New Research-July 2018

New Research

Analysis: Students’ interest and enjoyment of reading, mathematics, and science

In conjunction with the administration of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), a nationally representative group of students in grades 4, 8 and 12 are asked their level of interest and enjoyment in core subject areas including reading, mathematics and science. These questionnaires collect contextual information to provide a better understanding of educational experiences and factors that are related to students’ learning. Overall, at all grade levels, students with more positive views of mathematics, reading, or science performed better on the corresponding 2015 NAEP assessment compared to students with less positive views of these subjects. Some differences in interest and enjoyment were noted by gender and poverty level. Over time, interest and enjoyment are on the rise across all grades and subjects. However, this is often only true of high performers. It is important for teachers to think about how to create engaging and effective instruction for all students.

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Report: The role of curiosity in learning

An analysis of nationally representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) examined the relationship between curiosity and academic achievement in kindergarten. Greater curiosity was related to greater academic achievement; results were stronger for low-income children, suggesting fostering an interest to learn new things may optimize learning for young children. Interventions to improve achievement have often focused on increasing young children’s self-regulation, but this study suggests developing curiosity may also be an important target for intervention. Prior research has found that promoting autonomy, feelings of competence, and connectedness can foster intrinsic motivation, and increase curiosity. Interventions to foster curiosity in adults have focused on highlighting the personal meaningfulness of an activity to optimize engagement.

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Report: High school students course taking in mathematics and science

The National Center for Education Statistics released Paths Through Mathematics and Science: Patterns and Relationships in High School Coursetaking, based on 2009 results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) High School Transcript Study. This report examines mathematics and science course taking in high school by providing a description of course taking within each of the mathematics and science subject areas across the high school years, as well as by showing the association between early mathematics course taking and subsequent science course taking. Some of the interesting findings include: students completed more than 1,000 distinct 4-year high school mathematics course sequences, with many of those including no math course senior year. Overall, about 28 percent of students did not take a math course senior year; 45 percent of students did not earn credit in science in 12th grade.

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Survey: Principals’ top concerns

Every 10 years the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) conducts a survey of Pre-K-8 principals to understand their challenges, the students they serve and the conditions under which they work. The main concern for school leaders in the 2018 survey was addressing students’ emotional issues. Other concerns included student poverty, mental health issues and absenteeism; none of these showed up as major concerns in the last survey conducted in 2008. Multiple areas for professional development were identified, including improving student performance (71%) and improving staff performance. In 2008, the top area for PD was understanding and applying technology, which this time around rated as a high or moderate need area by 51 percent.

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