WestEd in the Media
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Reading Apprenticeship® Panel Hosts National Policy LeadersPD Program Targets Cross-Curricular Reading and Confidence
Education Week — May 15, 2013
A panel of teachers and administrators who have seen Reading Apprenticeship boost students' literacy competence and confidence took questions from education leaders and policymakers at a recent Washington, DC, forum.
Relating their experiences as part of the federal Investing in Innovation scale up of the WestEd Reading Apprenticeship program, panelists described a "paradigm shift" in how high school teachers and students approach reading.
Melissa Devlin, a teacher and literacy coach, explained, "Students are truly doing the learning, the thinking, the reading. It's about their questions."
High school principal Harley Ramsey is a Reading Apprenticeship supporter because of the program's research-validated effectiveness, and his first-hand experience of the difference it makes for his teachers and students. "It boils down to evidence," he said.
WestEd's Spycher Contributes Chapter to Comprehensive Guide to Educational Theories
Information Age Publishing — May 15, 2013
WestEd's Pamela Spycher contributed the chapter, "Meaning-Based Approaches to Literacy Education," to a just-published compendium of theories of education.
According to the publisher, Information Age Publishing, "The Handbook of Educational Theories is intended for graduate students enrolled in research courses or completing theses and dissertations. Additionally, professors of all educational disciplines in the social sciences may be interested in this book."
Administrators, counselors, and teachers also can benefit from this text as they use theory to guide practice.
Spycher's chapter includes examples from applied research focusing on supporting K-12 students to become more conscious of how language is used to construct meaning in different contexts. Providing students with a wide range of linguistic resources helps them to make appropriate grammatical choices so that they can effectively comprehend and construct meaning in text.
Spycher is Director of the English Language and Literacy Acceleration project at WestEd, designed to support English learners, low literacy students, and other students who may experience difficulty mastering academic language.
School Climate Can Help Turn Around Low-Performing SchoolsPositive School Climate Boosts Test Scores, Study Says
EdSource — 04/29/2013
Some schools are bright spots of academic success, consistently posting higher scores than predicted for the student populations they serve. How do these schools continue to outperform? A recent study by WestEd shows that positive school climate is one significant characteristic shared by outperforming schools.
School climate includes such factors as a school's order, safety, and discipline; supports for teaching and learning; personal and social relationships; and school connectedness.
"Improving school climate should help any school, but it particularly should be part of turning around a low-performing school," says Greg Austin, Director of the Health & Human Development Program at WestEd and a co-author of this study. "For low income communities with a lot of non-school problems, such as poverty, the research suggests that providing a safe, developmentally supportive school will help mitigate the risk factors."
Download the WestEd school climate study.
Linquanti Comments on Bilingual Education for English LearnersInstruction of Students Learning English Bleak
The New York Times — 04/11/2013
When it comes to educating English learners, "It's not in all cases bilingual education works better," says WestEd's Robert Linquanti in a recent Associated Press article.
Linquanti, a Senior Project Director for WestEd, also added that a school's successful approach to bilingual education "depends on quality of instruction, material, and support for the community."
This Associated Press article cites recent U.S. Department of Education statistics that classify 4.7 million students in the United States as English learners—roughly 10 percent of children enrolled in schools.
Providing equitable education to English learners is a key challenge as schools across the country move to implement curriculum and assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
Blog Highlights Scale, Innovation of Strategic Literacy InitiativeLessons From Innovators: Strategic Literacy Initiative
Huffington Post — 04/17/2013
Reading Apprenticeship® from WestEd has multiple, rigorous studies that prove the program helps students grow in literacy skills and in self-confidence as readers and students. That track record won Reading Apprenticeship two prestigious Investing in Innovation (i3) grants to significantly expand its program.
How do you now reach 400,000 high school students and 2,800 teachers in five states without losing the program's proven quality?
As Reading Apprenticeship co-developer Ruth Schoenbach explains in this Huffington Post blog, it takes an innovative blend of personal relationships and technology.
State coordinators and training facilitators provide the local knowledge and personal touch required to translate Reading Apprenticeship into the context of specific districts, schools, and classrooms.
Schoenbach and her colleagues have adapted part of the facilitator's training to include online support, making it possible to provide more time and space for new facilitators to understand and practice what makes the Reading Apprenticeship approach unique.
Linquanti Co-Authors Recommendations on Accountability Policy for English LearnersFully Accounting for English Learner Performance: A Key Issue in ESEA Reauthorization
Educational Researcher — 04/11/2013
U.S. schools serve 11 million students who speak a language other than English at home, representing approximately 20% of national school enrollment, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Assessing what these English learners know and can do in academic subjects, as well as their progress in becoming proficient in academic English, is a crucial consideration in crafting the next version of the nation's Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Robert Linquanti, Senior Project Director at WestEd, is co-author on a recent set of policy recommendations regarding accountability in English learner performance.
The recommendations call for monitoring current and former English learners, establishing time frames for attaining proficiency in English, and setting appropriate expectations for academic achievement.
WestEd's Formative Assessment Policy Forum Featured in Education WeekBusting Up Misconceptions About Formative 'Assessment'
Education Week — 04/08/2013
"I'd prefer that you moosh together formative [assessment] with instruction, not with interim and summative assessment."
That's advice Stanley Rabinowitz, WestEd's Program Director for the Assessment and Standards Development Services program, shared during a recent policy forum on formative assessment in Washington, DC.
Many people think of formative assessment as basically a series of quizzes. WestEd, along with the National Association of State Boards of Education, hosted the policy forum to change that perception.
Formative assessment in the classroom is a process that aims to reveal not just what students are learning, but how they are learning, with the results used to guide instruction.
As part of the policy forum, WestEd released three free reports on formative assessment.
