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Early Reading Proficiency in the United States

Early Reading Proficiency in the United States (2014) The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Children who are proficient readers by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and to be economically successful in adulthood. This KIDS COUNT data snapshot finds 80 percent of fourth-graders from low-income families and 66 percent of all fourth-graders are not reading at grade level. While improvements have been made in the past decade, reading proficiency levels remain low. Given the critical nature of reading to children’s individual achievement and the nation’s future economic success, the Casey Foundation offers recommendations for communities and policymakers to support early reading. Early reading proficiency rates for the nation and each state are provided.

Redesigning and Expanding School Time to Support Common Core Implementation

David A. Farbman, David J. Goldberg, and Tiffany D. Miller (2014) Redesigning and Expanding School Time to Support Common Core Implementation. Center for American Progress and the National Center on Time and Learning.

Redesigning schools with significantly more time for both student learning and teacher professional development and collaboration is one significant way to make certain that Common Core implementation is successful. Americans’ willingness to break out of the box of the 180-day, 6.5 hours-per-day school schedule can help with the transition to the Common Core State Standards, especially when targeting schools serving high concentrations of disadvantaged students. This report offers policy and strategy recommendations to support expanded learning time and help meet the demands associated with the Common Core.

Leading In and Beyond the Library

Wolf, M.A., Jones, R., and Gilbert, D. (2014) Leading In and Beyond the Library. Alliance for Excellent Education, January 2014.
This paper explains the key role that school librarians and libraries should play in state- and districtwide efforts to transition to digital learning, or the effective use of technology to improve teaching and learning. The report calls for district and school leaders, policymakers, and boards of education to support, encourage, and fund the evolving role of librarians and libraries as facilitators of content creation, personalized learning, and professional development.

Time for Teachers: Leveraging Time to Strengthen Instruction and Empower Teachers

Claire Kaplan, Roy Chan, David A. Farbman, and Ami Novoryta (2014) Time for Teachers: Leveraging Time to Strengthen Instruction and Empower Teachers. National Center on Time and Learning and Teach Plus.

This report examines 17 high-performing and fast-improving schools around the country that have taken advantage of expanded school schedules to provide students with more time for engaging academic and enrichment classes and teachers with more time to collaborate with colleagues, analyze students data, create new lesson plans, and develop new skills. On average, U.S. teachers spend approximately 80 percent of their time on instruction, while the international average for countries is 67 percent. Meanwhile, teachers in the schools featured in Time for Teachers spend 60 percent of their expanded school schedule on direct instruction with 40 percent of their time on collaboration, coaching, one-on-one support, and other activities.

PreK-3rd: Getting Literacy Instruction Right

Lesaux, Nonie K. PreK-3rd: Getting Literacy Instruction Right. New York: Foundation for Child Development, 2013.
This brief outlines the elements of strong PreK-3rd literacy instruction including: what high-quality instruction looks like,what supports enable teachers to carry out strong literacy instruction, and what policies enable schools to carry out strong PreK-3rd reading instruction. High-quality, coordinated PreK-3rd literacy instruction expands children’s cognitive capacities, develops language and vocabulary, and prepares them to read advanced texts. These skills provide a sturdy foundation for school success and expanded life opportunities.

Student Center Activities Aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects K-5

Verhagen, C. (2012). Student center activities aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects K-5. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

The Center on Instruction released a publication to help educators create differentiated reading instruction experiences for their students by showing the relationship between two distinct resources: Student Center Activities (SCAs) created by the Florida Center for Reading Research for K-5 classroom teachers as differentiated reading activities for use in small student groups, and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It contains crosswalks that map the relationships between each SCA and corresponding, grade-specific standards in CCSS in English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects K-5 (ELA-literacy). These resources provide support in the alignment of instruction in schools that are implementing School Improvement Grants (SIG) and/or College and Career Ready Standards (including Common Core State Standards).

Using Instructional Routines to Differentiate Instruction: A Guide for Teachers

Kosanovich, M. (2012). Using Instructional Routines to differentiate instruction. A guide for teachers. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

The Center on Instruction released a publication to help educators plan differentiated instruction using 72 formatted activities called Instructional Routines, which provide a structure for teaching specific foundational reading skills. Included is a table which displays the alignment between the Instructional Routines and the Common Core State Standards organized by the five reading components (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension). This resource provides support in the alignment of instruction in schools that are implementing School Improvement Grants (SIG) and/or College and Career Ready Standards (including Common Core State Standards).

