A recent report published by the United States Census Bureau uses survey responses on parental interaction, school engagement, and extracurricular activities to give insight into the educational outcomes of America’s children. The report offers a sobering glimpse of how parental interactions with children dominate education outcomes.

Researchers Brian Knop and Julie Siebens used responses from the first wave of the 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a monthly survey administered to a nationally representative panel over several years, though for the purpose of this report panel responses were limited to those of parents or guardians. SIPP collects household economic and demographic information, as well as information specific to the well-being of individuals, such as home conditions and food security. For this report, Knop and Siebens used child-specific well-being indicators to influence their findings on the daily experiences of children today, disaggregated by age and demographic factors. Researchers controlled for the sampling and non-sampling errors in survey responses.

Positive parental interactions are correlated with a child’s well-being. And overall, parents reported frequent interactions with their children—except in regular reading at home, which was much more common among white children than black or Hispanic. In all race categories, at least...

Christy Wolfe

In September, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) awarded grants in four of the six Charter Schools Programs (CSP): State Entities, Developers, Credit Enhancement, and Dissemination.

Congress appropriated a total of $400 million for these awards for FY 2018, including funds for active awards previously awarded. Due to increased funding in recent years, more states than ever have access to start-up funding—thirty-one states have State Entity grants and charter schools in an additional seven states were successful in receiving Developer grants. Many states are also seeing charter school growth through grants to Charter Management Organizations for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools, but awards were not made for that program during FY 2018.

This year, the program awards are a bit more complicated because, for the first time, two competitions were run under the new requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Let’s take a closer look at where the money went:

State entity grants: Funds to open charter schools and build statewide sector quality

The State Entity grant program plays a key role in not only awarding subgrants to schools, but also providing funding for technical assistance and strengthening the quality of authorizers in a...


Fasten your seatbelts, education fans. Now that the 2018 midterms are in the books, all sorts of posturing and proceedings lay ahead. The mixed verdict didn’t stop partisans from seeing what they wanted to, with acolytes on both sides claiming unequivocal success. As for education, its role in the midterms—contrary to the hype—was predictably peripheral, and over-caffeinated narratives about surges in teacher activism proved overwrought.

Nevertheless, there are a few lessons to be had from Tuesday when it comes to education reform. As a follow up to the post I wrote right before the elections, I’m checking in on the races and ballot issues I flagged as important. These fell within three broad categories: (1) funding-related ballot questions, (2) policy-related ballot questions, and (3) the gubernatorial contests.

First, state-level funding measures succeeded in a number of places, but the biggest one here in my home state of Colorado was soundly rejected. But in contrast to the statewide proposal, local school taxes fared much better. As an example, my local school district—situated in a conservative leaning county—passed not just one, but two tax increases for the first time in twelve years. As the adage goes,...

Susan Pimentel

Recently I contributed a piece to Education Week, “Why Doesn't Every Teacher Know the Research on Reading Instruction?” My intention was to support and even broaden the important national conversation about reading instruction that was spawned by Emily Hanford’s “Hard Words” documentary. This conversation has continued to have a great deal of fuel, as local papers have begun writing about shortcomings in reading instruction and Hanford brought the conversation to the editorial page of the New York Times.

In my piece, I called attention to two other areas of reading research that deserve attention: the importance of content knowledge to reading comprehension and the importance of getting all kids to read texts on their grade level. I asserted that we are in the midst of a renaissance in the curriculum space that could have a profound impact on the results being experienced in classrooms.

In response to the many inquiries we’ve received about this claim, I have expanded my piece to name the names of K–8 English language arts (ELA) curriculums that characterize the renaissance. They are a different breed of materials, not only because of their research-base and strong standards-alignment. Each has received high marks...


The distinguished Stanford education historian David F. Labaree recently published a perceptive, provocative essay in the Kappan that I found myself nodding in agreement with about three-quarters of the time and shaking my head the other quarter. His thesis: Over time, American K–12 education has largely replaced its commitment to advancing the public good with a more selfish focus on securing private gains of various kinds.

His account of the need for a robust form of “common” education in the early days of the nation is compelling: “As the founders well knew, the survival of the American republic depended on its ability to form individuals into a republican community in which citizens were imbued with a commitment to the public good.” But as the “common school movement” evolved during the first half of the nineteenth century, it also had to contend with “the possessive individualism of the emerging free-market economy.”

As “public education” spread across the land, therefore, its mission “wasn’t just to teach young people to internalize democratic norms but also to make it possible for capitalism to coexist with republicanism.” (There is, of course, a very different historical narrative to be found in works such as Boston...


