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Recently, the amount and variety of testing occurring in public schools has received considerable national attention. To help parents, educators, policymakers, and others sort out all the differing information and opinions on testing, the Center on Education Policy at the George Washington University has developed Knowing the Score: The Who, What, and Why of Testing. This publication provides objective information and explanations of important issues related to assessment in K-12 schools, including—
On April 30, 2015, the Center on Education Policy convened a roundtable discussion of national education leaders on the use of research-based evidence to inform education policy and practice. Sponsored by the William T. Grant Foundation, the discussion covered the use of evidence and research partnerships at the state and local levels; the role of intermediaries in producing, promoting, and interpreting evidence; putting research evidence in context, and creating the conditions that allow educators to access the right research at the right time.
What, if anything, can the federal government do to improve persistently low-performing schools and ensure that all students attend effective schools? Congressional efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reveal deep differences on this central question. Many Congressional Republicans say the answer is to substantially reduce the federal role and increase state and local control of education, a philosophy embodied in the Student Success Act reported by the House education committee. Key Congressional Democrats disagree, as do civil rights organizations, the Secretary of Education, and some business leaders; these groups emphasize the importance of maintaining federal protections and tracking achievement for disadvantaged students and providing targeted funding to high-poverty schools. Senate education committee leaders have introduced a bipartisan bill that would retain some federal requirements but give states more latitude in how they hold schools accountable. The bill would also pass responsibility to states and school districts to determine how to improve low-performing schools.
To inform this debate, policymakers of diverse viewpoints can look to a body of research conducted over the past 13 years by the Center on Education Policy. Since 2002, CEP has studied implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, particularly federal policies to improve low-performing schools and raise student achievement. This research includes state and local surveys, case studies, and analyses of test score trends. Summarized below are the main lessons learned from this body of work about the federal role in school improvement. These are by no means the only lessons from this research; all of the study reports on NCLB and school improvement are available for free at www.cep-dc.org.
CEP’s research points to the need for a balanced federal role in school improvement that reduces some requirements but still provides a degree of structure; that provides dedicated funding for schools, districts, and states to carry out their respective responsibilities; and that allows for sustained support over a sufficient period of time.
Thoughtful policymaking requires attention to lessons from the past, continued attention to emerging information in the present, and a candid discussion of how the past and present can inform the future. We hope that the House and Senate education committee members will take into consideration the valuable research done by CEP and other groups when crafting an ESEA policy on the federal role in improving low-performing schools.
Empowering Educators to Lead the Way on Data Use
Despite the presence of technology and data in almost every aspect of our lives, the K-12 education sector is still grappling with how to effectively use data to support instruction and student learning. While some important progress has been made, many educators still need support--including time, training and resources--on how to manage and use data.
On March 17, 2015, the Center on Education Policy (CEP), in collaboration with Renaissance Learning and the Data Quality Campaign, convened a conversation on the campus of the George Washington University about empowering educators to lead the way in using data to improve classroom instruction and student learning. The conversation looked at state and local leadership on data use, including the benefits and challenges associated with new technologies that process and organize school data. Issues covered include:
Rebecca Thessin, Ed.D., a panelist at this event wrote a paper called The Need to Use Evidence in School-Based K-12 Improvement Efforts: When data is used as part of an ongoing cycle of improvement that involves the regular collection and systematic analysis of evidence, teachers can change their instructional practice to improve student achievement. To do so, the school leader must share leadership of a schoolwide process of improvement with teachers. Most critically, central office must give priority to developing the skills of principals to lead the difficult but rewarding work of improving instruction and schools. Rebecca Thessin, Assistant Professor of Educational Administration at the George Washington University shares her thoughts and experience on how to empower teachers to use data effectively and how schools and districts can engage in the systematic collection and analysis of evidence as part of an ongoing school improvement cycle. Dr. Thessin identifies four steps that school leaders, supported by their central office, can take to launch and implement this work effectively and sustain it over time to lead to improvement.
You can view the video of the event and download Rebecca Thessin's full paper below:
This updated compendium includes over 85 research studies focused on the Common Core State Standards, and encompasses research from multiple sources, such as government entities, independent organizations, and peer-reviewed publications from academic journals and other outlets. Each study in the compendium has been summarized and categorized across nine topic areas. A URL link to the original research is also provided when possible. The compendium is presented below both as a single document as well as individual PDFs of the nine topic areas. The compendium will be updated regularly as the body of CCSS-related research grows. This latest version is updated as of February 10, 2015.
This summary report describes the strategies being used by case study sites to meet federal requirements and encouragements for increased or expanded learning time, and the challenges, successes, and impacts associated with this implementation process. The report is based on the findings of a series of case studies of 17 low-performing schools within 11 school districts in four geographically dispersed states—Connecticut, Colorado, Oregon and Virginia. CEP interviewed 49 education leaders at the state, district, and school-levels to collect data for the study. Also available on this site are detailed reports for each of the four states and 11 districts with the 17 case study schools and a webinar presentation of the key findings.