Tired of the same old student evaluations? This fund wants to help

Credit: Lillian Mongeau / EdSource today

A student displays a geometric figure she built with straws in a core math class in her third grade class.

Teachers who have long dreamed of alternatives to traditional student assessment methods now have the opportunity to put their prototypes to the test.

Wednesday, the Higher education research and development fund, an initiative that funds inclusive research and development projects on teaching and learning, announced a new national effort to analyze and reduce the achievement gaps between low-income K-12 students and high income, called Evaluation for good.

“As districts embark on innovative and cutting-edge teaching formats this fall, assessment must also evolve in complementary ways,” said Temple Lovelace, director of the Assessment for Good program. “It’s time for our assessment practices to foster promise and stimulate learning in new and imaginative ways. “

High-quality research and development programs have quickly brought innovations like a Covid-19 vaccine from idea to reality. But educational settings often lack the time and funding to foster the links between practitioners and those who study the process of learning to successfully implement strategies that work.

With a total of $ 200 million, the fund will support project proposals from teachers, researchers, parents or product developers on how assessment could be improved. By 2023, the program will select about five research ideas over three to five years with budgets of $ 20 to $ 40 million.

Assessment for Good announced on Wednesday that it is search for proposals for funding available for projects aimed at creative ways to assess student learning and “how learning environments support specific aspects of students’ emotional and identity development”. It is also call on educators and other experts for information and ideas on how the assessment might be done differently overall.

The initiative is already working with three founding school districts, including a California district, Vista Unified, a large suburban district of San Diego County.

“I hope this will help strengthen the case for greater public investment and support for long-term educational R&D (research and development),” said Stacey Childress, CEO of the Higher education research and development fund. “Just as the country invests in breakthroughs in sectors like medicine and energy, our programs will pursue ambitious goals in multiple areas that will help better understand what is possible for student learning and opportunities. “

The researchers behind the program say the overarching goal is to move away from the status quo of supporting and measuring the success of students in poverty, from math classes to discipline.

According to American research institutes, 21% of Latino students and 36% of black students nationwide were suspended or kicked out of high school from 2009 to 2012, far more than their white (14%) or Asian (6%) peers. Suspensions prevent students from attending class and miss out on crucial learning time, and program officials are interested in solutions that link assessment to the systemic challenges black and Latino students face in schools .

“As a team, we believe we can impact both of these areas of concern by creating better ways to gather information about the environment that students have experienced each day,” said Lovelace. “We also believe that the current tools we use to collect information can be redesigned. “

A particular challenge that program directors point out is that black and Latino students are often over-represented in special education classes. One of the goals of the program is to reverse this trend and increase access to rigorous math courses for groups of students who have historically been placed in lower level or remedial courses at disproportionate rates. .

The group is also interested in ways in which parents can be more involved in measuring progress and in ways to take into account the social and emotional needs around the assessment.

The Assessment for Good program will live alongside the existing research and development fund effort called EF + Math, which aims to improve both mathematical performance and executive function, which refers to the brain processes that allow humans to plan. , focus their attention, remember instructions and juggle. multiple tasks successfully. The EF + Math program also funds research efforts, but with a focus on improving math outcomes for students in Grades 3 through 8.

Launched in 2019, EF + Math has rewarded several submissions and now works with more than 200 partners ranging from teachers to product developers. The winning projects include a game called Fraction Ball, created by a team from UC Irvine’s School of Education and teachers from the El Sol Academy of Sciences and Arts in Santa Ana.

In Fraction Ball, a basketball court is divided into units so that students can draw whole point fractions and add up their total scores. The goal is to help students learn rational numbers on the basketball court using the cognition-based hypothesis that game-based active learning can improve student number sense and fluency. with factions.

One of the central goals of Assessment for Good and EF + Math is to reduce the time it takes to translate research into groundbreaking programs such as Fraction Ball, which have the potential to enhance student learning.

“Success in math is essential for success in life,” said Melina Uncapher, EF + Math Program Director. “Every youngster is already equipped with the skills to learn everything, especially rigorous math. They deserve to be challenged with the best resources and opportunities. We focus on affirming the sparkle that already exists in every student by creating research-based, student-centered math learning systems.

According to Lovelace, the types of assessment innovations the program will seek out could include more play-based programs like Fraction Ball, wearable technology, or assessments that consider social and emotional health. Selected proposals will be evaluated by third-party researchers, Childress said. The first request for proposals will be open from August 15 to September 7. 1.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Walton Family Foundation together provided the $ 200 million for the program. In addition to Assessment for Good and EF + Math, the research and development fund plans to expand to five inclusive R&D programs on different topics by the end of 2023.

