Tag Archives: education

#JourneystoScale: Documenting efforts to scale up education innovations

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-3-34-26-pmOn October 10th, the Center for Education Innovations (CEI) and UNICEF published Journeys to Scale, a report that documents the innovative efforts of five organizations as they aim to increase their impact. The organizations profiled in the report include Accelerated School Readiness, Can’t Wait to Learn, EduTrac Peru, Lively Minds, and Palavra de Criança. These are organizations that have been identified as having “high disruption potential,” and the report describes the journey each has taken to scale up their programs.
As CEI and UNICEF explain, in May 2014 they began designing and testing strategies to systematically select and support innovative education models. They received over 150 nominations but selected only 5 finalists. The finalists received funding from UNICEF and support from CEI as they tested and strengthened their scale-up models while collecting evidence on effectivenes. The report, Journeys to Scale, describes the challenges and strategies of these innovations from Brazil, Ehtiopia, Ghana, Peru, and Sudan, and lays out clear recommendations for implementers, donors, policymakers and researchers who want to support innovation.
One category of key findings from the report points to the importance of defining what is meant by both “innovation” and “scaling up.”  As the report explains,
The five innovations challenged ideas about what it means to scale an innovation, highlighting the reality that scaling does not happen in a straightforward manner and that progress is often accompanied by setbacks. They revealed that the conventional idea of scaling as simply the process of reaching more beneficiaries does not account for steps like the inclusion of new services to an existing package of interventions, the formation of new alliances with government and donor partners, and team capacity building.
Therefore, the authors find that scaling is about more than simply increasing the numbers of beneficiaries, and innovation is about more than the intervention itself. Innovation is about a broader and deeper spread of new norms and beliefs.
In addition to the publication of this report, CEI and UNICEF hosted a Twitter chat (#JourneystoScale) to keep the conversation going. See below for a Storify recap of the conversation.

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Life after levels: Is the new Year 6 Maths test changing the way teachers teach?

This week we share a blog post written by Melanie Ehren and Nick Wollaston. Originally published on the IOE London Blog, of University College London, this blog is part of a Nuffield foundation funded research project Dr. Ehren coordinates. The research looks at the Key Stage 2 test in mathematics in England and how the test affects teaching of primary mathematics. The test is administered in year 6 (end of Primary school) and is considered to be high stakes as schools performing below the floor standard are monitored by Ofsted (the Inspectorate of Education), face potential forced academization, and test outcomes are used in (teachers’ and head teacher’s) performance management reviews. The test has undergone changes this year to reflect the new national curriculum, and the researchers have asked teachers (after the administration of the new test) how they are changing their teaching in response to the changes in the test. More info on the project (and a broader introduction) is on the website: www.highstakestesting.co.uk

Here we share the blog post in full. To read the post on the IOE London Blog, click here.

 

Life after levels: is the new Year 6 maths test changing the way teachers teach?

Earlier this month (5 July), the Department for Education published the results of the Key Stage 2 test for 10 and 11-year-olds. The publication was awaited with more anxiety than usual as this year’s test was the first one on the new national curriculum. One of the major changes in the test is the removal of the ‘old’ national curriculum levels 3, 4 and 5, where children were expected to reach at least a level 4. The level 6 paper for the most able children has also gone and results are now reported as ‘scaled scores[1]’. Each pupil now has to achieve at least a score of 100 to reach the expected standard. It seems like a minor change with little impact on how teachers teach mathematics and prepare children for the test, but recent findings from our Nuffield-funded study suggest otherwise.

We interviewed 30 Year 6 teachers in schools performing both below and above the floor standard in Mathematics. Interviews took place prior to the changes in the test in May/June 2015, and again after the changes in the test in May/June 2016. In the interviews in 2015, levels were one of the key topics teachers talked about when we asked them about notable features of the test that would inform their teaching. They explained how each of the two written Maths test papers would start with easy level 3 questions, have level 4 questions in the middle and finish with the difficult level 5 items at the end. This order of questions according to difficulty level would allow the lower attaining children to access the test, according to these teachers, and would build their confidence in answering the questions and their motivation to do well on the test. Teachers tell us in the second round of interviews, how all the questions are now ‘at level 5’ and how some of their lower attaining children stared at them in horror when opening their test booklet, asking them where the easy questions had gone.

