September always makes me excited for school. Even though I haven’t started school myself in years, I get to help my children get ready and the others around them. As someone who loves continuous learning and data, I’m always curious what the newest, most promising, and tried-and-true approaches are happening in education. The newest One of the approaches getting the most attention these days is using technology to deliver completely individualized instruction. New York’s School of One plans to offer each student a daily, personalized lesson plan.[1] The concept of having each student’s goals, lessons and progress managed electronically has evolved for over a decade,[2] but research is just emerging about whether this is an effective strategy. One study found that if the technology and approach was fully adopted by teachers, students learned significantly more over the course of the year—but that these gains were nonexistent if the programs were not implemented fully.[3] The promising Behind the scenes, States have been working diligently on agreeing to common standards and measures. One surprise has been the relatively low-profile of this work; the Common Core State Standards launched over a year ago, formed committees starting last September, and has already produced standards for comment.[4] Standards have the potential to increase quality by giving students, teachers, administrators and families common language and expectations to work towards. The tried-and-true Teacher quality continues to be a major topic in education – from the impact teacher quality has on classroom learning to the activities and learning that promote teacher quality. There are an estimated 3.5 million teachers; each of these teachers works in different conditions, with different ages and different subjects.[5] At a recent conference I attended, one person explained the challenge that teachers face in this way: a math teacher must be competent in math, a competent teacher, AND competent in teaching math concepts. Why do we all care so much about education? Over a third of our population is estimated to be in groups we think of as the traditional education years:

Age group*Estimated 2006-08 Population (in millions)
Early childhood (birth-4)20.8
Elementary school (5-12)30.1
Secondary school (13-18)26.5
College (19-24)26.2
*Categories for census estimates in-between the decennial census years do not align exactly with traditional school categories: 0-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-19, and 20-24. The age groups presented were calculated by assigning a proportion of each census category to the traditional education categories. See for more data tables.

  Add to that all the teachers, administrators, suppliers and researchers in education, and a fairly substantial portion of our population is touched by education each year. Finally, what we learn in education – about what works, how to do research, and how to better define our goals and intended outcomes – can easily be translated to other fields. You might also be interested in our other on-going blogs on education and research, updated several times a month. You can subscribe via your RSS reader or via email to get new posts sent to you automatically. Reading the blog and commenting on posts are great ways to join our community and stay up-to-date on trends and findings from evaluation and research. I'd also love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter. Here's how to find me on Facebook or Twitter.

[1] See the School of One website and an overview article in Education Weekly.  [2] Hannafin and Land lay out the primary concepts very clearly in The foundations and assumptions of technology-enhanced student-centered learning environments. [3] See Ysseldyke and Bolt’s excellent article, Effect of Technology-Enhanced Continuous Progress Monitoring on Math Achievement, which includes a summary of components of effective instruction. [4] See for an overview of the work on the Common Core Standards; Education Week analyzes the potential impact at [5] The Bureau of Labor Statistics has additional data about the teaching profession.