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Team receives $ 2 million NSF grant to teach virtual explorers about permafrost and arctic climate change – NAU News

Scientists at Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, the Arizona Geological Survey at the University of Arizona, and the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado Boulder have received nearly 2 million dollars from the National Science Foundation to develop virtual reality education. tool called Polar Explorer. In this immersive web-based environment, undergraduates will explore the polar environments of the Arctic to learn about permafrost from their laptops, desktops or mobile devices.

“The real-time transformation of the Arctic affects everyone, but most of us cannot get there to witness these changes,” said Deborah Huntzinger, Associate Professor in the School of Earth and Sustainability at Northern Arizona University and Principal Investigator (PI) leading the project. “Polar Explorer will take students deep into thawing permafrost and along the shores of the Arctic to discover how the region is changing in an immersive and accessible way. “

She is joined by Co-PI Regents Professor Michelle mack and artist Victor Leshyk from the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at NAU, Ariel Anbar and Chris Mead from the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Center for Education Through Exploration (ETX) at Arizona State University (ASU), Lisa Thompson from Arizona Geological Survey at the University of Arizona and Kevin Schaefer from the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB).

The team is focused on the Arctic because global warming is rapidly changing that region in ways that affect climate, infrastructure, and public health around the world. Over the past three decades, the Arctic has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the world, and permafrost has started to thaw. Thawing permafrost releases huge amounts of previously frozen greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accelerating the rate of climate change. Thawing permafrost can also threaten the food and drinking water security of local residents and lead to erosion of landscapes, collapse of buildings and roads, and an increased risk of forest fires. These impacts make it important for the general public to understand how the Arctic is changing and why these changes have important consequences for people around the world. But the remoteness and inaccessibility of the Arctic makes it difficult to teach students about permafrost and its consequences.

The team hopes Polar Explorer will change that. Using virtual learning technology pioneered by ASU’s ETX center, students will be able to visit scientifically accurate landscapes and interact with them as if they were physically there, regardless of their background. socio-economic, their physical capacities or their level of academic preparation. Polar Explorer will be an adaptive learning environment built around a series of Immersive Virtual Excursions (iVFT). For example, to examine the links between carbon and permafrost, students will visit (virtually) the experimental research site on heating carbon in permafrost in Healy, Alaska, where the NAU Regents professor Ted schuur has been studying permafrost for over a decade. From the cabin where Schuur’s research team lives during the summer, students will hear the neighborhood sled dogs howling. In the field, they will measure carbon dioxide emissions, examine real-time carbon dioxide and temperature data, and perform other virtual measurements to compare permafrost thaw depths in plots that have been warmed versus to those who haven’t been.

“Polar Explorer will put students in the field, so that they don’t just read the dramatic changes we see in the Arctic, but experience them,” said Schaefer, researcher at National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Each student navigating iVFTs in Polar Explorer will have a unique experience, receiving personalized feedback tailored to their needs while working towards the same learning outcomes as their peers. The team, with help from the NAU Science Teaching and Learning Center, will test Polar Explorer as part of undergraduate courses at NAU before making it free and accessible to all level students. university with access to the Internet and a modern web browser.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for results-oriented distance learning resources for teachers of all levels, and Polar Explorer is meeting that need, said Thompson, a researcher with the Arizona Geological Survey.

“Smart tutoring systems have been tested in undergraduate science courses at NAU, ASU and nationally and globally,” she said. “We have the technology, and now is an important time to bring the rapidly evolving Arctic to student devices. “

“What is particularly exciting about this project is the opportunity to study how iVFTs help students learn difficult concepts such as working at multiple scales and understanding transdisciplinary connections,” said Mead, researcher. assistant to ASU. “These skills are inherent in polar science and they are absolutely essential in preparing students for the challenges of the 21st century. “

Image credit: Victor O. Leshyk, Scotland

Kate Petersen | Center for Ecosystem Science and Society

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PLDT Enterprise highlights fight against faculty and student burnout in next normal – Manila Bulletin

PLDT Enterprise, the B2B arm of the Philippines’ largest fully integrated telecommunications company, called for innovative solutions that would address threats to the well-being of students and teachers as they pursued e-learning in the next normal.

