What Really Works in K12 Achievement And What Really Doesn't? RE@L Knows And So Does Dr. John Hattie

RE@L logo_Corp_color_RGB-high-REZThe amount of money being spent on the learning of our students today is mind-boggling. The cost of more and more research and the largely ineffective policy making is no small sack of potatoes, either. But, nothing much today rivals the amount of wasted energy and time and money being spent on largely useless standardized testing.

RE@L asks this critical question: Would you rather know that your local school or district has improved a few percentile points in the headlines of your local paper, or would you rather know your child can show and tell you what she knows?

No, you don’t need rocket science to figure out what’s wrong with this wayward thinking. Today’s standardized testing may intend well. But it clearly does not work well.

RE@L STEM icon_RGBRocket science and STEM are big topics in our schools today, and no one knows that better than RE@L. We provide software that helps kids learn how to work in teams on real-world STEM problems like water-quality research. Click on the graphic to the right to learn more about RE@L Water Quality Investigations.


Yes, research IS important, not only for our students, but also for our educators. You can’t improve something if you don’t know what works and what doesn’t. Let’s have a look at what an eminent researcher and practitoner has to say.

Dr. John Hattie, a highly credible researcher from the land down-under, seems to understand the answers to a better K12 learning world than anyone else.

Here are his recent research findings on the big ideas that really work and those that really don’t.

First let’s take a look at his list of the top five ideas that DON’T work:

  1. Achievement Standards:     They focus on schools and not on kids.
  2. Achievement Tests:     They give little helpful information to teachers and none to kids.
  3. School Choice:      Better students typically choose better schools; who helps those who need help?
  4. Class Size:     Classrooms are not designed to help each student’s unique needs.
  5. More Money:     Money is no panacea. It helps, but it helps more if you target and measure it.

Now let’s next look at five big ideas that DO work:

  1. Each Student’s Expectations:      Each student needs to be in charge of their own progress. Given the lesson plan they must be able to tell us what they know and what they need to know.
  2. Cognitive Development Axioms:       It’s impossible to learn what you’re not ready to learn. You can’t write a book without knowing words.
  3. Intervention:    The right time to intervene is when the student needs help. Let the student tell us, but always ask.
  4. Teacher Credibility:      The students must know that their teacher truly cares about each of them. And the teachers must show that they do.
  5. Provide Feedback:     Nothing helps learning more than knowing specifically what we need to do to improve. Here’s what’s needed!

cropped-VISIBLE-LEARNING-LOGO-PNG1hattieVisibleLearning.org has the entire list of all of John Hattie’s 138 Influencers of Achievement. Just click on the graphic to the right. Bookmark it for later reading and thinking. Click on the graphic on the left for his Glossary. It’s a quicker read.

Here’s a YouTube link that summarizes Hattie’s “8 Mind Frames.” We found it very insightful. Click anywhere on the graphic below:


 RE@L agrees wholeheartedly with Dr. Hattie. We need to focus on what works. Don’t waste precious time on what doesn’t.

We think RE@L’s software strategy complements Dr. Hattie’s findings and makes great commonsense: We listen and observe; then we develop and place effective solutions and tools in the hands of kids and teachers. We also provide the support that each needs to be successful. We help assure that teachers know how to use RE@L tools effectively and have the confidence to make it happen.

KidsRE@L uses sound learning principles based on research. We use the research findings that truly work in learning. We know it works because of the smiles on the faces of the learner and the teacher. There’s no better research conclusion than that.

Don’t waste time on what doesn’t work. These K12 learners are only with us for 13 quickly-passing years. 

They need our support and help now.

They can’t wait. Neither can we.


Click on the our RE@L Blue Globe below for more information on RE@L:


Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.