School & District Management

Achievement Gaps (and Solutions) Draw Research Attention

By Sarah D. Sparks — January 04, 2016 1 min read
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Welcome to 2016!

Between the Every Student Succeeds Act’s new approach to evaluating programs and reauthorization of federal education research law finally (hopefully) back on track, this year is likely to bring new waves of study on practical questions of how to help students learn and schools succeed.

Yet if 2015 readers are any indication, educators also are still interested in new perspectives on some very old questions of how achievement gaps form and how social and technological changes affect the classroom. Inside School Research’s most popular story last year is a case in point. Harvard University public-policy professor Robert D. Putnam, last year released Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, with a plethora of new research on the environmental and opportunity gaps that stymie children in poverty and make it incredibly difficult for schools to close gaps with wealthier students.

Readers also looked for deeper evaluations of programs. For example, the Washington-based research firm Policy Studies Associates, Inc. conducted a multistate longitudinal evaluation of 150 schools using the City Year program and nearly 500 matched comparison schools. Not only did it find some promising overall improvements in language arts from students who participated in the City Year programs, but it also dug into specific practices, such as how mentors worked to free up teachers’ time to differentiate instruction in the classroom.

We should see an update on the program soon, as the research firm MDRC is expected to release a separate, randomized controlled trial of City Year as part of a federal Investing in Innovation grant project called Diplomas Now.

Most-Read Research Stories of 2015

Here are our top 10 most-read blogs from 2015:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.