During the recent eBossing online course hosted by PLDT Enterprise, dedicated to members of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU) and their 3,000 university and college directors, faculty members and administrators, Dick Perez, Assistant Vice President and Corporate Relations of PLDT Enterprise. The CEO of the Academy and the FMCG, said the toll of the increased workload for teachers and other associated effects of the pandemic should not be underestimated.

A study by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) found that more than 28 million students, educators and parents are grappling with the impact of the pandemic of COVID-19, which is also affecting their health and well-being.

Perez pointed out that a good way to reduce stress in online learning is to create a pedagogy based on fun, interaction and collaboration.

“Including collaborative activities in an online course leads to positive performance results. Collaborative group interaction facilitates active learning, knowledge sharing and fosters social interaction and a supportive online learning community, ”said Perez.

“In addition, the value of teaching through play is compelling. The games draw students into the learning process, promote a healthy sense of competition, and encourage them to refrain from chess as a springboard to greater success.

However, when using a game-based learning approach, Perez advised educators “to avoid games that offer arbitrary rewards, but rather those that trick students into making difficult choices that lead to interesting and significant results ”.

Meanwhile, John Combalicer, Deputy Vice President of PLDT Enterprise and Head of Education, FMCG, SMBiz Enterprise Strategic Solution Group, added that higher education institutions should prioritize accessibility of consulting services. academic and medical online to students.

PLDT Enterprise Vice President and Head of Education, FMCG, SMBiz Enterprise Strategic Solution Group John Combalicer

“We need to address educational wellness for the next normal. PLDT is your partner in helping your educational institution in your role of creating more online learning experiences that will help educators, students and parents deal with this pandemic, ”noted Combalicer.

During the program, CHED Commissioner Dr Aldrin Darilag, CRHA, RHT, RN listed the institution’s different programs and goals for the sector and spoke about the institutionalization of e-learning and e-learning. other relevant policies aimed at “renovating the education system into the new normal.” and empower both educators and learners.

Darilag spoke about PHL CHED Connect, a platform launched by CHED that contains over 1.6K of educational content and has already engaged over 60K unique users.

PLDT Enterprise has been a partner of PACU in providing connectivity plans and e-learning services to its member schools. The group has also worked with global technology companies to create more meaningful connections and immersive online learning experiences for students and educators.



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From track to runway and take off for employability


Pathway operators are becoming the unlikely force behind new initiatives in the employability of international graduate students. It’s a phenomenon that deserves applause because it reflects the needs of students, but it begs the question of why universities are not doing the heavy lifting in an area critical to national competitiveness in the post-pandemic world.

Responses suggest that it may be time to come up with more radical solutions to career guidance and counseling services.

CareerAhead (Study Group), CareerFirst (INTO University Partnerships), Career Core (Kaplan), Career Accelerator (Shorelight) and Professional (Navitas) are all variations on the same theme. Some are more expensive and have more guarantees than others.

This is just the start and may simply represent an opportunistic response to student concerns in a time of economic uncertainty, rather than a long-term plan to support graduate employment. Serious, intelligent and strategic operators should incorporate robust longitudinal measurement of placements, career progression and benchmarking.

It’s no secret that international students are very focused on the return on investment they get from their spending on a degree abroad.

In 2016, Hobsons research indicated that four in ten people (40%) said they would go where there is a high demand for employees and 38% would choose their study destination based on the expected high earnings associated with it. to the industry for which their diploma prepares them. A 2021 QS study of students interested in studying in the United States showed that 54% said a high graduate employment rate was the most important metric they considered.

Failure to support graduate results

The decision of course providers to take the lead in this area may suggest that they have abandoned the idea that their academic partners are willing to provide what international students need or are able to do.

One of the great selling points of course providers has always been that upon arrival, students are “university students” with access to all of the host institution’s resources and facilities. Any reasonable person would think that this includes career counseling and guidance services which are the institution’s go-to resource for helping students find employment.

Another underlying dichotomy is that the implicit purpose of earning a degree is that it is a way to have more choice in the career one is pursuing. The need for private providers to charge additional sums to ensure appropriate levels of support reflects the broader truth that a degree is no longer sufficient.

Institutions would do well to consider how this will start to change the calculation of return on investment made by students when choosing a university.

Universities can also hope that just as they have ceded their brands to pathway providers and allow them to recruit students directly, they will not have to invest more in career counseling and guidance.

The industry’s low level of investment in graduate outcomes was exposed by Tribal / iGraduate research which found universities spend more than nine times as much on marketing than on career counseling and support.

