Head Start CARES (Classroom-based Approaches and Resources for Emotion and Social Skill Promotion) is a large-scale, US national research demonstration to test a one-year programme to improve pre-kindergarteners’ (age 4–5) social and emotional readiness for school. To facilitate the delivery of the programme, teachers attended training workshops and worked with coaches throughout the school year. In this report from MDRC, researchers present lessons learned from Head Start CARES about coaching social-emotional curricula in a large and complex early childhood education system. Key findings include:
- Successful coaches exhibited a combination of skills in three important areas: knowledge of the programme, general coaching and consultation skills, and knowledge of and experience in early childhood development and/or teaching.
- Incorporating coaching into day-to-day practices requires flexibility and is necessary for implementation success.
- Site-level administrators must be actively engaged in supporting and supervising coaching as well as general implementation processes.
Source: Coaching as a Key Component in Teachers’ Professional Development: Improving Classroom Practices in Head Start Settings (2012), MDRC
This study from the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences tested the effectiveness of a summer reading programme on improving reading comprehension for disadvantaged Grade 3 pupils (age 8–9) reading below the 50th percentile. As part of the programme, children were sent a single delivery of eight books matched to their reading level and interest area during the first part of the summer. The delivery was followed by six weekly reminder postcards.
Findings showed that the summer reading programme did not have a statistically significant impact on pupil reading comprehension. However, the authors note that the study’s conclusions are constrained by several aspects of the programme’s design, including that the programme lasted just one summer and did not include teacher instruction and parent involvement. In previous studies, programmes with these components were found to be effective.
Source: Does a summer reading program based on Lexiles affect reading comprehension? (2012), Institute of Education Sciences
The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has published a new PISA in Focus review, analysing the results of their PISA study (Programme for International Student Assessment). It explores whether money “buys” improved performance for a country, and finds that higher expenditure on education does not guarantee better pupil performance. National wealth is important up to a point, and this research focuses on countries above a certain baseline.
But, for relatively high-income economies, the success of the country’s education system
depends more on how educational resources are invested than on the volume of investment. Investing in teachers and having high expectations for all pupils are cited as particularly important characteristics.
Source: Does Money Buy Strong Performance in PISA? PISA.
A special issue of the Journal of Children’s Services focuses on working with children and their families to reduce the risks of crime and anti-social behaviour. One article, co-written by the IEE’s Tracey Bywater, emphasises that despite the current focus on “early intervention” in policy, programmes aimed at older children can also be effective.
The authors found that there are increasing numbers of effective programmes for children aged 9–13 that aim to reduce current or future involvement in criminal or anti-social behaviour. These include school, family, and community programmes.
Source: Supporting from the start: effective programmes for nine to 13 year-olds (2006), Journal of Children’s Services, 7(1)
In the latest edition of Better: Evidence-based Education, Estelle Morris explores the interdependent relationship between education and politics. Looking forward, she describes the levers that are increasingly recognised as the way to ensure the education system delivers high standards for all pupils, with pedagogical change being the most important. She wants to see research brought to the fore, with better access to research for teachers and an improved relationship between politicians and education researchers.
Source: Managing change – The relationship between education and politics (2012), Better: Evidence-based Education, 4(2)
This study, published in the International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, examines the relationship between primary teacher participation in a multi-year professional development (CPD) effort and “high stakes” science test scores.
A total of 1,269 US primary school teachers participated in the CPD programme, which utilised regional summer workshops and distance education to help the teachers learn science concepts, inquiry teaching strategies, and how to adapt science inquiry lessons to teach and reinforce skills in English lessons. Findings of the study showed that there was a significant positive relationship between the CPD hours experienced by the teachers and pupil gains.
Source: How much professional development is needed to effect positive gains in K-6 student achievement on high stakes science tests? (2012), International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 10(1)