Not only does the abolition of levels seem to have an impact on children’s motivation and confidence in test taking, it also appears to have a profound impact on how teachers come to understand and teach mathematics. Prior to the introduction of scaled scores, teachers would talk about gradually building up the level of difficulty when teaching specific mathematical content areas, such as ‘number sense and calculation’, ‘data handling’ or ‘shape and space’. Level 3, 4 and 5 test items on past Key Stage 2 test papers would help them understand the hierarchical nature of mathematics and how to introduce children to, for example, increasingly more difficult calculations (e.g. moving from one step to multistep problems, or from adding and subtracting whole numbers to adding and subtracting decimals). Resources such as Test Base would allow them to access available questions according to content area and difficulty level and they could simply download relevant questions when teaching a specific skill. Now that the levels have been removed, some of the teachers tell us that they just focus on getting all students to perform at level 5 in number and calculation as this is where most of the marks on the test are given and some hardly teach shape and space at all. These teachers also talk about moving towards a more ‘mastery style’ of teaching where they ensure that all students master the basics before they move on to teach more complex skills or other (more complex) content domains, such as algebra or geometry.

It is too early to know how widespread these changes are and the effect they will have on children’s understanding of mathematics. Our study, however, indicates that we need to keep a close eye on the breadth and depth of what our children are learning as some of these changes may be masked by an average single test score.

 

[1] A pupil’s scaled score is based on their raw score. The raw score is the total number of marks a pupil scores in a test, based on the number of questions they answered correctly. The Standard and Testing Agency develops tests each year to the same specification, but because the questions must be different, the difficulty of tests may vary slightly each year. This means that the raw scores pupils get in the tests need to be converted into a scaled score to be able make accurate comparisons of pupil performance over time. Every scaled score will represent the same level of attainment for a pupil each year, so a pupil who scores 103, for example, in 2016 will have demonstrated the same attainment as a pupil who scores 103 in 2017. A scaled score of 100 will always represent the expected standard on the test. Pupils scoring 100 or more will have met the expected standard on the test. In 2016, panels of teachers set the raw score required to meet the expected standard on each test.

Scan of Ed News: Exploring what the #Brexit vote means for #education in the UK

576d421757868Since the British voted to leave the European Union we have seen a variety of news reports focusing on how the move will affect the British educational system. In this short scan we share some of the conversations we have seen emerge in the past few weeks.

One strand of articles point out what the Brexit vote supposedly reveals about the overall quality of the British education system. According to the Evening Standard, the Chief Executive of Credit Suisse, Tidjane Thiam, said that the level of inequality he witnessed in Britain explained the outcome of the vote. Thiam argued that Britain should raise taxes to counteract the impact of globalization. According to an editorial in the Telegraph, the vote represents “an appetite among young people for a more internationalist approach to education.” As John Walmsley argues, three-quarters of 18-24 year olds voted to remain in the European Union, either out of a desire to live and travel throughout Europe, to help refugees, to effectively battle climate change, or access the European single market. Walmsley writes, “Even in an unstable modern world…young people simply do not have the same concerns with immigration, collaboration and pluralism that older generations have.” According to Peter Horrocks of The Open University, writing for The Times Higher Education (THE), the fact that the outcome of the vote correlated closely with percentage degree attainment shows a pressing need for a more inclusive and diverse higher education sector that offers the flexibility and support that students rightly demand, alongside specific policies to address their particular needs.”

