Friday, February 20, 2015

The Standards-Based Approach and Student Achievement

Show Me the Money!
When we are faced with a new initiative or way of doing things, one of our most natural reactions is to view this new information skeptically.
Why would we do this?
What benefit will it have for my students? For me?
And how about this one: Where is the research that says this way is better?

To push our knowledge and understanding of a standards-based approach, I have one goal in mind for this post: To answer these questions. To show you the money!

What Does the Research Say?
Researcher John Hattie compiled several meta-analyses into his own study to examine how much certain factors influence student achievement. His research looked at six areas: the student, the home, the school, curriculum, the teacher, and instruction. Here are some screen shots of the effect sizes of each variable.

How to read the chart:
The higher the effect size, the greater the influence. The average of all variables is a 0.40, so anything greater than that has a significant impact on achievement.

How does this relate to a standards-based approach? I'm glad you asked! A standards-based approach relies on the presence of the three greatest influences on student achievement found in Hattie's research.

Self-Report Grades 
Students are the most accurate about predicting how they will perform. Therefore, the greatest influence on student achievement is to have students identify how well they know something, then to encourage and prepare them to exceed their own expectations. In a standards-based approach, students need to know where they stand relative to the standard, and they need to know how they will close the gap.

Piagetian Programs
If you think back to your educational psychology, Jean Piaget's research centered on stages of cognitive development. The "programs" referred to by Hattie require an environment where students can use their abstract thinking and deductive reasoning to solve problems. This assumes that the joy (and benefit) of learning is as much in the progress and process as it is in the product. A standards-based approach relies on having students look all three P's (progress, process and product) to describe a student's position relative to the standards.

Providing Formative Evaluation
Back in 1998, Inside the Black Box (Wiliam & Black) laid out the case for the power of formative assessment. Since then, tons of other research confirms that using assessments as feedback tools is one of the most powerful movers of student achievement. Formative assessments that are closely connected to learning standards are a hallmark of the standards-based approach.

Feeling Ambitious?
Post in the comments about one other influence on the list that connects to a standards-based approach. Extra credit if you choose one that is only listed in the linked article.

Wanna See the Least Influential Factors on Student Achievement?
Check out the whole list here, or check out the chart below.