Skip to main content


By December 12, 2013December 30th, 2021No Comments
I was recently drawn to an article that appeared in Education Week (October 9, 2013) reporting on a global study that identified promising practices in top-scoring nations. The study conducted by the TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College used the results of international tests to provide a profile of practices that schools, teachers and parents in the highest scoring countries have in common.
How exciting! Finally the secret sauce, the silver bullet, the keys to the kingdom for improving student achievement were going to be revealed. What is it that Singapore, China, Taipei, Finland, Hong Kong and Russia already know that can improve student performance world-wide. This is going to be great I thought, revolutionary, maybe even life altering I hoped.
As I continued on, my enthusiasm began to wane. The first secret to success was good reading skills, closely followed by the availability of lots of books. Who among us didn’t know that? Disappointed I read on.
What correlates with higher student achievement….
• Collaboration among principals, teachers, parents and students
• Teachers who know their subjects and teach it well
• Teachers with high expectations for student achievement
• Parents who are supportive
• Students that are motivated
• And schools that are safe and orderly
Hello, is any of this news? Was I time travelling? Was this an issue in Education Week from 30 years ago on the effective schools research that was popularized by Larry Lezotte and others in the 70”s.
Disappointingly none of this was new. How often must researchers revisit the same territory? We have known what we need to do to improve student performance for decades. What we need to do is finally get around to doing it.
The article reminded me of the Time on Task research conducted which “revolutionized” teaching and learning a few decades ago by confirming that “ the more time students spend learning what it is we want them to learn the more likely it is that they will learn it”. Read that last sentence again. It was a compelling confirmation of common sense.
And perhaps this “ground breaking” study too can remind us of what we should already know. We all need to spend more time on task when it comes to improving student performance. The more time we spend working to improve student performance ( and the less time we spend rediscovering what it is we need to do) the more likely it is that it will finally happen. Read that last sentence again.

Leave a Reply