This matches a collapse in the collection of data on graduate outcomes, meaning that decent comparative information from the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) will not emerge until 2023 – six years since the last data. significant.

Even when the HESA figures arrive, they are very unlikely to provide any real information on the results of the 75% or more of international students who plan to return to their home country. While employability is to be a key battleground for countries, universities and pathway providers to prove their worth, there is a significant lack of data on which to build a reputation.

Alternative models of data collection are already being used by forward-thinking universities and show where individual universities can make a difference for their graduates.

Outsourcing of career services to meet needs

Leading industry commentators have argued that “career services must die” and this would seem increasingly true, given the lackluster support most are able or willing to provide international students.

There is a real need for institutions to rethink their performance criteria and even for governments with ambitious international student recruitment targets to examine how national reputations can be built or broken. It may even be a good time for higher education to shift its investment in study and career counseling to private providers who can provide both genuine support and accurate performance measurement.

It may sound drastic, but there is evidence that career progression has become a highly nuanced, technologically advanced and competitive endeavor, where a growing number of graduates need all the support they can get.

It is clear that the world of work has become just as oriented towards aggregators like ZipRecruiter, Indeed and others. Universities need good quality information to be able to orient their academic offerings to changing market needs, but there is no reason to expect them to be service experts for guarantee employment.

Outsourcing of non-core activities such as hosting, pre-graduation education and maintenance has come a long way and delivered substantial gains for the industry. Focusing on teaching, research and social impact is a lot to consider for most institutions and the pace of change required in ancillary services will always be secondary to these core activities. There is a certain symmetry in the providers of pathways to a university degree, also becoming the path to professional success.

This could lead to the tantalizing possibility that private providers also take over some aspect of alumni relationships with an emphasis on networking to create job prospects rather than viewing development and fundraising as the point of keeping in touch with alumni.

It is just a step away from building and recruiting training camps and refresher and development courses. With imagination, ingenuity, care and private investment, it could even become a radical reinvention of lifelong learning led by private providers to meet the skills demands of the ‘Great. -Worldwide Britain ”.

Louise Nicol is the founder of Asia Careers Group SDN BHD, and Alan Preece is an expert in global education, business transformation and operations management and runs the blogging site View from a bridge.

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Critical Race Theory Not Taught in Local Schools, Officials Say | Winchester Star

WINCHESTER – Students are not learning critical race theory in public schools in Winchester, Frederick County, or Clarke County, according to school district officials.

Christin Taylor, Assistant Professor of English at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Explains Critical Race Theory is a line of thought, research and practice that experts use in academia and in their field of expertise. to examine institutional policies and how they are shaped by race and how race influences these policies. Lawyers created the academic framework in the 1970s and 1980s.

Taylor, who holds a doctorate from the University of Maryland, focuses his research on African American literature and culture. Part of his research includes studying aspects of critical race theory in academia.

She said critical race theory is typically taught in master’s-level courses at colleges and universities, and is not designed for elementary and high school students.

“There’s this spread of misinformation about what Critical Race Theory is that makes people fear something that doesn’t exist,” Taylor said. “Local communities are encouraged to do something that just doesn’t exist.

Critical race theory has become a lightning rod of controversy across the country. Many activists and conservative experts say it is taught in fairness-minded K-12 schools.

But school officials in the area say their equity initiatives should not be confused with teaching critical race theory. They point out that the curriculum taught is defined by the state through the Virginia Standards of Learning. The State Board of Education sets the standards and curriculum for the state.

“We don’t teach anything outside of what the standards are,” said Julie Myers, director of middle and secondary education services for Frederick County Public Schools. “We are not teaching critical race theory and we have no intention of teaching critical race theory because it is not part of our curriculum.”

Myers is co-chair of the School Division Equity Task Force. The division began implementing its equity initiative in 2018.

“We want to be respectful and not to divide,” Myers said. “We try to create an inclusive, safe and welcoming learning environment for everyone in our learning community. “

Roy Echeverria, who co-chairs the division’s task force, said fairness is about trying to meet the unique needs of one child, and that doesn’t mean it will be at the expense of another group.

Frederick County Public Schools plan to hold a town hall in the 2021-22 school year to better educate the public about its equity efforts and what they mean to students and staff, Myers said.

When asked if CRT is part of the state’s curriculum, Virginia Department of Education spokesperson Charles Pyle replied, “Nowhere in the standards does it There is a requirement for schools to teach critical breed theory or to incorporate critical breed theory when presenting required content.

