Saturday, July 28, 2018

Teacher librarian decline in positions study

American schools—particularly those serving black and Latino students—have seen a precipitous drop in their school librarians since the Great Recession. The nation’s public school districts have lost 20 percent of their librarians and media specialists since 2000, from more than 54,000 to less than 44,000 in 2015, according to an Education Week Research Center analysis of federal data. Many districts lost librarians even as student populations grew by 7 percent nationwide. The most dramatic drop came after the 2008 recession, and the federal data suggests that cash-strapped districts may have shifted from library services to other support staff. Over the same period when school librarians’ ranks dropped, schools nationwide saw an 11 percent increase in counselors, a 19 percent increase in instructional aides, and a 28 percent increase in school administrators.
Separate analyses by National Education Association researchers Andy Coons and Stacey Pelika in 2016 and by Debra Kachel of Antioch University Seattle and Keith Curry Lance of the RSL Research Group, writing in the School Library Journal earlier this year, likewise have found gaps in school library staffing over time.
Sparks, S., & Harwin, A. (2018). Schools see steep drop in librarians. Education Week.
American schools—particularly those serving black and Latino students—have seen a precipitous drop in their school librarians since the Great Recession.The nation’s public school districts have lost 20 percent of their librarians and media specialists since 2000, from more than 54,000 to less than 44,000 in 2015. Many districts lost librarians even as student populations grew by 7 percent nationwide. The most dramatic drop came after the 2008 recession, and the federal data suggests that cash-strapped districts may have shifted from library services to other support staff. Over the same period when school librarians’ ranks dropped, schools nationwide saw an 11 percent increase in counselors, a 19 percent increase in instructional aides, and a 28 percent increase in school administrators.
Separate analyses by National Education Association researchers Andy Coons and Stacey Pelika in 2016 and by Debra Kachel and Keith Curry Lance of the RSL Research Group, writing in the School Library Journal earlier this year, likewise have found gaps in school library staffing over time.
Sparks, S., & Harwin, A. (2018). Number of librarians plummets in schools, data find.  Education Week.

Language learning and youth study

Scientists have long posited that there is a "critical period" for language learning, but new research suggests that the time frame stretches on much longer than previously thought. The study suggests that children remain skilled at learning the grammar of English up to the age of 17 or 18. The study also found that it is difficult for people to achieve proficiency in English similar to that of a native speaker unless they start learning a language much earlier, by the age of 10. People who start learning a language between the ages of 10 and 18 will still learn quickly, but since they have a shorter window before their learning ability declines, they're less likely to reach the proficiency of native speakers, the researchers found.
Hartshorne, J. K., Tenenbaum, J. B., & Pinker, S. (2018). A critical period for second language acquisition: evidence from 2/3 million English speakers. Cognition, 177, 263-277.

Teacher hostility and student achievement study

A recent study found that students in a lecture in which the teacher was hostile performed 5 percent lower on average on a test of the content than students in a class with a neutral teacher. Moreover, the students who were naturally oriented to learn to develop their own mastery of the subject, rather than just to get top grades and those who were inclined to put more effort into challenging tasks—in other words, the students mostly likely to be engaged and eager to learn in class—had the scores that were most negatively affected by being exposed to a derisive teacher. The findings also build more evidence of the importance of relationships and respect in student learning. The students in the current study were all undergraduates, so the effects may be different on younger students in K-12. Prior studies have found that students remember put-downs and sarcastic or snide remarks by teachers and consider them a major barrier to learning. 
Goodboy, A., Bolkan, S., & Baker, J.  (2018).  Instructor misbehaviors impede students' cognitive leraning. Communication Education, 67(3), 308-329.

Academic standards and student achievement study

There is no correlation between states that raise academic standards and actual improvements in student achievement, researchers report. Researchers say the issue could be related to other factors, including a lack of educational resources or the end of No Child Left Behind.
Hamlin, D., & Peterson, P. (2018). Have states maintained high expectations for student performance? Education Next. 

Growth mindset counter study

The correlation between growth-mindset interventions and academic achievement is limited, according to a recent meta-analysis by researchers from Case Western Reserve University. They looked at more than 229 studies and found that such interventions had a very small effect overall and had limited benefits for high-risk students and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Other education interventions, such as reducing class sizes or increased teacher training, had much larger effects.
Sisk, V., et al. (2018). To what extent and under which circumstances are growth mind-sets important to academic achievement?  Psychological Science, 29(4), 549-571.

Teens and Technology survey

This report discusses the popularity shift in social media platforms, how teens view the impact of social media on their lives, and more. For example, Facebook now is not as popular among teens as YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat. Most notably, smartphone ownership has become a nearly ubiquitous element of teen life: 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis. The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.
Teens, social media & technology. (2018). Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.

