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Research Spotlight on Best Practices in Education

An NEA Venue for Best Pedagogical Practices

Found In: teaching strategies

Want to know what the research says about your profession? You've come to the right place.

Periodically NEA highlights professional research on one educational topic. You'll find a brief article on the research, with links to related materials. And a place to make comments or offer suggestions.


Academic Ability Grouping
Ability grouping, also known as tracking, is the practice of grouping children together according to their talents in the classroom. At the elementary school level, the divisions sound harmless enough, but in secondary schools, the stratification becomes more obvious.

Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification
Alternative pathways to teacher certification must be equal in rigor to traditional programs and every teacher candidate must meet identical standards and measures in order to receive a professional teaching license in a given state.

Block Scheduling
Block scheduling is becoming more popular throughout the United States. Instead of the traditional daily six-, seven-, or eight-period schedule, the block schedule consists of three or four longer periods of daily instruction. The increased span of teaching time offers benefits for teachers and students.

Community Schools
The community school model allows schools to become centers of the community, where they're open to everyone - all day, every day, evenings, and weekends.

Cooperative Learning
Cooperative learning can result in higher achievement than other learning styles. Since students work through an assignment until all group members successfully understand and complete it, this teaching strategy creates an atmosphere of achievement.

E-Learning for Educators
Very little qualitative or quantitative research is available on the impact of e-learning on adults. So, it's difficult to know what effect e-learning is having on teachers' professional growth.

Hard-to-Staff Schools
Hard-to-staff schools have difficulty finding and retaining qualified, effective teachers and, as a consequence, have difficulty maintaining stability and developing a strong organizational culture that supports learning.

Home Visits
Home visitations by teachers get parents involved in their child's education, and they let parents and children know how much teachers care.

What's appropriate? What benefits can be expected?

Out-of-Field Teaching
Out-of-field teaching – teachers teaching subjects for which they have little education or training – has long been and continues to be an important issue in our public schools. The data show (Ingersoll, 2003) that each year some out-of-field teaching takes place in more than half of all U.S. secondary schools.

Peer Tutoring
Peer tutoring is a term that’s been used to describe a wide array of tutoring arrangements, but most of the research on its success refers to students working in pairs to help one another learn material or practice an academic task.

Project-Based Learning
Project-Based Learning (PBL) shifts classroom activity away from teacher-centered instruction and emphasizes student-centered projects where the teacher can build relationships with students by acting as their coach, facilitator, and co-learner.

Recruiting & Retaining a Highly Qualified, Diverse Teaching Workforce
Four factors will affect the recruitment of highly qualified teachers: a shrinking teaching force; a growing student population; a lack of diversity among teachers to match the diversity of students; and a need for teachers in specific types of schools, geographic locations, and subject areas.

Recruitment and Retention
Research on America's pending shortage of teachers has found that retaining teachers is a major factor. And whether a teacher remains in the profession is dictated by what happens at the school site.

Response to Intervention (RTI)
RTI is a tiered approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs.

Single-Gender Education
Single-gender education and the often-spirited dialogue surrounding it have raised a number of issues concerning the best manner to educate boys and girls.

Teaching and Learning
The research also shows that three keys to best practice are cultural competency, accomplished teaching, and addressing the demographic changes in the United States.

Universal Design for Learning
UDL aims to make learning accessible and engaging for all students.

Year-Round Education
Year-round schools use a 180-day calendar (as do schools that operate on 10-month schedule), but they stretch out the 180 days and take shorter breaks. Many educators believe that when students have shorter breaks, they retain more of what they've learned.



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