Discover a wealth of social sector knowledge through reports from experts, foundations, nonprofits, and research institutions working in education.
Grantmakers for Education's 10th anniversary edition of Trends in Education Philanthropy: Benchmarking 2018-19 offers insights on the current and evolving priorities of the education funding community. This new report identifies significant and profound shifts in education investments toward social and emotional learning and postsecondary and early education, and away from the core K-12 reforms that have largely defined the last decade of policymaking, as well as other relevant findings.
For the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, the adoption of Eureka Math® at the elementary level five years ago was part of a broad, long-term, system-wide strategy to transform some of the city's highest-need schools and then scale up successful practices across the district.
Data from the state's Smarter Balanced assessment show steady and major gains by all nine Partnership elementary schools using Eureka Math. Gains averaged 16 percentage points from school year 2014-2015 (pre-Eureka Math) to school year 2018-2019.
Progress was especially strong at two recent Partnership additions: 20th Street Elementary, which joined in 2015, and 107th Street Elementary, which joined in 2016. Scores are up 22.6 percentage points and 21.8 percentage points, respectively, at these schools. Both 20th Street and 107th Street benefited from what the Partnership learned from implementing Eureka Math in the network's original six elementary schools.
This report, produced by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, Lawrence Hall of Science at University of California, Berkeley, and SRI International, addresses how well California is doing to prepare its young people for the evolving economy and societal challenges. Specifically, it describes the status of science teaching and learning in California public elementary schools.
Among the findings:
- Forty percent of elementary teachers say they spend 60 minutes or less teaching science each week
- Only one third of elementary teachers say they feel prepared to teach science
- Eighty-five percent of teachers say they have not received any professional development in science during the last three years
- 9 in 10 principals say science education is very important and should start early
- Less than half of principals (44%) believe it is likely that a student would receive high-quality science instruction in his or her school
The reasons underlying the lack of high-quality learning opportunities in the state's elementary schools are many. For example:
- Teachers do not feel prepared to teach science—especially in comparison to their preparation to teach English language arts and mathematics.
- Districts and schools do not have the resources (staff, time, or funds) to provide the needed professional development.
- High-quality science teaching requires specialized materials, which teachers also say they lack, and districts and schools are strapped to provide these resources.
These shortcomings are rooted in part in the state and federal accountability systems that place the greatest emphasis on English language arts and mathematics, which receive the lion's share of political and practical attention. The end result? California does not have a coherent system that enables teachers and schools to consistently provide students with high-quality science learning.
Improvement Science in Teacher Preparation at California State University: How teacher preparation partnerships are building capacity to learn to improve
One of the most pressing educational problems in the United States is improving the quality of teacher preparation (Goldhaber, Liddle, & Theobald, 2013; National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, & Institute of Medicine, 2007). Over the last decade the education sector has begun to learn from other sectors — especially health care — about the potential power of improvement science as an approach to improving the quality and reliability of educational systems (Bryk, Gomez, Grunow, & LeMahieu, 2015; Coburn, Penuel, & Geil, 2013; Lewis, 2015). Evidence from an effort to improve how beginning teachers are supported in three large urban districts through development and testing of feedback systems demonstrates the promise of improvement science methods for tackling persistent challenges in teaching (Hannan, Russell, Takahashi, & Park, 2015).
This Innovation Highlight describes a network-based effort — the New Generation of Educators Initiative (NGEI), funded by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation — that applies the principles and methods of improvement science (Langley, Moen, Nolan, Nolan, Norman, & Provost, 2009) to the challenge of improving how new teachers are prepared in the California State University System. The initiative emphasizes data-driven, continuous improvement by funding teacher preparation programs to routinely collect and analyze the data needed to monitor teacher candidates' progress toward competency in prioritized skills and to use the results of that analysis to (a) inform clinical support and teaching during the school year and (b) identify meaningful programmatic changes.
The NGEI-funded teacher preparation programs also receive support from WestEd and SRI, which have developed a multipronged technical assistance strategy that is informed by improvement science. The technical assistance includes in-person trainings, cross-site webinars, monthly coaching calls with each site, annual convenings, and occasional site visits.
The first section of this Innovation Highlight explains the theory of improvement science and how approaches that are informed by improvement science differ from other improvement efforts. The second section describes how NGEI has put this theory into practice through improvement science technical assistance for the NGEI grantees. Examples from the NGEI grantees are included throughout to illustrate how improvement science principles have been applied in the teacher preparation context.