Evidence Based Science Education

This blog will examine research and evidence as it relates to science education and science education issues. It is an attempt to bring together the science of education and the practice of education.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Effect of 20+ years of education reform

For at least the last 20 years the United States, like almost every other country in the world, has been pushing one type of education reform after another.  Most with little success (exceptions might include Finland and Singapore).  The two most recent of these include No Child Left Behind and the Common Core State Standards. The question that any science based educator must then ask themselves is what is the effect of all this reform?

The evidence I have seen to date would seem to indicate that NCLB has had little effect either positive or negative on education in general. Most meaningful measures of achievement did not change significantly in the NCLB era, despite what we often see in the headlines based on think tank research studies.

Many think tanks in education forget that you base conclusions on evidence, instead they make the research fallacy of looking for evidence to back up their conclusion, thus, cherry picking the evidence. Therefore when I look at most studies on the impact of NCLB, Charter Schools, or other "education reforms" I usually can guess what the conclusion of the study is based on who published it. Not a sign of quality research and rigorous science based educational reform. 

As far CCSS goes, it looks to me to be the more of the same, well intentioned, but not necessarily a science based educational reform. NCLB is still law of the land, and the conservative vs liberal think tank battle continues with poorly designed research studies with cherry picked data. Worst of all appalling media coverage of what is really happening in our schools and the real issues faced by students and teachers. 

Luckily there are a few good places to go for quality research studies on science education such as the University of Colorado and the University of British Columbia as well as the What Works Clearing House and the National Research Council. Unfortunately these seem to be the last place the public, the media, and policy makers seem to look to for quality information.

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