The Biden team has issued its first responses to state requests to waive federal testing requirements because of the pandemic. Dale Chu reads the tea leaves, and concludes that the new Administration is trying to eat its cake and have it too.
Late last Friday, the U.S. Department of Education denied Georgia’s and South Carolina’s requests to cancel statewide standardized testing entirely. The news was predictably met with derision by testing opponents and cheers by enthusiasts. But these two particular decisions provide more noise than signal on where the feds will come down on state assessments. To wit, both states initially submitted their waiver applications last year—Georgia in June; South Carolina in November—when no one knew where the nation would be with the pandemic. By doing so, they showed they were unable even to feign the slightest interest in attempting to test students this spring.
There are a dozen or so states currently in the mix for assessment waivers, with most of them asking to use local tests instead of statewide exams. As I wrote in this space last month, an overreliance on local exams is problematic, especially in the wake of Covid-19 and if they are used to the exclusion of state assessments. This is because local assessments lack the strong quality controls required to provide for the valid comparison of student results across schools and districts. Without this control, it’s too easy to mislead parents and other stakeholders about the true magnitude of a year of extraordinary disruption. Now is the time, as Harvard’s Andrew Ho aptly observes, to bring “all data on deck.” If the feds approve the remaining waivers as is, states will assuredly take the slack to only test locally and, in the process, lose the most direct measure of state standards.
Consider for a moment what’s happening on the other side of the country in Montana, which has been seeking to cancel state testing this spring. The state submitted its assessment waiver back in February. Last month, state department officers met with Education Department officials and reported—in a bulletin that was publicly circulated afterwards—that their plan had been adjusted following the conversation to allow districts the option of choosing either a shortened version of the state test or to use local assessments in place of them. While it doesn’t necessarily mean Montana’s waiver has been officially approved, this brow-raising development suggests that U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona—or at least members of his team—could be willing in some instances to give the thumbs up on the use of local exams in lieu of state tests. Otherwise, why wasn’t Montana’s waiver application similarly swatted down on Friday (or for that matter California’s or Michigan’s)?
Time is of the essence, as testing windows will soon be opening, if they haven’t already. Indeed, the answer could be a matter of process of elimination. Cardona said at his confirmation hearing, “If the conditions under Covid-19 prevent a student from being in school in person, I don’t think we need to be bringing students in just to test them.” Remote testing is largely off the table for test security reasons, among others. So if all students aren’t expected to come into buildings to take the state test, and they can’t do so remotely either, what else is left? A trio of possibilities seems to be emerging.
The first is Colorado’s baby-splitting approach, which was green-lighted in the flurry of decisions last Friday. It was an intriguing verdict rendered relatively quickly, given that the state’s application was formally submitted just two weeks ago. The plan—in which students in grades three, five, and seven will take only the English language arts test and those in grades four, six, and eight will only take the math portion—is, from a political standpoint, a resounding success and an encapsulation of “The Colorado Way”: painstaking conversation and compromise with the goal of finding common ground and win-win solutions. But from a policy standpoint, the state’s plan leaves much to be desired.
To be sure, Colorado’s compromise alleviates some of the testing burden on kids and schools, but as a local principal told me a few weeks ago, the benefits from paring things down is minimal in a year that’s been trying on educators since the get-go. While Colorado has certainly satisfied its political concerns related to testing this year, it’s unclear how the state’s waiver helps to better address Covid-related challenges, like evaluating student learning loss or testing kids who are still fully remote. These students will not be required to come into school for testing, and their parents can still opt them out of the exams. What’s more, the holes created by not testing students in either ELA or math, compounded by widely-anticipated lower student participation rates writ large, could paint a Swiss-cheese picture of student performance, and it raises questions about where Uncle Sam will ultimately draw the line.
