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SCIENTIFICALLY BASED RESEARCH FINDS A HOME: Department Awards “What Works Clearinghouse” Contract

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"By providing educators with ready access to the best available scientific research evidence, the clearinghouse will be an important resource for enhancing the quality of local decision-making and improving program effectiveness," said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige.

The U.S. Department of Education’s search for a contractor for its What Works Clearinghouse has finally come to a close. In early August, the Department awarded the Campbell Corporation of Philadelphia and the American Institutes for Research of Washington, D.C., a five-year, $18.5 million contract to develop and maintain the clearinghouse, which will summarize evidence on the effectiveness of educational programs, products and strategies.

This clearinghouse will help schools and educators better comply with the scientifically based requirements in No Child Left Behind. “By providing educators with ready access to the best available scientific research evidence, the clearinghouse will be an important resource for enhancing the quality of local decision-making and improving program effectiveness,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. “And it will help transform education into an evidence-based field.”

U.S. Department of Education Press Release

Articles of Note

Foundations for Success: Case Studies of How Urban School Systems Improve Student Achievement

A new study by The Council of the Great City Schools examined five urban school districts that are making the fastest improvements, both overall and in narrowing differences among racial groups. Foundations for Success “looks at the similarities among urban school systems that are boosting performance citywide – rather than in pockets of schools – and contrasts their practices with systems that have not seen major gains yet.”

The study found that the individual histories of these faster-improving urban school districts suggest that “political and organizational stability over a prolonged period and consensus on educational reform strategies are necessary prerequisites to meaningful change.” Some reform strategies included a focus on student achievement, a set schedule with defined consequences, aligned curricula with state standards and a focus on the lowest-performing schools. Successful school districts also provided intensive instruction in reading and math to middle and high school students, even if it came at the expense of other subjects.

Complete Report

Tassels on the Cheap, Education Next

With a subtitle that reads: “Treating the GED as a high-school diploma masks a declining graduation rate,” Duncan Chaplin’s article forEducation Next challenges the way graduation rates are reported and calls for the return of the degree ratio as the measuring stick.

The degree ratio is the number of high school diplomas awarded in a given year divided by the number of individuals aged 17. According to the article, “The evidence of a falling graduation rate since 1970 would have become a national scandal by now had it not been disguised by the fact that the degree ratio is not the yardstick of choice.” If the degree ratio were used to measure the 2000 graduation rate, only 70 percent of high school seniors graduated. However, the National Education Goals Panel opted for a method that counts an equivalent degree (General Education Development-GED) and leads to a graduation rate that has held steady at 86 percent over the last decade.

Education Next

 

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No Child Left Behind

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