This evaluation (PDF, 1.8MB) examined the impact of Reading Recovery (RR) on students' outcomes in NSW government schools. The evaluation found some evidence that RR has a modest short-term effect on reading skills among the lowest performing students. However, RR does not appear to be an effective intervention for students that begin Year 1 with more proficient literacy skills. In the longer-term, there was no evidence of any positive effects of RR on students' reading performance in Year 3.
Related: Learning Curve 11 - Reading Recovery
The School assets and student outcomes literature review (PDF, 2.4MB) examines the existing research regarding the impact of capital spending and school assets on student learning outcomes. It considers research on the physical condition of schools, facilities and amenities, school size and crowding, classroom design and the design process.
This literature review provides an overview of cognitive load theory, which is a theory of how human brains learn and store knowledge. Dylan Wiliam has described cognitive load theory as ‘the single most important thing for teachers to know’. Grounded in a robust evidence base, cognitive load theory provides support for explicit models of instruction.
The human brain can only process a small amount of new information at once, but it can process very large amounts of stored information.
Information is processed in the working memory, where small amounts of information are stored for a very short time. The average person can only hold about four ‘chunks’ of information in their working memory at one time.
Long-term memory is where large amounts of information are stored semi-permanently. Information is stored in the long-term memory in ‘schemas’, which provide a system for organising and storing knowledge.
If a student’s working memory is overloaded, there is a risk that they will not understand the content being taught and that their learning will be slow and/or ineffective.
With extensive practice, information can be automatically recalled from long-term memory with minimal conscious effort. This ‘automation’ reduces the burden on working memory, because when information can be accessed automatically, the working memory is freed up to learn new information.
Cognitive load theory provides support for explicit models of instruction.
Cognitive load theory is supported by a significant number of randomised controlled trials (RCTs). This large body of evidence indicates that instruction is most effective when it is designed according to the limitations of working memory.
Cognitive load theory indicates that when teaching students new content and skills, teachers are more effective when they provide explicit guidance accompanied by practice and feedback, not when they require students to discover for themselves many aspects of what they must learn.
Research from cognitive load theory has produced a number of instructional techniques that are directly transferable to the classroom.
These include the ‘worked example effect’, which is the widely replicated finding that novice learners who are given worked examples to study perform better on subsequent tests than learners who are required to solve the equivalent problems themselves.
Another finding is the 'expertise reversal effect', which shows that as students become more proficient at solving a particular type of problem, they should gradually be given more opportunities for independent problem solving.
CESE has recently released a professional learning course based on this literature review, which will contribute 1.5 hours of registered professional learning for teachers.
To help share the evidence, Cognitive load theory is available as a summary poster (PDF, 119kB).
Dylan Wiliam has described cognitive load theory as ‘the single most important thing for teachers to know’. Grounded in a robust evidence base, cognitive load theory provides support for explicit models of instruction. The CESE literature review ‘Cognitive load theory: Research that teachers really need to understand’ explains the principles behind cognitive load theory and how it assists the human brain to learn and store knowledge.
The average person can only hold about four ‘chunks’ of information in their working memory at once.
Information is stored in ‘schemas’ which provide a system for organising and storing knowledge.
If a student’s working memory is overloaded, they may not understand the content being taught.
With practice, and strategies to minimise cognitive load, information can be automatically recalled from long-term memory, freeing up the working memory to learn new information.
All educators strive to lift the achievement of their students. Educational researchers aim to assist in this effort by identifying the initiatives that are most likely to yield sustainable improvements in student performance.
This study aims to examine the key drivers of improvement in NSW government schools that have shown high growth in student outcomes over time. High growth schools were identified using a robust value-added methodology that isolates the contribution that a school makes to growth in student achievement while controlling for important contextual factors that may influence student performance.
What gives assessment a bad name? What is effective assessment? And what innovative tools are making assessment more effective? This paper examines developments in assessment around the world, and highlights cases of innovation and best practice.
This report presents key findings from the 2014 Survey of Secondary Students' Post-School Destinations. Surveys were completed by four cohorts across government and non-government schools: early school leavers; Year 12 completers; Year 10 students; and, teachers of year 10 students. The main aim of the survey was to monitor and examine trends in post-school education, training and employment destinations among secondary school students in NSW.
The following five fact sheets give a summary of the key findings from the NSW Secondary Students' Post-School Destinations and Expectations Research 2014.
Fact Sheet 1: Year 12 Completers
Fact Sheet 2: Early School Leavers
Fact Sheet 3: Career Aspirations of Secondary School Students
Fact Sheet 4: Effect of SES on Student Destinations
Fact Sheet 5: VET in Schools
This literature review (PDF, 1.7MB) examines the evidence base for the effectiveness of tutoring interventions in maths for disadvantaged students. It explores the impact of tutoring on student achievement in maths and the elements of best-practice that are most likely to yield the greatest gains in student achievement.
Student wellbeing is an important focus of the NSW Department of Education. The department’s strategic plan, the School Excellence Framework and the Wellbeing Framework all underpin the work undertaken in student wellbeing and school excellence. The CESE literature review on student wellbeing explores how student wellbeing is defined; the relationship between wellbeing, schools and outcomes; school elements in improving student wellbeing; and student wellbeing policies in Australia.
Wellbeing can be difficult to define because it has so many applications across a broad range of disciplines
The Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) synthesised the most common and relevant characteristics that appear in most definitions of wellbeing – namely positive affect; resilience; satisfaction with relationships and other dimensions of one’s life; and effective functioning and the maximising of one’s potential – and it produced the following definition of student wellbeing:
A sustainable state of positive mood and attitude, resilience and satisfaction with self, relationships and experiences at school1.
