Giving Compass' Take:

• The author explains the differences in platooning and looping. Platooning is a trend in which teachers specialize in a particular subject and have students switch teachers between classes. While looping is when the students are in class with the same teacher for two consecutive years. Two studies show the benefits of looping over platooning. 

• How can these studies have an impact on education reform? And will education technology play a role in changing platooning and looping trends? 

• Read about the need for high-quality teachers in order to bring about high-performing student achievement. 

Two studies on elementary schools published in June 2018 point to the importance giving teachers and students plenty of time to form relationships. Students may learn more.

Two studies on how best to teach elementary schools students — one on the popular trend of “platooning” and one on the far less common practice of “looping” — at first would seem totally unrelated other than the fact that they both use silly words with double-o’s.

“Platooning” refers to having teachers specialize in a particular subject, such as math or English, and young students switch teachers for each class. “Looping” is a term used when kids keep the same teacher for two years in a row. They don’t switch teachers for each subject and don’t switch each year.

One economist found that platooning might be harming kids and two other economists found that looping is quite beneficial.

Harvard University’s Roland Fryer set out to test just that in an experiment, published in the June 2018 issue of the American Economic Review. Fryer convinced the Houston school district to randomly assign 23 elementary schools to adopt specialized teaching for two years. After each of the two years, both reading and math scores of the kids who’d been taught by specialists were worse than those who’d been taught by a single teacher. More troubling: suspensions and absences were suddenly higher in the schools that tried platooning.

UCLA’s Howard says that qualitative researchers have documented the influence of relationships on learning for over two decades. A 1997 study found that early teacher-child relationships at the start of elementary school determined how kids felt about school and performed academically.

Read the full article about the student-teacher relationship by Jill Barshay at The Hechinger Report