reform
A new report pinpoints adolescent literacy as a cornerstone of the current education reform movement, upon which efforts such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act must be built.
Carnegie Corporation of New York. (2009). Time to Act: An Agenda for Advancing Adolescent Literacy for College and Career Readiness. New York: Author.

Reading research

Surrealism improves learning skills
Reading Franz Kafka’s The Country Doctor or watching Blue Velvet by director David Lynch could make you smarter, according to research by psychologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of British Columbia. Exposure to surrealism apparently enhances the cognitive mechanisms that oversee implicit learning functions.
Travis Proulx & Steven J. Heine. (2009). Connections From Kafka: Exposure to Meaning Threats Improves Implicit Learning of an Artificial Grammar. Psychological Science (Sept.), p 1125-1131.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

California education study

This report about California education assesses the state of the multiple pathways model of combining academics with career education and the field's shared identity, standards of practice, knowledge base, leadership and grassroots support, policy support, and funding. It also makes recommendations.
Howard, Don, & Patrick Wu. (2009). Assessing California's Multiple Pathways Field: Preparing Youth for Success in College and Career. San Francisco: James Irvine Foundation.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

culturelly-responsive pedagogy research

Reviews the literature on culturally responsive pedagogy — using the students' cultures and ethnic identity in promoting resilience and academic success, with a focus on African Americans. Defines concepts and makes recommendations for grantmaking.
Hanley, Mary Stone; George W. Noblit. (2009). Cultural Responsiveness, Racial Identity and Academic Success: A Review of Literature. Heinz Endowments.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Online video study

As the audience for online video continues to grow, a leading edge of internet users are migrating their viewing from their computer screens to their TV screens. At the same time, more cell phone users are opting for the convenience of watching video on smaller screens via their handheld devices.

According to an April 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, the share of online adults who watch videos on video-sharing sites has nearly doubled since 2006. Fully 62% of adult internet users have watched video on these sites, up from just 33% who reported this in December 2006.

Over time, online video has also become a bigger fixture in everyday life, garnering 19% of all internet users who use video-sharing sites to watch on a typical day. In comparison, just 8% of internet users reported use of the sites on a typical day in 2006.
Pew Internet & American Life Project. (2009).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Assessment report

This report compiles analyses and policy recommendations on developing common standards and assessments, supporting timely use of data to inform decisions and to improve teaching and learning, and investing in research to prepare high school students for the global economy.
Pinkus, L. (2009). Meaningful Measurement: The Role of Assessments in Improving High School Education in the Twenty-First Century. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Education accountability survey

Presents findings from a 2008-09 state-by-state survey of progress in aligning standards, graduation requirements, assessments, data systems, and accountability systems with colleges' and employers' expectations. Charts trends and lists resources.
Achieve, Inc. (February 2009). Closing the Expectations Gap 2009. Washington, DC: Achieve.

Education policy report

Outlines the need to improve the K-12 and higher education systems to close the projected skills gap in the labor force. Recommends reducing high school dropout rates and increasing community college transfer rates and graduation rates at state colleges.
Johnson, Hans. (June 2009). Educating California: Choices for the Future. Sacramento: Public Policy Institute of California.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Computer Science Gender Gap Study

Research Reveals Another STEM Gender Gap: Computer Science
If the attitudes of high school students are a good predictor of eventual career choices, the future will continue to see computer science fields dominated by males. According to new research released by ACM and the W GBH Educational Foundation, compared with girls, more than twice as many boys see computer science as a "good" or "very good" choice as a college major. What's more, four times as many boys cited computer science as a "very good" career choice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Graduation rate report

This report describes federal policy on high school graduation rates and October 2008 regulations to improve data collection, calculation of graduation rates, and accountability, to support interventions in low-performing schools. Makes state policy recommendations.
Richmond, Eric. (2009). Every Student Counts: The Role of Federal Policy in Improving Graduation Rate Accountability. Alliance for Excellent Education.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Web 2.0 in school study

Survey shows barriers to Web 2.0 in schools
Teachers and students are largely driving the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in schools, but human and technological barriers are holding back the use of these as learning tools in many classrooms, according to a new study underwritten by Lightspeed and NetTrekker. The Web 2.0 technologies that are most widely used in schools today are online communication tools for parents and students. Sixty-five percent of those polled said at least 75 percent of their teachers use online communications tools, and three-fourths of those polled said their district has a plan for adopting or promoting the use of these technologies.

Interactive Educational Systems Design. (2009). National Online Survey of District Technology Directors Exploring District Use of Web 2.0 Technologies.

