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May 2020 Newsletter

Dear Knowledge Network members,  

To help address the obstacles schools are encountering to providing effective instruction caused by Covid-19, The Wing Institute is redirecting its focus and resources to track and disseminate the latest research and best practices on delivering quality education during these challenging times.

This issue reflects this change of focus, including the following content:
  • Remote Instruction: What Do We Know About What Works?
  • Why Do Education Practice Fail?
  • Creating a Dashboard to Monitor the Reopening of Schools: The Baseline
Additional content
  • Teacher Preparation (Original Wing Institute Paper)
  • Wing Institute Recruitment for Education Research Writers
  • Data Mining: What Makes an Effective School Principal

We are confident that our education system will get through these troubling times and emerge stronger than ever.  
Stay safe,
The Wing Institute

Did You Know?


Relative to other types of government spending in 2018, education spending was: (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2019; Budget Of The U.S. Government. White House Office of Management and Budget, 2019)
  • 9% lower than spending for healthcare.
  • 21% higher than spending for national defense and veterans’ benefits
  • 2.5 times higher than spending for public order and safety, including law enforcement, courts, prisons, fire protection, and immigration enforcement. 
Between 1920 and 2016, the portion of K–12 public school funding provided by: (U.S. Department Of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018)
  • local governments decreased from 83% to 45%.
  • state governments increased from 16% to 47%.
  • the federal government increased from 0.3% to 8%.
In 2017, 50% of all compensation for state and local government employees was paid to people who work in education. (Compensation of Employees by Industry. United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2018)

Wing Institute Original Papers

Teacher Preparation (Pre-Service) Overview

The question of how best to prepare teacher candidates for the job of teaching has been a concern for decades.
How, along with how well, teachers are prepared for their work in classrooms is important because teachers are a key factor in student achievement. It is logical to conclude that the preparation teachers receive has the potential to impact their immediate and long-term impact on student achievement.
The purpose of this overview is to provide information about the methods of teacher preparation, the current state of research on teacher preparation, challenges, trends, questions, and recommendations for those working to prepare teachers for success in the classroom. This overview addresses the following questions:
  • What should teacher candidates be taught?
  • What experiences should teacher candidates have?
  • Does training teacher candidates in their subject matter have an impact on student achievement?
  • Is there a difference between teachers who are traditionally trained and those who are alternatively trained?
  • Do teacher candidates receive sufficient training to prepare them for the current education system?
Read more   Cleaver, S., Detrich, R., States, J., Keyworth, R. (2020)

Effective Instruction During Covid-19

Remote Instruction: What Do We Know About What Works?