Another strand of articles point to the implications of the Brexit vote. Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, argues in Schools Week that the short term impact of the vote will be “distraction and delay,” resulting in the disruption of policies that need the attention and focus of policymakers. Long term, Hobby shares his concern that the vote might serve as impetus for change in both leadership and education policy (for example, will funding for early childhood education remain a priority?). Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, writing for the Huffington Post UK, argues that the most likely immediate implication will be a reduction in the number of EU students studying in the UK, citing the approximately 125,000 EU students studying in UK institutions, and the nearly 3.7 billion pounds and 380,000 jobs they contribute to the economy. These European students might be more likely in the future to choose non-UK universities to study in, such as those in Germany or the Netherlands. Rakhmat speculates that UK universities might end up recruiting more students from developing countries, such as China, India and Indonesia. This shift might influence educational outcomes as well, as many EU students arrive with an advanced educational background. In another article in the Huffington Post UK, Steve Spriggs agrees that British schools might suffer the loss of some 5,000 students from EU countries who currently attend British boarding schools. As he argues, “An exodus of international students would mean a vast net outflow of money from the UK from associated industries: student accommodation, cultural tourist events to name but a few.” However, Spriggs also raises a question about teachers, citing speculation that up to 400,000 teachers might be forced to leave the UK at a time when there is already a shortage of qualified teachers. On July 5th, NHT teachers organized a one-day strike to protest what they see as a crisis point. As Lola Okolosie argues in The Guardian, in addition to the unknown implications of the Brexit vote, teachers are concerned about the loss of jobs, cuts to per pupil spending, and the national commitment to make all schools academies by 2020.

Mark Tucker,  president and Chief Executive Officer of the National Center on Education and the Economy, also provides one take on the implications of Brexit for education and the US election. As he puts it in a recent Washington Post article, “Just as in England, those with the least education are those who have been hurt most by globalization and free trade.  They are most likely, as we see now in the way they are reacting to the candidacies of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, to reject not just the leaders of their parties but also the experts they think have ignored them and their interests.”  He concludes, “The Brexit vote is a warning shot across our bow.  Will we hear it?”

-Deirdre Faughey

 

Exploring the rising stature of Estonia’s education system

This week, we shared an article (via Twitter) from our colleagues at The Hechinger Report about the rising stature of the Estonian education system. We also asked several colleagues from Estonia, including Margus Pedaste, Professor of Educational Technology and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Education, University of Tartu, to comment on the article.

Estonia has not made big changes in the education system, Dr. Pedaste explained, but it has updated the national curriculum. Further, an increased focus on “general transferable competences (e.g. mathematical competence, digital competence, learning skills, communication competence),” has required some changes in teaching practice “even if this change is not often too big.” He also suggested that e-learning software and hardware are often used in Estonian schools today and may have influenced the results.

In responding to the comment that no one in Estonia “would say the school system is doing fine,” Pedaste concurred. “Yes, that’s what we hear very often in Estonia. We are very outcome-oriented and less process oriented and, even if teachers value student-centered approaches in learning, their lessons are still rather teacher-centered.” He added that Estonian teachers, on the whole are veterans, in fact their level of experience in teaching is among longest within OECD countries, at more than 20 years. As he put it “ This experience allows them to use the extensive practical knowledge they have and this might be one of the main reasons of good academic results.”

Pedaste also pointed out, that, as in Finland, most of Estonian teachers have a Master’s Degree, and “subject teachers” usually have a Master Degree in their subject plus a year of teacher training. He added that during the last 10-15 years new integrated Master Programs in teacher education have been developed and regularly updated based on international research-based and innovative ideas. Pre-service education for teachers is also always at least five years which likely contributes to the academic results. However, Pedaste continued, concerns in Estonia include that very often graduates do not want to become teachers, especially in subject areas like science and mathematics. From his perspective, this means that “something is wrong. And it is probably that not enough attention is given to developing soft skills, on collaboration and supporting each other. Too often Estonians are individualistic and competitive while real success and joy comes from collaborative effort.” While recent strategies have emphasized collaboration among teacher, Pedaste concluded “we still need more time to create a cultural change.”

 

Edtech startups in Southeast Asia

This week, we share an article by Nadine Freischlad that appeared in techinasia.com.  As the article explains, there are a number of startups in Southeast Asia that provide online education services. These small companies tend to have little funding and as a result they tend to remain frugal and focus on local issues. Freischlad argues that an influx of venture capital will shake up the current landscape, pushing founders to think about scaling up and profitability.

The edtech startups that have captured attention range from Indonesia’s Bulletinboard, a mobile app and online tool for teachers to post homework assignments and reports to the entire community, to Malaysia’s Classruum, an online learning environment that helps school kids learn at home and in study groups.

To learn more about the 29 most interesting edtech startups in Southeast Asia, read the complete article here.