Education technology report

This year’s Technology Counts report, titled , examines why e-learning is critical to reshaping the way K-12 education is delivered. Feature stories and analyses in this issue include:
Research Shows Evolving Picture of E-Education
Advanced Placement Secures Online Niche
Hunting the Internet for Quality Content
Teacher Training Goes in Virtual Directions
Lessons from the Ivory Tower
EdWeek. (2009). Breaking Away From Tradition: E-Education Expands Opportunities for Raising Achievement.

Public library technology report

New issues brief on public library technology
The vast majority of public libraries report that providing education resources and databases for K–12 students is the Internet-based service most critical to the role of the library. In the third of a series of reports related to technology access in U.S. public libraries, the ALA Office for Research and Statistics is highlighting how public library technology supports the educational and learning needs of every person in the community.
ALA. (2009). Supporting Learners in U.S. Public Libraries. Chicago: ALA.

Student writing report

NCTE Report Shows the Need for Schools to Move Away from Scripted Education
According to a new report from NCTE, many students receive an education of drill and memorization but are deprived of high-level thinking activities, intellectual discussions, and opportunities to synthesize information and respond creatively. Unlike many of their counterparts, these schools are focusing more on discipline, instead of encouraging intellectual thinking. According to Kylene Beers, president of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), it is critically important that all students experience a rich, intellectually rigorous curriculum filled with all sorts of writing.

National Council of Teachers of English. (2009). The Genteel Unteaching of America’s Poor. Urbana, IL: Author.

Urban and rural school test scores report

Urban Schools Test Scores Are Encouraging
Part of a new report has compared large urban schools to rural and suburban counterparts in the same state and found encouraging improvement. The report points to a range of explanations for improvements that include the rise of accountability systems; urban school reform strategies; and the growth of mayoral control over city schools.
Brown Center on Education Policy. (2009). The 2008 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning? Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

Technology trends report

This yearly report offers their perspectives on technology trends and challenges. For example: 1 year (or less) Horizon: Mobiles and Cloud Computing
2-3 years: Geo-Everything and The Personal Web
4-5 years: Semantic-Aware Applications and Smart Objects
Johnson, L., Levine, A., & Smith, R. (2009). The 2009 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

State library agencies report

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) issued its second library statistics report on state library agencies in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for state fiscal year (FY) 2007. The State Library Agency Report for FY 2007 includes a wide array of information on topics such as libraries’ Internet access and electronic services, collections, staff, and revenue. The survey provides state and federal policymakers, researchers, and other interested users information on the range of roles played by state library agencies and the financial, human, and informational resources invested in the agencies’ work.
ILMS. (2009). State Library Agency Report. Washington, DC: ILMS.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

National library statistics

The 2008 Digest of Education Statistics includes a chapter devoted to Libraries and Educational Technology and can be downloaded by itself.
The 44th 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.
Digest of Education Statistics, 2008
Libraries and Educational Technology

Monday, March 16, 2009

Teen Online Time study

America's youth are developing important social and technical skills online, often in ways adults do not understand or value. While adults often view online activity as risky or an unproductive distraction, youth understand the social value of online activity and are generally highly motivated to participate. By participating online, young people are learning basic social and technical skills that they need to fully participate in modern society and are able to connect with individuals in different locations and of different ages who share their interests, making it possible to pursue interests that might not be popular with or valued by their local peer groups.
The report also found that online media, messages, and profiles that young people post can travel beyond expected audiences and are often difficult to eradicate after the fact. The rapid pace of change online may also present challenges for both adults and young people as they struggle to keep up with technology and related developments.

“New Study Shows Time Spent Online Important for Teen Development.” John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

California Education report

This state report recommends ways to improve student achievement by using data to drive decision-making, sharing best practices, encouraging innovation, and supporting improvement through professional development. It also details how to expand and enhance current data systems.

California Department of Education. (2008). Framework for a Comprehensive Education Data System in California: Unlocking the Power of Data to Continually Improve Public Education. Sacramento: Author.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Music (and reading) Study and Analysis

Stephen Krashen writes:
According to a recent column in Science Daily, "A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly reveals that music participation, defined as music lessons taken in or out of school and parents attending concerts with their children, has a positive effect on reading and mathematic achievement in early childhood and adolescence."

This kind of announcement deserves a close look at the actual data. As usual, the cheerful announcement of the benefits of music was not quite accurate, and some very important results were not mentioned.

Fortunately, the analysis was multivariate, which means that important factors such as socio-economic status were controlled. Unfortunately, it is difficult to quantity the impact of all the predictors, as many were simply coded as "present" or "absent" (score of 1 or zero), so my statements about strong and weak effects are somewhat imprecise.

Music lessons outside of school, it turns out, had no impact on math scores, and was actually negatively correlated with children's reading scores. It had a small positive effect on adolescents' reading scores.

Music courses taken between grades eight and ten had a small positive effect on adolescents test scores.

Music participation in school (at least once a week) had a modest effect on both reading and math for children, and a much weaker effect for adolescents in reading and was not significant for adolescents in reading.

