Monday, August 27, 2018

Reading groups study

Separating students into reading and math groups based on their abilities may be doing more harm than good, according to a recent study.  Findings indicate that there are substantial opportunities for students to move up to higher groups as they progress through school and students can improve their group assignments by demonstrating positive academic engagement. However, group assignments do tend to “stick” to students over time, even after controlling for prior achievement, learning behaviors, and other observable characteristics. Moreover, assignment to a higher group improves students’ math and reading achievement outcomes and improves students’ academic engagement, while assignment to a lower group depresses both of these, making upward mobility more difficult.
Jean, M. (2016).  Can you work your way up? Ability grouping and the development of academic engagement. Doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Teacher discomfort with new technology study

As stated by David Nagel, in THE Journal (July 30, 2018): "A majority of teachers expressed discomfort with newer teaching practices that rely on technology and said they need more collaborative planning time with their peers, in addition to traditional PD."
Findings from the national survey of  33,000 classroom teachers include, among others:
  • 78 percent of teachers are "not very comfortable" facilitating student collaboration with digital devices.
  • 76 percent are not comfortable personalizing learning for every student.
  • 75 percent are uncomfortable creating project-based learning projects.
  • And 70 percent are uncomfortable using student data to inform instructional practices.
Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning. (2018). Irvine, CA: Project Tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Need for soft skills report

Schools should assess students on both "academic knowledge" and "nonacademic skills"—like teamwork, critical thinking, and creativity—parents and educators said in a new survey.
But they offered widely varying views on exactly what those skills should be.Strategies like social-emotional learning; social, emotional, and academic development; and an overall broader focus on "educating the whole child" have drawn a growing interest among educators and parents. But many schools have resisted assessing students' growth in these areas. That's in part because many researchers have said measures of social-emotional and "soft skills" are not sophisticated enough to adequately track progress over time.And, as the poll results show, schools may struggle to narrow down what soft skills to emphasize and, eventually, to measure.
NWEA. (2018). Assessing soft skills: Are we preparing students for successful futures?  Washington, DC: Gallup.

Teen reading decline study

A recent study shows that a trend is deeply underway–toward short-form bursts of reading and writing on one social medium or another, and away from the long-form immersive-reading experience of a book. “Time on digital media has displaced time once spent enjoying a book or watching TV," asserted the research, who says that she was surprised to see how dramatic a decline in reading the study revealed.
Twenge, J. (2018). Trends in US adolescents’ media use, 1976–2016. Psychology of Popular Media Culture.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Teaching neuroplasticity review

Teaching students about neuroplasticity can help support a growth mindset, according to analysis of 10 studies by researchers. Researchers reported improved motivation and discouraged stereotypes when students were taught that their brains can change and learn new things.
Sarrasin, J. et al. (2018).  Effects of teaching the concept of neuroplasticity to induce a growth mindset on motivation, achievement, and brain activity: A meta-analysis. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 12, 22-31.

Multitasking study

Students who multitask with devices during class -- taking lecture notes while scrolling social media -- can process information in the moment but will struggle to retain that information long term, according to a  recent study. The researchers also report lower exam performance and risk of distracting other students.
Glass, A., & Kang, M. (2018).  Dividing attention in the classroom reduces exam performance.  Educational Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/01443410.2018.1489046

Saturday, August 18, 2018

No Child Left Behind Impact Study

A study shows that pressuring schools to raise test scores under parts of the No Child Left Behind Act resulted in only modest student achievement gains in math and reading. The study shows that students with disabilities, English-language learners and those who began at the lowest performance levels benefited the most from NCLB.
Wong,  V./ et al. (2018). The impact of intensifying state accountability pressures on student achievement under No Child Left Behind. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia.

Educational technology priorities survey

More than 90% of school district leaders across the country say their top priority for education technology is to personalize learning for students, according to a survey from the Center for Digital Education. The survey also reveals that about three-quarters of districts offer blended-learning options and more educators are expressing concern about student data and privacy issues.
Center for Digital Education. (2018).  K-12 school district priorities. Washington, DC: Center for Digital Education.

NMC Horizon Report

The yearly NMC/EduCause report explores the ways learning, teaching, and creative inquiry are affected by:
  • Key trends accelerating higher education technology adoption
  • Significant challenges impeding higher education technology adoption
  • Important developments in technology for higher education
Illustrating the educational technology developments, 109 project submissions were received and of these, 18 were selected for inclusion in the Horizon Report.
The selected projects illustrate the use of one or more of these six developments in educational technology:
  • Mixed reality
  • Makerspaces
  • Adaptive learning technologies
  • Analytics technologies
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Robotics 
EduCause. (2018). 2018 NMC Horizon Report. Washington, DC: Educause.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Math and Common Core report

This report presents findings from a survey of American Teacher Panel teachers conducted in spring 2016 and follows up on a survey of teachers conducted in spring 2015. It examines responses from U.S. mathematics teachers in regard to their understanding of their standards and standards-aligned practices. The authors also consider how teachers’ instructional materials might support their understanding of their standards and practice. Key findings include:

  • Most of the materials that teachers reported using regularly for their instruction during the 2015–2016 school year were not highly aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
  • A majority of teachers were able to identify Common Core–aligned topics at their grade level.
  • At the same time, many teachers also indicated that many topics not aligned with the Common Core should be addressed at their grade level.
  • Over one-third of teachers reported that their students engaged in various standards-aligned practices to a great extent.
  • Teachers using at least one aligned main material more frequently reported their students engaging to a great extent in standards-aligned practices than teachers not using at least one aligned main material.
  • Teachers with more vulnerable students were less likely to report engaging their students in standards-aligned practices than teachers serving less vulnerable students. 

Opfer, V. et al. (2018). Aligned curricula and implementation of Common Core State Mathematics Standards. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.,%202018%208:31:44%20AM%20PDT&utm_campaign=NPA:2022:4938:Aug%209,%202018%208:31:43%20AM%20PDT

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Google search and racism research

Researcher Safiya Noble thinks that prominent commercial internet search engines reinforce racism and sexism—and that there are major implications for K-12 educators and students.
Noble undertook the research behind the book back in 2011, after a Google query for "black girls" yielded a stream of pornographic and offensive search results. Noble says those "hits" weren't an accidental byproduct of neutral algorithms driving Google's search engine. Instead, she argues, they reflect the human biases inherent in the engineers who created the algorithms, structural biases rooted in the underlying classification systems and web architecture upon which commercial search engines are built, and an advertising-based business model that accepts the reality that racist and sexist representations of women and people of color are often still quite profitable.
Noble, S. (2018) Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. New York, NY: NYU Press. Discussion at