Author: Jan Donley, Ed.D.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in school closings in 48 of 50 states, and a sharp turn towards remote instruction in order to finish out the year as best as possible.
Issues and concerns previously in the background, such as inequitable access to technology including internet access for online learning at home, are now front and center. Districts and states have been exploring creative ways to bridge the digital divide, such as delivering Wi-Fi hotspots and devices to children without technology and internet access, using public television, creating printed packets, and making creative use of the mobile and smartphones that most families in the United States now have.
While student access to remote instruction has clearly improved, at least in the short term, many educators report struggling with “pandemic teaching” and challenges with engaging students, as Peter DeWitt recently described in Education Week. What education will look like when school resumes in the fall is anyone’s guess, but it’s a safe bet at this point that many students will continue with remote learning in some form because of the need to restructure learning environments and schedules (e.g., staggered schedules, with some students attending in the morning and others in the afternoon, to reduce class size). Understanding best practice in remote instruction and learning will be key as schools look to the future.
Remote Instruction at a Glance and Some Key Terms…
Remote instruction can be synchronous (students and teachers interact together in a specific virtual space at the same time) or asynchronous (students access content and learning activities on their own time), and ideally instruction includes both forms. Synchronous instruction may include video conferencing (e.g., ZOOM) and group project work in real time, while asynchronous instruction may include self-guided lesson modules and teacher-posted lecture slides and assignments; this guide by several Wisconsin educators describes the use of both methods within remote instruction. As a contrast to fully remote instruction, many districts and schools have been experimenting with blended learning (BL), or hybrid, models, which combine remote learning and face-to-face instruction with a teacher in a brick-and-mortar building. 
Can Remote Instruction Work for K–12 Students?
In some ways, yes. Remote courses increase students’ opportunities to take courses that normally wouldn’t be available to them (e.g., in rural schools, which often lack staff to teach college prep courses), offer flexibility to students who must learn at alternative times due to work schedules, and allow students to make up failed courses through credit recovery programs. However, a recent comprehensive review of 126 high-quality studies found thatfully online instructional models are generally not as effective as traditional face-to-face classroom models. Other studies have shown that this may be particularly true for students who are struggling and may already be disengaged from traditional instruction. But as Susanna Loeb argues in Education Week, this doesn’t mean that the “baby should be thrown out with the bathwater,” but that educators need to explore ways to better engage students with online instruction. Research has shown positive learning outcomes, for example, when online learning is interest driven, with adolescents and young adults engaging with a supportive community of peers.
To maximize engagement with remote instruction, educators must focus on providing robust remote instruction and learning activities as much as possible. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) recommends four principles for educators to provide robust learning: (1) Break learning into smaller chunks; (2) establish clear student participation expectations; (3) provide frequent feedback (e.g., through online knowledge checks and comments on collaborative student documents); and (4) maintain a human connection through virtual meetings, live chats, or video tutorials. Other ideas for enhancing student engagement include using virtual breakout rooms in platforms such as Zoom to enhance student collaboration; adding interactive elements to make slides dynamic; and providing ways for students to share and showcase their pictures and videos related to classroom lessons and projects. The gist is to use technology to make instruction student-centered by encouraging students to take an active rather than passive role in their learning.
As we look to the future, schools may need to continue some form of remote instruction. The good news is that blended learning approaches, which combine in-person and remote instruction, appear to work at least as well as traditional face-to-face instruction, although there have been limited studies to date involving K–12 students. Some evidence is emerging, however, that blended learning models may be particularly effective for at-risk K–12 students, such as English Learners and economically disadvantaged students. The models often include use of adaptive software for independent student learning that provides differentiated and/or personalized learning tailored to students’ needs. These software programs, often referred to as “intelligent tutoring” computer-assisted learning (CAL) programs, have been shown through multiple rigorous studies to have enormous benefits for student learning outcomes, particularly in math. For example, the Cognitive Tutor Algebra program, a full curriculum program that combines student use of an intelligent tutoring computer-based system (40%) with regular classroom instruction (60%) to provide personalized, mastery-based learning, significantly improved students’ algebra proficiency after 2 years of implementation. A free math homework program, ASSISTments, gives students math homework with embedded formative assessments that provide rapid feedback to students and allow teachers to adjust instruction; it also provides customized practice in weak areas. One study found that even light use of the platform (10 minutes a night, three or four nights per week) resulted in significantly improved math scores.
What Critical Practice Issues Should We Consider With Remote Instruction?
Accessibility: Beyond extreme concern for equity issues regarding internet access and technology resources for remote learning, educators must also consider the needs of special education students and English learners, and ensure that remote instruction is accessible to all. ISTE recommends that educators incorporate Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles to enhance access to learning for all students, such as providing multiple means of representation (e.g., reading texts, watching videos, or listening to audio) and giving students multiple ways to demonstrate their learning (e.g., writing and creating a video or podcast). 
Assessment: Feedback to students has been shown to be a powerful contributor to student learning. Actionable and timely formative assessments are still critical for remote instruction, and there are digital tools and apps available to educators to track student understanding remotely. Andrew Miller for Edutopia describes some key principles for formative assessment with remote instruction, including knowing the purpose of each tool used, conducting regular checks for understanding during synchronous instructional settings, and leveraging personal conversations to capture student understanding. 
Maintaining relationships and social-emotional learning (SEL): Decades of research have shown that SEL plays an important role in students’ academic and long-term success and yes, SEL must be included within remote instruction! Maintaining SEL activities such as morning meetings for students to discuss what is going on in their lives can be continued by posing daily questions on discussion boards. Conducting frequent check-ins with students can also help educators build rapport and trust with students in online environments.
Larry Ferlazzo for Education Week provides a short video, 7 tips for Remote Teaching, that includes several SEL strategies relevant to the current situation we find ourselves in. As students and teachers transition back to classrooms, building in plenty of opportunities for SEL will continue to be crucial. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has provided a guide to help educators leverage the power of SEL as they prepare to reopen school communities.
Other critical practice issues for remote instruction include ways to meaningfully engage parents in the instructional process (e.g., take a look at how this school is offering a virtual coffee hour for parents); what effective professional development for teachers in remote and blended instructional settings looks like; and what successful school leaders can do to foster remote instruction. These issues will be explored in an upcoming newsletter issue.
Looking Ahead…
Educators will need to call on all their innovation skills to design remote instruction that is equitable, student-centered, and rigorous. In an interview with the National Education Policy Center, William Penuel assessed the changes that lie ahead for K–12 instruction:
I think a lot of educators are concerned that without opportunities to engage with students in the formal learning of tested school subjects, there’s likely a lot of learning loss…[however,] this moment [also] presents a tremendous opportunity to reimagine education in ways that center what is important to young people in education,…[and an opportunity to] try out some new models for public schools now that meet the challenge of the times. 
These challenges are not small, but they can be met with the use of remote instructional designs supported by a solid research foundation.

