A study published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness reports on the impact of Word Generation on academic language, vocabulary and reading comprehension outcomes for pupils in grades 4 to 7 (Years 5 to 8).
Word Generation (WG) is a vocabulary programme designed to
teach academic vocabulary words through English, maths, science and social
studies classroom activities. For this study, 7,725 fourth to seventh grade pupils
from 25 schools in the northeast US were randomised within pairs to either
treatment or business-as-usual control conditions. In treatment schools, the
programme was implemented throughout the school year. In grades 4 and 5 (Years
5 and 6), this involved 12 ten-day long units of 45-50 minutes per day. For
grades 6 and 7 (Years 7 and 8), the programme was implemented in six-week long
units designed to take 45 minutes each day in science and social studies
At the end of the first year, pupils in grades 4 and 5 also
made improvements on their academic language skills (ES = +0.06), and in their
reading comprehension at the end of the second year (ES = +0.15). Reading
comprehension also improved at the end of the second year for pupils in grades
6 and 7 (ES = +0.10).
The study also showed gains on tests of the specific words
emphasised in the programme, but these effects are considered potentially
Experimental effects of Word Generation on vocabulary, academic language,
perspective taking and reading comprehension in high-poverty schools (August
2019), Journal of Research on Educational
This Campbell systematic review looks at the effect of continuing professional development (CPD) approaches for education professionals on educational and social outcomes for children, and also any effects on professional practice.
The review summarises evidence from 51 studies, including 48
randomised controlled trials, however, only 26 studies were included in the
meta-analysis. The 51 studies were grouped into three CPD areas: social and
emotional development interventions, language and literacy development
interventions, and stress reduction interventions.
The main findings of the review were:
No effect of CPD on social and emotional
development interventions on pupil academic outcomes. The weighted average
effect size = +0.05.
No effect of CPD language and literacy
development interventions on pupil academic outcomes. The weighted average
effect size = +0.04.
It was not possible to draw any conclusions
concerning the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of CPD on social and emotional
development or language and literacy development interventions on teacher
As there was only one study in the CPD category
of stress reduction interventions, it was not possible to draw any conclusions.
The researchers conclude that there is insufficient evidence
for conclusions to be drawn, with the exception of language and literacy
development interventions. For this type of CPD, there seems to be no positive
impact on pupil academic outcomes.
of continuing professional development training of welfare professionals on
outcomes for children and young people: A systematic review (November 2019), Campbell Systematic Reviews
French pupils from disadvantaged
areas demonstrate lower achievement than their more affluent peers. In an
effort to close this achievement gap, the French government issued a policy in
2017 reducing Year 2 class size in high-priority educational areas to no more
than 12 pupils, extending to Year 3 classes and priority educational areas in
2018. In order to provide evidence regarding the feasibility of such a policy,
researchers used data from a 2003 first-grade-class-size-reduction policy in
France to examine its carry-over effects into the second grade.
The 2003 study involved assigning classrooms
to either small (12 pupils/class n=100 classes) or large (20–25 pupils/class,
n=100 classes) class sizes. At the start of the 2002–03 school year, children
were pre-tested on pre-reading skills and matched. In post-tests at the end of
the school year, results favoured the small-class-size group on word reading
(ES = +0.14) and word spelling (ES = +0.22). These effects are very small in
light of the costs of halving class size.
The new study examined these pupils’ reading achievement at the end of Year 3, where the pupils formerly placed in smaller classrooms had been placed in full-sized classes again. Subjects were 1,264 pupils (663 in the intervention group and 601 in the control group) who had received both the initial testing in Year 2 and had test scores at the end of Year 3. Results showed that while both groups were equivalent at the start of Year 2, and by the end of the year the small-class-size group showed greater academic achievement than the control group, this gain diminished over the summer break and had completely disappeared by the end of Year 3. That is, there was no long-term impact of one year of reduced class size.
Reducing the number of
pupils in French first-grade classes: Is there evidence of contemporaneous and
carryover effects? (November 2018), International
Journal of Educational Research, Volume 96,
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