WestEd Panelists Discuss Alignment of Federal Education Policy and FundingSymposium: Federal Grants Spur State Involvement
Education Week — 03/15/2013
If you want national education change, it pays to put your money where your policy is.
That was the observation of WestEd staff members Marty Orland, Janelle Kubinec, and John Rice during a recent panel discussion for the Association of Education Finance and Policy.
Orland, Director of Evaluation and Policy Research, noted that the Obama administration had paired funding sources with policy directives. For instance, the requirement in the Race to the Top program for states to establish a comprehensive student longitudinal data system was supported by a separate state competitive grant. The administration's emphasis on college and career readiness was matched with grants to develop new assessments to measure readiness.
"Regardless of what you think of the wisdom of these policies," Orland said, "one thing is clear; it certainly has gotten the states to take notice."
WestEd Supports Common Core State Standards Implementation at Alamosa ElementaryAE PLCs Focus on Student Needs
Valley Courier — 03/05/2013
For the past three years, the DistrictsMovingUp team from WestEd has worked with Alamosa Elementary in Colorado to design and implement a new curriculum that aligns with the Common Core State Standards and raises academic achievement.
Teachers at Alamosa are organized into a professional learning community to prepare lessons together and collaborate across the school. Every Monday afternoon, teachers come together to analyze student data and apply it to implementing the new curriculum.
"You can walk into this school and know that every first grader in the eight first grade classes…is getting the same information," says Associate Principal Christy McBee.
English Language Learners: Common Core State Standards Could Support a Shared DefinitionPush Is On for Common Ways to Identify ELLs
Education Week — February 26, 2013
The definition by which a student is classified as an English language learner varies from state to state and often from district to district within a state.
WestEd Senior Research Associate Robert Linquanti thinks that might change with the shift to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Without the move to common standards across states, standardizing the definition of an English language learner "would have been virtually impossible because of the variation among content standards in the states," Linquanti said in this Education Week article.
Linquanti co-authored a set of recommendations to states on how to proceed toward a standard definition of English language learners.
WestEd Researchers Explore Data Literacy for Teachers in TrainingA Systemic View of Implementing Data Literacy in Educator Preparation
Educational Researcher — February 21, 2013
Schools of education and teachers in training need to make room for data literacy, according to new research by WestEd staff.
In a study published in Educational Researcher, Senior Research Scientist Ellen Mandinach and Senior Research Associate Edith Gummer find that few formal courses and opportunities exist for data literacy development in schools of education.
The creation, application, and security of data are taking on increasing importance in efforts to improve education in the United States. Recent controversies about standardized testing and changes in teacher and principal evaluation all center around effective analysis and use of data.
In their study, Mandinach and Gummer explore the needs, issues, and actors in the challenge to effectively apply data to improving education.
WestEd Pair Publish Longitudinal Study on Youth and Community ViolenceBehavioral Adaptation Among Youth Exposed to Community Violence: a Longitudinal Multidisciplinary Study of Family, Peer and Neighborhood-Level Protective Factors
Prevention Science — February 2013
What helps youth who have experienced or witnessed violence to build resilience over time? Two WestEd researchers studied data from 1,100 kids in Chicago neighborhoods to find an answer.
Sonia Jain, Senior Research Associate, and Alison Cohen, Research Assistant, recently published their research in the journal, Prevention Science.
In the short term, young victims of violence showed increased aggression and delinquency. The passage of time increased the odds that both victims and witnesses of violence could adapt their behavior. Caring family relationships, positive peers, and meaningful opportunities to participate in the community all helped to promote positive behavioral adaptation after exposure to violence.
WestEd's Ringstaff Co-Authors Study on STEM Professional Development in Rural SchoolsAssessing the Impact of Teacher Professional Development on Science Instruction in the Early Elementary Grades in Rural U.S. Schools
Professional Development in Education — January 22, 2013
Cathy Ringstaff, a Senior Research Associate at WestEd, cowrote a research study about the impact of STEM professional development for K–2 teachers in rural schools.
The study focused on how well changes from teacher professional development in one year carried into the next school year. Findings showed that teachers' content knowledge and self-efficacy scores increased. Changes in teaching practices carried into the second year, but were affected by factors outside the classroom, including availability of curriculum and support from colleagues.
Teacher participants completed a survey and self-efficacy assessment, took content knowledge tests, answered interview questions, and were subjected to classroom observations.
Ringstaff worked with Judith Haymore Sandholtz of the University of California, Irvine.
WestEd's Schneider Credits Teachers as Judges of Effective Classroom TechnologyResearchers Want To Put New Education Technology To The Test
StateImpact — January 30, 2013
While the pace of education research into technology lags the recent rapid growth in education technology, teachers remain good judges of what new hardware and software works in their classrooms.
That's the opinion of Steve Schneider, WestEd's Senior Program Director for Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics.
Schneider points out in this StateImpact article that as more "digital natives" grow up and enter the teaching profession, it seems natural that they'll bring more technology into the classroom with them.
In addition, Schneider believes research could give education technology producers and consumers more guidance into what actually works for teachers and students.
WestEd Study Shows Preschoolers and Their Parents Win With PBS KIDS Online GamesImprove Early Math Skills With PBS KIDS Online Games
SpanglishBaby — January 22, 2013
Can parents playing online games with their preschool-aged children really increase mathematics learning?
Yes, according to a report from WestEd about a project involving families playing popular online games from PBS KIDS. The games focus on math and include kids' favorite characters such as Curious George, The Cat In the Hat, and Sid the Science Kid.
Parents and kids playing together during the summer of 2012 increased preschoolers' scores on the Test of Early Mathematics Ability.
This blog post also describes several of the online educational games published by PBS KIDS, many of which are available in Spanish as well as English.
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