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10 of the most important stories about education research in 2018

Insights into implicit bias in the classroom, declining numbers of students and educating immigrant students

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Proof Points

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For my year-end post, I’m highlighting 10 of the most important Proof Points stories of 2018. The first nine are listed in the order of popularity, by the number of times readers viewed them on our website, The Hechinger Report. The final story wasn’t quite as popular but its insights into innovation and technology are worth repeating.

Thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my weekly stories about education data and research. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you in 2019. If you would like to receive an email newsletter and notification when the column comes out each week, please click here and fill out the form. Happy Holidays and I’ll be back again on Jan. 7, 2019.

1. Two studies point to the power of teacher-student relationships to boost learning 

My most popular story of the year shows how platooning, or teacher specialization in elementary schools, might be harming kids while looping, keeping the same teacher for two years in a row, is beneficial. The reason:  kids do better when teachers know them well.

2. 20 judgments a teacher makes in 1 minute and 28 seconds

A math specialist shows how implicit biases unintentionally creep into the classroom. It’s an increasingly important topic now that white students comprise less than half of the nation’s students but white teachers still make up 80 percent of the teaching profession.

3. Does a lack of executive function explain why some kids fall way behind in school? 

New research sees multi-year academic difficulties from executive function problems in kindergarten.

4. Most immigrants outpace Americans when it comes to education — with one big exception 

A new study shows that most newcomers to this country and their descendants earn degrees beyond high school but some Hispanics still lag behind.

5. College students predicted to fall by more than 15% after the year 2025

Record low birthrates predicted to lead to university closures but high demand is likely to persist for the top 100 elite institutions. A companion piece in November 2018 piece discusses how the declining birthrate will affect K-12 students: The number of public school students could fall by more than 8% in a decade.

6. These colleges turn low-income students into middle-class earners — but how?

Philanthropists are increasingly interested not only in counting college degrees but also in helping low-income kids move into the middle class. A small, somewhat pricey 50-year-old program in New York City is a prime example of an engine of social mobility, economists find.

7. Early evidence of a ‘Trump effect’ on bullying in schools

Preliminary study results show that a community’s preference for Trump is associated with higher rates of teasing and bullying in Virginia middle schools.

8. Research evidence on bullying prevention at odds with what schools are doing

This is a companion piece to the Trump effect on bullying. Researchers argue that zero-tolerance policies and severe punishments don’t work.

9. Does every teacher need a coach? 
An analysis of 60 studies on teacher coaching finds that benefits dissipate as coaching programs attempt to reach more teachers.

10. The ‘dirty secret’ about educational innovation 

A 2018 federal report found that only 18 percent of the innovations funded by the Education Department lifted student achievement and 82 percent didn’t.

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Jill Barshay

Jill Barshay is a staff writer and editor who writes the weekly “Proof Points” column about education research and data. She taught algebra to ninth… See Archive

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