Government funding and refugee migration in Nordic region

syria_children_refugee_camp

Photo: DFID

Our review of education news this week focuses on Nordic countries, where issues of government funding and the migration of refugees figure prominently. This brief scan shows that for countries such as Finland, Norway, and Sweden, the influx of refugees has implications for the classroom. For example, Norway is launching an innovation competition to teach Syrian refugee children to read. As The Nordic Page reports:

Norway is fronting an initiative to develop a smartphone application that can help Syrian children to learn how to read, and improve their psychosocial wellbeing. This will take the form of an international innovation competition in cooperation with Norwegian and international partners.

Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, also recently announced that Norway will double its support for education between 2013 and 2017. In a statement published on MSNBC.com, Solberg stated:

The gap in education funding is vast. Reaching the new goals will require concerted efforts and major investments. National governments must lead the way. Innovative partnerships, including partnerships with the private sector, will play an important part. A crucial outcome of the Oslo summit on education in July was the launch of the International Commission on the Financing of Global Education Opportunities, which was welcomed by the UN Secretary-General. 

Similarly, Sweden has recently announced the addition of $3 billion to its national budget, intended to address education and housing issues, and to restore a welfare system that many feel has been depleted in recent years; however, at the same time the country has seen an unprecedented number of 6,901 people seeking asylum in just one week’s time—3,467 of them from Syria. As Reuters reports,

Local authorities will get more than 1 billion crowns extra for integrating refugees this year, with government also increasing spending to support refugee children in school. Total spending on refugees will rise to 19.4 billion crowns in 2016 out of a total budget of around 920 billion and up from an estimated 17.4 billion this year.

In contrast, Finland is grappling with a strong opposition to the influx in refugees, as well as controversial cuts to the education budget. According to The Helsinki Times, these cuts will have implications across all levels of education, but for primary education it will call particular attention to:

…the appropriations for the reduction of class sizes in primary schools. Terhi Päivärinta, a director at the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, believes it is consequently possible that class sizes will grow in some municipalities.

In each of these countries, plans for increases or decreases to educational funding were in the works long before this refugee crisis began. As they are now being implemented under somewhat different circumstances, it will be interesting to see how they unfold in the next weeks and months.

Deirdre Faughey

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Scan of education news: Asia

Photo: Nguyen Thi Hoang Yen

Photo: Nguyen Thi Hoang Yen

As we return from hiatus and schools in the US open their doors again, our latest scan looks over the recent education news in East Asia. This quick scan reveals a of variety concerns with the extent and quality of education. Reports include those focusing on the long-standing need to ensure that all school-age students are enrolled in and attend schools in Pakistan and the Philippines. Reports also address continuing attacks on girls and girls’ education in Afghanistan. Other reports describe what some have called a “problematic” college admissions process in Vietnam, and, even in South Korea, often touted as a high-performing system, there are concerns about changing populations, particularly in rural villages, and related school closings. Several broad efforts to improve education systems are also in the news, including a “blueprint” in Malaysia focusing on the quality of graduates, a “radical” school reform in Taiwan, a new education programme from the education and training ministry in Vietnam, and a general drive to improve education in Pakistan and prepare students for the knowledge economy.

Why 25 million children are out of school in Pakistan – The Express Tribune http://buff.ly/1LSObpr

#AkoSiDaniel Campaign Aims to Empower Children in the Philippines Through Education The World Post http://buff.ly/1JwTZPx

Girls’ education under attack: Over 100 Afghan schoolgirls poisoned Daily Pakistan http://buff.ly/1Ulu8o1

Vietnam’s education minister takes responsibility for problematic college admission process, Tuoi Tre News  http://buff.ly/1L2P7BW

As South Korean Villages Empty, More Primary Schools Face Closings, New York Times http://buff.ly/1KpZ0iG

Malaysian Education Blueprint focuses on quality of graduates – Minister, Astro Awani http://buff.ly/1O6Ib9O

Education and training ministry unveils new education programme – VietNam News http://buff.ly/1KFGhy6

Pakistan launches drive to improve education system, The Daily Times http://buff.ly/1Ulu47P

Creative demand: Taiwan says radical school reform will set it apart, Christian Science Monitor http://buff.ly/1Kq0sBz

Taiwan: Progressive Education Reform Unrepresented Nations And Peoples Organization, UNPO http://buff.ly/1L2SOrb

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