Donley, J., Detrich, R., States, J., & Keyworth, (2020). Remote Learning Overview. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.

Why Do Education Practices Fail?

Author: Jack States

The 2020 pandemic is unprecedented in living memory. This event necessitates schools adopting new technologies and teachers mastering new ways of delivering instruction. Education is engaged in a grand experiment, implementing new practices in fifty states with over 13,000 school districts. Change on this magnitude would be daunting even in normal times, and is particularly difficult in a decentralized system such as in the United States. What we know is there are bound to be many failures. 
Fortunately, the past 15 years have seen remarkable progress in the creation of a science of implementation to address such hurdles. This paper offers examples of failed practices in guiding schools to avoid making similar mistakes over the coming year. 

Conventional wisdom suggests that once we know what works, it is a simple matter applying research-based interventions in real-world settings and then sitting back and watching schools reap the benefits. Sadly, that is not how performance improvement happens. Successful innovation requires hard work and adherence to the science of implementation. The education landscape is strewn with interventions that have ample supporting research but fail when applied in school settings. As well as, abundant examples of programs with insufficient research that are adopted and maintained despite poor outcomes. 

The Wing Institute provides an evidence-based roadmap for managing the decision-making, implementation, and monitoring of the interventions that will help schools to successfully navigate these uncharted waters. This analysis will offer insight into practice failures happening at each of these three phases of effecting change. 

Decision Making Failure
Poor decisions happen for a variety of reasons. Failures commonly occur when schools choose practices that are not evidence-based, not matched to the conditions identified in the research, incompatible with their school's values, and when the selection process doesn't involve critical stakeholders.
Examples of Decision Making Failure
  • Adopting a practice without evidence 
  • Relying on a single study
  • Publication bias
Implementation Failure
Knowing what to do is not the same as being able to do it. Implementing evidence-based practices in real-world settings comes with significant challenges. Implementation science manages critical factors such as need, fit, capacity, evidence, usability, and supports to achieve sustainable change after a new practice has been adopted.

Examples of Implementation Failure
  • Structural interventions
  • Ineffective professional development
Monitoring Failure
Because no intervention will be universally effective, frequent monitoring of results is necessary to adapt and improve decisions promptly. Monitoring the effects of an intervention helps educators know whether an intervention is working. Monitoring also provides information on whether the failure of the intervention is due to poor execution. Understanding the quality of implementation allows practitioners to make data-informed judgments about the effects of an intervention and how to revise and innovate practices effectively.
Examples of Monitoring Failure
  • Ineffective treatment integrity
  • Defective teacher evaluation
Failed educational interventions happen often. Learning from these missed opportunities is apart of operating schools. Ample evidence is available on how to avoid many of the most common obstacles to achieving success in the classroom. Following evidence-based protocols for decision-making, implementing sustainable practices, and monitoring the effects of interventions offers educators the most viable and cost-effective road to maximize students' educational outcomes. (Read More)   

States, J., & Keyworth, R. (2020). Why Practices Fail. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.

Creating a Dashboard to Monitor the Reopening of Schools: The Baseline

Author: Randy Keyworth
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, States will soon reopen most, if not all, of their 138,000 K-12 schools and 55 million students will return to the classroom. This will be done at a time when there is significant uncertainty as to the impact Covid-19 will have on the health of students and education staff.  

