Wallace Blog

 

 

Six Tips for Writing about Research12047 <p>It can be difficult for reporters who write about schools to know what to think about education research. Not all studies are created equal—so how can busy journalists make the best use of their time when considering whether to cover one?</p><p><img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="ED_5991.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Six-Tips-for-Writing-about-Research/ED_5991.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;251px;" />This problem isn’t academic for The Wallace Foundation, given that disseminating key research findings from the work of our grantees is central to <a href="/how-we-work/the-wallace-approach/pages/default.aspx">the foundation’s mission</a>. That’s why Edward Pauly, our director of research, was happy to provide some practical suggestions at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar this year. He also used the opportunity to explain a little about how and why the foundation conducts research. </p><p>Pauly was joined on the panel by Denise-Marie Ordway, an award-winning reporter who runs the <a href="https&#58;//journalistsresource.org/">Journalist’s Resource</a> project at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy. She is also on the EWA board of directors.</p><p>While the audience was journalists and communications professionals, the experts’ advice also holds true for many other users of education research, including nonprofit and advocacy organizations that use research of any kind. Further, the advice offered by Ordway and Pauly can be applied to studies on topics other than education.</p><p>“If a study seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Pauly warned. “Most research findings are not that surprising&#58; They have ‘face validity.’ If you’re startled and shocked, that’s probably a good reason to be skeptical and be careful.”</p><p>Ordway cautioned reporters not to assume that a research study is high quality based on the institutions of the people involved&#58; “It isn’t bullet proof just because it’s from Harvard or Stanford.”</p><p>Among other helpful points, she steered reporters away from spending too much time on the study’s “abstract,” which summarizes its conclusions. What researchers consider the important takeaways don’t always match what might interest a reporter, she said, explaining that “golden nuggets” of interesting facts and data points are often found deeper into a report. </p><p>Pauly summarized his recommendations into six tips for writing about research&#58; </p><ol><li>Look for “literature reviews” of all high-quality research on a topic. Peer-reviewed journals such as <em>Review of Educational Research</em> synthesize the best studies on a topic. Evidence from many studies is more meaningful than evidence from a lone study.<br><br></li><li>Find an unbiased, “in-the-know” academic source to share the study with and ask what seems important, reliable, special and valuable about it. What does it add to what we already knew—and why should we believe it?<br><br></li><li>Spend more time on studies that are reliable and broad&#58; major, multi-site studies rather than single-site studies, and studies with a “control” group that allows comparisons to be made and differences to be attributed to the program or intervention being evaluated.<br><br></li><li>Check out the ranking of a journal to determine its reliability. For example, many journals have Wikipedia articles that provide these rankings.<br><br></li><li>Make sure that the study considers alternative explanations for its findings and is clear about its limitations.<br><br></li><li>Consider the type of study—student outcomes, implementation of a program or initiative, opinion survey—and evaluate whether the claims it makes are consistent with that kind of study.<br></li></ol><p>In determining what research would be relevant to their audiences, education journalists can ask their sources, “What is it you don’t know that, if you knew it, it would enable you to make a breakthrough in your work?” and then track down the best studies on those important topics, Pauly said. </p><p>And, he noted, that’s exactly how The Wallace Foundation decides how to make its grants, seeking to produce answers to big questions that would benefit the field.</p><p>You can watch the full EWA session on this recorded <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/EdWriters/videos/10156295484842836/">Facebook Live</a> session and see the PowerPoint presentation below.