By Learning Forward
October 2019
Vol. 40, No. 5

Reviews of instructional materials
K12 Instructional Materials Dashboard SETDA, 2019

The State Educational Technology Directors Association has compiled states’ reviews of instructional materials in English language arts and math for secondary school students. Sortable by state, content and subject, grade level, and other characteristics, the website is designed to support state, district, and school leaders in selecting instructional materials. The association hopes to expand the dashboard to other grade levels and content areas.

Alignment gap
The State of the Instructional Materials Market EdReports, Spring 2019

EdReports reviewed the state of instructional materials today to assess how well materials marketed as standards-aligned really do warrant that claim. Its analysis used data from EdReports reviews of instructional materials and data from the American Teacher Panel nationally representative survey on English language arts and math curriculum use during the 2017-18 school year.

The analysis found that 49% of the English language arts and 28% of the math market meet EdReports criteria for standards alignment, showing that high-quality options are available. However, only 15% of English language arts materials and 23% of math materials regularly used by teachers meet the criteria for alignment.

There’s encouraging news, though: The longer a review has been on EdReports, the more likely the materials are to be used if highly rated and the less likely to be used if rated as not aligned.

School leader turnover
Principal Turnover: Insights From Current Principals Learning Policy Institute, July 18, 2019

Why do principals leave their jobs? The National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Learning Policy Institute released the second-phase results from a yearlong study of principal turnover.

Focus groups with 17 administrators highlighted similar themes to the previously published literature review, including the stresses of a ballooning set of responsibilities, lack of decision-making authority, and lack of time and resources for instructional leadership.

When asked how to improve their jobs, these administrators stressed the importance of professional learning, mentorship, and opportunities for collegial relationships to foster professional growth.

Learning differences
Forward Together: Helping Educators Unlock the Power of Students Who Learn Differently National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2019

The National Center for Learning Disabilities and studied how prepared general education teachers feel to support students with mild to moderate learning disabilities, and the results are sobering.

Based on a nationally representative survey of 1,350 teachers and focus groups with a smaller set of teachers, they found that only 17% of teachers feel very well-prepared to teach students with mild to moderate learning disabilities and only 30% of teachers feel strongly that, when they try their best, they can be successful with the 1 in 5 students who have mild to moderate disabilities.

Based on a review of state policies, the researchers discovered that only seven states require specific coursework in teaching students with disabilities for licensure, and at least one-third of teachers reported that they have not participated in professional development on learning and attention issues.

Growth mindset
A National Experiment Reveals Where a Growth Mindset Improves Achievement
Nature, August 7, 2019

Promoting growth mindset is a popular strategy in schools, but does it work? A nationally representative study suggests that it does. A brief, low-cost online module that teaches students that intellectual abilities can be developed with effort was associated with improved grades among low-achieving secondary students and increased enrollment in advanced math courses. The effect was sustained over time when messages about growth mindset were reinforced by students’ peers.

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