Wallace maintains an ever-growing collection of reports, articles, videos and other resources that we have commissioned or produced since the 1990s. Indeed, the Knowledge Center housing these 300-plus publications covering education leadership, learning and enrichment, and the arts is the heart of our website. Over the last year, we added more than 20 new items to our library. As 2017 draws to a close, we thought we’d look back to see which resources, old and new, resonated most with our readers and which ones we on the Wallace editorial staff think are up and comers.
With that here’s our list of Top 10 Downloads of 2017:
TOP 10 DOWNLOADS FROM JANUARY - NOVEMBER 2017
- The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning (Published January 2012) - 109,477 downloads
- How Leadership Influences Student Learning (Published September 2004) - 91,172 downloads
For an updated synthesis of research over the last 20 years on the impact of principals, check out How Principals Affect Students and Schools: A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research.)
- The Three Essentials: Improving Schools Requires District Vision, District and State Support, and Principal Leadership (Published August 2010) - 33,727 downloads
- StrongNonprofits.org (Fixed Asset and Depreciation Schedule) (Published February 2013) - 25,969 downloads
- Learning From Leadership: Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning (Published July 2010) - 24,802 downloads
- StrongNonprofits.org - Program Based Budget Builder (Published February 2013) - 22,159 downloads
- Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out (Published May 2017) - 18,915 downloads
- StrongNonprofits.org - A Five-Step Guide to Budget Development (Published February 2013) - 18,459 downloads
- The Making of the Principal: Five Lessons in Leadership Training (Published June 2012) - 16,691 downloads
- Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning (Published June 2011) - 15,708 downloads
So, what struck us?
2017 Serves Up a Runaway Best-Seller
Look at #7 on the list. It’s the only release from this year. In fact, it’s the only release since 2013! The other publications on the Top 10 list have had much more time and exposure to help them reach practitioners, policymakers and others interested in the issues we work on. Why would a publication barely six months old have such a following?
Simple answer: social and emotional learning (SEL).
We’ve known for some time that interest in SEL—the skills outside of academics that students need to be successful in school and later in life—was on the rise. A growing body of research, too, has affirmed the benefits of developing strong SEL skills. What we didn’t know was how much guidance practitioners were looking for. Published in May, Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out offers a look at 25 top U.S. SEL programs, allowing users to do a scan across programs to assess grade level, settings, the skills they wish to develop and other features so users can adapt programs to their context. As of November 30, 2017 (the latest date for which we have figures), the publication had been downloaded almost 19,000 times from our website, making it the most popular new release we’ve ever had and pointing to the need for even more research and tools in this growing field.
We’ve got more evidence on this point. Coming in at the number two spot of top 2017 releases, with 3,540 downloads since May, is a special issue of the journal The Future of Children that examines the development of SEL in school and afterschool settings.
Readers Reach for a Classic
How Leadership Influences Student Learning may be getting long in the tooth—it was first published in 2004—but it continues to attract large numbers of readers and has become the closest thing that Wallace has to a classic. (For an updated synthesis of research over the last 20 years on the impact of principals, check out How Principals Affect Student and Schools: A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research.) Written by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto, the report helped establish the importance of school principals to student success. Since it was first issued, this meta-analysis has been downloaded more than half a million times, suggesting there’s an ongoing need for understanding the ins and outs of why school leadership matters.
Nonprofits Welcome Practical Guidance
Almost five years ago, Wallace launched a website intended to help afterschool organizations and other nonprofits manage their finances. StrongNonprofits.org is a collection of free tools, how-tos, articles and other features assembled and in some cases created by Fiscal Management Associates, a leading national consulting firm working with nonprofits on financial management matters. Three of the site’s resources made our Top 10, a testament to the appetite among nonprofits for guidance on how to strengthen their financial muscle.
Sometimes download numbers tell only part of the story. Four reports published this year merit a special mention for breaking ground in their subject areas, even if they didn’t break into the Top 10.
Arts + Tweens = Good Read
Nine in 10 Americans believe that the arts are part of a well-rounded education, according to a 2016 survey by Americans for the Arts. For disadvantaged children, however, high-quality opportunities to experience the arts, both in school and out, can be scarce. Enter the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), which managed in three communities to introduce the sorts of arts education programs one would normally find in smaller, more specialized organizations, according to a report by Research for Action and McClanahan Associates. Raising the Barre and Stretching the Canvas: Implementing High-Quality Arts Programming in a National Youth Serving Organization shows how BGCA navigated some tricky terrain to develop promising programs that meet general principles of a high-quality arts education. Surveys cited in the report show that large majorities of participants in the BGCA programs found their teachers competent, their studios engaging and their environments safe, friendly and comfortable.
Art + Millennials = Another Good Read
Arts organizations, meanwhile, are eager to learn how they can attract the older siblings of those tweens. Building Millennial Audiences: Barriers and Opportunities garnered surprising interest among readers in offering clues to action—including recognizing that several obstacles may be keeping 20-somethings from greater participation in the arts. Among them are misperceptions about ticket prices and leisure events that compete for millennials’ time.
A Novel Study Makes a Debut
From the world of arts into the world of number crunching, What It Takes to Operate and Maintain Principal Pipelines: Costs and Other Resources is the RAND Corp.’s examination of the price tag when school districts embark on ensuring that school leaders are properly trained, hired and supported on the job. The big finding, based on RAND’s first-of-its-kind review of expenditures by six major urban school districts in a Wallace effort to promote the development of a large corps of highly effective principals, was the following: The costs are only a small slice of annual district spending—an average of about 0.4 percent of yearly expenditures.
Readers Look for Ways to Expand What Works
In a way, Strategies to Scale Up Social Programs: Pathways, Partnerships and Fidelity is a study in optimism, an examination of efforts so successful that people decided to spread them around. The report explores 45 programs tackling everything from climate change to hunger to unemployment. Each had evidence of effectiveness and each extended its reach through partnerships. The report finds patterns among the various expansion routes the organizations took—and apparently readers are taking note. They have downloaded the report more than 2,200 times since its September launch.
Not a bad number for a report only three months old.