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 4b3a12ff-464a-47cf-b4d9-17b8d43450d1" id="div_4b3a12ff-464a-47cf-b4d9-17b8d43450d1"></div><div id="vid_4b3a12ff-464a-47cf-b4d9-17b8d43450d1" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div>Wallace’s Director of Research, Ed Pauly, Offers Guidance for Reporters on Using Education Research GP0|#cad33471-a186-455a-836f-0d0657808f00;L0|#0cad33471-a186-455a-836f-0d0657808f00|research;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#e3942f1c-5d19-4eda-9ec0-4216b8e672af;L0|#0e3942f1c-5d19-4eda-9ec0-4216b8e672af|writing;GP0|#d26d020b-2cb0-46a5-9fe8-13a593adbe68;L0|#0d26d020b-2cb0-46a5-9fe8-13a593adbe68|reporting;GP0|#deb79e9c-c265-4f1c-902f-d7681bc45925;L0|#0deb79e9c-c265-4f1c-902f-d7681bc45925|findingsGP0|#af3e9879-f65e-40d3-8cc6-25ef5b2f858e;L0|#0af3e9879-f65e-40d3-8cc6-25ef5b2f858e|Advancing Philanthropy;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Wallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/eds-six-tips-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2018-06-18T04:00:00ZWallace’s Director of Research, Ed Pauly, Offers Guidance for Reporters on Using Education Research6/18/2018 8:00:58 PM616http://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Charting a Careful Course in Public Policy Engagement12041<p>T</p><p>he Wallace Foundation has a sizable endowment, but it's not large enough to fund all <a href="https&#58;//nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/overview04/tables/table_2.asp">93,000 public schools in the U.S.</a>, all <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/Update-Thriving-Arts-Organizations-Thriving-Arts.pdf">48,000 nonprofit arts organizations</a> or the thousands of organizations offering expanded-learning opportunities for children. We therefore work to develop and share credible, useful knowledge that can help others who may never get a grant from us.</p><p> While most of our efforts have been focused on helping share lessons to improve practice, we’ve recently sought to strengthen our approach to sharing lessons with policymakers, as well. </p><p> We are dipping our toes deeper into the waters of policy engagement because we think the evidence we’ve developed can, when it is sufficiently strong, lead to more effective policies, should policymakers choose to incorporate it. But what might that look like? </p><p> If a state were considering changes in policies about school principals, for example, its lawmakers might benefit from becoming familiar with <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/default.aspx">the substantial body of evidence</a> we have collected about what works and what doesn’t in promoting more effective school leadership. Our goal would be to introduce credible information and ideas to legislators so they could devise school leadership policies with the greatest likelihood of improving teaching and learning in schools.</p><p> But we’ve also acknowledged that there are risks to policy engagement. In other words, these waters can be choppy. U.S. law prohibits philanthropies from influencing legislation. And riptides exist even within the firm confines of the law. Policy engagement could pull a foundation into caustic partisan politics, distract it from core areas of expertise or create adverse unintended consequences for those it seeks to help. </p><p> How can a philanthropy navigate such treacherous waters—and manage risk? Kenneth Austin, general counsel at Wallace, recently shared Wallace’s approach to considering and managing the risk to foundations of policy engagements at the <a href="https&#58;//www.cof.org/2018-public-policy-summit">Council on Foundations' Public Policy Summit</a> in Philadelphia.&#160; He laid out the rationale for Wallace to undertake policy engagement, the risks we see in the endeavor and the ways in which we work to mitigate these risks—chiefly by following the principle of “say more, only as we know more” and by offering options and never prescriptions. He also offered a case study from Florida to illustrate the principles we use to determine when we wade into matters of policy and when we choose to stay dry.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 47f5f63e-e73c-497a-9f14-2a9487c3ed8a" id="div_47f5f63e-e73c-497a-9f14-2a9487c3ed8a" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_47f5f63e-e73c-497a-9f14-2a9487c3ed8a" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p> The considerations for thinking about risk and how to manage it may be useful to other philanthropies and nonprofit organizations exploring avenues to inform public policy and legislation. </p><p> You can also download Austin's presentation <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/COF-Public-Policy-Summit-Wallace-Overview-041318-final-rev2.pdf">here</a>. </p> How Wallace determines whether and how to weigh in on matters of legislation and government regulationGP0|#e7970890-b1f6-4682-8dad-f304b60c1299;L0|#0e7970890-b1f6-4682-8dad-f304b60c1299|public policy;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2GP0|#af3e9879-f65e-40d3-8cc6-25ef5b2f858e;L0|#0af3e9879-f65e-40d3-8cc6-25ef5b2f858e|Advancing Philanthropy;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61;GP0|#6b3d2eef-1f47-4b7e-b105-bd18b7e1c384;L0|#06b3d2eef-1f47-4b7e-b105-bd18b7e1c384|NewsWallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/council-on-foundations-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2018-06-06T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.6/20/2018 8:34:17 PM65http://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Seven Considerations to Help Keep Education Reform Plans Real12024<p>A milestone moment in federal funding to shrink the academic opportunity gap between kids from poor and wealthier families took place in 1965, when President Lyndon Baines Johnson sat beside “Miss Kate” Deadrich Loney, his first schoolteacher, and signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Since then, a progression of ESEA reauthorizations and other federal measures, such as Race to the Top, has sought the same goal. </p><p>So, why do the gaps persist?