In education, wellbeing is important for two reasons
The first is the recognition that schooling should not just be about academic outcomes but that it is about wellbeing of the ‘whole child’, an approach highlighted in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. The second is that wellbeing is important because students who have higher levels of wellbeing are more likely: to have higher achievement outcomes at school and complete Year 12; better mental health; and a more pro-social, responsible lifestyle.
The literature consistently identifies a number of core elements that affect student wellbeing
These can be grouped broadly into the following:
• creating a safe environment
• ensuring connectedness
• engaging students in learning
• promoting social and emotional learning
• a whole school approach.
While these groupings have been distinguished for the purposes of outlining the evidence base related to student wellbeing, the categories are intrinsically interconnected and they should not necessarily be viewed as separate entities in and of themselves.
1 Australian Catholic University and Erebus International (2008) Scoping study into approaches to student wellbeing: Literature review. Report to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations: Canberra
To help share the evidence, Student wellbeing is available as a summary poster (PDF, 540kB).
CESE's literature review on student wellbeing explores how student wellbeing is defined; the relationship between wellbeing, schools and outcomes; school elements in improving student wellbeing; and student wellbeing policies in Australia.
Wellbeing at school is multi-faceted.
Key elements are:
• positive affect
• satisfaction with relationships and other dimensions of one's life, and
• effective functioning and the maximising of one's potential.
In education, wellbeing is important for two reasons.
• Schooling is not just about academic outcomes but about the wellbeing of the 'whole child'.
• Students who have higher levels of wellbeing are more likely to have higher achievement outcomes at school and complete Year 12; better mental health; and a more prosocial, responsible lifestyle.
State of the NSW teaching profession, 2014 (PDF, 1.2MB) considers the extent to which NSW teachers engage in practices known to improve student outcomes, and compares the results to those of Australia and other high-performing and culturally similar countries.
Our What works best report has had an update for 2020. For the latest report, go to What works best: 2020 update.
This paper brings together seven themes from the growing bank of evidence we have for what works best to improve student educational outcomes. This is not an exhaustive list of effective practices, but it is a useful framework for teachers and school leaders to consider when deciding how to challenge the status quo and tackle student improvement.
The seven themes identified as likely to make the biggest difference to our students are:
Teachers can set high expectations in a number of ways, such as encouraging students to work hard, challenging them to do their best work, and to do their homework on time. High expectations are linked with higher performance for all students. The reverse can also be true. Students may achieve less than their full potential if expectations of their ability are low.
Explicit teaching practices involve teachers clearly showing students what to do and how to do it, rather than having students discover or form information themselves. Students who experience explicit teaching practices make greater learning gains than students who do not experience these practices.
Feedback is when teachers give information to students about aspects of their performance or understanding. Effective feedback is one of the most powerful influences on student achievement, and it is most effective when it focuses on improving tasks, processes, student self-regulation and effort.
The best education systems in the world use effective assessment data to drive improvement. Effective analysis of student data helps teachers identify areas where students’ learning needs may require additional attention and development; and understand which students have responded positively to the teaching approaches in their classroom.
Classroom management is an umbrella term that encompasses a broad range of strategies, approaches and actions taken by teachers to encourage a safe, positive and stimulating learning environment for their students. Effective classroom management is important for creating conditions that are conducive for learning.
Creating a safe environment; ensuring connectedness; engaging students in learning; promoting social and emotional learning; and a whole-school approach have been identified as elements that affect student wellbeing. Higher levels of wellbeing are linked to better academic achievement; better mental health; and a more pro-social and responsible lifestyle.
Professional collaboration allows best practice to be identified and shared across classrooms. Effective collaboration explicitly aims to improve teacher practices and student outcomes.
This report provides a profile of the NSW teaching workforce. It includes data that detail teachers' characteristics and experiences from entry into initial teacher education through to exit from the profession. The report provides information on both government and non-government school teachers as well as teachers in training. It has been created in response to element 5.1 of Great Teaching, Inspired Learning (GTIL), the NSW Government's plan for improving the quality of teaching and learning in NSW schools.
The Workforce Profile of the NSW Teaching Profession - 2014 update (PDF, 1MB), released February 2016, builds on data included in the previous report.
The Workforce Profile of the NSW Teaching Profession 2014 (PDF, 1.4MB) released December 2014.
The School improvement frameworks literature review (PDF, 2.4MB) outlines best practice in school improvement frameworks internationally, and identifies some of the elements for which there is the best evidence.
Responding to recent discussion in Australia, this paper examines the evidence regarding qualifications for early childhood educators working with 0-to-2 year-olds. It looks at what defines quality early childhood education for very young children, best practice pedagogy, what the literature tells us about teacher qualifications for this age group, and the qualification levels for working with 0-to-2 year-olds that apply in other countries.
In 2013, CESE developed a new measure of school socio-economic status, the Family Occupation and Education Index (FOEI), to be used as the basis of the equity loading for socio-economic background in the department’s new Resource Allocation Model. This technical report details the methodology used for the construction of FOEI in 2013.
A report prepared by CESE for the Australian Government Department of Education examining the efficacy of the various proxy measures of limited English language proficiency of the EAL/D students.
Download the LBOTE report (PDF, 500kB).
This inaugural edition of the biennial 2014 State of Education report (PDF, 4MB) brings together a wealth of data, information and commentary about the full spectrum of education in NSW. It reports on activities and outcomes in early childhood education, school education, vocational education and training and higher education. It acknowledges and reports on the complex mix of government and non-government educational service providers in all four of these sectors.