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At a policy forum in March, the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution announced a set of policy recommendations to encourage innovative learning, at a time when the education system is struggling to close the achievement gap.

The Hamilton Project, named after the nation’s first treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, seeks to advance nationwide prosperity and growth. It views educational attainment as essential to inclusive economic success, and promotes policies that encourage government involvement.

One proposal calls for “scaling up individualized tutoring” to bring disadvantaged students to grade level.

The organization urges school districts to provide daily, individualized tutoring in schools to third through 10th-grade students who are at least two grades behind in math. It would be financed through federal Title 1 funds.

A second proposal addresses issues with Title 1 funding, which is distributed to school districts with a high percentage of low-income families with the goal of closing the achievement gap.

Many school districts are uncertain about how to use the funds because of “inconsistent guidance and auditing,” according to Georgetown University public policy professor Nora Gordon, who authored this proposal. Consequently, school administrators often view the federal money as “highly restricted.” What’s more, she says “opaque federal allocation formulas” fail to get the funds where they are most needed.

Gordon calls on the U.S. Department of Education to provide clear guidance on the use of Title 1 funds and to improve how it audits. At the same time, Congress should “streamline” how it allots funding to more effectively reduce the disadvantage of poverty. She also urges school districts to innovate how they apply the funds.

The third proposal looks at digital tools in the classroom, as technology is becoming an increasing part of how children learn.

“In the current educational technology environment, there is no convincing or cost-effective way to determine what digital learning activities work best, and for which students,” states co-authors Aaron Chatterji of Duke University and Northwestern University’s Benjamin Jones.

That creates a problem all around, for students, parents, educators and software developers, they state. 

They offer these five principles to guide evaluation of educational technology: randomized control trials; rapid and continuous evaluations; build on existing user-friendly content platforms; scale unlocks transformative opportunities; and utilizing a trusted evaluator who uses transparent results.

Prior to the forum, the Hamilton Project released its “Fourteen Economic Facts on Education and Economic Opportunity.”

The economic facts highlight promising childhood interventions to reduce racial and ethnic academic disparities. It examines the challenges confronting public schools, as well as the economic rewards from improving educational outcomes.

SOURCE: Hamilton Project | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty


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