The state-established history and social science curriculum can be viewed at: https://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/history/index.shtml. They are undergoing a review which should be completed by November 2022.

Some community members and local elected officials have called the equity work in FCPS “anti-white” and “Marxist.” At the Frederick County Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday night, for example, Back Creek District Supervisor Shawn Graber asserted that Critical Breed Theory has been implemented over the past few years in the county schools alongside school division equity initiatives.

Taylor said that just because terms like “systemic racism” or “anti-racism” are used in a classroom doesn’t mean that students learn Critical Race Theory, because CRT is an in-depth and focused methodology. , not a mere term or an occasional act. .

History classes on African American history are not critical forms of teaching racial theory, it’s just inclusive history, she said.

In the 2020-21 school year, Winchester Public Schools were included in a state pilot program to teach African American and Latin American elective history courses at Handley High School.

Some state legislatures propose and pass legislation to prevent the teaching of these courses.

“We shouldn’t be afraid to teach history,” said WPS Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum. “Teaching the full significance of the story shouldn’t lead to shame or blame either.”

He also said: “You won’t find a critical race theory in Winchester public schools, and it is unfortunate that this national dialogue has been used at the state and local levels to somehow hijack the good fairness work in our schools. “

Van Heukelum stressed that he was proud of the division’s commitment to fairness. Last year, the Winchester School Board adopted an equity policy that holds the school division accountable for providing equitable results for all students. The policy defines “educational equity” as the inability to predict the outcome of a student’s achievement based on sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race, color, national origin, disability, religion, economic status or languages ​​spoken at home.

In Clarke County Public Schools, Superintendent Chuck Bishop said school staff work with students to understand cultural differences and that teaching cultural empathy, for example, is not equivalent. to the critical theory of race.

“We can teach each other to be respectful, to understand individual differences without a program specified as [critical race theory]”said the bishop.

LMCC plans to relaunch its Equity and Diversity Committee in the next school year. The committee would advise the school board on how to ensure equitable access and opportunities for all students in the division.

In neighboring Loudoun County, a recent school board meeting erupted over transgender policies and the school division’s alleged adoption of critical race theory, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

Taylor said disinformation about CRT can cause people to oppose values ​​they actually support, such as inclusion.

“Nationally, disinformation is rife on critical race theory,” Taylor said. “At the local level, this misinformation annoys people in their communities. “

Two candidates for the Shawnee District seat at the Frederick County School Board have addressed critical race theory and associated terms, saying they must prevent such ideas from influencing public schools in County of Frederick. Frederick.

Candidate Miles Adkins said he believes the school division’s equity initiative falls under critical race theory.

Another candidate, David Stegmaier, who currently represents the Shawnee District on the Frederick County Board of Supervisors, opposed funding of $ 125,000 for an equity and diversity coordinator for the school division. The post has been removed from the division’s budget.

Stegmaier told The Star he thinks the terms fairness and critical race theory are the same thing.

“I believe the term ‘fairness’ was co-opted by the left in order to racially divide us,” Stegmaier said in an email. “This is why I strongly opposed funding the position of Equity and Diversity Coordinator in Frederick County.

If elected to the school board, Stegmaier said he would recommend removing the term equity and bringing back terms such as “student support”.

“The State Department of Education and the State Board of Education use the concept of ‘fairness’ to create racial antagonism and divide Virginians,” Stegmaier said.

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Schools spend the equivalent of nearly 3 million Chromebooks on paper each year

British schools spend the equivalent cost of three million Chromebook devices on paper resources each year, according to a new study commissioned by apps company Kami.

After conducting a nationwide survey of 400 primary and 400 secondary school teachers, the study – conducted by Vitreous World – calculated the total cost of paper used in schools. With teachers using an average of 30 sheets of paper per class and each teacher teaching an average of 3.3 classes per day, each uses about 99 sheets of paper per day.

The cost of a pack of paper (2,500 sheets) is around £ 13.96 (based on Euroffice, A4 white copier paper), so the average cost per piece of paper is £ 0.0056. According to Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), the cost of laser printing a single black and white page is £ 0.04, bringing the total cost of a printed page to £ 0.047.

There are 190 teaching days in the UK per year and 548,078 full-time teachers.

Multiplying that figure by the number of sheets of paper used by teachers in a school year, that works out to around £ 484,539,317 on paper prints. And with a Google Chromebook costing around £ 173.20 a year, that works out to around 2,797,571 million devices.

