IAE – IBE Educational Practices Interview Series

NEWS

We are thrilled to introduce the International Academy of Education – International Bureau of Education ‘Educational Practices Interview Series’, developed with support from The Learning Bar. This series is a collection of thought-provoking videos featuring scholars from the Academy. The International Academy of Educations’ (IAE) expanding membership comprises diverse scholars across the globe, including the founder and president of The Learning Bar, Dr. Jon Douglas Willms. In this series, esteemed members of the IAE share insights into their transformative handbooks on educational principles, policies, and practices. These videos and associated handbooks cover a range of topics, including guiding principles for twenty-first-century learning, improving education for economically disadvantaged students, recovering from the impact of COVID-19, curriculum design, and teaching students how to become lifelong learners.

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Learning-to-Read

Access our new Learning-to-Read to Reading-to-Learn Research Paper

Discover the optimum scope and sequence of skills children need to learn to get them on track to read by Grade 3

The successful transition from Learning-to-Read to Reading-to-Learn during the first three years at school is critical to students’ long-term success and yet despite living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, at least one-quarter of our children are struggling and vulnerable because they cannot read by Grade 3.

Clearly, we need to look at our approach to how we are teaching kids to read in kindergarten to Grade 3. We need a new plan to help our students recover from the pandemic or they, and we as a country, will continue to fall behind.

Download this paper developed by Dr. Doug Willms and the research team at The Learning Bar to learn the process of how children learn to read, based on recent research on the science of reading. It follows a three-phase model presented by Castles, Rastle, and Nation.[i] It extends their work by delineating the scope of each phase, defined in terms of a core set of skills, and proposes a sequence for teaching these skills. It concludes with a discussion about how the proposed scope and sequence align with common curriculum standards.

We can change results and quickly get children back on track, but we must make the development of children’s reading skill during the primary school period a priority for all schools. It will also require concerted investments to support educational leaders and teachers.

[i] Castles, A., Rastle, K., & Nation, K. (2018). Ending the reading wars: Reading acquisition from novice to expert. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19, 5–51.

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Blog - Educational Prosperity - Teacher

The Educational Prosperity Framework: Helping Countries Provide Foundational Learning for All

By J. Douglas Willms, President of The Learning Bar Inc.

On World Teachers Day, this blog presents an assessment framework, called Education Prosperity, that can be used to track the success of teachers, families, communities and public institutions in developing children’s cognitive skills and their social, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.

As the president of the International Academy of Education, I am often invited to share ideas about school reforms. During a recent trip to Latin America, I found myself in a discussion focused on classroom improvements as a way to boost PISA scores. The conversation was illuminating, because the policymakers in that room—like so many others around the globe— had the best of intentions, but were nevertheless stuck in a model that had them looking in the wrong places.

As I told the group, the foundations for learning are established years before students sit down for the PISA exam or even enter a classroom. In a country that suffers from maternal and child malnutrition, where that particular meeting had taken place, understanding the ways that achievements in education are interconnected—and cumulative— is key to making policy changes that ensure our children are thriving.

These interactions form the basis of my new paper published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), Learning Divides: Using Data to Inform Educational Policy. As the international education community prepares for the upcoming meeting of the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (17-18 October in Hamburg), understanding the interconnectedness of children’s learning processes is critical to measuring progress towards key SDG 4 targets.

Understanding and using data to inform policy

Despite our best attempts, students’ reading skills have not improved over the past fifteen years and if we are to move forward and make real progress, we need a better way of understanding data to inform policy. Indeed, ahead of the GAML meeting, we need to be advocating for a comprehensive and holistic framework—what I call “educational prosperity”— that acknowledges the importance of the foundations for successful learning. Our framework increasingly needs to embrace a life-course approach that considers the impacts of various processes from conception through late adolescence—and we need to be using these data to craft more effective policies.