Parents attending concerts had no effect on reading at all, no effect on adolescent math scores and a weak positive effect for children and math. It is also not clear from the paper what this variable means, whether it means attending concerts with or without their children, or concerts in which children are performing.

In other words, not all these predictors counted. More important, those that counted were not very strong.

The most dramatic case is adolescent reading: Adolescents who do music both inside and outside of school are predicted to score 1.32 points higher in reading. In contrast, the study also reports that having more than 50 books in the home, and higher socioeconomic status predicts a score of nearly seven points higher (6.97). Higher socio-economic status, as has been pointed out, means, among other things, more books available in the community and at school, as well as at home. A reasonable interpretation is that access to books is a much stronger factor that music.

I wonder if some people will conclude from the Science Daily summary that music classes are all we need: Since we have music, we don't need to worry about school library quality. There are plenty of good reasons to include music in the school curriculum, but ironically the article provides more evidence for supporting libraries than for music when it comes to reading as well as math.

Southgate, D. and Roseigno, V. 2009. The Impact of Music on Childhood and Adolescent Achievement. Social Science Quarterly 90, 1:4-21.

Adolescents Involved With Music Do Better In School. (2009).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Comic book research

" … Krashen … and a colleague found that 7th grade boys who were avid comics readers also tended to read more books, regardless of whether they were middle-class, suburban students or low-income students from an inner-city school."
(Ed Week, Feb 11, 2008, "Scholars see comics as no laughing matter")

Credit where credit is due: The colleague is Joanne Ujiie, who was first author of this study. The paper mentioned in the article is: Ujiie, J. and Krashen, S. 1996. Comic book reading, reading enjoyment, and pleasure reading among middle class and chapter I middle school students. Reading Improvement 33,1: 51-54. (available at

Several other Ujiie papers deal with the issue of "light reading" and may be of interest.:
Ujiie, J. and Krashen, S. 2002. Home run books and reading enjoyment. Knowledge Quest 31(1): 36-37.
Ujiie, J. and Krashen, S. 2005. Is acclaimed children’s literature popular among children? A secondary analysis of Nilson, Peterson, and Seafoss. Knowledge Quest 34(1): 39-40.
Krashen, S, and Ujiie, J. 2005. Junk food is bad for you, but junk reading is good for you. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 1,3: 5-12. (
Ujiie, J. and Krashen, S. 2006. Are prize-winning books popular among children? An anlaysis of public library circulation. Knowledge Quest 34 (3): 33-35.


Teacher preparation study

Teacher's certification method doesn't affect student scores
Students of educators who attend college teacher-training programs and those instructed by teachers certified through other means score no differently on standard reading and math exams, according to a new study that tracked 2,600 students in six states. "When students are placed with teachers with alternative routes versus traditional routes [for certification], there's no harm in terms of student achievement," said Jill Constantine, who directed the study for Mathematica Policy Research.
Mathematica Policy Research. (2009). An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification. Washington, DC: US Dept. of Education

Thursday, February 5, 2009

AP report

15% of U.S. graduates in 2008 passed at least one AP exam
Overall participation in AP tests has increased over the past 10 years, and 2008 data shows that six states reported that at least one-fifth of their graduates passed at least one AP exam, including California. Participation in AP has exploded this decade. Educators have embraced it as a sort of national curriculum for high school students who are ready for college study.

AP report to the nation. (2009). New York: College Board.

Teacher training impact report

Poor professional development fails students
U.S. schools need to improve teacher training to raise the effectiveness of the entire educational system, according to a new report from researchers at Stanford University. "We're way behind other countries that are high-achieving in terms of the time and intensive opportunity for deep learning they provide," said co-author Linda Darling-Hammond.. "We still see teachers engage in really short one- and two-day workshops rather than ongoing, sustained support that we now have evidence changes practices and increases student achievement."

Wei, R., et al. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession. Palo Alto, CA: School Redesign Network.

College costs survey

Two out of three Americans believe college is out of reach
Some 55% of Americans say college is necessary, but two out of three say most people who are qualified don't have the means to attend, according to a recent survey.

John Immerwahr and Jean Johnson. (2009). Squeeze Play 2009: The Public’s Views on College Costs Today. San Jose: National Center on Public Policy and Higher Education.

Information literacy study

Project Information Literacy (PIL) is a National Research Study that aims at furthering the study of Information Literacy. The PIL Progress Report shares "some of the perceptions that led to this conclusion and several of the trends in problem-solving strategies that have emerged." The Progress Report concludes, "Research seems to be far more difficult to conduct in the digital age than it did in previous times".

A. Head and M. Eisenberg. (2009). Finding Context: What Today's College Students Say about Conducting Research in the Digital Age. Seattle: University of Washington.