There is a new buzzword among many who would reform education in this country: it’s the Belief Gap (or, for the Twitterati, the #BeliefGap). Although the term has been in the education reform ether for awhile, it came to renewed prominence in a December 2014 op-ed by Chris Barbic, the superintendent of the nascent Tennessee Achievement School District, and it has since been well promoted by the website Education Post. In … Read more about To Close the Belief Gap
With the slow receding of the snow come signs of spring – longer days, tiny but promising buds on the trees, the arrival of standardized test instruction booklets and nondisclosure agreements at schools all over the country. Yes, spring is Testing Season. But where testing used to mostly just strike anxiety into the hearts of students, the increasing popularity of policies binding teachers’ job performance to student test scores have meant that Testing Season is increasingly anxiety-inducing for teachers, as well. Read more about The Tacit Assumptions of Testing Season
James M. Noonan is an Ed.D. candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and a Spencer Foundation Early Career Scholar in New Civics whose research focuses on the design of professional learning environments for teachers and their impact on teacher practice and student learning. Read more about About Me
For decades, researchers and policymakers have looked to professional development (PD) as a promising tool to improve teacher practice and student learning. However, despite its promise, PD is widely perceived as being unable to realize its potential. In this conceptual paper, the author suggests that one reason for this gap between PD's potential and its perceived ineffectiveness is its alignment with a sociopolitical framework that prioritizes efficiency. Numerous past attempts to improve PD have failed to address underlying assumptions about teaching, learning, and human relationships embedded in this efficiency framework. As an alternative, the author proposes a new deliberative framework that is more compatible with learning principles and thus more likely to improve learning across contexts and at scale.
Schools are increasingly seen as having a promising role to play in reducing adverse health and wellness outcomes among young people. This paper uses a collaborative action research approach to examine the effects of one school’s efforts to change its students eating habits by implementing a “junk food free campus.” By engaging school administrators and students in a six-month long process of joint research design and analysis, the author found that students understood but did not necessarily support the policy. Despite students’ uneven support of the policy, however, there was some evidence that some students were developing healthier eating habits. Moreover, student researchers reported developing greater perspective and respect for the policy as a result of studying it.
In Colombia, reducing levels of interpersonal and community violence is a key component of the country’s approach to citizenship education. In this study, we use data collected during the 2005 Saber test of Citizenship Competencies to examine the relationship of school environments and individual students’ supportive attitudes toward violence among 97,971 students in 1,649 schools. Using multi-level Tobit analysis with school random intercepts and regional fixed effects, we find that children taught in safe and participatory climates endorse attitudes less supportive of violence, with the effect of participatory climates almost double that of safe climates. Constructing a typology of four classroom environments, by crossing the two dimensions of safety and participation, we conclude that school environments that are safe and participatory lead to the least supportive attitudes toward violence, more than one standard deviation lower than unsafe and non-participatory school environments. Implications, limitations and areas for future research are discussed.