The Academic Importance of Productive Persistence

In an encouraging new study from the Noyce Foundation, Nancy Stano of the University of Texas – Austin, found that interventions targeting student’s beliefs and feelings have long term affects on academic achievement.  Stano found that certain student beliefs contributed to ‘productive persistence’ – a mindset characterized by an ability to look beyond short-term gains to higher order goals as well as the persistent ability to weather setbacks.

In particular, Stano found the following traits to comprise ‘productive persistence’:

  • Theory of Intelligence: students with a growth mindset, e.g. believed intelligence to be more malleable and that it develops in response to effort, were more likely to take on challenging tasks and more likely to demonstrate continuous improvement.
  • Self-Efficacy: as Stano points out, recent students have confirmed that student’s self-perceptions of their abilities are even better predictors of their ability than their actual abilities.  Students who conceive of themselves with a high degree of self-efficacy tend to take on new challenges and persist when those challenges prove difficult.
  • Attribution: attributions are the reasons students provide for their successes and failures.  Most people are able to provide a reason(s) for why they failed at a particular task.  But productively persistent students often cite an internal locus of control – citing internal reasons for their own successes and failures.  They rarely cite external factors over which they have little control.
  • Belongingness: as Stano writes, “When students believe that they are part of the academic community and are socially connected to their peers and teachers, they are more motivated, more engaged, and earn better grades”.  Strong ties to a particular community – and the lack of social isolation that many struggling students feel – are an important part of academic success.
  • Value and Interest: students, much like adults, are often unwilling to produce large degrees of effort if they perceive the outcome to be without value.  A vested interest in the outcome, however, is likely to produce a sustained and marked degree of effort.  Productively persistent students typically value academic achievement and see it tied to a larger good.
  • Goals: because productively persistent students value academics and see academic achievement as tied to future outcomes, they often set goals.  Furthermore, rather than discouraging them, goals serve as a positive incentive toward achievement.
  • Self-Regulation: self-regulation involves adopting habits of action that allow students to stay on task and avoid distractions. As Stano writes: “Productively persistent students practice healthy self-regulation habits being willing and able to recognize when they are having a problem, devising plans for solving their problems, and assessing the impact of their actions.”

Stanos’ findings offer reason for hope.  And she provides specific details about the types of implementations that have proven successful in developing productively persistent students, students much more likely to find academic success, despite their background or socioeconomic status.

The Importance of Math Facts in a Digital World

With the wide availability of calculators on phones, mobile devices, computers, and many other electronic devices, some may wonder if it’s still essential for students to commit math facts to memory.  In a world replete with digital assistance is the memorization of math facts still necessary?

Researchers Daniel Ansari and Gavin Price of the Numerical Cognition Laboratory at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, and Michèle M. M. Mazzocco, the director of the Math Skills Development Project at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, analyzed the links between students’ math achievement and the way their brains processed the most basic problems. Their study was published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience. Interestingly, the study shows that the process in which students compute single-digit math problems may be indicative of how well they perform on college-readiness exams.   Students that scored higher appeared to recall answers from memory while the students that were lower performing used an area of the brain associated with processing, indicating they were working through the problem.   As Ansari comments, “Perhaps the building of those networks early in development go on to facilitate high-level learning, which in turn allows you to free up working memory”.

This study appears to support the idea that fluency with basic math facts is, in fact, an important skill.  There are multiple ways to support the codification of basic math fluency: asking your child to recite basic math facts while riding in the car, while waiting for meals at restaurants, while waiting at the doctor’s office.  Siblings can even quiz each other – serving to not only practice math skills, but to signal the importance of academic achievement.  All of these passive settings provide clear opportunities to reinforce and codify basic math fluency.

Teacher Effectiveness – More Than A Single Measure

With the recent emphasis on preparing students for college-and-career, many have argued that a single test or measure is insufficient for adequately evaluating growth or indicating that students have a thorough understanding of their learning goals.  As educators, we know that multiple measures allow for a much more complete picture of student performance; particularly, if we’re also using that information to determine which teachers are most effective.

Many school districts are now employing new investigative processes and instruments in order to identify the strategies and techniques that effective teachers use in order to ensure their students are learning. Classroom observation rubrics should consider subject-specific knowledge as well as pedagogical methodology. And these tools should be employed over numerous occasions and/or lessons.  Additionally, classroom observations should be made by multiple observers.  Another resource for assessment of teacher effectiveness might include student perceptions of academic support and teacher expertise. While student gains across various types of assessments, including standardized tests, are also worth considering in teacher evaluations, to use only one method of assessment does not address the complex and multi-faceted nature of effective teaching.

It is important to find a balance between the multiple measures that identify the most successful teachers and the strategies they use rather than limiting such evaluations to student performance on standardized tests.

New Lexile.com Enhancements Now Available!

Access More, Easier and Faster: Enjoy the New Lexile.com Enhancements Today!

We are constantly developing new ways for our users to utilize the Lexile® Framework for Reading through our website and its’ free resources.  Keeping all of our audience in mind — educators, parents and students — the following features were developed in efforts to enhance your user experience.

  • Buy a book from Amazon with a simple click of the mouse. In partnership with Amazon, we now provide a quick link for you to purchase a desired book from their store. This is in addition to already existing links that allow you to buy a book from Barnes & Noble, or locate a book in the nearest library via WorldCat technology.
  • Save your searches! Have an account? Never redo the same “Find a Book” search again. Registered users can save any of their searches to be revisited in the future.
  • Password protection feature now available to ensure security within your account. Are you a teacher with personalized reading lists for your students? Add privacy for each reader by setting up a password for your students to view their individual reading list.
  • Review your usage history of the Lexile Analyzer® when you are logged into your account. Never remeasure a text again! Simply visit your ‘Usage History’ on the Lexile Analyzer webpage to view your previously analyzed texts (listed by the date they were measured).
  • Better results faster!
    • Search relevancy optimization enables you to enjoy accurately filtered book results. Type a title into the ‘Quick Book Search’ function, and it will appear top of the list!
    • Experience quicker website navigation with engineered improvement to our website powered by Django compressor.

These recently added features are the first wave of many great additions to come in 2013. Educators and parents, we urge you to use Lexile.com and all of its’ free tools to help your reader(s) grow! Be sure to check out the wealth of resources made available to you at www.Lexile.com as the school year progresses, and especially during the summer months.

Mobile App “Reading Leveler” Offers Lexile Measures

Dillinger LLC has partnered with MetaMetrics® to launch “Reading Leveler”, a mobile app for the iPhone and iPad.  “Reading Leveler” assists educators, parents, and students in identifying appropriate grade level material.  The mobile application can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store and consists of the following options:

  • Match your child, your student or yourself to books based on reading ability (Lexile® measure) and personal interests
  • Search for books by title, author’s last name, Lexile measure, or equivalent grade level
  • Browse through the entire Lexile titles database
  • View a title’s summary of information
  • Have quick access to Amazon and Barnes and Noble to purchase books
  • Calculate approximate Flesch-Kincaid Grade Levels for any piece of text (Type or speak a paragraph of text utilizing the iPhone’s SIRI function)
  • Search through a database of various book, articles, and texts leveled by other users

The Reading Leveler serves to help on two fronts: allow access to all of the titles that have a Lexile Measure and develop your own database of individual leveled pieces of text. The power of “Reading Leveler” connects readers with texts based on their personal interests and their reading ability (Lexile measure) to improve reading skills. The mobile application enables students, teachers, librarians and parents to find books within a reader’s recommended Lexile range: 100L below to 50L above his or her Lexile measure.

Be sure to check it out.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.