Another way states are looking to solve the problem of testing when a lot of kids are still learning at home is to push spring assessments into the fall, something that my colleague Mike Petrilli has often suggested. Just last month, for instance, Maryland voted to take this very approach. When it comes to fall testing, I’m of two minds. On the one hand, it’s better than nothing, and it makes a lot of sense for states to do whatever they can to assess as many students as possible, especially states like Maryland, where many kids are still learning remotely. But from a technical standpoint, fall testing could raise more questions than answers if tutoring and other recovery efforts have gotten underway or if students have been sitting around at home all summer—to say nothing of how to draw valid comparisons between spring 2019 and fall 2021.
Finally, when it comes to the waiver-stakes, keep an eye on Washington in the Pacific Northwest, which just submitted its application last week. The state has proposed a NAEP-like sampling scheme of approximately 50,000 students—in selected grades and content areas—in lieu of attempting to test the 700,000 students across the state ordinarily eligible in a given year. Going far beyond even what Colorado proposed, this downsizing could make judging recovery efforts particularly challenging if enough students in the state’s sample do not test. If its waiver is blessed by the feds, there’s a nontrivial possibility that Washington will be left without a way to leverage state testing data to better understand which schools, districts, and student groups require the most assistance.
When President Biden provided his wobbly-kneed response on state assessments from the campaign trail, he ignited hope among reform skeptics that he would end annual testing once and for all. It came as a huge disappointment to them when shortly after his inauguration, his team appeared to do an about-face by announcing the exams would continue. However, with the administration appearing to send mixed signals once again, it’s hard to reach a conclusion other than this: Biden’s team is—consistent with its M.O.—trying to eat its cake and have it, too.
My friend and colleague Mike Petrilli is understandably proud of Fordham’s spanking new Acceleration Imperative: A Plan to Address Elementary Students’ Unfinished Learning in the Wake of Covid-19. He’s worked super-hard to midwife it, engaging great outside help, drawing support from the Fordham board, and committing endless hours of his own, even as a few of his colleagues voiced reservations. This 126-page product is far more—and more ambitious—than a conventional Fordham research report. It’s an open-source draft, meant as a crowd-sourced style “wiki” to be engaged and improved by readers and users over the months ahead. More than that, it’s meant as a resource for education leaders, particularly the chief academic officers of urban school systems and charter networks, as they strive to make up for the lost year (and more) in the education lives of their disadvantaged pupils, and while they do that, also seek to reboot their high-poverty elementary schools to do better than ever in the future.
That’s no small ambition, and I wish him well. But you can also mark me down as skeptical, wary, and to be blunt, more than a little weary as I contemplate yet another earnest effort to nudge educators into doing “what works” in schools where it hasn’t worked in the past.
We’ve been around this block a bunch of times before, including several ongoing efforts, which Mike’s wiki cites and often borrows from. Thus we have a “What Works Clearinghouse” with all sorts of government-conferred status, funding, and almost two decades of experience. Its experts carefully vet “the evidence” on a dozen big education topics from math curriculum to charter schools to “teacher excellence.” They apply rigorous criteria to a ton of research studies and evaluations on specific topics, interventions, and programs, and wind up reporting the robustness of the evidence as to whether something actually “works.” Of course, it’s then up to the prospective user—assuming that research evidence is what drives their decision-making—to track down the What Works ratings, then locate the materials, then deal with implementation.
Other worthy ventures also evaluate and rate elements of the education domain. The National Council on Teacher Quality rates teacher prep programs. EdReports rates instructional materials in ELA, math, and science. Rivet Education evaluates professional development programs. Annenberg’s “Research for Recovery” site (also cited in the wiki) compiles research-based evidence germane to reopening schools and compensating for learning loss. Common Sense Education evaluates all sorts of materials and sources for educators and parents.
Thus there’s no shortage of research, and there are plenty of sources of expert reviews, meta-analyses, and wise counsel as to what works best if you install it in your school or classroom and implement it correctly.