YALSA library staff continuing education report

This report offers recommendations for supporting library workers through continuing education (CE) to enhance services for/with teens. The findings are based on a year-long national forum of stakeholders.
1. Commit to CE that promotes deeper learning
2. Connect with others to provide a richer learning experience
3. Create an organizational culture that prioritizes staff learning
4. Embrace effective models for CE
Transforming library services for and with teens through continuing education. (2018). Chicago: YALSA.

Teens' Career Interests Study

Fewer boys want to pursue a science, technology, engineering and math career, according to a recent survey of teenagers. Boys' interest in STEM fields declined from 36% last year to 24% this year, but girls' interest in STEM fields remained unchanged at 11% of all surveyed girls. The
declining interest in STEM could be due to children's fear of inadequacy. But STEM isn't the only field witnessing a decline in interest, as desires for careers in the arts dropped from 18 percent to 13 percent. Meanwhile, interest in careers in medical and dental fields increased from 15 to 19 percent, with girls "far more likely to choose this path" than boys, according to the survey, which may be due to girls' passion for helping people.
Grocholski, E., & McWilliams, L. (2018). Teens' interest in STEM careers. Junior Achievement and Ernst & Young.

Funk, C., & Parker, K. (2018). Women and men in STEM often at odds over workplace equity. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.

Classrom digital resources report

This national analysis of the digital learning landscape highlights how state policies and guidance are evolving to support the shift to digital instructional materials for learning. The report identifies the "essential conditions" for successful use of digital resources in the classroom, introduced in an earlier report: state and local leadership, equity of access, accessibility for all students, interoperability and policies that support student data privacy and security, and leveraging federal funds.The report also offers a collection of "exemplar" profiles of districts and states to demonstrate how others are tackling their transitions.
Navigating the digital shift. (2018).  Glen Burnie, MD: State Education Technology Directors Association.

youth and social media studies

Social media use had positive outcomes for 9- and 10-year-olds who participated in the study. The study's results show that social media use led to increased physical activity, less family conflict and better sleep, compared with traditional TV or video-game screen time, which worsened sleep and family conflict. Kids who are using social media to build connections then may see positive outcomes.
Paulus, F. W., Ohmann, S., von Gontard, A., & Popow, C. (2018). Internet gaming disorder in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 60(7), 645-659.

Another study found different results for teenagers. Adolescents who spent more time doing screen-based activities such as gaming, social messaging, TV watching, or web surfing were more likely to develop symptoms of insomnia and, eventually, depression, according to this study. The findings also show that gaming was more strongly linked to depressive symptoms than messaging.
Li, X. et al. (2018).  Insomnia symptoms and sleep curation mediate the association between adolescent screen time and depressive symptom. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, Baltimore, June 2-6.

Subject matter teaching study

A recent study found that high school students who are taught by teachers who majored or minored in a specific teaching subject, instead of a general teaching degree, are more likely to graduate from college. Post-secondary success may also be linked to teacher enthusiasm and passion for subject matter, which can motivate students to get engaged.
Lee, S. (2018). Pulling back the curtain: Revealing the cumulative importance of high-performing, highly qualified teachers on students' educational outcome. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. 

Personalized learning report

Turning the vision of personalized learning into actual improvements at the classroom level will take a lot of hard work.To begin with, the concept is still largely ill-defined. Plus, critics point out that personalized learning is not yet backed up by research and leans too heavily on technology to achieve its goals. Yet over the past five years, at least 15 states have taken legislative or regulatory steps to fuel personalized learning.A classic battle is emerging between an optimistic vision for innovation on one side, and skepticism about whether the changes will improve schools on the other.
Personalized learning : Vision vs. reality. (2018). Education Week.

STEM report

While STEM fields continue to be high priority,  K-12 educators note that these fields present many places where kids can get stuck—from weak instruction in the early grades to traditional calculus classes in high school and college. Even the end goal, improved employment outcomes, remains murky.Thus report takes a closer look at these STEM gateways, searching out ones that offer new avenues—like hands-on preparation for advanced manufacturing—and the efforts to break down longstanding barriers, like remedial algebra.
STEM education. (2018). Education Week.

Technology Counts 2018 report

Technology Counts 2018 examines what principals are thinking and doing about some of the most vexing technology issues in their schools. Screen time concerns, social media behavior, personalized learning, and computer science trends are all now important elements of a principal’s job. School leaders are worried about technology. But they're also supporting its expanded use in schools. For example, School leaders worry about students and social media, but most don’t feel fully prepared to tackle the challenge.
Technology counts. (2018). Education Week.

