Just yesterday, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, an act that, according to the New York Times, is a complete rewrite of the No Child Left Behind act that returns power to states and local districts to determine how to improve troubled schools.
The New York Times further reports that the bill is a bipartisan measure that preserves federally mandated standardized testing but eliminates the punishing consequences for states and districts that perform poorly. This new act also bars the government from imposing academic requirements like the Common Core.
With the new Every Student Succeeds Act now signed into law, the hope is that every student will have an opportunity to succeed no matter their background, residence, or learning style.
By giving states power to intervene in schools and districts that are struggling to achieve, schools will have more freedom to try different techniques to improve learning.
An article by Mark Dynarski , published on Brookings.edu, explains that the Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states and districts use evidence-based interventions to support school improvement. The article states that researchers have studied the effectiveness of education programs for decades and that effort is now producing substantial gains in knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, however this research does not take place in each and every school setting, and therefore researcher’s findings may not apply to every district.
In order to make research more contextualized, researchers have started to work directly with educators to identify and implement paths for improvement within particular settings. This new kind of research is known as improvement science, and operates in local contexts of districts and schools.
The article explains, however, that improvement science faces a capacity problem; there are relatively few researchers participating or able to participate in these efforts compared to the number of districts and schools that could benefit from more evidence-based programs and practices. Dynarski argues that the two researching approaches need to be combined, where researchers first learn what programs have worked for the majority of schools, and then work with a specific district that needs improvement to adopt those effective programs in a way that will improve the specific problem at hand.
Whether or not the combination of these approaches will be effective in improving schools has not yet been determined, however a key factor to take away from this argument is the importance of collecting data to determine the effectiveness of different teaching approaches and learning programs.
We have already seen numerous attempts at improving student learning through the use of technology. Schools across the country have implemented innovative tools such as interactive projectors, interactive displays, and wireless presentation systems, to name a few.
Many of these technologies are accompanied with software that helps teachers personalize instruction through the collection of data from individual students. Through the analysis of this data, teachers can grasp what areas students need to improve on and what they are excelling in.
Implementing technology that allows schools to collect data and analyze learning is crucial to improving learning and education as a whole. Without the proper collection of data, the only way schools can determine how a student is learning is through testing and graded assignments, which we know has not been the answer to improving learning.
Understanding how students are progressing throughout the learning process will not only allow for individualized instruction, but will also help schools determine the success of a new learning initiative.
If your school is looking to implement a new technology or learning program, make sure you have the proper tools to adequately collect data. To learn more about how collecting data can allow for a more personalized learning experience, take a look at our personalized learning stories.