What makes for effective schools?

Improving K-12 student performance is a long-term priority for government at all levels. As a school teacher for more than 30 years, host Mary Walden asks husband Dr. Mike Walden what can be done to accomplish this goal.

“Well, we have many, many, many studies, Mary, that have been done on this issue — studies, for example, on future qualit,y on teacher training, class size, whether using technology helps (and) the importance of the involvement of parents. But one recent study, really, caught my eye because what this study did, Mary, is look at specific practices that teachers use in the classroom.

“This study was published in the American Economic Journal, which is the most prestigious journal in economics, so it has gotten a lot of attention. It’s based on data and observations from the New York City school system, and what it found is that several practices that teachers can use in the classroom accounted for a large percentage — 50 percent, in fact — of the variation student achievement.

“These practices were frequent feedback to students and parents, intensive tutoring, lengthening the amount of time devoted to instruction, using individual student data to guide instruction and setting high expectations. What the study found that schools that were going these things and teachers that were using these techniques were much more successful in boosting student performance.”

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