Traditional approaches to measuring education progress have proven to be insufficient and are failing to capture a critical nuance: Looking at exam results for 15-year-olds—or even 10-year-olds— is misleading. Many of the existing frameworks have misled policymakers for decades because they ignore the cumulative result of a number of factors that affect children’s development. As researchers would put it, we’re using test results to make causal claims and while assessment is critical, it only captures the reality of a specific moment in time, rather than the cumulative and foundational factors that led up to it. Poor reading results in fourth grade, for example, are often the result of poor foundational support for literacy in the early years—and so may be an indication of misguided early childhood development policy or insufficient family support and not necessarily school policy, poor infrastructure, or low teaching quality.

An alternative approach through the education prosperity framework

The “educational prosperity” framework presented in the new UIS papers offers an important alternative that can use existing monitoring data to track the success of families, communities and public institutions in developing children’s cognitive skills, as well as their social, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. The framework provides a multi-dimensional understanding of development at each stage that looks at the role of families, institutions and communities. These ‘Foundations for Success,’ which drive outcomes along six stages of development, provide an important visualization of the ways that success can be cumulative and non-linear.

For example, prosperity outcomes for children in early primary school may include literacy and numeracy, but success is not dependent on institutional factors such as quality instruction and adequate learning materials alone. Rather, the framework operates under the understanding that success is also built on family factors such as parenting skills and family involvement, as well as community factors such as adequate resources and social capital. The framework uses a wider lens for understanding student outcomes—recognizing the reality that school factors and inputs alone are not the sole foundations for student achievement.

Focus on early reading

The educational prosperity framework is based on three interconnected premises. The first is that early reading needs to be the primary focus of educational monitoring systems. The reason is simple: literacy is a pre-requisite for later success in lower and upper secondary levels and provides the scaffolding for developing so many other skills, including numeracy, problem solving and socio-emotional know-how. Indeed, a failure to develop strong skills during the early years increases the risk of school failure.

Second, to better capture ‘school effects’, we can build an informative educational monitoring systems which incorporate the findings of over twenty years of research on the causal factors that lead to better student outcomes.

Third, results from the international studies need to be coupled with national studies and small controlled experimental studies, which can provide educational administrators with information for setting achievable goals, allocating resources, and creating policies for change. We don’t need to keep gathering data on things we already know and instead, should focus on the small-scale testing of reform and studies that focus on a small number of factors. We need to be measuring these in greater detail while tracking them longitudinally.

To be clear, I am not calling for the abandonment of large-scale international studies. Much of my research is based on PISA data, which has played a critical role in helping countries understand how well their students compare with students in other countries while generating the political will for investing in education. But it’s time to look beyond the international studies and consider additional ways to measure and guide our educational policies.

As countries decide to join cross-national assessments or continue to develop their own, I am hopeful that the “educational prosperity” framework will be an essential guide for individual countries—and the global community as a whole—to craft effective strategies that promote educational opportunity for all children.

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Blog - Using student data to reduce anxiety and enhance school climate

Using student data to reduce anxiety and enhance school climate at St. Dominic Fine Arts School, Calgary, AB.

Implementing the OurSCHOOL Student Survey at St. Dominic in 2015 allowed former Principal Kevin DeForge and Assistant Principal Joelle Marshall to learn that 32 per cent of students reported feeling medium to high levels of anxiety at school. Knowing it’s not just the data that matters, but what you do with it, Kevin and his team sought to understand what was driving this.

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Are your students ready for life after graduation?

The critical process of career planning starts in early childhood and intensifies during adolescence. Despite the emphasis placed on identifying a vocation before graduation, less than 20 percent of students make a stable career choice by age 17.

Do you have the complete picture?

 

The new Career Pathways module was developed by our in-house research team to help educators better understand and support their Grades 7-12 students’ transition from school to higher education and employment. 

The module, a part of the OurSCHOOL Secondary Survey, consists of 10 main question areas which capture:

student aspirations after graduation;
level of commitment to a particular job;
current exploration into career options;
students’ career knowledge;
perceived obstacles;
current use of school-level resources and opportunities; and,
perceived importance of specific skills.
How can you use the data to prepare your students for success?

A Thematic Report outlines student goals, vocational knowledge and career identity. Make informed decisions on the support and instruction students need to explore careers, guide them to relevant programs, and gain the vocational experience they need to succeed.

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