Researchers Receive $4.9 Million to Examine Common Core

A key innovation of the MET project was to use video cameras in place of human observers; teachers set up the cameras and did the recording themselves. (Photo courtesy of U-M Measures of Effective Teaching Project)

One source of data the researchers will be using is a collection of video recordings of classroom teaching from the U-M Measures of Effective Teaching Project. (Photo courtesy of U-M Measures of Effective Teaching Project)

ANN ARBOR—The Spencer Foundation and the William T. Grant Foundation have awarded a team of researchers from the University of Michigan, Brown University and Stanford University nearly $5 million for the first phase of a five-year analysis of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a controversial initiative to overhaul academic achievement standards for K-12 students nationwide.

The project, “Under Construction: The Rise, Spread, and Consequences of the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the U.S. Educational Sector,” will look at how governmental and non-governmental stakeholders are responding to the Common Core and how this is affecting classroom instruction and social disparities in academic achievement in school systems across the country.

Based at U-M’s Institute for Social Research, the project is being led by principal investigator Brian Rowan, research professor at the institute and the Burke A. Hinsdale Collegiate Professor at U-M’s School of Education. Co-principal investigators include David K. Cohen, a public policy professor and the John Dewey Collegiate Professor at the U-M School of Education; Susan L. Moffitt, associate professor of political science and international and public affairs at Brown University; and Sean F. Reardon, professor of poverty and inequality in education at the Stanford University.

“The Common Core is a watershed in American education—the first time the vast majority of states have committed to common standards for all children,” Rowan said. “Our research will look at a wide range of data to determine whether the effort to organize instruction around common standards is, in fact, improving academic performance for all students.”

Among the data that will be used in the study is a collection of video records of classroom teaching, available at U-M, from roughly 240 teachers in six urban school districts that participated in the Measures of Effective Teaching project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study also will draw on a database archived at Stanford University that allows researchers to track student achievement trends in all 50 states longitudinally.

The Spencer Foundation is contributing the bulk of the funding for the research—nearly $4.4 million—with the remainder coming from the William T. Grant Foundation.

“We are pleased to be funding this set of interwoven research studies to help understand the implementation of this controversial endeavor,” said Michael McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation. “Although the ultimate outcome will not be clear for years to come, we are convinced that these studies of the evolution of this effort, in the context of an extraordinarily complex and decentralized educational system, will prove highly instructive.”

“Educational inequality is one of our nation’s greatest challenges, and some view the adoption of common standards as an important step towards fostering greater equity,” said Adam Gamoran, president of the William T. Grant Foundation. “This study will help us understand how trends in achievement levels and achievement gaps may be related to patterns of adoption and implementation of Common Core. In doing so it will also help us to understand the limits and possibilities of large-scale standards-based reform to achieve greater equity in educational outcomes.”

The foundations have not yet committed to funding the second phase of the study, and will base further funding on the progress that is made in the first phase.

Contacts

Kory Zhao, 734-647-9069, koryzhao@umich.edu
Annie Brinkman, 312-274-6511, abrinkman@spencer.org
Lenore Neier, 212-752-0071, lneier@wtgrantfdn.org

Live and Learn: Most GenXers are continuing their education

Students in a classroom

Photo by Thinkstock

ANN ARBOR—More than one in every 10 members of Generation X are enrolled in classes to continue their formal education, according to a new University of Michigan study released today.  In addition, 48 percent of GenXers take continuing education courses, in-service training, and workshops required for professional licenses and certifications.

“This is an impressive level of engagement in lifelong learning,” says Jon D. Miller, author of the latest issue of The Generation X Report.  “It reflects the changing realities of a global economy, driven by science and technology.

Projected to the 80 million young adults in Generation X, Miller says the findings suggest that 1.8 million young adults are studying to earn associate degrees, 1.7 million are seeking baccalaureates, and nearly 2 million are taking courses to earn advanced degrees at the masters, doctoral, or professional level.

Miller directs the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY) at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).  The study has been funded by the National Science Foundation since 1986, and the current report includes responses from approximately 3,900 study participants who are in their late 30s.

According to Miller, slightly more than 40 percent of GenXers have earned a baccalaureate or higher degree, with those living in cities or suburbs more likely to have a degree than those living in small towns or rural areas.

The study also found that GenXers have earned graduate and professional degrees at a higher rate than any previous generation.  By 2011, two decades after finishing high school, 22 percent of those surveyed had completed at least one advanced degree, and 10 percent had completed a doctorate or professional degree.

The report also examined informal sources of learning among Generation X, analyzing how they acquired information about three important contemporary events:  influenza, the Fukushima nuclear reactor accident, and climate change.

“We found that Generation X adults use a mix of information sources, including traditional print and electronic media, as well as the internet and social media,” says Miller.

“But for all three issues we examined, we found that talking with friends and family was cited as a source of information more frequently than traditional news media.

“While a high proportion of young adults are continuing their formal education, reflecting the changing demands of a global economy, many are also using the full resources of their personal networks and the electronic era to keep up with information on emerging issues.”

Read or download a full copy of The Generation X Report at http://home.isr.umich.edu/files/2013/05/GenX_Vol2Iss3_final.pdf

 

Contact:
Diane Swanbrow, (734) 647-9069, swanbrow@umich.edu

 

Working a lot in high school can short-change students’ future

girl reading (Photo by Thinkstock)

High school students who work more than 15 hours a week during the school year may be short-changing their futures, risking long-term education and health.

New research from the University of Michigan, tracking young adults through their 20s nationwide, suggests that long hours at a job during 12th grade contribute to lower rates of college completion and may heighten the risk of chronic cigarette use. Continue reading

Jon Miller: Director, CPS International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy

Jon Miller (Courtesy of Jon Miller)

The idea that a majority of voters don’t understand pressing issues like stem cell research and climate change strikes Jon Miller as simply wrong. Miller, a research scientist who joined ISR in August 2010, believes that scientific literacy is fundamental to a functioning democracy. “People ought to know what they’re voting for, and it ought to be more than do you like the way the person looks, or do you like the spouse and the dog,” he says. Continue reading