A final item from Tuesday’s inbox…
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Missing the Mark: Students Gain Little from Mandating Extra Math and Science Courses
Using data from the ACT, National Student Clearinghouse, and the Illinois State Board of Education, a new ACT policy brief shows that taking extra math and science courses did not have a significant effect on student college- and career-readiness for Illinois high school students. Read the brief here.
4th Graders Struggle With Icons, Directions on Computer-Based Tests
This article outlines the results of a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics, which found that 4th graders had difficulty using basic functions on a computer-based writing assessment. The students were able to use computers to type, organize, and compose, but had trouble with drop-down menus, editing icons, the highlighter tool, and text-to-speech functions.
A Double Dose of Math Has Diminishing Returns, Study FindsEducation WeekIn a study released by Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, 6th-grade students in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools who took one standard and one remedial math class scored significantly higher on the end-of-year state math test than students who took only one math class. However, the gains achieved after doubling up on math diminished completely by high school. Read the article about the study results here.
In the Field
McREL blog: A “fresh eyes” perspective on school climate change
Shelby Maier, systems transformation researcher at McREL, presents one idea you can easily implement in your school climate change plan. “The appearance of your school sends implicit and explicit messages to your parents, students, staff, and visitors about the quality of the learning environment and care to be found inside,” she writes. Read her blog post here.
McREL Policy Brief: Continuous improvement in schools and districts
Discussions about improving public education often focus on outcomes without considering how schools and districts can accomplish those outcomes. Research shows that using a continuous improvement process has proven successful in healthcare, manufacturing, and technology, and may hold potential for use in education as well. This brief defines and describes the continuous improvement process, and looks at the policy considerations for using such a process in education to help schools, districts, and systems achieve higher levels of reliable performance. Read our latest policy brief here.
Success Story: Helping Florida districts better implement and evaluate professional development (PD)
McREL’s work with the Florida Department of Education helped improve schools’ and districts’ capacity to implement and evaluate their individual PD needs, as identified through the reviews conducted by the state in each school district. Read more about our Florida work here.
Events & Opportunities
U.S. Department of Education announces $250 million in preschool grants nationwide
On August 14, the U.S. Department of Education announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to offer $250 million in federal money to support early childhood education. The Preschool Development Grants program will accept applications for funding through October 14, 2014. Read more here.
McREL in the News
Howard Pitler discusses classroom observations and coaching on Wisconsin public radio
In July, Dr. Steve Brown of Wisconsin’s WGTD public radio interviewed McREL’s Chief Program Officer Howard Pitler about the importance of trust in building a purposeful school community, conducting instructional observations, and peer-to-peer coaching. They also talked about technology in the classroom and Cosmic Chemistry, McREL’s out-of-school time program for high school science students. Listen to the interview here.
N.J. district reports benefits from McREL’s teacher evaluation system
Administrators from the Passaic Valley High School (PVHS) district in Little Falls, N.J., reported to trustees on the district’s adoption of McREL’s Teacher Evaluation system at a board meeting on July 22. Principal Ray Rotella noted, “We feel the process for the evaluation system is very beneficial for us because of the teacher input, and there’s been a general agreement on the administrative part and teachers’ part that this system started constructive conversations on instruction and how we can continue to improve and take suggestions.” Read the entire article at NorthJersey.com here.
In This Issue
Free Webinar: Using the POMT application: A simple dashboard for program outcomes, measures, and targets — August 21
This free webinar, offered by REL Pacific, will focus on the relationships between the various components of a program monitoring plan; the role of leadership in the planning and assessment of a program; and how REL Pacific’s Program Outcomes, Measures, and Targets (POMT) module can help you create an ongoing plan for monitoring, measuring, and tracking outcomes over time to evaluate program effectiveness. This webinar will help teachers, administrators, policy makers, and evaluators understand how program monitoring can be an important method for ensuring that programs run smoothly. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, August 21 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. (MDT). Learn more and register for the webinar here.For more information on the POMT application, visit the REL Pacific website.
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