Identifying effective classroom practices using student achievement data

Research continues to find large differences in student achievement gains across teachers’ classrooms. The variability in teacher effectiveness raises the stakes on identifying effective teachers and teaching practices.This paper combines data from classroom observations of teaching practices and measures of teachers’ ability to improve student achievement as one contribution to these questions.

No child left behind comes to preschool

In this article I examine recent policy initiatives related to early childhood education that can be traced either directly to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) or to the emphasis on standards and accountability that produced NCLB, including the development of standards and assessments and moving the birth date for kindergarten eligibility to require children to be older when they enter school. I also discuss instructional and assessment issues that need to be considered if new pressures to teach academic skills in preschool benefit rather than do harm to young children.

Accountability comes to preschool: Can we make it work for young children?

Early childhood educators are justifiably concerned that demands for academic standards in preschool will result in developmentally inappropriate instruction that focuses on a narrow set of isolated skills. But Ms. Stipek believes that teaching preschoolers basic skills can give them a good foundation for their school careers, and she shows that it is possible to do this in ways that are both effective and enjoyable.

Unanswered questions

SUPREME COURT Justice Louis D. Brandeis observed that a compelling virtue of our federal system is that states can act as "laboratories for democracy." Individual states can experiment with new policies and other states can learn from their successes as well as their failures.

Learning to earn

During the 1970s, nearly every state in the nation began instituting tests of basic skills for high school students as the leading edge of the so-called “first wave” of education reforms. These reforms were a response to the widespread impression that test scores and the quality of public schooling were in decline. According to critics, the high school diploma, once a true accomplishment, had been debased in an era of social promotion and low standards – to the point where it held no real meaning for postsecondary institutions or potential employers.

The race connection

In the mid-1960s, an acquaintance of mine was a young, timid teacher beginning her career in a virtually all-black high school on the South Side of Chicago. Even to this day, she recalls two events from that period. On one occasion, she saw a burly white male teacher telling a group of black teenagers that they were stupid and that they had better realize it. On another occasion, she observed as a classroom of unruly adolescents was silenced by the fixed stare of a black female teacher, whose disciplinary approach surely reminded many of their mothers at home.

Turning around chronically low-performing schools: A practice guide

The goal of this practice guide is to formulate specific and coherent evidence-based recommendations for use by educators aiming to quickly and dramatically improve student achievement in low-performing schools. Although schoolwide reform models exist, most assume a slow and steady approach to school reform. They do not seek to achieve the kind of quick school turnaround we examine in this practice guide. That is not to say that schools using a packaged schoolwide reform model could not experience dramatic and quick results.

The impact of No Child Left Behind on students, teachers, and schools

The controversial No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) brought test-based school accountability to scale across the United States. This study draws together results from multiple data sources to identify how the new accountability systems developed in response to NCLB have influenced student achievement, school-district finances, and measures of school and teacher practices. Our results indicate that NCLB brought about targeted gains in the mathematics achievement of younger students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.