I wrote this piece for ThinkProgress about the need to focus education debates around improving everyday classroom practice. Here’s the gist of the piece:
Most school reform headlines focus on a pretty narrow area of policy. The latest voucher study will spark fierce debates, while pundits write heated op-eds on the benefits of non-elected school boards. In Denver, discussions of charter schools funding dominate the education debate. In Los Angeles, the conversation is all about school choice.
These issues are important. Private school vouchers could decimate the nation’s public school system. But just about all of these policy debates revolve around a limited set of governance issues and don’t touch on ways to improve everyday classroom practice.
This administration-heavy approach to reform stands in contrast to the research, and a growing body of evidence — and, really, common sense — suggests that instructional reform can dramatically improve learning. A forthcoming study by researcher Chris Schunn shows that curriculum changes, such as spacing out content, can provide a large boost to student outcomes. Inexpensive online professional development could improve test-scores as much as lowering class size, according to a paper released last year by Kirabo Jackson and Alexey Makarin.
But take a look at the full article–and tell me what you think.