“Education program is falling behind with the cold”

“Schools address learning deficiencies with proven interventions.” This headline was above the press release published by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science Monday morning. It was about the National Education Program, which is organizing the spending of 8.5 billion euros. Schools and universities can count on this massive sum of money to combat the disadvantages pupils and students endure as a result of the education shutdown.

“Proven interventions” refers to a series of solutions that schools can choose and thus receive (one-time) money for; An average of 700 euros per student. On a website Launched by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science on Monday, each solution indicates what is known about the effectiveness of the approach in question, how robust the evidence is, and how much the approach costs.

Schools and teachers have never been shown such rigorous evidence before […] Knowledge is accessible and practical

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science

Various options are discussed, such as a class reduction, extended school day, more private lessons, extra sporting activities and more digital resources such as laptops. “Schools and teachers in the Netherlands have never had such a rigorously proven, accessible and practical scientific knowledge,” the ministry’s press release said.

Educational researchers who Norwegian Refugee Council They welcome the list of options as a good first step, but are less confident that the solutions presented will actually help. They indicated that the success of the mentioned interventions has not been proven, at least not in the Netherlands. The effects cited are based on British research in schools in the United Kingdom and the United States, according to references on the ministry’s website. But these differ, for example, in the amount of teaching time from Dutch schools. There are also no conditions here that contribute to the effectiveness of deprivation, as the British study showed: the provision of a sufficient number of well-trained teachers and trainers, strict requirements for teacher programs, developed curricula for summer schools, and the presence of institutions that help schools to implement innovations.

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“I think the list is a very good initiative,” says educational sociologist Thejs Paul of the University of Amsterdam. “We can use it to target the backlog in a more targeted way. But it’s still just a snapshot.” Paul is a member of the Outbreak Education Management Team that helps schools battle underdevelopment. British experiences and knowledge are helpful, but, according to Paul, they provide a very narrow basis for determining what is appropriate in the Netherlands. “In the United States, for example, school holidays are longer than in the Netherlands, so it makes sense for summer schools to function well there,” Paul says. “So far, only one study has been done in summer schools in the Netherlands, which has shown a positive effect.”

Digital density

Other differences between the UK and the Netherlands have to do with digital technology. The poor regions of England know a lot like this Cold spots Without a digital infrastructure. This makes the potential to catch up with late British software WiFi networks and laptops much greater than in the Netherlands, which has a high digital density.

Something that works well in one country may not necessarily work in another

Tijana Brewer Educational expert

“Anything that works well in one country may not necessarily work in another,” says education expert Tijana Brewer. “You have to copy the elements that work best, adapt them to the new context and then evaluate them. A lot of time is needed for this.”

For Breuer, who works part-time at Maastricht University and part-time on the Education Inspection Board, the OCW Options List is “an overview of the promising options.” Teaching, for example, and providing targeted feedback to learners are “powerful and effective interventions that, when done well, can work in a variety of contexts.”

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Brewer stresses that teachers and school leaders must be assisted with implementation. “Just throwing knowledge from the fence at schools is not enough,” she says. “We have to think with the teachers about how this knowledge gets to the schools.” The UK has worked on this for ten years. “It results in great initiatives there, but they’re not always effective either.” Breuer himself contributes to translation in the Netherlands from research to education. With the Education Lab in Maastricht, which she co-founded, she helps make research into what is effective in combating educational disadvantage easier.

Melanie Eren, like Paul, a member of OMT Education and Professor of Behavioral and Educational Sciences at VU in Amsterdam, also insists on the importance of implementation. “You can still offer such promising programs, but if students don’t attend, it won’t be of use.” Hence clarity about students’ commitment to participation and (sporting) activities in rotation with learning programs (boring or demanding) is important, she says.

Meanwhile, there are a number of Dutch organizations such as PO Council, Education OMT and the Learn! From VU, who know a lot about these preconditions, says Erin. “I think the list is a good start, but I am missing references on the site for those specific Dutch experiences and initiatives.”

To alert

Finally, anyone wanting to fight backlogs should know exactly what they are. There is some knowledge about this in elementary education, notes Mark Verhagen, a researcher at the University of Oxford, but there is little knowledge in secondary education. Elementary schools work with student tracking systems that store standardized test results. High schools don’t have any of them.

Verhagen was consulted by the ministry while developing the list. Verhagen of Oxford noted the “difficulties and complications” facing the ministry in this approach. According to him, this is not only due to the dearth of standardized exams in secondary education. Even the tests in elementary schools, he says, have important shortcomings. These tests are very sensitive to noise. Children’s recorded performance often increases and decreases dramatically, and is often dependent on the moment of testing. ”

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Partly for this reason, teachers in elementary schools often put results in perspective, not quickly raising the alarm in the event of a deterioration. Verhagen: “It was remarkable that after the first shutdown last summer, school boards in primary education stated that not many arrears were paid. In my research using much larger amounts of data, I could see that the downturn has already occurred.”

Good measurements aren’t just necessary to trigger the alarm at the right time. It is necessary to map progress as a result of specific approaches, says Thijs Paul of the University of Amsterdam. “If you haven’t taken a proper measurement beforehand, you have no idea which intervention worked and which didn’t. It would be a shame, now that we’ve invested billions of euros in education, if in three years we had no evidence of what was working.”

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