Transforming Family Engagement in an Era of Data Driven Reform

Weiss, H.B., Lopez, M.E., & Stark, D.R. (2011) Breaking new ground: Data systems transform family engagement in education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project.

A new policy brief from the Harvard Family Research Project and the National PTA highlights ways that data can be used to engage families and improve parent–teacher communication. The brief describes three key elements of a data system (access, understanding, and action) and cites six case studies demonstrating how early childhood programs and school districts are using data systems to improve family engagement. One example: a pre-K program in Colorado that uses children's drawings as data, allowing early childhood teachers and parents to track a child’s developmental progress.

Family-School-Community Partnerships 2.0: Collaborative Strategies to Advance Student Learning

Henderson, Ann. Family-School-Community Partnerships 2.0: Collaborative Strategies to Advance Student Learning (2011). National Education Association: Washington DC.

This report identifies and describes key partnerships that National Education Association members have forged in 16 communities to help close achievement gaps, improve low-performing schools, and transform relationships between schools and their communities. Part I of this report reviews recent research on school and family collaboration and presents 10 key strategies for creating effective family- school-community partnerships that are focused on advancing student learning. It also includes recommendations for moving this important work forward. Part II contains profiles for each of the 16 partnership programs. In many cases, Association members have been catalysts for or taken on key roles in these effective programs. These profiles demonstrate very clearly that family-school-community partnerships with a central focus on advancing student learning can have a powerful impact.

Study Links Academic Setbacks to Middle School Transition

Schwerdt, G. and West, M. (2011). The Impact of Alternative Grade Configurations on Student Outcomes Through Middle and High School. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6208.

While policymakers and researchers alike have focused on improving students' transition into high school, a new study of Florida schools suggests the critical transition problem may happen years before, when students enter middle school.

The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood

Chetty, R., Friedman, J.N. and Rockoff, J. (2011), The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood, NBER Working Paper 17699.

Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students' standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students' lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years. This study shows that great teachers create great value — perhaps several times their annual salaries — and that test score impacts are helpful in identifying such teachers. Nevertheless, it is clear that improving the quality of teaching — whether using value-added or other tools — is likely to have large economic and social returns.

Creating Schools that Support Success for English Language Learners

Stepanek , J, Raphael , J, Autio, E, Deussen, T, & Thomps, L. (2010). Creating schools that support success for english language learners. Lessons Learned, 1(2), Education Northwest.

Lessons derived from Education Northwest's research, evaluation, and technical assistance experiences are intended to address questions that administrators may have about how to mitigate barriers to the linguistic and academic achievement of ELLs. They will also help leaders provide better support to teachers as they learn and implement evidence-based instructional practices for ELLs.

The Positive Effects of Literacy Collaborative on Teaching and Student Learning

Literacy Collaborative. (2009). The Positive Effects of Literacy Collaborative on Teaching and Student Learning. Cambridge, MA: Literacy Collaborative.

New results from a four-year longitudinal study of 17 schools in the East Coast suggests that in-school literacy coaches can help boost student reading skills by as much as 32 percent in three years. Teacher expertise increased substantially, and the more coaching a teacher received the stronger the growth. Additional benefits: communication among teachers increased and the literacy coordinators became more involved in the critical conversations.

Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision Making

Hamilton, L., Halverson, R., Jackson, S., Mandinach, E., Supovitz, J., & Wayman, J. (2009). Using student achievement data to support instructional decision making (NCEE 2009-4067). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides/.

This guide offers five recommendations to help educators effectively use data to monitor students' academic progress and evaluate instructional practices. The guide recommends that schools set a clear vision for schoolwide data use, develop a data-driven culture, and make data part of an ongoing cycle of instructional improvement. The guide also recommends teaching students how to use their own data to set learning goals.

iLearn II: An Analysis of the Education Category on Apple's App Store

Shuler, C. (2009). iLearn; A Content Analysis of the iTunes App Store's Education Section. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

This week, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop released iLearn II: An Analysis of the Education Category of Apple's App Store, an examination of nearly 200 top-selling education category apps for Apple's iPad and iPhone with the goal of understanding this market's dynamics and trends. The analysis highlights industry best practices and future opportunities for developers, educators and researchers to influence this important, but under-scrutinized category by closely examining the content of children's apps within the education category.

Tough Choices or Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce

National Center on Education and the Economy. (2007). Tough Choices or Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. Jossey-Bass: Hoboken, NJ.