I helped lead one of the first such ventures, some thirty-five years ago, when Education Secretary Bill Bennett turned to us in the (then) Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI, antecedent to IES) and asked, “Don’t we have a lot of research into what works? How about compiling it and getting it out?”
That triggered vast staff activity and expert outside advice, led by veteran OERI executive Milt Goldberg (with Susan Traiman) and produced an eighty-five-page volume titled What Works: Research About Teaching and Learning. A copy of the second edition, dated 1987, is sitting on my shelf. It opens with a letter from President Reagan, followed by a quote from James Madison (“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance...”), then Bennett’s foreword, then my introduction, then fifty-nine “findings” about—yes, about “what works”—based on research, experience, and expert counsel from leaders in the field.
These weren’t just any old research findings aimed at any run-of-the-mill school. As Bennett wrote, in words much like Mike’s, “Many of the findings in What Works come from ‘effective schools’ research that was done primarily to determine what kinds of schools help poor, disadvantaged, and minority children the most. We know these things can work for those children.”
The contents were organized in three parts. “Home” contained nine items from “reading to children” to managing TV time. “Classroom” contained twenty-nine items from phonics to study skills to managing classroom time. The remaining twenty-one findings were listed under “School” and ran from “school climate” to “mainstreaming” to “acceleration.”
The Education Department really worked at getting this assembled and then disseminating it, including printing and distributing more than half a million copies. We talked it up and wrote it up, presented it to every audience in sight, publicized it every way we knew.
Mostly, it met with widespread approval. Months after the first edition came out, I wrote in Education Week that:
[T]he overwhelming response to it from within and without the education community has been positive, even laudatory. Editorials commending the book’s clarity, good sense, and usefulness have appeared in papers as dissimilar as The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Post. It has been hailed from Coos Bay to Shreveport, from The Washington Post to The Chicago Tribune. Liberals like it. Conservatives like it. Most educators do, too. We’ve heard from Albert Shanker and Scott Thomson, from Ernest Boyer and Samuel Sava, and from lots of others. Perhaps most remarkable, “What Works” has gotten high marks—oral and written—from the research community as well…. [W]e have glowing letters from the current and past presidents of the American Educational Research Association. Its principal journal recently published a warmly supportive commentary by Marshall Smith, the incoming dean of Stanford University’s school of education.
And yet I have to say that, to the best of my knowledge, What Works had almost no impact on actual education practice in the schools of the United States. What a waste...
Why education research and “best practices” so seldom alter on-the-ground practice—except in America’s high-performing, non-profit charter networks—is a big topic, more than I can tackle here, but one that should be seriously pondered.
As for Mike’s wiki venture, he has designed it to do more than evaluate specific pieces of the education puzzle on the basis of research and evidence. You can pull it apart that way if you like—and find, say, several recommended math curricula. But it’s intended as a nearly complete school plan, built with the recovery phase of the pandemic in mind.
Again, I wish him well. But there’s also much precedent for that ambition. That’s what the New American Schools Development Corporation set out to do in the 1990s: to reinvent the school on the basis of research, experience, and expertise, not just bits of the school, but the entire school. That’s also what Chris Whittle’s Edison Project set out to do around the same time. More recently, that’s what any number of charter schools and charter networks have set out to do. That’s what the XQ Institute’s “Super School” project is about.
Some of these efforts gain traction, though almost always within the limited set of schools that they control and operate directly. That’s what Eva Moskowitz has brilliantly achieved in New York City, for example, as have High Tech High, IDEA, Uncommon Schools, and more. The list could go on. The truth is that it’s possible for creative and determined people to design and implement an “innovative” or “research based” school, even a clutch of them. But these are almost always brand-new schools, not makeover schools, and they’re almost always part of a system of more or less identical schools. Not coincidentally, those systems are almost always outside the usual public-education bureaucracies and governance structures.