</p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Newmannapix3-w-caption.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/seven-considerations-to-help-keep-education-reform-plans-real/Newmannapix3-w-caption.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />That was the question posed by political scientist Paul Manna recently when he addressed an audience of people with a stake in the answer, the ESSA Leadership Learning Community. That’s “ESSA” as in the “Every Student Succeeds Act” of 2015, the latest version of the law LBJ put his signature to more than half a century ago. </p><p>The ESSA Leadership Learning Community comprises representatives from 10 states that are working to use part of their federal funding to develop the type of leadership by principals and other educators needed to turn around the lowest-performing schools. Members of the group, which is supported by Wallace and managed by the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council of the Great City Schools and the National Urban League, met in New York City recently, at one of their periodic gatherings to discuss their progress and exchange ideas. </p><p>Manna’s starting point, which <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/advice-on-state-policy-and-ed-leadership.aspx">he described in greater detail</a> at another Wallace gathering earlier this year, was that education reform too often stumbles because of a major oversight. Specifically, reform plans often spell out big aims and intended changes, while failing to reckon with the details of implementation. &#160;&#160;</p><p>“Adopting a set of goals says nothing about how they will actually be carried out,” Manna said. He urged the audience to understand—and respond to—the “critical tasks” their plans entail, offering a series of questions policy designers can ask to help them connect their plans to the ground-level work required to help put them into action. What follows is a lightly edited version of Manna’s seven sets of questions&#58;&#160; </p><ol><li> <strong> Key implementers. </strong>What people or organizations will need to adapt their work if implementation is to proceed?<br><br></li><li> <strong>New tasks.</strong> What new tasks will the key implementers have to do?<br><br></li><li> <strong>New tasks in relation to current work. </strong>Is there evidence that the key implementers are already doing these tasks as part of current jobs? &#160;If so, is there also&#58; <ol type="a"><li>evidence that they are doing these tasks well?</li><li>evidence of what is leading to that success? If not, what is standing in the way of the implementers doing these tasks well?<br><br></li></ol></li><li> <strong>System support for new tasks</strong><strong><strong>.</strong> </strong>If the reform plan requires implementers to do new tasks (or do old tasks in fundamentally new ways), what evidence is there that the institutions in which they work (e.g., schools, districts, state agencies) have the management and communication systems to support them in the new tasks?&#160; If the institutions lack the systems, what is the reason, and how has the plan accounted for that?<br><br></li><li> <strong>Competing tasks.</strong> What responsibilities beyond the tasks demanded by the reform plan do the key implementers have? What’s the likelihood that the new tasks will become priorities for the implementers? If the new tasks are likely to struggle to be a priority for implementers, how can the reform plan address that (e.g., eliminating old tasks to make space for the new ones)? <br><br></li><li> <strong> Feedback loops. </strong>How has the plan built in processes or systems to ensure that implementers can provide feedback to planners as they carry out the new tasks?&#160; What mechanisms does the plan include to receive this information so plans can adapt in light of new information or realizations that some of the assumptions built into the plan were incorrect?<br><br></li><li> <strong>Developing a sense of mission around new tasks. </strong>What steps does the plan include to ensure continued enthusiasm and support for the new tasks within the implementers’ organizations?<br><br></li></ol><p>“Education reform plans&#160;that seem good in theory are a dime a dozen.&#160;More rare, though, are plans that can actually withstand the reality check&#160;they encounter when implementers on the ground begin to put them into practice,” Manna said in an email following the gathering. “When planners attend to the real world of practice, they will increase the chances that their plans will actually change schools for the better rather than simply creating a lot of messes for principals and their teams&#160;to clean up.&quot;</p><p>For more information on using ESSA funds for school leadership efforts, see <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/school-leadership-interventions-every-student-succeeds-act-volume-1.aspx">this report</a>. </p><p>Manna, the <a href="http&#58;//pmanna.people.wm.edu/">Hyman Professor of Government&#160;at William &amp; Mary</a>, is the author of a Wallace-commissionedreport,<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/developing-excellent-school-principals.aspx"><em>Developing Excellent School Principals to Advance Teaching and Learning&#58; Considerations for State Policy</em></a>, examining levers states can pull to bolster principal effectiveness. </p> Political Scientist Paul Manna Advises Planners to Take Implementers Into AccountGP0|#3ab38f86-968a-4357-8214-f3b9195f9ef7;L0|#03ab38f86-968a-4357-8214-f3b9195f9ef7|education;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#650ac1b3-766f-444f-9ac1-a53b1f2411e1;L0|#0650ac1b3-766f-444f-9ac1-a53b1f2411e1|reform;GP0|#53b390f0-ad01-4d2f-ae64-aad6590073cb;L0|#053b390f0-ad01-4d2f-ae64-aad6590073cb|ESSA;GP0|#59a508b0-86fe-412d-8e12-f693e7e6a2e5;L0|#059a508b0-86fe-412d-8e12-f693e7e6a2e5|Every Student Succeeds ActGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61;GP0|#0cd55c08-6cf5-4ae7-a735-f8317421308a;L0|#00cd55c08-6cf5-4ae7-a735-f8317421308a|ESSA;GPP|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708Wallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/help-keep-education-reforms-plans-real-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2018-05-31T04:00:00ZPolitical Scientist Paul Manna Advises Planners to Take Implementers Into Account6/1/2018 2:24:13 PM514http://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
High-Quality “Arts Integration” Programs Can Benefit Learning in Core Subjects398<p>“Arts integration” is a mouthful of a term for a simple idea&#58; using the arts to help students learn about other subjects. Now, a study by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) quantifies the effects. It finds that high-quality programs that incorporate music, theater or other arts into core subjects such as English and math can make a difference in learning.</p><p>What’s more, the study describes how arts integration programming that has research-based evidence of effectiveness may be eligible for funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act, one of the leading sources of federal support for public school education. </p><p>AIR researchers scoured studies of arts-integration programs and found 44—a substantial number—that meet the standards of evidence the law requires. Programs that fit the bill incorporate a range of activities, including teacher professional development, school improvement efforts, procurement of instructional materials and supports for English learners.</p><p>Meredith Ludwig, who led the study, presented its findings at the Arts Education Partnership’s State Policy Symposium in March. You can check out her presentation below, or&#160;<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/research-on-arts-integration-presentation.aspx">here,</a> or download AIR’s complete report <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/essa-arts-evidence-review-report.aspx">here</a>.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read a3df1f18-92eb-4407-9920-4d6e7792c297" id="div_a3df1f18-92eb-4407-9920-4d6e7792c297"></div><div id="vid_a3df1f18-92eb-4407-9920-4d6e7792c297" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>&#160;</p>Study Finds Arts Integration Efforts Eligible for Federal Education FundingGP0|#459b8438-9b87-47d0-814e-02452652da81;L0|#0459b8438-9b87-47d0-814e-02452652da81|arts;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2GP0|#d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8;L0|#0d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8|Arts Education;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Wallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/knowledge-center/PublishingImages/Research-on-Arts-Integration-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2018-05-24T04:00:00ZStudy Finds Arts Integration Efforts Eligible for Federal Education Funding6/5/2018 4:30:26 PM1095http://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Districts Use Data to Help Boost School Leadership11982<p>Basing decisions on reliable, pertinent information is a smart idea for any human endeavor. Talent management is no exception. That’s the reason a number of Wallace-supported school districts in recent years have undertaken the difficult task of building “leader tracking systems” in the service of developing a large corps of effective principals.