“As schools look for ways to help students make up for what many fear has been a lost year in education, there is an opportunity to help this, and student success in their future careers,” by placing technology at the heart of teaching practices. “ – Hengjie Wang, Kami

The majority of teachers (72%) express concern about their respective schools’ reliance on paper resources, acknowledging that most students will find themselves in careers heavily reliant on digital skills and assets. The general consensus was that paper-based teaching and learning methods are holding back the education system, with 77% of respondents saying they had to learn digital skills on their own, 52% saying they lacked devices in the classroom and 47% agreeing that they could do with more educational software in their teaching.

Hengjie Wang, CEO and co-founder of Kami, said the pandemic has highlighted a “disconnect” between old paper-based ways and teachers with an increased appetite for digital classroom tools. “As schools look for ways to help students make up for what many fear has been a lost year in education,” he explained, “there is an opportunity to help this, and the success of students in their future careers, by putting technology at the heart of teaching practices.

It appears that the pandemic has influenced teachers’ sense of purpose as educators, with 89% saying their role is to make sure they best prepare students for adulthood. As such, the lack of classroom resources has created a sense of urgency, with 90% of those surveyed understanding that their students need to continue improving their digital skills, and 73% agree that as life becomes more centered. on digital, the classroom should too.

But the students’ perspective has also changed following the events of the past 12 months; When asked what they think of students’ current expectations, 78% said they were looking for more personalized forms of learning, 74% said students wanted a collaborative classroom experience, and 74% said they were looking for more personalized learning. asked for immediate feedback on homework.

So it makes sense that more than half (56%) of the teachers surveyed, who already rely heavily on edtech in the classroom, think it has improved student outcomes. On top of that, teachers want to increase their use of edtech in the future, with 85% saying they are excited about the potential benefits that technology can bring to the classroom.

On the results, Wang commented, “As expectations, models and working styles have changed during the pandemic, we have seen the same with education. Schools need to seriously think about how they can reallocate the huge amounts spent on paper to deliver digitally-focused education – including teacher training programs, investing in software solutions, and putting a device in the hands of every student. “

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How do you help girls do well in school? There is a surprising answer


You would think that the best way to get girls to do well in school would be to design programs just for them – offer them mental health support or free sanitary pads.

But a new study, published in May in the journal World Bank Economic Review, beg to differ. Researchers David Evans and Fei Yuan looked at 267 studies of education programs in 54 low- and middle-income countries to find the most effective ways to get more girls into school and improve their learning. Globally, more than 130 million girls are still out of school, according to the World Bank, due to poverty, child marriage and violence.

Instead of looking only at girls’ education programs, they looked at all kinds of programs. To measure access, they analyzed enrollment, attendance, drop-out, graduation, and completion rates, and to measure performance, they looked at test scores.

Their biggest finding is that gender neutral programs, such as distributing cash assistance to families of school-aged children.– can be just as effective in improving girls’ education as programs designed just for girls.

The study is among the first to examine both ways to improve girls’ access to school as well as their classroomperformance, says Markus Goldstein, chief economist at the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab, who did not work on the report.

We spoke with Evans, a senior researcher at the Center for Global Development, and Yuan, a doctoral student in educational policy and program evaluation at Harvard University, to discuss the best ways to boost girls’ education in low-income countries. and intermediate. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What inspired you to conduct this study?

Evans: Much of the previous work that has examined this issue has focused on programs targeted to girls’ specific needs, such as menstrual health. These are valid interventions, but if we focus only on programs that target girls, we may miss out on programs that greatly benefit girls but also help boys.

That’s why we decided to look at all the interventions that we know ofidentify which ones are most effective in improving girls’ outcomes, whether specifically targeted at girls or not.

You have found that the most effective programs to get more girls into school reduce the cost of educating students, regardless of gender, and their families. What are some examples of programs that have worked well?

Evans: Many of the most effective programs are those that eliminate tuition fees, offer scholarships, or provide families with a cash transfer to cover other costs related to their daughter’s education.

For example, in Ghana a lot of girls and boys pass their secondary school entrance exams, but they don’t have the money to pay for school fees. For example, a program provided scholarships to students who had already passed the entrance exam. It dramatically increased girls’ high school graduation rate by 66%.

But the most effective interventions are those that address the costs associated with the specific barriers girls face in a particular setting. In Afghanistan, for example, a [non-gendered]program builds schools in rural communities. He diminished [the cost of] going to school for both girls and boys and led to an increase of over 50% in girls’ participation in primary school. It’s dramatic.

