Have you noticed we are bombarded by articles and reports about what is right and wrong in education by think tanks and non-educators? In fact, I have heard a variety of education reformers claiming there is little education research. They are wrong. There are many serious studies that these same people continue to ignore.
Not only are these studies cast aside, the reformers seem to push policies that are just the opposite of what the research shows, or they continue to ignore research that matters.
Here are a just a few of the many great education studies:
- Class Size Matters for K-3rd grade. The Tennessee Study of Small Class Size (STAR) shows that smaller class sizes in earlier grades benefits students and continues to help them as they proceed to future grades.
- High-Stakes Testing Does Not Improve Learning. Ask on Google whether high-stakes testing improves learning and you will find many studies warning educators and policy-makers about using tests and making such assumptions.
- Public Schools Are Not Failing. David C. Berliner and Gene V. Glass claim the notion public schools are failing is “the myth from which others flow.” They argue, using results from testing, what most of us know and other studies indicate, schools with problems are usually poor, dealing with students from poverty. HERE.
- Teacher Preparation is Important. Linda Darling-Hammond, Deborah J. Holtzman, Su Jin Gatlin, and Julian Vasquez Heilig found that teacher preparation really does matter in their study called “Does Teacher Preparation Matter? Evidence about Teacher Certification, Teach for America, and Teacher Effectiveness.” HERE.
- Retention is Harmful. Shane Jimerson, Ph.D. is considered a leading expert on this topic. He calls retention “educational malpractice” in this paper. Students held back are more likely to drop out later. There might be special circumstances where an individual student might benefit from repeating a grade, but it deserves serious thought and critical interventions, and it should be rare.
- Teens Need More Sleep. The American Association of Pediatrics recently came out telling everyone how critical sleep is for teens, and they recommend delayed start time for middle and high school. This research has been around for a long time, so it is nice to see that some school districts are finally doing something about it.
- Play for Young Children is Critical. Jean Piaget a psychologist well known for his study of child development believed children practice things they learned previously through play. Liv Vygotsky a Soviet psychologist believed play to be important for cognitive development. There is a long line-up of child specialists, along with these two gentlemen, from the past and in the present, that emphasize the importance of play. If you want studies, Google play and children.
- Recess is Very Important. Along with the importance of play, there is a critical need for recess. Children need breaks, but recess is much more than just that. Anthony D. Pellegrini, Professor of Psychological Foundations of Education in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, has done extensive research on the importance of recess.
- The Arts are Important to Learning. There are many studies to show the importance of the arts to learning and also the significance of the role of certified art teachers. HERE.
- Good School Libraries=High Student Achievement. Many “library impact studies” are continuing to find a correlation between school libraries and student achievement. The studies also look at the effects of poverty on reading achievement and the importance of certified librarians to critical thinking skills.
- Elevated Levels of Lead Cause Problems In Children. Two especially important studies, one from Detroit and another from Duke University, show that some young children still have elevated lead levels which can cause learning disabilities and lower test scores.
- Charters are No Better than Traditional Public Schools. While you might find a good charter school here and there, and they made testing gains from 2009, the overall test scores still do not show them to be better than traditional public schools. The 2013 CREDO Study indicates that in reading, 25% of charter schools have significantly stronger learning gains than traditional public schools, 56% showed no significant difference, and 19% have significant weaker learning gains. In math, 29% of charter schools showed student learning gains stronger than traditional public schools, 40 % were not significantly different, and 31% were significantly weaker.
- Virtual and/or Blended Online Schools Don’t Do a Good Job. Online charters or virtual programs are thus far not doing well by students. Gordon Lafer, a political economist and an associate professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center, reported through the Economic Policy Institute about the lower quality of Rocketship, blended online/teacher charters. And Professor Gary Miron and Research Assistant Jessica Urschel (Western Michigan University), through the National Education Policy Center, have studied problems surrounding programs like K12 Inc.
- Homework is Not Necessary. Alfie Kohn has described much research to show that homework isn’t helpful. He has a book that talks about the subject, and in 2012 he told of a new study in Valeris Strauss’s Answer Sheet Blog.
- Common Core State Standards have Little to Back Them Up. William J. Mathis, Ph.D. shows in a 2010 National Educational Policy Center paper that there was no research to support the Common Core State Standards before they were adopted by the Obama administration. Thanks to the great Teri Sasseville for putting me onto this information.
There are many other issues in education that research supports, or fails to support, that go ignored today. If you think of others please let me know and I will be glad to include them.
One area where I could find no reputable positive studies involved Common Core State Standards. I found nothing to legitimately show that students will have better critical thinking skills, be more ready to attend college, read or do math better, or any of the myriad of other promises Core enthusiasts claim.
But let me know if you find any.