Research Digest — December 2020

A monthly digest for state education agency staff, highlighting research and resources supporting state priorities.

Effectiveness in Context: Tips for Identifying Evidence-Based Practices for Diverse Student Populations

The National Comprehensive Center released a resource to help decision-makers in using the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) database to identify evidence-based practices that have been found to be effective for diverse student populations. The first tip examines the results of a recent scan of WWC reviewed studies and discusses the importance of understanding the racial and ethnic make-up of the study samples in them. The second and third tips delve into how to identify evidence-based programs and practices using the WWC website and how to find the sample characteristics behind the evidence.

Determining Attendance and Alternatives to Seat-Time

In response to COVID-19, the Aurora Institute released a brief to aid states that are grappling with policy strategies to determine attendance in the era of COVID-19 school closures and remote learning. The brief contains state policy examples for creating attendance policies for learning remotely, including competency-based attainment.

Learning during COVID-19: Initial findings on students’ reading and math achievement and growth

NWEA released a report presenting key findings and actionable takeaways from analyses of how school shutdowns impacted student academic achievement and growth at the start of the 2020-21 school year. Using data from nearly 4.4 million students in grades 3-8 who took MAP Growth assessments in fall 2020, the research focuses on three questions: 1. How did students perform in fall 2020 relative to a typical school year (specifically, fall 2019)? 2. How has student growth changed since schools physically closed in March 2020? 3. How did observed fall 2020 achievement compare to NWEA’s projected scenarios?

Using State-Level Policy Levers to Promote Principal Quality: Lessons from Seven States Partnering with Principal Preparation Programs and Districts

The RAND Corporation released a report examining how seven states are using state-level policy levers to improve the quality of school principals. Each of the states is part of The Wallace Foundation's University Principal Preparation Initiative, which brings together a university-based principal preparation program with school districts and state partners in each state to support the development of effective principals.

In examining state efforts, the authors focus on seven policy levers that states can use to improve school leadership—standards, recruiting, approval and oversight of principal preparation programs, licensing, professional development, evaluation, and leader tracking systems—and identify cross-state themes and generalizable lessons.

A Blueprint for Scaling Tutoring Across Public Schools

The Annenberg Institute at Brown University published a paper, exploring how tutoring could become a permanent feature of the U.S. public education system. The authors outline a blueprint for taking tutoring to scale nationally and estimate its costs, while highlighting a range of design and implementation challenges. The blueprint is centered on ten core principles and a federal architecture to support adoption, while providing for local ownership over key implementation features. High school students would tutor in elementary schools via an elective class, college students in middle schools via federal work-study, and full-time college graduates in high schools via AmeriCorps. Attempts to scale tutoring to address COVID-19 learning loss might be most successful and sustainable if they are part of an effort to incrementally integrate tutoring services within the public school system.

Restart & Recovery: Declining Kindergarten Enrollment in 2020-2021: Recommendations for State Education Agencies

Council of Chief State School Officers released a guide outlining some of the challenges associated with declining kindergarten enrollment rates and highlights possible steps state education agencies can take to address the crisis.

The Elements Transforming Teaching through Curriculum-Based Professional Learning

The Carnegie Corporation released a paper exploring how professional learning anchored in high-quality curriculum materials allows teachers to experience the instruction their students will receive and change their instructional practices, leading to better student outcomes.

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