What programs have been most helpful in improving a girl’s academic performance, as opposed to just integrating into the classroom?

Evans: The most effective interventions to increase learning were programs that improved the quality of teaching. But it’s not just about throwing teachers into a boardroom and giving them a lecture. Nor is it about launching fancy technologies, like laptops or tablets, into classrooms. The hardware does not work. It is embarrassing for teachers and students.

Instead, a literacy program – which included mentoring teachers, providing them with detailed teaching guides, and providing books to students – had a big impact on girls’ education. [in terms of test scores] in Kenya. The same was true of another program in Kenya that helped teachers teach children a language they spoke at home (rather than English).

Are there other types of programs that have helped girls learn better in the classroom?

Yuan: Another intervention worth mentioning is called Teaching at the Right Level, based in India. The idea is that students in the same class can have several different reading levels. But due to constraints such as large class sizes, teachers may not be able to tailor their teaching to the right level for each student. That leaves a few students out.

Teaching at the right level made it easier to have summer camps in which children were grouped by reading level, rather than by age or grade. This allowed teachers to target their teaching at the specific levels of these students. In one region, after 50 days of targeted education in these camps, children with the lowest achievement levels in India were able to catch up with the learning level of the third best performing state in the country.

Many of the high impact interventions you refer to do not specifically target girls. Are you saying that girls’ programs are not necessary?

Evans: Not at all! We have particularly focused on how to increase access to education and improve the quality of learning. Some [girl-focused] programs have other goals, such as reducing violence against girls, improving girls’ psychological and emotional well-being, reducing teenage pregnancies, or helping girls move from school to the labor market. job.

But when education is of poor quality, it is enough to help schools to improve education. This is not necessarily a gender specific problem.

Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to offer scholarships or cash transfers only to girls rather than both sexes, especially if far fewer girls than boys are in school?

Evans: Of course, if you don’t have the budget to cut school fees for everyone, eliminating school fees for girls is an effective way to set up a program targeting girls. This is what The Gambia has done. But sometimes general and untargeted interventions are more politically acceptable to governments, since voters have both daughters and sons.

Were you worried that some non-sexist programs would benefit boys more than girls?

Evans: It was something that worried us – increasing inequalities. But we found that overall, the impact of gender neutral programs tends to be slightly larger on girls than boys, both in terms of access and learning. These differences, for the most part, were not statistically significant. They were small. But it does mean that these general, untargeted interventions do not increase inequalities between boys and girls. If anything, they are likely to decrease it.

What changes do you hope to see in the way we work on girls’ education around the world?

Evans: We want to make sure that those who care about girls ‘education tap into the comprehensive toolbox of programs that can improve girls’ education. This includes programs for girls. It also includes general programs.

We don’t want anybody to walk away from that and say, “Oh, we don’t need to worry about the girls”. Instead, it means that if we care about girls, we have a wider range of tools to help them.

Joanne Lu is a freelance journalist who covers poverty and inequality around the world. His work appeared in Humanosphere, The Guardian, Washington World and War is boring. Follow her on Twitter: @joannelu

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Major City Schools Report Highlights Duval’s Work to Close the Opportunity Gap

A new national report shines a light on Duval County Public Schools for their work in helping students overcome poverty, opportunity gaps and other obstacles.

The Council of the Great City Schools, a well-regarded education advocacy organization, published a study called “Mirrors or Windows? Which aimed to measure the progress cities have made over the past decade when it comes to whether scores are improving among students in urban areas with high concentrations of poverty.

“Our question in this report is simple: are urban public schools, which have the largest number and largest concentration of poor students in the country, windows or mirrors? the report explained.

The report highlighted Duval County as one of 17 areas out of 27 cities measured that showed “statistically significant positive district effects in 2019”.

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Other cities and regions also highlighted included Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, the District of Columbia, and Miami-Dade County.

“The report reaffirms what is clear from the visit to our classrooms. The quality of the educational experience in our schools is exemplary, ”said Duval School Superintendent Diana Greene. “There are a lot of social ingredients in a test result or a school grade, and when you break it down like this report does, you see the work of our teachers, principals and support staff is another reason. for which Duval is a great place to learn and live. “


According to the Council of the Great City Schools, the study uses statistical methods to compare the nation’s largest and most diverse school districts.

Factors considered included free or discounted lunch eligibility rates, percentage of family income below $ 15,000 per year by school zip code (6.8% in Duval County), ethnicity and race demographics, English language learner status, and parental education.

