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In the News: Do Classroom Expectations Affect Student Performance?

| Matt Davis

Last week, several thought-provoking studies made the news. Here's a look at a few studies and other interesting stories -- including a school district that pays for college, a case for why Wikipedia should be used in the classroom, and a look at how high-stakes testing can encourage cheating.

Do Scores Go Up When Teachers Return Bonuses?

When test scores don't improve and teachers are required to return bonuses, what affect does that have on classroom performance? A recent study, which was featured on NPR's Morning Edition, attempted to answer that question. (NPR)

Cheating Upwards: Why Students Cheat on Tests

With recent cheating scandals at prestigious schools -- including Harvard and the New York City prep school Stuyvesant -- the question remains: Why are smart students cheating? Author Robert Kolker looks at the psychology and various factors that can contribute to cheating -- including high-stakes testing and culture shifts caused by the Web. (New York Magazine)

Why Kids Need Schools to Change

The "glacial pace of change in education" is astounding, author Madeline Levine says in an interview with MindShift. Levine notes education is resisting change, and she highlights five specific areas that would benefit from needed improvement. (KQED: MindShift)

Why These Kids Get a Free Ride to College

In one Michigan school district, students are promised free higher education if they graduate high school, thanks to a group of anonymous donors. Author Ted C. Fishman looks at the implications of the program and the effect it's had on education in Kalamazoo. (New York Times)

Why Wikipedia Does Belong in the Classroom

In this response to an article against the use of Wikipedia in the classroom, author Jonathan Obar makes the case why the popular online encyclopedia should be used as a classroom tool. Not only is Wikipedia a great tool for teachers, Obar writes, but he notes it's also an excellent aid for research. (ReadWriteWeb)

In Case You Missed It: Other Quick Hits

  • Do a teacher's expectations influence student performance? NPR tried to answer that question, looking at a couple of studies. The first, which was conducted in 1964, tricked teachers into thinking some students were more likely to succeed. In turn, those students improved more than others. But why? The research found that students expected to succeed were treated differently, often in minute ways. Another more recent study also looked at how those expectations can change and suggested seven ways teachers can adjust classroom expectations. (NPR)

  • Although several recent surveys show education in the U.S. lagging behind other developed countries, author Gregory Ferenstein makes the case for why that's never mattered. (TechCrunch)

  • A recent analysis of writing scores revealed a gender gap -- with girls scoring better than boys. Also of note, the analysis showed that students who frequently use computers to draft and edit performed better than those who don't. (CNN)
  • Following the teachers strike in Chicago, a number of news organizations looked at the implications of the debate. This piece from the Associated Press looked at the reasons behind the strike and noted those don't apply nationally. This story, from the New York Times, looked at teachers' abilities to overcome social problems out of their control, asking are we expecting too much from our teachers?

Each week, Edutopia curates some of the most interesting education news from around the Web. We'd love your help! Let us know of any must-reads we missed in the comments, or you can contact me on Twitter (@EducationMatt).

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