There is much unknown regarding how the Covid-19 virus affects children, how contagious they might be, and how effective the various hygiene and social distancing prevention strategies will be.  The same is true for the health of education staff, who will be trying to implement prevention protocols with large numbers of children in small spaces.  And ultimately, there is the question of how effective education will be in the context of different schedules, models, distractions, potential school closures, and remote learning.  

Given this level of uncertainty, it is critical to track data that will help schools identify problems quickly, assess their nature, and respond in timely and effective ways to safeguard the health of students and education staff while providing a quality education.  
The Wing Institute is adding a new section to its Education System Dashboard that focuses on issues regarding the reopening of schools under the Covid-19 pandemic.  It will provide relevant, up-to-date research and data on a wide range of metrics, starting with the following:
       I.   Student health (recent research; up-to-date data on Covid-19 exposure, infections, intensive care use, and deaths; socio emotional impacts)
      II.   Staff health (recent research; up-to-date data on Covid-19 exposure, infections, intensive care use, and deaths; socio emotional impacts)
    III.   School health (recent research; models; school openings; school closings)
     IV.   Student performance (student absenteeism; academic performance; social behavioral issues)
As most of the research is still in its early stage, and there is no data yet on the reopening schools, this analysis starts with a baseline of the information we have to date for I. student health and II. staff health.
Research is still in the very early stages of understanding Covid-19’s impact on children, staff and schools.   Most of it is still in process, being peer reviewed, and/or waiting replication.  Yet, once schools reopen, decisions will made every day about ways to protect children and staff.  Schools will have to rely on the best available evidence, starting with the following fundamental questions:
Are children more or less susceptible to contracting Covid-19 than adults? 
One of the first studies did a systematic review and meta-analysis of over 6,000 studies and concluded that children under 18-20 had 56% lower odds than adults of catching coronavirus from an infected person. (1)  Another study found that children were about one third as susceptible to the Covid-19 virus as adults,  It also concluded that children in school had about three times as many contacts as adults with three times as many opportunities to become infected, which essentially evens out the odds. 
How easily can children transmit the virus to others? 
There is still very little data on whether or not children can spread the virus the same as adults.  One study examined the “viral loads” of children and found that children who tested positive have just as much virus as adults do and presumably are just as infectious.  This was also true for children who were asymptomatic. Much more research is required to answer this question.
What other symptoms and illnesses are associated with Covid-10 in children?
Initial research suggests that the Covid-19 symptoms are milder with children than with adults. Yet there are also signs that some children may be exhibiting more serious illnesses that are Covid-19 related.   Recently several children have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory condition with some similar features to those of Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. There is some evidence that this illness is related to Covid-19 infections.
Given the speed with which Covid-19 has spread, we don’t have complete data on critical health issues for children.  And, as schools have not yet reopened, we have no data on student health once they are in classrooms.  Given the severe nature of the Covid-19 threat, we must go with the best available data.
This dashboard section will track the number of student Covid-19 cases, cases needing intensive care services, and deaths.  To date, the numbers of children in each category is very small.  Much of this is the result of underreported data.  It is believed that many children with primary COVID infection were never diagnosed because, until recently, only sick people were getting tested. 
As with counting the number of adult Covid-19 cases, there is great discrepancy between children’s cases reported and cases projected by various public health models.  The consensus is that it is the result of underreported data.  Many children with primary COVID infection were never diagnosed because, until recently, only sick people were getting tested.  The number of cases reported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and those by public health modeling differ by a factor of ten or more.  On April 2,, 2020, CDC reported just over 2,500 cases.  One public health model projected over 150,000 cases at that date.  This model projected there are likely over 900,000 children as of May 25, 2020, of 1.3% of all children.  Both models show the number of cases increasing over time.
Baseline data for children who have required intensive care unit services is much more accurate, as is that with the number of children who have died.  Both totals are low; 391 children required intensive care services and 35 children have died.  But both show steep trend lines upwards.