America's approach to education has lagged behind as industry and technology has continued to advance. To truly prepare student's for the 21st century workforce, and to remain competitive in the global economy, the National Center on Education and the Economy has ten policy recommendations for America's schools.

America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future

Kirsch, I., Braun, H. Yamamoto, K and Sum, A. (2007) America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

This report from ETS says we are in the midst of a perfect storm, a confluence of three powerful forces: divergent skill distributions, the changing economy and demographic trends. It projects the impact of these interactions upon the nation 25 years into the future, and sets out the challenges facing schools in America with up-to-date statistical info and comparisons with other developed countries.

America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future

Kirsch, I., Braun, H. Yamamoto, K and Sum, A. (2007) America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

This report from ETS says we are in the midst of a perfect storm, a confluence of three powerful forces: divergent skill distributions, the changing economy and demographic trends. It projects the impact of these interactions upon the nation 25 years into the future, and sets out the challenges facing schools in America with up-to-date statistical info and comparisons with other developed countries.

Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades

Gersten, R., Baker, S.K., Shanahan, T., Linan-Thompson, S., Collins, P., & Scarcella, R. (2007). Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades: A Practice Guide (NCEE 2007-4011). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides.

The target audience for this guide is a broad spectrum of school practitioners such as administrators, curriculum specialists, coaches, staff development specialists and teachers who face the challenge of providing effective literacy instruction for English language learners in the elementary grades. The guide also aims to reach district-level administrators who develop practice and policy options for their schools.

Leading After-School Learning Communities

National Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals. (2006). Leading After-School Learning Communities: What Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do. Washington DC: National Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals.

By collaborating with afterschool programs and accepting them as vital partners in education, principals can strengthen their schools and move closer to the overriding, common goal of maximizing learning for every child.

Raising Achievement Test Scores of Early Elementary School Students Through Comprehensive School Counseling Programs

Sink, C.A., and Stroh, H.R. (2003). Raising Achievement Test Scores of Early Elementary School Students Through Comprehensive School Counseling Programs. Professional School Counseling, 6(5), 350-364.

This study shows that early elementary-age students enrolled for several years in schools with well-established comprehensive school counseling programs produce higher achievement test scores over and above those continuously enrolled children in non-CSCP schools.

Effective Schools and Accomplished Teachers: Lessons About Primary-Grade Reading Instruction in Low-Income Schools

Taylor, B.M., Pearson, P.D., Clark, K.M., & Walpole, S. (2000). Effective schools and accomplished teachers: Lessons about primary-grade reading instruction in low-income schools. The Elementary School Journal, 101, 121-165.

This study investigated school and classroom factors related to primary-grade reading achievement in schools with moderate to high numbers of students on subsidized lunch. Fourteen schools across the U.S. and two teachers in each of grades K-3 participated. A combination of school and teacher factors, many of which were intertwined, was found to be important in the most effective schools. Statistically significant school factors included strong links to parents, systematic assessment of pupil progress, and strong building communication and collaboration. A collaborative model for the delivery of reading instruction, including early reading interventions, was a hallmark of the most effective schools. Statistically significant teacher factors included time spent in small-group instruction, time spent in independent reading, high levels of student on-task behavior, and strong home communication. More of the most accomplished teachers and teachers in the most effective schools supplemented explicit phonics instruction with coaching in which they taught students strategies for applying phonics to their everyday reading. Additionally, more of the most accomplished teachers and teachers in the most effective schools employed higher-level questions in discussions of text, and the most accomplished teachers were more likely to ask students to write in response to reading. In all of the most effective schools, reading was clearly a priority at both the school and classroom levels.

Beating the Odds in Teaching All Children to Read

Taylor, B., Pearson, P., Clark, K., & Walpole, S. (1999). Beating the odds in teaching all children to read. CIERA Report 2-006. University of Michigan: Ann Arbor.

What schoolwide practices characterize schools in which at-risk learners are beating the odds? What instructional practices are used by the most accomplished primary-grade teachers and by teachers in the most effective schools? The authors used quantitative and descriptive methods to investigate school and classroom factors related to primary-grade reading achievement. Fourteen schools across the U.S. with moderate to high numbers of students on subsidized lunch were identified as most, moderately, or least effective based on several measures of reading achievement in the primary grades. A combination of school and teacher factors, many of which were intertwined, was found to be important in the most effective schools. Statistically significant school factors included strong links to parents, systematic assessment of pupil progress, strong building communication, and a collaborative model for the delivery of reading instruction, including early reading interventions. In all of the most effective schools, reading was clearly a priority at both the building and classroom level.

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"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges