Resource: WWC Practice Guides

Whenever I find myself reading an academic article, I try to remember to scour its bibliography. Sometimes, I discover great resources I didn’t know existed. For example, I have known about the “What Works Clearinghouse” (WWC) for quite some time (the government repository for finding whether research supports the effectiveness of certain programs), but I always seemed to navigate to the start page for looking up studies. After reading an article about retention versus social promotion in middle school, I learned the WWC also hosts a series of “Practice Guides.” If you haven’t already found them, the What Works Clearinghouse Practice Guides are dynamic resources!

In the guide “Teaching Strategies for Improving Algebra Knowledge in Middle and High School Students,” the WWC outlines research-based strategies for math classrooms. For example, one recommendation is to “Use solved problems to engage students in analyzing algebraic reasoning and strategies,” and one way to carry out this recommendation is to “[h]ave students discuss solved problem structures and solutions to make connections among strategies and reasoning.” The guide then outlines several sample questions which could be used in a math classroom to foster classroom discussion. That’s what I love about these guides: they give concrete suggestions, complete with everything a teacher might need to implement the ideas right away.

In another guide, entitled “ Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices,” the WWC showcases approaches which should be used by all content teachers for boosting literacy skills, such as “[providing] direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction.”

The practice guides are not only designed for teachers. There are concrete recommendations for administrators and district policy-makers, too. The guide “Dropout Prevention” includes ideas for providing support to the most at-risk students, and “Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision Making” includes steps for moving a school’s administrative culture away from compliance and towards real transformation.

All in all, the WWC currently hosts 19 practice guides. The strategies included have been vetted with regard to their research base. Even when something is listed as having a “low” amount of evidence, its inclusion in the guide means it still stands above that research failing to meet WWC standards.

CUES consultants can support your desire to integrate new strategies into your school/district culture. We can develop specialized professional development, or provide embedded coaching to guide your implementation process (as just two examples). Contact us to learn more.

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