Maybe that can happen in the high-poverty urban public elementary schools that Mike’s wiki project is targeting. The gusher of flexible federal funds now beginning to flow into schools certainly makes the dollar costs manageable. Those funds plus the post-pandemic reopening could open the way for forceful, visionary district leaders to, in effect, reboot some of their schools according to the wiki design. It would be a fine thing if they do. But it’s really, really hard, especially with extant schools that have tenured and unionized staff, that are part of set-in-their-ways bureaucracies that, in turn, are responsive to superintendents who seldom stick around very long and are themselves answerable to highly political elected school boards. On top of which, in today’s climate, education leaders must deal with the insistence on “working with the community,” which communities may have very different priorities than the practitioners and education experts that have shaped the “acceleration imperative.”
Call me gloomy Gus. Observe (as Mike will) that my glass is chronically half empty. Try your best to prove me wrong. Perhaps you can.
Editor’s note: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute recently launched “The Acceleration Imperative,” an open-source, evidence-based resource designed to aid instructional leaders’ efforts to address the enormous challenges faced by their students, families, teachers, and staff over the past year. It comprises four chapters split into nineteen individual topics. Over the coming weeks, we will publish each of these as a standalone blog post. This is the first. Special thanks go to Ashley Berner of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, who wrote the first draft of this section.
The values and beliefs that a school community puts into practice each day define its culture. Schools with positive cultures have shared narratives, habits of mind, and effective ways of getting things done. They have articulated a coherent vision for excellence and can draw on it to flexibly respond to challenges, craft solutions, and reinforce practices that promote student success.
The conditions that support such cultures are influenced by the school’s climate—a distinct but related quality that determines the mood and feeling of a school community, the nature of relationships among adults and students, and expectations for physical and emotional security.
The fast-moving changes and interruptions in schooling caused by the pandemic have highlighted the importance of restoring and maintaining a positive school culture. Systems and networks that had established shared beliefs and norms prior to the crisis had more tools to help in their response and recovery. Schools that entered the crisis without aligned structures and values in place were at a disadvantage that was only compounded by the inequities that accompanied remote learning in high-poverty areas.
School culture includes many interrelated parts and can be difficult to define and change. But that will be a critical task to a productive pandemic recovery. School leaders must assess the routine practices of teachers, staff, students, and parents, identify the values and beliefs that drive those practices, and create the conditions for long-term success.
- Administer a school culture survey to evaluate the current strengths and weaknesses across the community, such as those from Johns Hopkins University, which also assesses climate more broadly, and UChicago Impact. Do teachers and staff view the school as having clear, high expectations for teaching and learning? Do they feel that vision is aligned with school or network policies and practices?
- Work with senior leaders in your school community, including parents and teachers, to ensure a clear articulation of the school’s mission and values, and use that mission and vision statement to model actions and drive decision-making related to the pandemic and beyond.
- Conduct an audit of school practices, including curriculum implementation and scaffolding, teacher professional development, the use of advisories, disciplinary codes, grading policies, and awards ceremonies, to ensure a through-line from the school’s mission to its institutional practices.
- Facilitate teacher leadership and collaboration to reinforce and share ownership of the school’s mission and vision.
A strong and positive school culture is characterized by a clear sense of direction and shared accountability to advance a vision for success, which shapes how teachers and leaders do their jobs. It is built on mutual respect and trust, which are the foundation of learning communities.
Scholars have identified the power of coherent culture in successful schools of all types. For example, a study of high-performing Catholic high schools attributed their impact on students to several aspects of school culture, including a decentralized structure that prioritized decision-making and leadership at the school level and a clear, common understanding of what all students should learn. Scott Seider’s exploration of how three Boston charter schools prioritize character development shows the impact of strong school culture as well as social and emotional learning. And Karin Chenoweth’s book looking at how beliefs and aligned practices support academic achievement in high-poverty district schools provides another distinct source of examples of school culture at work.
