The Institute Of Education Sciences just published Evaluation Report: The Effects of an Academic Language Program on Student Reading Outcomes.
In it, they found that what appears to be a very well-funded program, that involved lots of teachers and students, didn’t improve…anything.
The key part part of the evaluation, though, comes at the end in a section titled “Lessons Learned and Looking Forward.”
The three lessons it highlights would be obvious to most teachers – perhaps leaders of any new ‘initiatives” expecting us to implement them should consult us first?
Here are my paraphrases of the three lessons (feel free to read their originals on page 15 of the report), along with my commentary on each one:
1. It was difficult for teachers to integrate the program into their regular instructional day. Come on, people! Anything you want us to do has to be short-and-sweet and easily take the place of something we’re doing already. We can’t fit something new into class time where we already can’t fit everything we need to do.
2. As the year went on, teachers weren’t able to get time to complete the program’s professional development. And this was a surprise to who, exactly? Certainly not the teachers who were involved. We didn’t have time to take away from the classroom before the pandemic, and we certainly don’t have time, now. Plus, there are no subs! Any new initiative must require minimal professional development!
3. The program and its training did not focus on instructional practices. I don’t know how they missed this one! Plenty of research has shown that the most effective professional development emphasizes instructional strategies that are clear and can be implemented immediately by teachers, and offers ideas better than what they’re doing now.
It’s mind-boggling that promoters of new initiatives still don’t understand that these three points are basic to having anything succeed in the classroom.
But, since teachers are often not consulted on any kind of new initiative, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised…