Jill Barshay

Here's Why Poorer Students Tend to Perform Worse in Math

Abstract, pure math — solving disembodied equations filled with x’s and y’s —  can often seem boring. Creative math teachers commonly try to come up with concrete, real-world examples to motivate students and make math relevant to adolescents.

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Does Education Software Actually Help Students Learn More?

Even proponents of educational technology admit that a lot of software sold to schools isn’t very good. But they often highlight the promise of so-called “adaptive learning” software, in which complex algorithms react to how a student answers questions, and tailor instruction to each student. The computer recommends different lessons to different students, based upon what they already know and what they still need to work on.

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New Study Finds Benefits of School Desegregation Last for Generations

It was 62 years ago this month that the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark decision that separate schools for whites and blacks were “inherently unequal,” thus setting in motion more than 800 school desegregation court orders around the country. A Berkeley economist, Rucker C. Johnson, has been tracking thousands of the children of that era into adulthood, as they had children of their own. And he’s concluded that integration has been a powerfully effective tool for raising the educational levels and living standards for at least two generations of black families.

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Data Show Segregation by Income (Not Race) is What’s Getting Worse in Schools

There’s a new narrative that U.S. schools are “resegregating” along racial lines. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights used the word “resegregation” on the headline of a recent press release and scheduled a briefing on the subject for May 20. And the word “resegregation” gets bandied about frequently at education conferences and in the press.

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No Psychological Harm to Children Who Play Lots of Video Games, Study Says

This is the kind of research every kid trying to convince his parents to let him play video games dreams about: “Time spent playing video games may have positive effects on young children.” That was the headline on a March 2016 press release from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, promoting a new study co-authored by three members of its faculty.

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The Biggest Hole in the STEM Pipeline Starts Before Kindergarten

It’s a well-established problem that too few blacks and Hispanics, and too few women of all colors, pursue degrees and careers in the sciences. And much research has gone into why minority students aren’t taking as many science classes in high school, and later in college, as their white counterparts do. Wonks call it the “leaky STEM pipeline,” referring to all the students who leave science, technology, engineering and math as they progress through their educational careers.

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Using Computers Widens the Achievement Gap in Writing, Federal Study Finds

Can elementary-school children show off their best writing on a computer? The research arm of the U.S. Department of Education was curious to learn just that. In 2012 it handed out laptop computers to more than 10,000 fourth-graders and asked them to complete two 30-minute writing assignments.

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Immigrant Children in Europe Seem to Learn Best When Assimilated in Schools, Study Claims

More than one million asylum seekers have flooded into Europe this calendar year, 2015, and almost half of them could be granted refugee status and stay. It’s the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

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Do We Actually Learn Anything from Lecture Courses?

Earlier this fall, Molly Worthen, a history professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, wrote a persuasive defense of the lecture as an instructional form. Particularly in the humanities, Worthen argued, students need to absorb long, complex arguments. It’s admittedly not easy, but worthwhile for students to learn to concentrate, and synthesize, organize and react as they listen to a professor. Her New York Times opinion column made its way around social media. On my own Facebook feed, friends posted memories of their favorite lecturing professors. Personally, I am a big fan of lectures and am grateful when someone takes the time to explain something to me.

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Does Preschool Matter?

Does preschool education help youngsters do better in school as they get older, or not?  Two new studies, both released in the final days of September 2015, make the answer seem as elusive as ever.

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Kids Who Use Computers Heavily in School Have Lower Test Scores, Major Worldwide Study Finds

For those of us who worry that Google might be making us stupid, and that, perhaps, technology and education don’t mix well, here’s a new study to confirm that anxiety.

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Schools With More Black Students Less Likely to Offer Mental Health Services

It’s well established that black students have higher rates of suspension, expulsion and police arrests at U.S. public schools than other racial and ethnic groups. The office of civil rights inside the Department of Education monitors racial disparities in school discipline and found that black students were expelled and suspended at three times the rate of white students. Last year Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for schools to administer discipline more fairly.

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Which Vocational Degrees Are Worth the Effort?

A four-year college degree isn’t for everyone. Especially for students who never liked school. The conventional advice for these folks is to master a technical skill in order to have a career more rewarding than serving fast food. Increasingly, many choose to go back to school and get a vocational certification or a degree. But, is there any evidence that this sort of job training pays off?

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Studies Find Online Courses Not Working Well at Community Colleges

Here’s an unusual case where scholarly research is producing a clear conclusion: online instruction at community colleges isn’t working. Yet policymakers are continuing to fund programs to expand online courses at these schools, which primarily serve low-income minority students, and community college administrators are planning to offer more and more of them.

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How Fixing an Educational Loan Program Hurt Black Students

The number of black students enrolled at four-year universities and colleges across the United States declined in 2012-13, a year after the federal government tightened credit standards for issuing loans to parents. The declines for blacks were greater than for students of other races and ethnicities, according to a quantitative analysis conducted for the U.S. Department of Education’s research arm and published April 14, 2015.

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The Gap Between Rich and Poor Schools Grew 44 Percent Over a Decade

The growing gap between rich and poor is affecting many aspects of life in the United States, from health to work to home life. Now the one place that’s supposed to give Americans an equal chance at life — the schoolhouse — is becoming increasingly unequal as well. I’ve already documented the startling increase since 2000 in the number of extremely poor schools, where three-fourths of the students or more are poor enough to qualify for free or discounted meals (see here), and I’ve noted the general increase in poverty in all schools here.

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Could it Be That the Teaching Profession Isn’t Pink Enough?

More than three-quarters of U.S. public school teachers are female. So it’s a bit surprising to hear an argument that there aren’t enough women in the profession. It’s kind of like saying there aren’t enough lawyers in Washington. But that’s exactly the case that two new research studies make for what’s needed to produce more women scientists and engineers in this country.

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School Spending Per Student Drops For the Second Year In a Row

Despite occasional taxpayer revolts, the United States has a history of spending more and more each year on public education. From 1996 to 2008, spending per student, on average, steadily climbed at least 1 percent a year, after adjusting for inflation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). But newer data is showing that this seemingly inexorable upward climb hit a plateau with the 2008 recession, and then began declining in 2010.

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Want Your Kid to Be a Better Writer? Here's How to Make It Happen

What’s the best way to teach writing? The experts have many answers — and they often contradict each other.

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Why One School District Is Throwing All of its Student Laptops Away

Inside Hoboken’s combined junior-senior high school is a storage closet. Behind the locked door, mothballed laptop computers are strewn among brown cardboard boxes. Others are stacked one atop another amid other computer detritus. Dozens more are stored on mobile computer carts, many of them on their last legs.

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