Positive school cultures have already supported some early responses to the pandemic. For example, a consortium of high-performing charter schools drew on their earlier reform work and professional collaborations to create the National Summer School Initiative (now Cadence Learning). Guilford County Schools, an innovative North Carolina district that has run its own teacher-licensing program since 2008, enlisted its master teachers to build an online library of instructional videos last spring and summer, a natural extension of its teacher-leadership Opportunity Culture initiative.
We note here that a strong culture cannot take root or thrive without a healthy school climate, and the values and actions that support these dimensions tend to go hand-in-hand. Schools must be safe from violence, both for students and teachers. Students from different socioeconomic, racial, or ethnic backgrounds should feel equally at home. Schools must support students’ emotional and social needs, while families must feel and actually be included as important members of the school community. Teachers must be respected by their principals, given the tools to lead rigorous classrooms, and provided opportunities to lead and collaborate with one another.
Bryk, A., Lee, V., and Holland, P. (1995). Catholic Schools and the Common Good. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Chenoweth, K. (2007). It’s Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools. Cambridge, MP: Harvard Education Press.
Chiefs for Change and Johns Hopkins University Institute for Education Policy. (2020). “How Should Education Leaders Prepare for Reentry and Beyond?”
Cranston, J. (2011). Relational Trust: The Glue that Binds a Professional Learning Community. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 57(1), 59-72.
Daly, B., Buchanan, C., Dasch, K., Eichen, D., and Lenhart, C. (2010). “Promoting School Connectedness among Urban Youth of Color: Reducing Risk Factors While Promoting Protective Factors.” Prevention Researcher, 17(3), 18–20.
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Hamre, B., and Pianta, R.. (2006). “Student-Teacher Relationships.” Children’s Needs III: Development, Prevention, and Intervention. Washington, D.C., National Association of School Psychologists.
Hassel, B., and Hassel, E. (2010). “Opportunity at the Top: How America’s Best Teachers Could Close the Gaps, Raise the Bar, and Keep Our Nation Great,” Chapel Hill, NC: Public Impact.
Kraft, M., Marinell, W., and Shen-Wei Yee, D. (2016). “School Organizational Contexts, Teacher Turnover, and Student Achievement: Evidence From Panel Data.” American Educational Research Journal, 53(5), 1411–49.
Manning, J. and Jeon, L. (2020). “Teacher Stress and Second-Hand Trauma: Supporting Teachers During Re-Entry.” Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Institute for Education Policy.
Mattison, E., and Aber, M. (2007). “Closing the Achievement Gap: The Association of Racial Climate with Achievement and Behavioral Outcomes.” American Journal of Community Psychology, 40(1–2), 1–12.
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Savitz-Romer, M., Jager-Hyman, J., and Coles, A. (2009). “Removing Roadblocks to Rigor: Linking Academic and Social Supports to Ensure College Readiness and Success.” Washington, D.C.: Pathways to College Network, Institute for Higher Education Policy.
Seider, S. (2012). Character Compass: How Powerful School Culture Can Point Students Toward Success. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Stemler, S., Bebell, D. and Sonnabend, L. (2011). “Using School Mission Statements for Reflection and Research.” Educational Administration Quarterly 47(2), 383–420.
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School attendance is compulsory for K–12 students, but getting kids to school every day is often difficult for families. Most parents want their children to attend school. But for those living in poverty, competing needs like jobs, medical appointments, and sibling care sometimes render school a lower priority. This conundrum is on clear display in afrom researchers at Wayne State University. The university is part of a citywide collaborative effort called the that focuses on K–12 student absenteeism as part of its ongoing work. Their latest report takes a close look at the barriers to attendance faced by students in Detroit—particularly those who are chronically absent.