Quality Counts 2018 Report

Education Week’s annual state-by-state assessment of public education paints a portrait of middling performance overall with patches of high achievement, along with perennial struggles to improve on the part of states mired at the bottom. Common traits of top school systems included: robust economic environments, high test scores and graduate rates, relatively high spending on schools, strong foundations in early childhood, widespread post-secondary participation. 

States need to take bold steps to create a more conducive climate for school improvement.
Quality Counts. (2018). Education Week.

Anxiety and social media study

Many studies and experts are pointing that the main reason of the increase of anxiety in our society (particularly in youth, but not only) are the uses we are making of contemporary media, in particular of social media. We are addicted to social media. (…) Many researchers coincide in pointing out that this addition to social media is not accidental, that it has been designed as part of the economic strategies of the social media platforms from their inception. The corporations running the platforms need our attention as long as possible so they can extract as much data from us as possible -and then selling this data to third parties.
Torrent, J. (2018).  Anxiety in our times. Europe Now Journal.

Student Trauma Studies

A A body of research finds that the full effects of disasters on children are far deeper and longer-lasting than expected. Here are findings from these studies:
  • One large-scale analysis of studies of children after natural and manmade disasters found they often reported symptoms of trauma—such as intrusive memories and feelings of detachment—that adults did not observe. 
  • Trauma not only sometimes triggered test anxiety, but interventions that addressed test anxiety improved students' post-traumatic-stress symptoms, too.
  • Younger students adapted more quickly and had fewer symptoms than older students. 
  • Overall, students who had to relocate had longer-lasting trauma—at times years longer—than those who returned to their homes. 
Findings like those suggest schools both in and out of the disaster zone need to prepare for long-term supports. Studies found children recover most easily when schools and districts provide broad help for both adults and students, rather than asking the teachers to put aside their own trauma on the students' behalf.
Sparks, S. (2017).  Students feel trauma’s aftereffects long after crises end, studies find.  Education Weed, 37(4), 8-9.

Teacher Assessment Impact Study

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s multi-million-dollar, multi-year effort aimed at making teachers more effective largely fell short of its goal to increase student achievement—including among low-income and minority students, a new study found. This conclusion to an expensive chapter of teacher-evaluation reform shows the difficulty of making sweeping, lasting changes to teacher performance. The school sites agreed to design new teacher-evaluation systems that incorporated classroom-observation rubrics and a measure of growth in student achievement. They also agreed to offer individualized professional development based on teachers’ evaluation results, and to revamp recruitment, hiring, and placement. Schools also implemented new career pathways for effective teachers and awarded teachers with bonuses for good performance. The results also demonstrate the challenges of getting schools and teachers to embrace big changes, especially when state and local policies are in flux.
Stecher, B. (2018). Improving teaching effectiveness. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. 

K12 technology use study

A study shows the majority of K-12 students are using technology to complete assignments, with only 42% primarily using pencil and paper. The data also show that 66% of teachers say technology increases student productivity while 60% say it's intellectually stimulating for students.
Other findings from the survey included:
  • 73 percent of teachers said their students use tablets or laptops daily.
  • 66 percent of of respondents said the school supplies the device, with 25 percent saying students bring the devices themselves. (The remainder said their schools don't permit laptops or tablets.)
  • 86 percent of teachers have WiFi in their classrooms.
  • 62 percent said students use their own technology in the classroom.
  • 70 percent said phones cause "tension and disruptions in the classroom."
  • Typical rules for phone use include silencing them and putting them away during exams.
  • 36 percent said they deal with phone disruptions on a daily basis.
  • 61 percent said tech makes students physically less active.
  • 38 percent said tech makes students more social, with 36 percent saying it makes them less social. The remainder said it has no effect.
Tech in the classroom. (2018). Olathe, KS:  MidAmerica Nazarene University.

Reading PD Study

 The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has created additional opportunities for school librarians to collaborate with classroom teachers, reading specialists, and other educators in support of schools’ literacy goals. This potential for expanded collaboration suggests a need for increased focus on reading instruction as part of the school librarian’s workload. For a variety of reasons, school librarians may not see this role as a priority within the scope of their many other duties. This convergent mixed-methods study sought to examine the effect of a professional development series emphasizing reading comprehension strategies on school librarians’ knowledge and perceptions. Results indicated that participants experienced statistically significant knowledge gains as well as increased acceptance of an enhanced role in literacy instruction.
 Reed, K., &Oslund, E. (2018). “School Librarians as Co-Teachers of Literacy: Librarian Perceptions and Knowledge in the Context of the Literacy Instruction Role. School Library Research, 21.

