- | The 74
In recent months, as schools nationwide scrambled to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19, state and local education leaders have reached out to ask us: What does research say about how to prevent learning loss? About how to prepare teachers for distance learning? About how to address the mental health and other needs of students and educators during a crisis? About how to reduce the impact of budget cuts?
We’ve fielded dozens of questions like these from state education agencies, school districts, education organizations and advocacy groups. Education leaders and practitioners are under enormous pressure, facing some of the most complex decisions of their careers. They want to ground their decisions in the best available evidence and data but don’t have time to wade through peer-reviewed papers and randomized controlled trials to find evidence-based answers to these questions.
| The Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Illness. Family emergencies. In-service training requirements. On average, classroom teachers in the U.S. are absent for these and other reasons nearly eleven days out of a given school year. That’s between 5 and 6 percent of the school year in which coverage is needed—usually in the form of substitute teachers. The ways in which school districts handle these absences matter greatly, given observed productivity losses, lower student achievement, and discipline problems associated with substitute teaching. A new study from a trio of scholars at Brown and Syracuse Universities asks a plethora of mostly descriptive yet informative questions about this understudied area of K–12 education.
| Brown University
Nate Schwartz, an associate professor of the practice at the Annenberg Institute and one of the project’s lead coordinators, the partnership has already yielded three briefs advising on how to address learning loss, how to support students with disabilities, and how to provide guidance and support for students moving into post-secondary education.
“This project responds to a direct ask from education decision-makers to better synthesize research in ways that respond to the needs of the moment,” Schwartz said. “Starting with a series of crowd-sourced questions from leaders at the state and district levels, we enlisted some of the nation’s leading researchers to develop rapid-response briefs that clearly lay out the evidence base to guide current decision-making.”
| Usable Knowledge - Harvard University
Summer is officially here, but with many summer camps and enrichment programs canceled due to COVID-19, parents might feel at a loss for what to do with their children. With parent stress (and patience levels) being tested, experts agree that this summer is not the time to panic about learning loss or press to make up for missed class time, but instead to focus on creating fun and meaningful moments.
“For many families, the pandemic and school closures have been stressful. Summer is traditionally a time when many families switch gears from the busyness of the school year to focus on fun,” says Kathleen Lynch, a former teacher and current researcher at Brown University. “Rather than attempting to ‘catch up’ on academics over the summer, try building into your routine some learning activities that your child finds enjoyable.”
| Education Week
During even the most normal school year, there are a lot of little interruptions to teaching and learning each day—a tardy student walking into class, an announcement over the loudspeaker, a call to the classroom phone.
Those interruptions can add up to the loss of between 10 and 20 days of instructional time, a new study finds. And as schools across the country prepare to welcome back students in the fall after a disrupted spring, they will need to address what is expected to be significant learning loss. Reducing external interruptions in the classroom could be one way to do that, researchers say.
A typical classroom in Providence is interrupted over 2,000 times a year, according to a researcher at Brown University.
Associate Professor of Education Matt Kraft says that as students return from distance learning this fall, cutting down on external interruptions -- and maximizing learning time in the classroom -- is more important than ever.
| Brown University
That’s according to a new report released on Thursday, June 18, by scholars at Brown and Harvard universities. The study — “Lifting All Boats? Accomplishments and Challenges from 20 Years of Education Reform in Massachusetts” — was led by John Papay, an associate professor of education at Brown, as part of a research-practice partnership between Brown’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform and the Massachusetts Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education.
To examine how the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act has affected outcomes for children in the state, Papay and his colleagues analyzed two decades of state testing data, college admission and graduation records, and labor market earnings. They found that the last two decades have seen college enrollment rates climb across all demographics, including for children of color and children who come from low-income households.
| Boston Globe
Even when Black and Latino graduates from Massachusetts public high schools have similar MCAS scores as their white peers, they are less likely to earn college degrees and make as much money, according to a report released Thursday that highlights the need to improve the state’s education system.
Similar achievement gaps were found for high school graduates who grew up in poverty or who lacked English fluency, according the report, “Lifting All Boats? Accomplishments and Challenges from 20 Years of Education Reform in Massachusetts.”
| CommonWealth Magazine
The report by researchers at Brown University, which examined 10th grade MCAS scores and later student outcomes, also found that scores are highly correlated with high school and college completion and later earnings in the labor market, but the strength of this association varied widely depending on students’ demographic background.
“I think it’s both good news and bad news,” said John Papay, an associate professor of education and economics at Brown and the lead author of the report. “We see that educational attainment has been increasing for all groups of students, but we see that gaps in four-year college completion are also increasing.”
| Brown Center Chalkboard - The Brookings Institution
So how do we rebuild the basic education infrastructure? In a recent paper that I coauthored with Susanna Loeb and Alec Kennedy, we examined one program funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—School Improvement Grants (SIGs). Starting in 2010, Congress invested a total of approximately $7 billion in five cohorts of SIGs. These funds typically doubled the grantee schools’ regular budget and were available for schools to use for three years. Drawing on data from four locations across the nation, which represent a geographically diverse group of states and local districts, we find that SIG program had substantial success in both short- and longer-term.