Posts Tagged "education"

Are Digital Resources or Textbooks More Effective? OECD Weighs In

oecd logo 2

Source: OECD

Are digital resources more effective than textbooks? They are certainly more trendy these days. Although Learning List has reviewed hundreds of instructional materials in both formats, it’s difficult for us to say that one format is better than another. Online adaptive products that individualize learning for each student have the potential to differentiate instruction and keep all students challenged, while textbooks are easier to use, particularly for students without Internet access at home. As more digital content providers are entering the K-12 marketplace, we are paying close attention to research and policy discussions about the effectiveness of online products. We thought our readers might be interested in a recent Bloomberg View that summarizes findings from a 2015 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report.

standardized_testThe report’s key finding is that “increased computer use in classrooms leads to lower test scores.”  The OECD compared test results from the 2009 and 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) for groups of students who did and did not use digital resources for instruction. Results indicated that “the use of computers was negatively correlated with improvements in student performance” in both math and reading. That is, students who did not use digital resources performed better on the PISA tests, though there were some anomalies.

In addition, students in Japan, China, South Korea and other Asian economies where fewer students use computers, also did better on computer-based assignments. These students were no less comfortable using technology than students in Australia and Northern Europe where computers are more prevalent in instruction.

The reason? The report concludes:

Gaps in the digital skills of both teachers and students, difficulties in locating high-quality digital learning resources from among a plethora of poor-quality ones, a lack of clarity on the learning goals and insufficient pedagogical preparation for blending technology meaningfully into lessons and curricula create a wedge between expectations and reality. If these challenges are not addressed as part of the technology plans of schools and education ministries, technology may do more harm than good to the teacher-student interactions that underpin deep conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking.

Learning List’s Alignment Reports, Editorial Reviews and new Spec Sheets help educators overcome two of the challenges identified in the OECD report: finding high quality digital resources and blending digital resources into lessons and curricula effectively.

multitasking-mobile-devices-557x362The new Spec Sheets are Learning List’s two-page checklist of each product’s key academic and technology attributes. The Spec Sheets complement our more comprehensive Alignment Reports and Editorial Reviews to help educators quickly identify high-quality digital products that meet their students’ needs and can be implemented successfully using the district’s current technology. We hope that this at-a-glance review will help districts’ curriculum and technology teams quickly narrow the list of products to review themselves.

Learning List’s Alignment Reports also help educators integrate digital instructional materials into their lesson plans/curricula for more effective instruction. These detailed reports identify multiple citations (i.e. page numbers, lesson names) that Learning List’s subject matter experts determined to be aligned to the content, context and cognitive demand of each standard. Only by assigning the parts of the material that are aligned to each standard can teachers have confidence that their students are learning the knowledge and skills the standards require.

Stop by our booth (#1817) at the TASA/TASB Convention this weekend, and let us show you how our service and our new Spec Sheets can help your district choose and use instructional materials more effectively. If you won’t be at the conference, request a webinar at your convenience, and we’ll be glad to introduce you to our service.

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Happy Birthday, Ralph W. Tyler!

20150422 Educating AmericaBorn in Chicago on April 22, 1902, Ralph W. Tyler was a visionary educator and a leading proponent of student-centered learning. His seminal work “Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction” was a best seller when it was published in 1949, and it continues to influence curriculum development to this day. In it, Tyler lays out what has come to be known as “Tyler’s Rationale,” which asserts that effective instruction is organized around four basic questions:

  1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
  2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
  3. How can purposes be organized?
  4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?

“Basic Principles” also introduced the concept of student-centered instruction, establishing that “learning takes place through the active behavior of the student; it is what he [the student] does that he learns, not what the teacher does (p. 63).”

