MDRC in the News

Time Is on Their Side: Teachers Are Using Countdown Clocks as a Classroom Tool

By Jay Mathews, The Washington Post


Watching presidential candidates struggling to squeeze their debate statements into 30- or 60-second bites reminds me they are just like kids in class. Timers are becoming key to school instruction, which some teachers like and others do not.

I first noticed this in the late 1990s when I came in contact with the “Success For All” program. It engaged students by having teachers time their lessons so they did not bog down. Success For All is still going strong, with around 500,000 students in 1,000 schools, but its emphasis on time has spread to many other programs…..

…..Teachers are given model language that has worked in other classrooms. Many teachers and education schools don’t like that, even though the approach has been shown to raise achievement. MDRC, the nonprofit policy research organization, did a study showing kindergartners in Success For All did significantly better in phonics than those in control groups. However, 55 percent of the Success For All teachers said the program was too rigid or scripted, compared with only 20 percent of control group teachers using other programs…..

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