As noted by Education Week, the report also considered changes that would impact an urban community over time, such as changing demographics, as a way to exclude outside factors that are typically credited for earnings. and school losses – such as gentrification, rising poverty rates and homelessness or the changing proportions of children learning English.

“We allocated credit to schools based on the population they serve,” Ray Hart, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, told Education Week. “What we haven’t done is credit schools for the education they give to the people they serve.”

Yet there are limits. For example, the study is limited to data from the National Education Progress Assessment, which was last administered in 2019. For this reason, declines triggered by the coronavirus pandemic are not included.

Results are also based only on cities and school districts participating in the urban district trial assessment. Duval County Public Schools began participating in 2015, meaning results from 2009 to 2014 could not be compared apples to apples like other school districts.

The report used data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress for reading and math scores in fourth and eighth grades and used statistical methods to predict the performance of students in each demographic group. These projected numbers were compared to actual student performance and the difference between the two results gave estimates of the impact of a school district.

“In other words, we created a measure of ‘value added’ or ‘district effect’ using data from the National Education Progress Assessment to determine whether urban school districts are producing enough “Educational couple” to alleviate poverty and other variables to any degree know how they were doing it, “the report says. “We’re also looking at neighborhoods that weren’t making as much progress and discussing what they have in common. In this way, we try to discern whether public schools, and urban public education in particular, are a force for upward social mobility or whether they simply reflect and perpetuate the inequalities that society creates. ”

The group says this study could help educators revamp their game plans as the coronavirus pandemic subsides in the years to come.

Duval schools perform well in reading in fourth and eighth grades

The performance of Duval County public schools warranted some thanks throughout the 84-page report.

Specifically, the district was praised for “significant positive effects on the district in 2019” for fourth grade reading and eighth grade reading.

District was also highlighted for having “considerably greater district effects” in three combinations of levels or subjects. Duval County was one of nine cities and districts including Dallas, Cleveland, New York and the District of Columbia.

Yet other areas were not as strong.

In eighth grade math, for example, Duval County schools had a “district effect” of 2.35 in 2019. In comparison, Miami scored 6.65 for the same grade and category. , which has been hailed as significant growth.

“This report reminds us that we still have work to do to ensure success for every student,” said Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, president of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. “We remain focused on partnering with DCPS to achieve excellent and fair results for every student. “

Education Week noted that studies of data on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have previously shown that the opportunity gaps are narrowing in large urban areas – which are typically the product of unequal access to resources. . However, what is important about the Council of the Great City Schools report is that it clearly shows how school districts are improving despite challenges, taking into account a common starting point and facilitating ‘identification of effective strategies.

As part of the study, the City Council of Grandes Ecoles visited the areas to determine if there were any commonalities in teaching methods and approaches that could inform the work of other major school systems. urban.

“Although urban school districts have not fully overcome or alleviated the barriers that stood before them, it is clear from the data in this study that schools in large cities can better mitigate the effects of poverty, discrimination, language and other barriers than others. schools across the country, ”said Council Executive Director Michael Casserly.

“We know there is still work to be done, but by examining how well urban schools are ‘overcoming the barriers’, we know that with the right strategies and practices, schools in major cities across the country can succeed. improve and improve, but they can significantly increase the number of students. achievement and deliver results that defy expectations, ”added Casserly.

According to the Council, the visits revealed “several common practices” among successful school districts, including:

  • strong and stable leadership focused on student instruction
  • high academic standards and well-defined educational support
  • strong professional development and support structures in schools
  • system-wide change
  • responsibility and a culture of collaboration
  • resilience and resourcefulness in the face of adversity
  • support for schools and pupils in difficulty
  • community investments and engagement efforts

“Research has shown that socioeconomic status is – unfortunately – a major predictor of student success, and therefore the real test of our public schools is how well they help all students thrive, what whatever the obstacles, ”said Tutwiler Fortune. “It is a major achievement that Duval County Public Schools are featured in this report. Our schools are windows of opportunity. “

Superintendent Greene said partnerships, such as with the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and other groups, also help fill gaps in opportunity.

“The contributions of many community partners also make a big difference in student outcomes,” she said. “The results of this research are a reflection of a community that has come together in incredible ways to support teaching and learning in our schools. “

Below is a complete copy of the report of the City Council of Grandes Ecoles:

Emily Bloch is an education reporter for the Florida Times-Union. Follow her on Twitter or send him an email.

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