Tyler worked with the Truman, Eisenhower, and Johnson administrations to shape the nation’s education policy, contributing to the development of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965. At the request of the Carnegie Corporation, he chaired a committee that developed the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, in 1967. At the time, the introduction of a national test was controversial. It ignited fears of a federal takeover of education and unfair comparisons of students and schools. However, Tyler insisted that NAEP would not produce scores for individual students and schools. Instead results would be disaggregated across students’ demographic characteristics. Today, NAEP is known as the “Nation’s Report Card” and it remains the most reliable national data on student achievement.

About NAEP

[Source: NAEP]

[Source: NAEP]

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representativ​e and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. Assessments are conducted periodically in mathematics,readingsciencewritingthe artscivics,economicsgeographyU.S. history, and beginning in 2014, in Technology and Engineering Literacy​ (TEL).

Since NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, NAEP results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. The assessment stays essentially the same from year to year, with only carefully documented changes. This permits NAEP to provide a clear p​icture of student academic progress over time.

As NAEP moves into computer-based assessments, the assessment administration will remain uniform continuing the importance of NAEP as a common metric. Read more about the future of the NAEP assessment.

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How Learning List Helps Further Educational Equity

equitymedA central premise of American public education is that all students should have access to a rigorous, high-quality curriculum.  While education reform efforts have tended to focus on the challenges urban public schools face in achieving educational equity, rural schools also confront challenges in achieving this important goal.  Social and geographic isolation, coupled with inadequate school and community resources, limits the ability of many rural schools to provide students, particularly high school students, with access to rigorous curricula and advanced coursework.

Supporting equitable access to education resources is at the center of Learning List’s service to schools and districts.  We recognize that high-quality online instructional resources and courses can supplement traditional course offerings to achieve greater equity for students in all districts, regardless of the district’s size or geography.  To this end, Learning List provides an independent verification of each material’s alignment to the CCSS or state standards. We further review the instructional content to assess its rigor, focus, and coherence assess the material’s design and ease of use, the types of assessments and monitoring tools included, and educators’ experiences using the product with students.

As districts nationwide work to implement the Common Core State Standards, Learning List’s reviews of Math and English Language Arts materials can significantly streamline their selection process, saving them time and money while providing greater peace of mind that the materials selected will pave the way for their students’ success.

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CSCOPE Debate

If you have lived in Texas over the last 10 months, it would have been difficult to escape the debate over the CSCOPE lesson plans. If you are involved in public education in any way, it would have been impossible.

CSCOPE is a curriculum management system aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) that was developed by a consortium of the 20 Education Service Centers (ESCs) in Texas. The system has been purchased and used by a majority of Texas school districts for many years.

Though a later development, CSCOPE also includes TEKS-aligned lesson plans. The CSCOPE lesson plans came under intense scrutiny during the recently-ended Texas legislative session because of concerns about the content of some lessons. As a result, the legislature passed two bills addressing CSCOPE:

  • S.B. 1406 subjects the CSCOPE lessons to review by the State Board of Education. The bill took immediate effect.
  • SB 1474 requires school districts to adopt a process that solicits teacher, school district employee and public input prior to adopting a major curriculum initiative, including a curriculum management system, such as CSCOPE.

Before the legislative session ended, the governing board of the non-profit organization formed to oversee CSCOPE voted to discontinue the CSCOPE lesson plans as of August 31, 2013. However, the lesson plans subsequently were made freely available to districts through multiple sources, including the Texas Tribune.

During the July meeting of the State Board of Education, the general counsel for the Texas Education Agency stated that since CSCOPE lessons are in the public domain and there is no law prohibiting school districts from using them, districts may use CSCOPE lessons if authorized to do so by their school boards. Consequently, the controversy over CSCOPE continues, and Senator Dan Patrick, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and Thomas Ratliff, Vice Chairman of the SBOE, will debate the use of CSCOPE in Texas public schools this Saturday, August 23, at 6:30pm. Senator Patrick has been a vocal critic of CSCOPE, while Vice Chairman Ratliff has been a strong advocate of districts’ right to use CSCOPE lessons. The debate promises to be interesting. You can follow it here: http://clients.streamingmediahosting.com/jlepe/10571.html

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