Science of Reading – a Video Intro from Ed Week

The debate on how to teach early reading has raged for a century. But for the last few decades, the cognitive science has been clear: Teaching young kids how to crack the code—teaching systematic phonics—is the most reliable way to make sure that they learn how to read words.

Education Week interviewed longtime reading teachers caught in the evolving landscape of literacy instruction to ask what it was like for them to move from a familiar strategy for teaching reading to “science of reading”-based approaches to instruction. They described being handed a mashup of literacy curriculums over the years ranging from methods heavy on balanced literacy heavy to a “hodgepodge” of strategies that left them feeling insecure about their instructional ability and uncomfortable about students who left their classrooms without a strong reading foundation.

They also revealed how, after years of teaching reading, they’ve recently embraced a more systematic and explicit method of instruction that finally has them feeling confident in their teaching roles.

Oakland Unified Community Schools Initiatives – from Learning Policy Institute

Figure 1: Guiding Principles for Equitable Whole Child Design
Source: Learning Policy Institute & Turnaround for Children. (2021). Design principles for schools: Putting the science of learning and development into action.

The essential principles of whole child education are manifested in schools that include positive developmental relationships in which adults provide care and guidance that enable youth to grow their agency, learn skills, and take on new challenges; environments of safety and belonging in which young people feel physically and emotionally safe in their identities, knowing that they and their cultures are a valued part of the community; rich learning experiences that develop students’ deep understanding and center students by building on their strengths and experiences; the development of social, emotional, and cognitive skills, habits, and mindsets, including executive function, a growth mindset, personal and social awareness, interpersonal skills, resilience and perseverance, metacognition, and self-direction; and integrated support systems that enable schools to meet students’ holistic needs.

The four pillars of community schools can create the conditions for these principles to flourish. Community school pillars such as collaborative leadership and practices and active family and community engagement can orient these schools toward relationship building and inclusive forums that nurture a positive school climate. Dedicated community school managers or directors, who commonly hold positions in these institutions, can also help establish and maintain integrated support systems, making these interventions more accessible, coordinated, and equitable. Finally, with their attention to providing enriched and expanded learning, community schools can create opportunities for young people to engage in an array of learning experiences that pique their curiosity, nurture their full range of skills and habits, and engage them in meaningful and culturally relevant learning.

For Maui—Resilience and Communications in a Polycrisis World – by Dr. Joseph Fiskel, Ohio State Univ

Dr. Joseph Fiksel is Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University and a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University. He is the author of Resilient by Design (Island Press, 2015) and has provided consulting services to companies, governments, and industry associations worldwide.

“The destruction of the Hawaiian town of Lahaina by the Maui wildfire is only the latest indication that our communities are unprepared for what some call a “polycrisis” – a rare convergence of multiple forces that results in a disaster. Lahaina residents have always lived in the shadow of an active volcano, but no one anticipated that a wildfire would be magnified by a freak windstorm, and that the town’s communication systems and water supply would fail to respond properly.   ….”

Learning Policy Institute Research on Using Authentic Student Work for College Admissions

LPI Research Shows How College Admissions That Utilize Authentic Student Work Can Advance Equity and Diversity
With the new school year on the horizon and in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, the topic of equity in college admissions has never been more relevant. LPI’s research shares examples of admissions processes that use student portfolios and performance assessments to inform effective and equitable admission, placement, and advising decisions.Performance assessments are an approach to educational assessment that enables students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do through open-ended tasks. This demonstration can include, among other things, writing an analytical essay, conducting a science investigation, creating a curated portfolio of work, or presenting the results of an original research paper. The following research sheds light on the use of performance assessments in K-12 settings and in higher education admissions. 

The Promise of Performance Assessments describes innovations in high school and higher education assessments, including the value of performance assessments in providing K-12 schools, colleges, and universities with insights about what students know and can do. The brief explores state and local policies that support the use of these assessments, along with emerging higher education efforts to incorporate them in college admission, placement, and advising. Importantly, performance assessments also have promise for better reflecting the achievements of historically underserved students, which in turn may help institutions identify promising candidates who might have been overlooked by traditional measures.

Assessing College Readiness Through Authentic Student Work describes the history, context, implementation, and early results of a unique college admissions pilot in which 25 colleges in the City University of New York (CUNY) system and high schools in the New York Performance Standards Consortium—which use performance-based assessments to assess student progress—have collaborated to add authentic evidence of student learning to the college admissions process. Early evidence showed that students in Consortium schools who began high school more educationally and economically disadvantaged than their peers were more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. Students admitted to CUNY through the Consortium–CUNY pilot on average achieved higher first-semester college GPAs and persisted in college at higher rates than peers from other New York City schools, even though the latter had higher SAT scores. These results suggest that a more holistic review of admission applications that include evidence of student work can help identify students with strong potential to succeed in college.

Authentic Student Work in College Admissions looks at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and describes how it requests, collects, and reviews portfolios of student work along with traditional application materials as a part of the undergraduate admissions process. The case illuminates the use of student-generated portfolios as one possible model for other higher education systems seeking to evolve their holistic admission processes.