</p><p>A leader tracking system is a user-friendly database of important, career-related information about current and potential school leaders—principal candidates’ education, work experience and measured competencies, for starters. Often this information is scattered about different district offices and available only in incompatible formats.&#160; When compiled in one place and made easy to digest, by contrast, the data can be a powerful aid to decision-making about a range of matters necessary to shaping a strong principal cadre, including identifying teachers or other professionals with leadership potential; seeing that they get the right training; hiring them and placing them in the appropriate school; and supporting them on the job. </p><p><img alt="Data_Sources_LTS.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Districts-Use-Data-to-Help-Boost-School-Leadership/Data_Sources_LTS.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></p><p>In a panel discussion during a Wallace gathering in New York City this week, representatives of two districts that have built leader tracking systems talked about their experiences. Their assessment? The effort was worth it, despite the reality that constructing the systems required considerable time and labor. &#160;</p><p>Jeff Eakins, superintendent of the Hillsborough County (Tampa, Fla.) Public Schools, said the data system has proved invaluable to “the single most important decision I make…the hiring of principals.” That’s because the system can give him an accurate review of the qualifications of job finalists along with a full picture of a school that has an opening, he said. Similarly, in Prince Georges County, Md., (outside of Washington, D.C.), Kevin Maxwell, the chief executive officer of the public schools, said he is now able to compare a “baseball card” of candidate data with school information, thus getting the background he needs to conduct meaningful job interviews—something he does for all principal openings. With the information from the data system, he says, “I have a feel for what that match looks like.” </p><p><img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="TrishandDoug.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Districts-Use-Data-to-Help-Boost-School-Leadership/TrishandDoug.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />For their part, two people who were instrumental in the development of their districts’ leader tracking systems—Tricia McManus, assistant superintendent in Hillsborough, and Douglas Anthony, associate superintendent in Prince George’s County—offered tips for others considering whether to take the plunge. From McManus&#58; Expect construction to take time. Hillsborough’s system took “several years” to be fully functional, she said. From Anthony&#58; Find a “translator,” someone who can bridge the world of IT and the world of the classroom, so educators and technology developers fully understand one another. From both&#58; Once the system is completed, know that the job isn’t done. Information needs to be regularly updated and kept accurate.</p><p>Want to find out more? A <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/leader-tracking-systems-turning-data-into-information-for-school-leadership.aspx">report</a> from researchers at Policy Studies Associates examines the uses of &#160;leader tracking systems in six Wallace-supported school districts and provides guidance based on the districts’ system-building experiences. A Wallace <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/chock-full-of-data-how-school-districts-are-building-leader-tracking-systems-to-support-principal-pipelines.aspx">Story From the Field</a> shows how leader tracking systems helped districts end such difficulties as job-candidate searches through “a gajillion résumés.” Also, listen to Tricia McManus and Douglas Anthony discuss their districts’ work to build a strong pipeline of principals in Wallace’s podcast series<em>, </em><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/podcast-principal-pipeline.aspx"><em>Practitioners Share Lessons From the Field</em></a>.</p>Building “Leader Tracking Systems:” A Heavy Lift That’s Worth It, Panelists Say GP0|#3fabc3e0-eead-49a5-9e92-99d8217d8607;L0|#03fabc3e0-eead-49a5-9e92-99d8217d8607|principals;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#3c236eec-afa6-4172-9b42-36a57befc9fe;L0|#03c236eec-afa6-4172-9b42-36a57befc9fe|principal pipeline;GP0|#0749b622-d2bc-4ff6-bf7d-ee28a6072887;L0|#00749b622-d2bc-4ff6-bf7d-ee28a6072887|district policyGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Wallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/knowledge-center/PublishingImages/Leader-Tracking-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2018-04-26T04:00:00ZDistricts Use Data to Help Boost School Leadership5/30/2018 5:55:58 PM817http://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

​​​​​​​