This summer, President Trump signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act into law. The legislation, often referred to as Perkins V, is the long-awaited reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education of Act of 2006. It governs how states implement and expand access to career and technical education (CTE) programs and provides over a billion dollars in federal funding.

Perkins V included a variety of changes and additions to previous law. (Check out this brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education for a detailed overview.) These changes include new requirements regarding what must be included in state plans submitted to the feds for approval. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education released for public comment its first official guidance on state plans. The public comment window closes on December 24, and finalized guidance will likely be released after the start of 2019.

Within his introduction to the guidance, Assistant Secretary Scott Stump shared his hope that states would use implementation of the new law as an opportunity to “rethink” CTE. He offered a variety of suggestions for doing so, including a call...


Test-based retention policies require students to repeat a grade if they do not meet a minimum level of academic performance on, you guessed it, a test. These policies have been around a long time and continue to sow division, with some believing that repeating a grade allows students time to develop the skills needed for the subsequent grade while others posit that the potential costs (like heightened behavioral problems and higher dropout rates) are too high.

RAND lends some empirical fodder to the debate in their latest study on the topic. They examine the causal effects of retention that occurred in grades three through eight on student behavior and various other high school outcomes. Specifically, they use twelve years of student data from New York City, ending in 2011–12, to determine the effect of retention on suspensions, absenteeism, dropout rates, credit accumulation, and graduation. Their sample included nearly 93,000 students.

The district policy required that students who scored in the lowest performance category (Level 1) on either the math or English language arts state standardized test be assigned to mandatory summer school unless they demonstrated at least a Level 2 performance through a “portfolio” (unfortunately, we’re not told what that...


When it comes to using data to enact meaningful changes at the school level, few of us know where to begin. That’s why the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (UChicago Consortium) just published a new report based on its own experiences translating research to the classroom. The paper, titled “Practice-Driven Data” and written by Eliza Moeller, Alex Seeskin, and Jenny Nagaoka, draws best practices from UChicago’s partnership with the Chicago Public School system (CPS) and the Network for College Success (NCS) to improve educational attainment for Chicago high schoolers. It is particularly timely given the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s current effort to fund similar “school improvement networks” nationwide.

The paper lays out five lessons the partnership has learned since its formation in 2006. The examples they use and the recommendations they make are meant to be scalable, but the authors do note that every locality will face unique circumstances that may affect how they collect and analyze data in their own district.

  1. Prepare: Build the capacity to facilitate hard conversations.

Schools can’t use data to guide practice until they have a framework to analyze new information and implement new strategies. The authors recommend developing two key...


The results are in, and this time the polls were mostly right: The Republicans lost the House but strengthened their control of the Senate, setting the stage for a new chapter in our country’s uncivil war. At the state level, the Blue Ripple gave Democrats gubernatorial victories in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, though it wasn’t enough to flip Florida or Ohio.

None of this will have a huge impact on K–12 education policy, given that there’s not been much policymaking happening anyway. Yes, in combination with a red-hot economy and state finances in better shape than they’ve been in years, the shift to the left may portend greater school spending in 2019 in a few states. Otherwise expect mostly gridlock and a focus on pre-K and postsecondary education.

In Washington, vengeful Democrats are surely salivating over the chance to haul Secretary DeVos in front of multiple oversight committees, and to do that as often as possible. Congress may have forgotten how to make policy, but it adores giving grief to those who do. Here, once again, the most consequential issues relate to topics outside of elementary-secondary education, especially oversight of the student loan industry, the handling of for-profit colleges,...


Research tells us what works to serve gifted and talented students, including how best to identify these students and how to use acceleration strategies appropriately. A new resource, Developing Academic Acceleration Policies: Whole Grade, Early Entrance, and Single Subject, offers direction and clarity to school districts on gifted education practices, guidance many practitioners lack today.

Gifted and talented children need and deserve appropriate levels of challenge and stimulation as they reach for their personal best. Unfortunately, far too many children experience low expectations in their classrooms. Recent research by Dr. Scott Peters and others reveals that up to 10 percent of children perform four or more grade levels above the grade level standards used in their classrooms.

Acceleration strategies—such as advancing students an entire grade level or in specific subjects—are one of the most effective approaches to help ensure all children who demonstrate readiness for more advanced instruction receive quality gifted and talented programming. They allow students to access curriculum content, skills, and understandings before their expected age or grade level. Rather than requiring gifted children to endure repetitive work with content they have already mastered, educators can use a variety of acceleration strategies to challenge these learners...