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NAEP Report Shows Small Gains for Fourth- and Eighth-Graders in Vocabulary Skills Needed for Reading Comprehension

April 1, 2015 Comments off

NAEP Report Shows Small Gains for Fourth- and Eighth-Graders in Vocabulary Skills Needed for Reading Comprehension
Source: National Center for Education Statistics (National Assessment of Educational Progress)

The nation’s fourth- and eighth-grade students made small gains from 2011 to 2013 in how well they use words to gain meaning from the passages they read, according to a newly released report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation’s Report Card. The report, Vocabulary Results From the 2013 NAEP Reading Assessment, also shows that one of the biggest gains in vocabulary knowledge was made by eighth-grade Hispanic students, whose improvements have narrowed the achievement gap with white students at that grade level since 2009.

Rather than presenting words in isolation, NAEP’s focus on vocabulary acknowledges that key distinctions and nuances of word meaning arise in the context of particular reading passages. Each vocabulary question asks how a particular word contributes meaning to the reading passage in which it appears.

NAEP scores and reports the reading comprehension results on the NAEP reading assessment independently from the vocabulary results, but the 2013 results confirm a strong correlation between the two: Students who had the highest vocabulary scores were the same ones performing above the 75th percentile in reading comprehension; students who had the lowest vocabulary scores were at or below the 25th percentile in comprehension.

CREDO Study Finds Urban Charter Schools Outperform Traditional School Peers

April 1, 2015 Comments off

CREDO Study Finds Urban Charter Schools Outperform Traditional School Peers
Source: Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Stanford University

Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), the nation’s foremost independent analyst of charter school effectiveness, released today a comprehensive Urban Charter Schools Report and 22 state-specific reports that combine to offer policymakers unprecedented insight into the effectiveness of charter schools.

Across 41 regions, urban charter schools on average achieve significantly greater student success in both math and reading, which amounts to 40 additional days of learning growth in math and 28 days of additional growth in reading. Compared to the national profile of charter school performance, urban charters produce more positive results. CREDO’s National Charter School Study results in 2013 found that charter schools provided seven additional days of learning per year in reading and no significant difference in math.

In Defense of Snow Days

March 27, 2015 Comments off

In Defense of Snow Days
Source: Education Next

This study provides a fresh look at the impact of instructional time lost due to weather-related student absences, as well as to school closings. Using student-level data from Massachusetts, I find that each one-day increase in the student absence rate driven by bad weather reduces math achievement by up to 5 percent of a standard deviation, suggesting that differences in average student attendance may account for as much as one-quarter of the income-based achievement gap in the state. Conversely, instructional time lost to weather-related school closings has no impact on student test scores.

What could explain these apparently conflicting results? It appears that teachers and schools are well prepared to deal with coordinated disruptions of instructional time like snow days but not with absences of different students at different times. In short, individual absences and not school closings are responsible for the achievement impacts of bad weather.

Education Technology and the Twenty-First-Century Skills Gap

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Education Technology and the Twenty-First-Century Skills Gap
Source: Boston Consulting Group/World Economic Forum

Today’s fast-changing world requires students who not only possess strong skills in areas such as language arts, math, and science but must also be adept at skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, persistence, collaboration, and curiosity. The requisite twenty-first-century skills fall into three broad categories: foundational literacies, competencies, and character qualities.

All too often, however, students in many countries are not acquiring these skills. A study that included nearly 100 countries reveals large gaps in selected indicators for many of these skills. For example, the U.S. performs relatively well on many skills when compared with the entire world. But when compared with high-performing peers such as Japan, Finland, or South Korea, the U.S. shows significant skills gaps in numeracy and scientific literacy. Some countries display gaps between our broad categories of skills. For example, relative to other OECD countries, Poland and Ireland perform well on a range of indicators representing foundational literacies but lag behind other OECD countries in areas such as critical thinking and curiosity. Gaps such as these are clear signs that too many students are not getting the education they must have to prosper in the twenty-first century, and countries are not finding adequate numbers of the skilled workers they need to compete.

Numerous innovations in the education technology space are beginning to show potential for helping address skills gaps. These technologies could both lower the cost and improve the quality of education.

A new report by the World Economic Forum, written in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group and titled New Vision for Education: Unlocking the Potential of Technology, examines ways that education technology can enhance learning as one tool in a portfolio.

2015 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning?

March 25, 2015 Comments off

2015 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning?
Source: Brookings Institution

The 2015 Brown Center Report (BCR) represents the 14th edition of the series since the first issue was published in 2000. It includes three studies. Like all previous BCRs, the studies explore independent topics but share two characteristics: they are empirical and based on the best evidence available. The studies in this edition are on the gender gap in reading, the impact of the Common Core State Standards — English Language Arts on reading achievement, and student engagement.

Part one examines the gender gap in reading. Girls outscore boys on practically every reading test given to a large population. And they have for a long time. A 1942 Iowa study found girls performing better than boys on tests of reading comprehension, vocabulary, and basic language skills. Girls have outscored boys on every reading test ever given by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—the first long term trend test was administered in 1971—at ages nine, 13, and 17. The gap is not confined to the U.S.

Part two is about reading achievement, too. More specifically, it’s about reading and the English Language Arts standards of the Common Core (CCSS-ELA). It’s also about an important decision that policy analysts must make when evaluating public policies—the determination of when a policy begins. How can CCSS be properly evaluated?

Part three is on student engagement. PISA tests fifteen-year-olds on three subjects—reading, math, and science—every three years. It also collects a wealth of background information from students, including their attitudes toward school and learning.

Achievement Gap Narrows as High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students Improve Faster than Rest of Nation

March 19, 2015 Comments off

Achievement Gap Narrows as High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students Improve Faster than Rest of Nation
Source: U.S. Department of Education

Graduation rates for black and Hispanic students increased by nearly 4 percentage points from 2011 to 2013, outpacing the growth for all students in the nation, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

What’s more, the gap between white students and black and Hispanic students receiving high school diplomas narrowed over that time, the data show.

Career planning for high schoolers

March 9, 2015 Comments off

Career planning for high schoolers
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Most people need some preparation before they’re ready for the workforce, and planning should begin long before it’s time to start a career. This could include taking technical courses during high school or, after graduating, attending a college or university to earn a certificate or a degree. Knowing what type of career preparation you need begins with thinking about what type of career you want.

This article helps high school students plan for careers. The first section talks about exploring your interests. The second section highlights the importance of internships, jobs, and other opportunities for getting experience. The third section describes some education or training options, both in high school and afterward. The fourth section offers some thoughts on pursuing your dream career. And the final section lists sources for more information.

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