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School administrators need to try what works

What works should be the basis for instruction in our schools.

To bridge this gap between research and instruction, the Department of Education, in 2002, established a What Works Clearinghouse – a website that provides a database of research results for classroom educators on everything from evidence-based teaching techniques to reviews of commercial curriculums claiming to support the Common Core.

As an aid to dealing with the more than 10,000 studies in the What Works Clearinghouse, I found there are 18 practical guides that collect studies on subjects, including “Teaching Academic Content to English Learners,” “Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten,” “Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics,” “Turning Around Chronically Low-Performing Schools” and “Dropout Prevention.”

Unfortunately, the General Accounting Office reported in 2010 that fewer than 42 percent of the school districts it surveyed knew of the What Works Clearinghouse, and fewer than 34 percent had actually accessed it.

Hopefully, school administrators in our area are now aware of the Clearinghouse and will strive to base their decisions on what works. Administrators, perhaps with the aid of local colleges, also need to assist teachers in evaluating research findings and implementing new strategies in ways that make it possible to assess outcomes.

Layman H. Jones Jr.

Professor emeritus

SUNY Buffalo State