Does Responsive Classroom teaching help students learn?

Teaching is a tough job.  Not everyone can do it. Not everyone wants to do it. Teachers don’t just teach math, reading, or science.  They help students learn everything that they need to know to survive in this world.  In the classroom, students learn how to interact with other students, teachers, and authority.  Teachers and principals play a large role in forming their social and emotional skills.

Where and how students are taught affect how they learn.  For example, a math teacher might show his or her students that he or she cares about them and wants them to learn the lesson by walking around the room and helping students if they need it.  Teachers today are being trained how to build students’ social and emotional skills through the Responsive Classroom (RC) method of teaching.  The goal of RC is to raise students’ grades by supporting them emotionally and socially, making students feel that their teachers and peers care about them on an individual level.  Students in a respectful classroom will control their behavior better on their own, and will be better students.

This study followed students from third through fifth grade.  It found that teachers who have RC teaching styles also have students with higher math and reading scores.  However, some teachers who were not RC-trained still had RC skills, and not all teachers who were RC-trained used their skills in the classroom.  When teachers who were RC-trained did not use the RC skills correctly, their students’ test scores actually went down.

Principal support affected how likely it was that an RC-trained teacher used those skills in the classroom.  As leaders of the school, principals have a lot of influence over the culture of learning and teacher-student relationships.  Students with better support from teachers and their peers learn better, so learning culture matters in a classroom – and Responsive Classroom skills are a very good thing for teachers to have, as long as they use them correctly.


“Efficacy of the Responsive Classroom Approach: Results from a 3-Year, Longitudinal Randomized Controlled Trial,” by by Sara E. Rimm-Kaufman, Ross A. A. Larsen, Alison E. Baroody, Timothy W. Curby, Michelle Ko, Julia B. Thomas, Eileen G. Merritt, Tashia Abry, and Jamie DeCoster, is published in the American Educational Research Journal, Volume 51, No. 3 (June 2014), 567-603, DOI: 10.3102/0002831214523821, published by SAGE.

Summary by Cynthia C. Bloom

School cafeteria food = GROSS or healthy?

Most students cringe at the thought of lunch in school cafeteria. Cafeteria food evokes memories of grey vegetables and smelly meatloaf. Surprisingly, a new study shows that school food is better than you think.

The USDA, which funds and runs school meal programs, saw that schools were feeding children food that was not very nutritious. The USDA promised in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to improve quality by changing the rules for food served at school.

The impact is huge. Thirty-two million students eat one-half or more of their daily calories through USDA-run school food programs. Since 2010, the food served at schools is healthier and fresher. USDA hopes that healthier, more nutritious food will lead to fewer overweight kids and will reduce the frequency of other serious diseases.

Source: The PEW Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

USDA’s new standards also replace many school snack foods with healthier alternatives. The Smart Snacks in Schools standards went into effect during the 2014-2015 school year.

Under the new rules, students eating meals served at school receive one serving of fruit or vegetable with each meal, and can choose two other foods from the grain, milk, fruit/vegetable, and meat groups. The rules also set limits on the amount of salt in meals, and introduce new calorie limits based on grade level.

Parents, students, teachers, and food service workers all argue that these new rules will lead to more food in the trash can instead of in kids’ mouths. But this concern is unfounded. A Harvard study found that students were not throwing away more food under the new rules. Instead, kids were eating more of their meals – including more vegetables! The amount of waste, though still high, did not change much after the new rules were put into place.

The study only looked at food trends in four urban elementary schools, and the amount of food waste continues to be a concern, but these findings are hopeful. If kids are offered unhealthy food, they will eat unhealthy food. If kids are only served healthy food, they will eat the healthy, nutritious food in front of them.

Finally, school food that both kids and parents can feel good about!

“Impact of the New U.S. Department of Agriculture School Meal Standards on Food Selection, Consumption, and Waste,” by Juliana F.W. Cohen, ScM, ScD, Scott Richardson, MBA, Ellen Parker, MBA, MSW, Paul J. Catalano, ScD, Eric B. Rimm, ScD, is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 46, Issue 4 (April 2014), 388-94, DOI:, published by Elsevier.

Summary by Cynthia C. Bloom

What we do

While our evaluation work is wide-ranging, we have developed certain specialized areas of expertise, including:

· Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
· School Leadership
· Literacy
· School Climate and Culture
· Educational Technology
· Federal Supplemental Educational Services
· School Improvement and Effectiveness

Hello World

The University of Memphis’ Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP) is a State of Tennessee Center of Excellence. Since 1989, we have been committed to improving education by serving as a valuable resource in educational research, evaluation, and consultation.
A major research focus for CREP includes planning and conducting high-quality studies and evaluations to determine what works in schools. In this regard, CREP has served as a consultant or direct contributor to research addressing the goals of Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind, as proposed by the National Academy of Sciences, the What Works Clearinghouse, and the Center on Innovation & Improvement.
Additionally, CREP assists schools, districts, and states in building the capacity and ability to attain Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards. The tools and strategies CREP developed as part of its Formative Evaluation Process for School Improvement (FEPSI) have become primary resources of assistance for schools across the nation. We seek to address the educational community’s diverse needs by designing customized evaluation methods to fit each project. These tools address critical improvement factors, such as teaching methods and quality, school climate, teacher support, student attitudes, parent and community involvement, technology use, program implementation, and student achievement.