• Research, Theory, and Analysis

    For years now, this phrase has been the tagline for Ideas & Perspectives, our flagship publication. The phrase not only reflects the content of our advisory letter, but it resides at the core of Independent School Management’s raison d'être—supporting private-independent school leaders.

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Right-Sizing the Classroom: Making the Most of Great Teachers

Released in November 2013. This study, published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, addresses the issue of class size and teacher-student ratios—with a policy recommendation. “Public schooling in America suffers from a triple problem that a single policy solution might solve: 1) Our best teachers aren’t paid enough, 2) not enough kids benefit from great teachers, and 3) too many are stuck with weak teachers. This paper describes—and demonstrates the value of—a change in policy that could address all three issues at once, and could be done at no additional cost to taxpayers. Following this route, however, means reversing position on a widely popular—but pricey and none too effective—approach to “educational improvement”: class size reduction. Instead of trying to keep classes small, we should be leveraging our existing teacher talent by enlarging the classes taught by our best instructors—and compensating these excellent teachers for the extra work involved.”

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Who Considers Teaching and Who Teaches?—First-Time 2007-08 Bachelor's Degree Recipients by Teaching Status 1 Year After Graduation

Released in November 2013. This study, published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, addresses the issue of class size and teacher-student ratios—with a policy recommendation. “Public schooling in America suffers from a triple problem that a single policy solution might solve: 1) Our best teachers aren’t paid enough, 2) not enough kids benefit from great teachers, and 3) too many are stuck with weak teachers. This paper describes—and demonstrates the value of—a change in policy that could address all three issues at once, and could be done at no additional cost to taxpayers. Following this route, however, means reversing position on a widely popular—but pricey and none too effective—approach to “educational improvement”: class size reduction. Instead of trying to keep classes small, we should be leveraging our existing teacher talent by enlarging the classes taught by our best instructors—and compensating these excellent teachers for the extra work involved.”

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Connect the Dots: Using Evaluations of Teacher Effectiveness to Inform Policy and Practice

Released on October 2013. The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has long advocated that any meaningful understanding of “effective” teaching must be rooted in results for kids. Whatever else they accomplish in the classroom, effective teachers improve student achievement. It seems like common sense. Yet, until recently, it has been an exceptional way of thinking about teacher quality, totally out of step with teacher policy across the states. As part of the annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook, NCTQ has systematically collected and analyzed state policies on teacher preparation, training, retention, compensation and other personnel policies. In this paper we provide: (1) a detailed and up-to-date lay of the land on teacher evaluation policies across the 50 states and the District of Columbia Public Schools; (2) an in-depth look at policy in states promising ambitious teacher evaluation systems (states requiring student growth and achievement to be a significant or the most significant factor in teacher ratings), including states’ efforts to “connect the dots” and use teacher evaluation results in meaningful ways to inform policy and practice; and (3) a compilation of some of the important lessons learned, pitfalls and successes states have experienced on the road to improving teacher evaluation systems.

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Improving Post-High School Outcomes for Transition-Age Students with Disabilities: An Evidence Review

Released in August 2013 Nearly four decades have passed since the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensured access to public education for students with disabilities in the United States. During the years following its adoption, there was growing recognition that to lead productive and fulfilling lives as adults, many students need support in the transition from secondary school to post-high school environments. Despite the efforts of policymakers and practitioners, a gap remains between post-high school outcomes of students with disabilities and outcomes for other students. To help close that gap, this report reviews the research literature on programs (strategies, interventions, or sets of services) designed to help students with disabilities make transitions. Although written for public school teachers and staff, much of the research has implications in private school settings as well.

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The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools

Released in July 16, 2013. In a survey of 2,462 Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers, a majority say digital tools encourage students to be more invested in their writing by encouraging personal expression and providing a wider audience for their work. Most also say digital tools make teaching writing easier, despite an increasingly ambiguous line between formal and informal writing and students’ poor understanding of issues such as plagiarism and fair use. These teachers see the internet and digital technologies such as social networking sites, cell phones and texting, generally facilitating teens’ personal expression and creativity, broadening the audience for their written material, and encouraging teens to write more often in more formats than may have been the case in prior generations. At the same time, they describe the unique challenges of teaching writing in the digital age, including the "creep" of informal style into formal writing assignments and the need to better educate students about issues such as plagiarism and fair use.

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Diverse Children: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in America's New Non-Majority Generation

Released in July 2013. Children of immigrants currently account for one out of every four children in the United States. Census Bureau projections indicate that by 2018, fewer than half of the children in the U.S. will be White, and by 2043, Whites will no longer be the majority of our nation’s population. It is the American-born children and grandchildren of immigrants that are leading this change in our demographics and will be setting the course for the future of this country. This is the first report (by the Foundation for Child Development) to present comparisons of child well-being across White, Hispanic, Black, and Asian race-ethnic groups, as well as comparisons between children within these groups whose parents are and are not immigrants. The findings offer both promising insights into the well-being of many children in immigrant families, and devastating evidence of persistent disparities in children's well-being based on race-ethnicity, home language, and immigrant status.

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