It’s important to note that even before the coronavirus pandemic, absenteeism was rampant in Detroit Public Schools (DPS). Over half of the district’s students were considered chronically absent in 2019–20, missing more than 10 percent of the school year. The data in this new report come from interviews conducted before Covid-related school closures in early 2020. Researchers interviewed thirty-eight parents or guardians with students in seven DPS elementary-middle and high schools. About one quarter of those parents had children who were not chronically absent that year, and the remainder had children who ranged from moderately (missing 10–20 percent of days) to severely chronically absent (missing more than 20 percent). A second round of interviews consisted of twenty-nine high school students attending five district high schools. About a third of those were children of parents interviewed in the first round and the remainder were new participants. About a third of all the high schoolers interviewed were not chronically absent, and the rest ranged from moderately to severely chronically absent.
Transportation emerged as the most frequent and pervasive barrier to attendance.found that only 31 percent of K–8 students in DPS had access to traditional yellow bus transportation, eligibility requirements for which leave out most students living too close to their neighborhood schools, who must walk or take personal transportation instead. Also excluded are most students utilizing intradistrict school choice, who are denied transportation once they have opted for a school outside their neighborhood unless they are receiving certain services for special needs. No DPS high school students are eligible for yellow bus transportation, but they are able to ride city buses to school for free using their student IDs. Additionally, six individual schools operate their own supplemental shuttle-type bus services to transport those students denied yellow buses due to their proximity to school.
This patchwork of transportation eligibility and service—idiosyncratic down to the building—seems to have dissuaded families from relying on it even when eligible. Safety, reliability, and weather concerns combined to similarly dissuade families from using city buses or walking. Most parents and students surveyed relied upon personal vehicles. But more than a third of all Detroit familiesnot owning a car in 2017, and respondents to the Wayne State survey reported very few backup options among their personal networks. If the family—or community—car broke down or was needed for another purpose, the value of school essentially dropped and an absence would typically result.
Students’ acute and chronic physical health issues, along with mental health and parental health issues, also created barriers to attendance. Surveyed parents expressed a strong understanding of the costs of missing school, but as in many cases of competing priorities, health seems to have won out over school. The researchers posit that post-Covid considerations will add a new wrinkle to this calculus. If classrooms are not considered safe enough, even the smallest roadblock could result in an absence.
The realities expressed by families resist easy solutions, especially school-focused ones. The researchers rightly call for. There are also likely lessons to be found outside of DPS—perhaps in Detroit’s or in Chicago’s —but such efforts won’t fix all problems. A second recommendation to “strengthen neighborhood vitality” is a far heavier lift, as no concrete resources or avenues to success were identified.
Interestingly, the Wayne State researchers recorded but decided to omit a number of school-based reasons for absenteeism that were reported by respondents. They include unengaged students, teacher-student conflict, and conflicts between students. While the researchers argued that the out-of-school barriers were more prominent in their data, such in-school issues should not be overlooked. Motivated families and students will strive to overcome many difficulties to obtain what is valued. But if a long walk or an unsafe bus ride leads to a low-quality classroom experience or a schoolyard fight, staying home is a reasonable decision. Anything that can be done to boost the value of attending school could be enough to change the daily calculus. And let us not forget that the Covid era could be a silver lining for students: Increased access to the internet and one-to-one devices, along with a permanent online education option, could solve many of the absenteeism barriers identified in this report. But that, too, must be of high quality before families will value it.
SOURCE: Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, Jeremy Singer, Kimberly Stokes, and J. Bear Mahowald, “,” Detroit Education Research Partnership at Wayne State University (March 2021).
The past grim, difficult year challenged our nation and schools like few others, so it’s important to take the time to appreciate good news when we hear it. New research from EdReports provides just such an opportunity. Titled State of the Market 2020: The Use of Aligned Materials, it explores the availability of high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials today, and more importantly, to what extent they are actually being used by educators.
The findings are based on data from two primary sources: EdReport’s own instructional materials reviews, conducted by experienced classroom educators, principals, district leaders, and state administrators; and the RAND Corporation’s American Instructional Resources Survey, which yielded data on mathematics and English language arts (ELA) curriculum use during the 2018–19 and 2019–20 school years.