Baseline Research:  Staff
There is no research as of yet on the impact of Covid-19 on the health of teachers (or other education staff) in the classroom setting.  Yet, we do have data that suggest teachers may be at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due their age, the challenges of social distancing, and the hands-on nature of their jobs.  
The available epidemiological data suggests a person’s age is one of the predictors of high risk with the virus.  The risk of severe illness requiring hospitalization jumps significantly with people ages fifty and older.  CDC data shows a jump of almost 300% (37.2 to 105.9) between adults 18-49 and those who are 50-64.  The percentage of individuals who die from the virus also makes a large jump (650%) once someone is in the 45-64 age range
The challenge is that a significant percent of teachers and school principals are in this higher risk age range.  Over 29% of teachers are 50 years or older, including 17.6% who are 55 and over.  Principals face the same risks, with 37.8% of their ranks ages 45-54 and 27% who are 55 and over.  This means that a significant part of the school staff is already more at rick due to their age.  To the degree that schools turn out to be high risk environments, could be catastrophic.
In addition to age demographics, the very nature of the teaching job increases the risk of exposure.  The first risk involves high levels of social contact.  Despite recommended protocols for social distancing by teachers, high levels of social contact with students are inevitable.  Pre-Covid-19 research showed that teachers have significantly more contacts on a working day than the national average.  For example a teacher in a normal working day will have at least 50% more contact hours than either unemployed or retired people. The degree to which social distancing in the classroom will reduce these levels is yet to be seen. 
And finally, and classrooms tend to be full of germs.  One study examined the desks, computers and phones from various professions and found that teachers had six times more germs in their workspace than accountants, the second-place finisher.  The high sample rate for germs may or may not be the same issue once schools reopen, and dramatic hygiene protocols are in place, but as a baseline, it gives one pause for concern.
Baseline Data:  Staff
Until the schools reopen, we will not have data on how well the Covid-19 protocols are working with either students or staff in U.S. school settings.
The United States is about to embark upon a very high stakes strategy towards reopening schools.  As one superintendent stated, it is an “impossible balancing act”.  Opening schools has inherent risks to students, staff and families.  Not opening schools also has risks as children benefit from the socio-emotional and academic structure schools provide.  Virtually all of our actions in trying to get back to normalcy in the Covid-19 pandemic will require a constant attention to data on what is working and what is not.  It will allow us to make course corrections quickly and with some level of confidence.  The systems dashboard is one example of what can be used to track progress.  But it is at the individual school level where data can make the most difference.  The journey is going to be a balancing act for a long time. Read More

Wing Institute Recruiting

Search for Education Research Writers


The Wing Institute is recruiting contract-based content writers in the field of evidence-based education. 
We are looking for professionals who can: 
  1. conduct literature reviews;
  2. analyze the relevant data, research, and policies; and 
  3. write succinct overviews for publication on our web site.
Positions to be filled by August, 2020.
Please send resume to Jack States at the Wing Institute:

Research topics will focus on the eight education drivers associated with student achievement and success in school. These drivers encompass essential practices, procedures, resources, and management strategies. Specific topics include but are not limited to:  skills for effective teaching, effective teacher training, quality of leadership, and external influences affecting student outcomes.

Those interested must be able to analyze both the quality and quantity of evidence studies to determine if current research meets a threshold of evidence for providing information to support the work of educators.
Criteria for inclusion is based on:
  • Quality: A continua of evidence prioritizing well designed randomized trials and single subject designed studies.
  • Quantity: A continua of evidence spotlighting meta-analyses and replications of single subject designed studies.
Each Overview consists of a summary of the research, graphics as needed, and citations, and supporting conclusions.
  • $2,000 for each Overview (2,500-5,000 words)
  • Author’s name on the publication
  • Working with other professional is the field of evidence-based education
  • Work with internal teams to obtain an in-depth understanding of evidence-based research.
  • Work remotely and supply your own equipment (computer)
  • Plan, develop, organize, write the above documents.
  • Analyze documents to maintain continuity of style of content and consistency with prior Wing Institute documents.
  • Recommend updates and revisions derived from updates in research.
  • Master’s degree in Education, Behavior Analysis, English, Psychology, Communication, or related degrees, is required.
Ability to deliver high quality documentation
  • Ability to communicate complex or technical information easily
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English
  • Ability to write from the perspective of education policy makers, school administrators, teachers, and parents

Data Mining

What Makes an Effective Principal

How best to build an education system that can meet the needs of students and society continues to be in the forefront of public debate. This data mining piece examines two meta-analyses on school principal's impact on student achievement. These studies provide compelling evidence that what many have felt was true, how school principals  led and the activities they engage in have a significant impact on critical student outcomes. Read More 

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