HOW RESEARCH IMPACTS
INSTRUCTION IN THE BOISE DISTRICT
Findings from educational research drive instruction in the Boise School District. The District's comprehensive professional development program includes research-based strategies such as
WICOR (Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading to Learn), the basis for AVID and many district-wide practices
Engaging Qualities - research from the late Philip Schlecty, author of numerous research articles and "Working on the Work" and the promotion of an engaging culture in classrooms.
Depth of Knowledge - Dr. Norman Webb, explores cognitive complexity, transfer of knowledge, forming generalizations, and background knowledge, among other issues in teaching.
Differentiated Instruction and Layered Curriculum, Dr, Kathy Nunley
Growth Mindsets, Dr, Carol Dweck, exploring fixed and growth mindsets, and how they affect teaching and learning.
Mathematical Mindsets, Dr. Jo Boaler, Stanford researcher and professor
These are just a sampling of the programs provided for Boise teachers. Many other content-specific opportunities are also available as well.
However, the foundation for professional development in the District is the work of two acclaimed educational researchers, Dr. Richard Dufour and Dr. Robert Marzano.
Dufour, who passed away in 2017, was the acclaimed principal of Stevenson High School in Illinois, and later Superintendent of the Lincolnshire District. His work on development of collaborative cultures in schools is highlighted in "Professional Learning Communities at Work: Best Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement", the basis for the development of "PLC" teams at schools across the country. The Boise District has embraced the PLC concept, and provided important district-wide training in the development of collaborative culture. In Praise of American Educators, his 2015 book, is viewed as a classic among educators already. Here is a short video featuring Dufour.
Marzano's book Classroom Instruction that Works, the basis of much professional development in the District and across the country, and his Nine High-Yield Instructional Strategies are research-based practices in regular use by our teachers. Marzano is among the most respected educational researchers in the field.
Marzano's work has yielded some similar recommendations to that of John Hattie, whose 2009 book Visible Learning revealed the results of a massive "meta-meta-analysis" of over 800 studies, and provided a list of practices identified as most effective, using an "effect-size" analysis.
For example, Marzano identifies "Cooperative Learning" as an important strategy as does Hattie. "Remediation Feedback" as identified by Hattie is similar to "Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback" from Marzano , and "Concept Mapping" in Hattie's work is similar to Marzano's "Nonlinguistic Representations".
Of course, any research is subject to criticism as to specific conclusions the researcher draws. For example, Hattie's research methodology, evidence, and conclusions have drawn fire from researchers (here and here, for example), and Marzano's evaluation system has been the subject of ire from some writers; however, both are respected researchers.
Research-Based Strategies and Instructional Time
It's important to note that effective use of the strategies recommended by educational researchers is dependent on other factors, one of which is time. Each of the strategies is designed to facilitate maximal use of classroom instructional time. The District's Calendar Committee recommended with its calendar proposal to increase instructional time in the second semester by almost two weeks. Even though several of those days are now taken up by SBAC testing, effective use of the strategies will provide additional essential learning time for Boise students.
A Note on the "Summer Slide"
In our last post, we wrote about "summer slide" and its effects on students, particularly on struggling readers. For those who want to learn more about the phenomenon and what to do about it, here are two articles:
1) Richard Allington, author of "Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Achievement Gap"
responds to questions about "Summer Slide". in this interview from the School Library Journal.
As Allington notes:
"We also know that children from low-income families routinely lose two to three months of reading proficiency every summer while middle-class children gain about a month. This creates a three to four month gap every summer. From grade one to nine children from low-income families lose two or more years of reading proficiency, during the summers when school is not in session."
2) "How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss" is a blog post by Valerie Strauss, author of the Answer Sheet in the Washington Post. Here Linda B. Gambrell, Distinguished Professor of Education in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education at Clemson University, and former president of the International Reading Association answers questions about the topic.