In terms of the availability of high-quality instructional materials, after reviewing a whopping 90 percent of the known materials available for K–12 mathematics and ELA, EdReports concluded that “aligned instructional materials are increasingly available.” For example, in 2020, 41 percent of mathematics materials were found to meet expectations, up from just 28 percent in 2018. For ELA, the percentage of materials meeting expectations crept up from 49 percent to 52 percent over the same period.
Of course, the availability of high-quality, standards-aligned materials really only matters if teachers are using them. Encouragingly, EdReports found that educators are increasingly doing so, noting that, “In 2019, 30 percent of mathematics teachers used at least one aligned curriculum. That number grew to 40 percent in 2020. The increase is similar for English language arts teachers. From 2019 to 2020, an 11-percentage-point increase in teachers using aligned ELA programs occurred.” Overall, based on RAND survey data, they estimate that teachers are using high-quality materials “at least 50 percent of the time, especially in math,” and that fewer teachers today are using self-created materials than in prior years.
This is especially good news, as prior research has found those to tend to be lower quality than materials vetted and recommended by districts or states. As cited in EdReports’ report, a 2019 study conducted for our organization by University of Southern California associate professor Morgan Polikoff and educational consultant Jennifer Dean similarly found that the majority of supplemental instructional materials teachers create, share, and download from popular websites were “mediocre” and deemed “not worth using.”
As the report’s authors conclude, “Instructional materials matter for student success. They mattered before the Covid-19 health crisis, and they will matter even more as schools begin to understand the impact of closures on student learning.” And while it’s encouraging that teachers are using high-quality materials at least 50 percent of the time, that still leaves much room for improvement. Among the author’s recommendations to state and district policymakers is to offer professional development for teachers tailored to curriculum, leverage high-quality curriculum to accelerate student learning, and invest in high-quality, coherent, and standards-aligned instructional materials.
In the coming year, many schools will likely, and rightly, be working to provide students with expanded mental health supports, high-dosage tutoring, and extended learning time. But as we at Fordham recently argued, these efforts should never come at the expense of schools’ core academic programs, including the adoption and use of high-quality curricula. With so many organizations now providing impartial reviews regarding the quality and alignment of instructional materials today—such as EdReports, the Louisiana Department of Education, and the California Curriculum Collaborative—there’s no shortage of information about great offerings out there. And there’s simply no excuse for not separating the wheat from the chaff.
SOURCE: “2020 State of the Market: The Use of Aligned Materials,” EdReports (March 9, 2021).
Editor's note: To learn more about EdReports and this report, tune into this week’s podcast.
On this week’s podcast, Eric Hirsch, founding executive director of EdReports, joins Mike Petrilli and David Griffith to discuss how teachers are increasingly gaining access to high-quality instructional materials. On the Research Minute, Amber Northern examines how better truancy notifications to parents reduced student absences.
Amber's Research Minute
Lasky-Fink, Jessica, Carly D. Robinson, Hedy Nai-Lin Chang, and Todd Rogers. "Using Behavioral Insights to Improve School Administrative Communications: The Case of Truancy Notifications." Educational Researcher (2020): 0013189X211000749.
If you listen on Apple Podcasts, please leave us a rating and review - we'd love to hear what you think! The Education Gadfly Show is available on all major podcast platforms.
- How can we do more to prevent teen suicides? —New York Times
- Pandemic pods are less sustainable and are harder to run than many parents thought. —Good Housekeeping
- Teacher unions inherently oppose reform, even when a crisis demands change. For transformative innovation, look to school choice. —Terry M. Moe
- Wealthier parents in Philadelphia, tired of the school board’s reluctance to reopen, are turning to private schools or moving away. —WHYY
- How school systems can overcome the rigidity caused by Covid fears to improve learning. —Michael B. Horn