Findings from a randomised controlled trial of Tools of the Mind (Tools) suggest that the programme improves kindergarten (Year 1) pupils’ academic outcomes in reading and writing, enhances children’s joy in learning and teachers’ enjoyment of teaching, and reduces teacher burnout.
The Tools programme is a play-based preschool and
kindergarten curriculum that emphasises self-control, language and literacy
skills. The study, published in the journal PLoS One, analysed the
effectiveness of Tools on kindergarten teachers and 351 children (mean age 5.2
years at entry) with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in 18 public schools in
Canada. Schools were paired with closely matched schools and then randomised to
either the intervention group or control group. Teachers in the intervention
group received a three-day workshop on Tools before the school year began,
along with funds for resources. Control group teachers were offered the same
amount of training hours and funds for whatever training and resource materials
The results showed that pupils in the Tools group made
greater improvements than pupils in the control group on standardised tests for
reading and writing. By May, three times as many children in Tools classes than
in control classes were reading at Grade 1 (Year 2) level or better. Similarly,
three times as many children in Tools classes than in control classes were able
to write a full sentence that they composed themselves. Tools teachers also
reported that their pupils could continue to work unsupervised for two and a
half times longer than control teachers estimated for their pupils, and that
100% could get back to work right away after breaks, compared to 50% of control
The Tools programme also had a positive impact on how
teachers felt about teaching. More than three-quarters of Tools teachers, but
none of the control teachers, reported in May that they were still enthusiastic
control trial of Tools of the Mind:
Marked benefits to kindergarten children and their teachers (September 2019), PLoS One
Kristin Rogde and colleagues from the Campbell Collaboration have completed a systematic review that examines the effects of linguistic comprehension teaching on generalised measures of language and reading comprehension skills. Examples of linguistic comprehension skills include vocabulary, grammar and narrative skills.
The authors searched literature dating back to 1986, and
identified 43 studies to include in the review, including samples of both
pre-school and school-aged participants. Randomised controlled trials and
quasi-experiments with a control group and a pre-post design were included.
Key findings of the review were as follows:
The linguistic comprehension programmes
included in the review display a small positive immediate effect on generalised
outcomes of linguistic comprehension.
The effect of the programmes on generalised
measures of reading comprehension is negligible.
Few studies report follow-up assessment of
According to the authors, linguistic comprehension teaching has
the potential to increase children’s general linguistic comprehension skills.
However, there is variability in effects related to the type of outcome measure
that is used to examine the effect of such instruction on linguistic
effect of linguistic comprehension instruction on generalized language and
reading comprehension skills: A systematic review (November 2019), Campbell Systematic Reviews
Researchers at the Institute of Education at University College London have conducted a study that looks at whether there are any educational advantages to attending private schools in the upper secondary years (Years 12 and 13).
Published in the Oxford
Review of Education, the study used data from the Centre for Longitudinal
Studies’ Next Steps cohort study and linked this to national pupil achievement
information between 2005 and 2009. The researchers followed a sample of 5,852 pupils
who attended a private or state school while doing their A-levels.
The profiles of the two groups of pupils
were very different – pupils arrived in private school sixth forms with
significantly higher prior attainment in GCSEs, and from households that had
twice the income of families whose children attended state school sixth form.
However, the researchers used the data available from Next Steps to allow for
socio-demographic characteristics and prior achievement. Allowing for these
characteristics, pupils at private schools outperformed those at state schools
in their total A-level score by eight percentile points. Private school pupils
also performed better on those subjects deemed to be more important to elite
The researchers suggest that the
reason for the difference may lie in the vastly superior resources per pupil in
private schools (three times the state school average), including smaller
pupil-teacher ratios (roughly half the state school average). However, they
caution that their results are not truly causal.
Source: Private schooling, subject choice, upper secondary
attainment and progression to university (November 2019), Oxford Review of Education
One of the greatest challenges facing community colleges in
the US is that most students’ maths skills are below college level. These
students are often referred to developmental maths courses, however, most
students never complete the course and fail to earn a college degree.
A study published in Journal ofResearch on Educational Effectiveness looks at whether a modularised, computer-assisted approach that allows students to move at their own pace through the developmental maths course has any impact on students’ likelihood of completing the developmental maths course, compared with more traditional teaching.
The findings of the randomised trial of 1,400 students found
that although the programme was well-implemented, there was no evidence that it
was any more or less effective than traditional courses at helping students complete
the developmental maths course. The researchers comment that although the
results are disappointing, they are important because modularisation and
self-paced computer-assisted approaches are popular teaching methods.
randomized controlled trial of a modularized, computer-assisted, self-paced
approach to developmental math (September 2019), Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness
A new report from the Institute of Education Sciences in the US has found that an intensive approach to helping principals (headteachers) improve their leadership practices did not improve pupil achievement or change principal practices as intended.
The study looked at the effectiveness of a professional
development (PD) programme for elementary (primary) school principals that
focused on helping them to conduct structured observations of teachers’
classroom teaching and provide targeted feedback. It provided nearly 200 hours
of PD over two years, half of it through individualised coaching. One hundred
schools from eight districts in five US states took part in the study. Within
each district, schools with similar characteristics were paired together, and
within each pair, one school was randomly assigned to participate in the programme
for two years while the other did not.
To measure the effects on pupil achievement, the researchers
compared pupil test scores in grades 3 to 5 (Years 4 to 6) for both years of
programme implementation plus one additional school year. They found that, on
average, pupils had similar achievement in English or maths whether they were
in schools that received the principal PD programme or not.
The results of the study also found that although the programme
was implemented as planned, principals did not increase the number of times
they observed teachers. In fact, teachers whose principals received the PD
reported receiving less frequent teaching support and feedback than teachers
whose principals did not receive the PD.
effects of a principal professional development program focused on
instructional leadership (October 2019), Institute
of Education Sciences, US Department of Education
The Knowledge Is Power
Program (KIPP) is the largest network of public charter schools in the US,
serving more than 100,000 pupils across a network of more than 240 schools.
KIPP schools predominantly educate low-income pupils from underserved
communities, with the goal of closing achievement gaps and preparing pupils to
succeed in college.
In this Mathematica report, Thomas Coen and colleagues present the results of a long-term tracking study that follows 1,177 pupils who applied to enter 1 of 13 oversubscribed KIPP middle schools through a 5th or 6th grade (Year 6 or 7) admissions lottery ten years ago.
The study found that pupils who won a place at a KIPP middle school through the admission lottery were six percentage points more likely to enrol in a four-year college programme within two years of finishing high school than pupils who lost the lottery. After adjusting for those pupils who actually attended a KIPP school after receiving an offer (only 68% of the lottery recipients actually attended a KIPP school), the impact estimate increased to 12.9 percentage points.
The study also tracked the pupils who enrolled in
college immediately after high school, and examined whether they remained in
college programmes over the next two years. Pupils who attended KIPP middle
schools were more likely to still be enrolled in college after two years (33%)
than similar pupils who did not attend KIPP middle schools (24%). However, although
rates of entering college immediately and then continuing for two years were
higher for KIPP pupils, this difference was not large enough to be
Source: Long-term impacts of KIPP middle schools on college
enrollment and early college persistence (September 2019), Mathematica