NEWS & TRENDS: Using the Science of Learning to Redesign Schools

Tablet computer atop books on a classroom desk

Using the Science of Learning to Redesign Schools

A new policy brief from the Center for American Progress challenges policymakers and educators to reimagine the American school experience. The brief cites data that less than half of US students are prepared for college-level math or reading. Some schools are being restructured to fit the needs and interests of students—a practice called school redesign. This brief specifically examines the ways that learning science can support school redesign. Science shows that practice improves learning, however most students don’t get enough time to develop what they’re learning. Adjusting schedules by extending the school day and year is an easy way for schools to offer more opportunities for student practice. An analysis of nearly 200,000 research studies found that feedback is one of the top influences on student achievement, having a greater effect on student performance than many other interventions. Redesigned schools can strengthen instruction, as well as student outcomes, by creating more opportunities for students to receive feedback—in particular, immediate and individualized advice on how well they do on a given task. States and districts should also reevaluate assessment policies to encourage the use of formative assessments that provide teachers and students more real-time feedback. Also, students need opportunities to apply what they have learned, especially to familiar, real-world contexts. Creating senior-year internships is a terrific way to encourage students to learn by doing.