Solutions That Work: New frontiers of education research

In addition to direct classroom experience, the ideas and proposals in Solutions That Work are guided, informed, and driven by the newest findings in education research - research that asks many of today's most urgent questions: 

  • How can schools identify teacher performance needs and make improvements?
  • How can schools support great teaching?
  • How can schools maximize learning time for students?
  • What can schools do to support students’ career goals?
  • What will engage the people who know a school the best?
  • How can parents support student learning?
  • What can make a school safer?

We hope to present as many answers as possible to questions like these. Listed below are current research documents you can read, print, or download.

Comprehensive, Effective Teacher Evaluation (June 2011)
The art and science of teaching are both complex and multifaceted. As researchers develop a clearer understanding of the many components of effective teaching, experts have also examined professional evaluation research to make traditional systems more effective. Current research has defined several components of effective professional evaluation systems that can be applied to teachers.

New Teacher Induction and Mentoring (June 2011)
Schools can cut attrition rates in half and improve performance through comprehensive induction and mentoring programs. Early experiences for teachers establish career-long patterns; indeed, the first two years of teaching experience are a consistent predictor of teacher effectiveness. Because of this, it is crucial that we ensure support for new teachers in these early years. Research has defined what constitutes effective new teacher induction.

Invest in Early Childhood Care and Education (June 2011)
The knowledge and experience students bring with them to kindergarten matters deeply; every person’s capacity for future learning depends on past learning. The benefits of early childhood programs are extensive, and are especially important in helping address needs of at-risk children by closing learning gaps that begin well before kindergarten.

Site-Based Decision-Making (June 2011)
In site-based decision-making, those closest to students – parents, teachers, education support professionals, and administrators – use a variety of data on student performance and other indicators to collaboratively determine which interventions are most likely to improve student achievement.

Utilize Response to Intervention (June 2011)
Response to Intervention (RtI) is a tool many Pennsylvania schools are using to customize instruction for general education and special education students, creating an integrated system of instruction and intervention guided by student outcome data. According to the RtI Action Network, RtI begins with high-quality instruction and universal screening of all children in the general education classroom. Students identified with particular learning needs are provided with interventions of varying levels of duration and intensity based on their individual response to instruction.

Maximize Learning Opportunities 
Maximizing academic learning time is a critical tool to improve student achievement and requires multiple policies and programs to support great teaching and learning. Strategies within schools include extending the school day and year as well as providing a range of before- and afterschool instructional options. But what matters most for learning and increasing student achievement is maximizing academic learning time. Simply increasing the time available for learning (by increasing the length of the school day or year) is not likely to be productive unless the time is used to engage students productively in learning.

Prepare All Students For Work or Post-Secondary Education (June 2011)
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has established a system of public education designed to meet the needs of its citizens and society as a whole. The stated purpose of that system includes preparing students to “become self-directed, life-long learners and responsible, involved citizens,” which requires providing students with a foundation in literacy, numeracy, and thinking skills, as well as career development.

Encourage Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (June 2011)
When schools, families, and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, score higher on standardized tests, complete more courses, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enroll in higher-level programs. The evidence holds true for students at both the elementary and secondary levels, regardless of their parents’ education level, family income, or background – and the research shows parent involvement affects minority students’ academic achievement across all races.

Creating a Culture of Professional Practice (June 2011)
Education research shows that helping teachers achieve a balance between individualism and collaboration/collegiality can be an important part of improving teaching practice, which is good for students. For teachers, interacting cooperatively with colleagues and joining with fellow teachers on joint projects and assignments can have at least two significant and positive impacts on schools: collaboration and collegiality in schools helps retain highquality teachers, and generally helps schools improve teaching and learning.

Ensure a Safe and Secure Environment (June 2011)
A positive, safe, and clean school environment is essential to sound child development and highlevel learning and is directly linked to student academic performance. Students learn best and achieve to their fullest potential when they are taught in an environment where they are physically, socially, and emotionally safe. A positive school environment is associated with fewer student behavioral and emotional problems, increased academic success, and higher rates of staff retention which is important for providing a consistent set of adults whom students learn they can trust throughout their academic careers.





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