Teacher staff study

A recent study on teacher stress from psychology researchers found that 93% of the elementary-school teachers participating in the study reported high levels of stress. However, about 60% of study participants said they were able to cope with stress and avoid burnout because they had support from their schools, and their students showed the same level of academic and behavioral outcomes as peers with teachers in the well-adjusted group. Teacher stress is high partly because the demands of the job can lead to emotional exhaustion, which arises as teachers try to manage the emotional needs of their students in addition to their academic needs. Chronic levels of emotional exhaustion can leave teachers feeling more isolated at school and believing that they’re less effective in their classrooms than they could be. Teachers with high stress and a moderate or low ability to cope with it—33 percent of the study population—reported higher rates of student behavior problems like being disruptive in class or not paying attention than did their colleagues in the well-adjusted group. So when teacher well-being isn’t supported, neither is the well-being of their students—the two are linked. Recommendations included: providing support services, provide proactive screen for signs of burnout, focus a positive school culture.
Herman, K. Rickhom-Rosa, J., & Reinke, W. W2017). Empirically derived profiles of teacher stress, burnout, self-efficacy, and coping and associated student outcomes. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 20(2), 90-100.

Parents and school safety report

About 34% of parents say they fear for their children's safety at school -- up from 12% five years ago -- according to a recent poll. The results also show a majority of parents support having more mental health screenings than having armed police on campus. The level of fear varied. Those with lower incomes, people living in cities, people of color, women, Democrats and parents without college degrees were more likely to express fear for their children than others in the survey. Poll of the public's attitudes toward the public schools. (2018). Alexandria, VA: Phi Delta Kappa.

Summer slide study

By the end of middle school, students may lose a third to half of what they learn during the year to the so-called "summer slide." Over time, they make less progress during the school year, so are losing proportionately more. Socio-economics is not the main driver.
Hauser, C. (20150. NWEA 2015 MAP norms for student and school achievement status and growth. Portland, OR: Northwest Evaluation Association.

Playtime and mental health studies

Rates of anxiety and depression among teens in the U.S. have been rising for years. According to one study, nearly one in three adolescents (ages 13-18) now meets the criteria for an anxiety disorder, and in the latest results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 32 percent of teens reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. "Kids are play-deprived nowadays, that is, playing without screens or supervision. These days free play is on the decline,  and so are the social and emotional skills that come with it. Part of the problem is parents who worry that unsupervised play is just too risky. Kids should be in the driver's seat, learning to manage their work, their time and, ideally, being able to pursue their own interests. That freedom  helps them develop internal motivation in a way that rewards and grades just can't.

Youth risk behavior survey. (2017). Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control.
Merikangas, K., et al. (2011). Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in US adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(10), 980-989.

Common Core Reading and Writing Status

Nationally, teachers in grades 4-10 have shifted practices dramatically on vocabulary and assigning nonfiction, but they've struggled with some of the other shifts in those standards—most notably the tenet of having students of all reading abilities to grapple with grade-level texts. Most teachers now teach new words in the context of reading and conversation.Teachers continue to choose reading-level, not grade-level, texts. Evidence-based reading is common, but writing lags. Fiction reading is on the decline. To help ELA teachers, the report recommends organizing lessons around "text sets," or groups of texts on a theme or topic that are scaffolded in difficulty for students and help build background knowledge.
Griffith, D., & Duffett, A. (2018). Reading and writing instruction in America's schools. Washington, DC: T. B. Fordham Institute.

Feedback and Instruction Study

A new national survey sheds light on how teachers value feedback and classroom observations in evaluation systems. Feedback from formal classroom observations was the most common source, but a large percentage of teachers said they had received informal feedback from other teachers or school leaders at least a few times a month. Teachers said it was more helpful to receive feedback from other teachers than school leaders because peers can provide more subject-specific feedback. The study found that teachers at high-poverty schools receive feedback from school leaders, coaches, mentors, and peers more frequently than their peers at more affluent schools. Among all teachers, more secondary school teachers received feedback than elementary teachers—but elementary teachers reported receiving feedback more frequently. Elementary teachers were more likely to get feedback from school leaders, while secondary school teachers received informal feedback from students more often. The researchers conclude the report with four main takeaways:
  • Since teachers tend to consider informal feedback from peers and coaches to be more helpful, school leaders should consider how much emphasis to place on formal versus informal feedback.
  • When teachers receive feedback and observations more frequently, they tend to view the evaluation systems in a more positive light. But this creates a time burden on administrators. The study suggests that one solution could be involving other teachers, coaches, and mentors as classroom observers and feedback providers.
  • One way to get teacher buy-in might be to highlight how these evaluation systems are trying to promote development and growth, the study says.
  • Policymakers and district leaders should also consider how to provide teachers with sufficient resources, including time, to fully benefit from these evaluation systems.
 Tuma, A., Hamilton, L., & Tsai, T. (2018). A nationwide look at teacher perceptions of feedback and evaluation systems. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.