Archive for the ‘Classroom styles’ Category

Reading between the lines: Florida’s retention program is not worth replicating

Paul Thomas, a Furman University associate professor of education, writes about range of education issues, including the push in South Carolina to follow Florida’s retention policy. This is his second appearance on the Get Schooled blog, but you can read more of his stuff at his “becoming radical” blog.

Thomas sent me this opinion column on the issue of retention. Retention is still one of education’s most hotly debate topics. State policy says Georgia students in grades 3, 5 and 8 should repeat the year when they fail certain standardized tests. But it seldom happens.

The AJC found that districts promote the vast majority of  students even if they fail the retest or blow it off altogether.

Here is an excerpt of the 2008 AJC story:

The AJC obtained state databases — with students’ names removed — that contained spring CRCT scores, summer retest scores and students’ grade level the following fall for 2006 and 2007. In total, the newspaper examined nearly 800,000 …

Continue reading Reading between the lines: Florida’s retention program is not worth replicating »

Bill Gates: We’re fumbling evaluations when we rate teachers on how students skip

downeyart0401In a Washington Post op-ed, Bill Gates says there should be a fairer way to evaluate teachers. While he is all for accountability, Gates cautions against using student test scores as the primary basis for making decisions about firing, promoting and compensating teachers.

Here is an excerpt: (Please read full piece before commenting.)

Efforts are being made to define effective teaching and give teachers the support they need to be as effective as possible. But as states and districts rush to implement new teacher development and evaluation systems, there is a risk they’ll use hastily contrived, unproven measures. One glaring example is the rush to develop new assessments in grades and subjects not currently covered by state tests. Some states and districts are talking about developing tests for all subjects, including choir and gym, just so they have something to measure.

In one Midwestern state, for example, a 166-page Physical Education Evaluation Instrument holds …

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Nearly one in five high school boys diagnosed with ADHD. Is it big problem or Big Pharm?

grabarart0920Mining CDC data, The New York Times is reporting today nearly one in five high school age boys and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Are we over-diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity, especially in boys, because we have less tolerance of what were once understood and accepted as normal kid behaviors?

Have we become a nation that spots a fidgety 5-year-old and thinks a pill is the answer?

Are these behaviors more troubling in an era where even kindergarten has an academic focus and where children are measured by test scores? Are parents buying the pharmaceutical industry’s promise that it can turn a restless student into a focused scholar?

A child with ADHD is easily distracted, hyperactive and impulsive. More than overactive, these children often can’t sit still long enough to respond to a question or listen to a story. Some can’t slow down between idea and action, leaving them …

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New study: Boon in Algebra I in middle school doesn’t lead to higher math performance



A new study suggests pushing more kids into Algebra I in middle school may not pay off. (AJC photo)
A new study suggests pushing more kids into Algebra I in middle school may not pay off. (AJC photo)

A new Brookings study that is part of the annual Brown Center Report on American Education suggests that states have not seen the academic boost they expected from introducing Algebra 1 to a broader range of students in middle school.

This practice has been widely embraced in Georgia under the assumption that Algebra 1 in middle school better readies students for the more rigorous math now being taught in high school.

The study by researcher Tom Loveless seems to end up in the place that much education research does: The concept may haven been good in theory, but the execution stumbled because the Algebra I  was watered down to accommodate weaker students who normally would not have qualified for advanced math in middle school.

According to Education Week: (This is an excerpt. Please read full piece before commenting.)

A new analysis, however, suggests that increased …

Continue reading New study: Boon in Algebra I in middle school doesn’t lead to higher math performance »

No Child Left Behind neglected gifted students. That is about to change in Georgia.

Dori Kleber

Dori Kleber

Dori Kleber owns and operates GiftedAtlanta.com, a non-commercial online resource for parents of gifted children. She is a parent advocate for gifted education and the mother of two gifted children.

In this piece, she explains why education policy must not just consider under performing students, but those who are high performing, too.

By Dori Kleber

One of the great tragedies of our American public schools in the past decade has been the neglect of our brightest children. While struggling students have made gains, high-achieving students have stagnated.

During the reign of No Child Left Behind, our schools have been so intent on lifting low-performing students to a level of minimum aptitude that they have ignored the needs of those who already exceed basic proficiency and are ready for greater challenges. The result: Top students are languishing.

This imbalance in academic growth was confirmed in a 2008 study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, “High-Achieving …

Continue reading No Child Left Behind neglected gifted students. That is about to change in Georgia. »

Cobb faces drastic actions to cope with school budget crisis. Considers some online high school classes.

computer (Medium)Georgians can grasp just how grave the underfunding of education has become when they read about what’s happening in Cobb County, long considered one of the state’s top school districts and among its most stable.

Tonight, the school chief proposed shifting many high school classes into online courses, cutting five days from the school year, eliminating transportation to several thousand students and giving district staff five furlough days to address an $86.4 million deficit.

This is occurring in one of more affluent counties in the state, a county that lured new residents on the reputation of its schools.

How are the rest of Georgia districts — few with the financial resources and educated middle-class populace of Cobb — coping with drastic funding cuts to their schools? Never mind bake sales. Are they holding blood drives?

I’m not sure how happy Cobb parents are going to be when word of these proposed economies reach them. Many parents will have questions about the online …

Continue reading Cobb faces drastic actions to cope with school budget crisis. Considers some online high school classes. »

Cheating or collaboration? Do students really not know the difference?

crcted.0920 (Medium)A reader sent me this note about cheating and asked that I put the issue before the Get Schooled blog readership:

I am wondering if you have done much on student cheating? I have read about teacher cheating but don’t remember anything on the student side of the equation.

Now that my child is in high school, I am amazed at what online resources are available at the click of the button. I am aware of an instance where a teacher used an online study guide as a test….most of the students used it (teacher was unaware it was public domain) and received 100 percent on the test.  Smart on the students’ part, I’d say yes. Lazy on the teacher’s part, I’d say yes.

I’ve had some discussions with parents. Teachers don’t change their test, and the students share what’s on the test with their classmates who have not taken yet taken it.

That is cheating. But the parents I’ve spoken to call it “collaboration” and see nothing wrong with it. Teachers are aware it goes on but say it is …

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Anybody out there want to rethink middle schools?

grabarart0920Regular Get Schooled readers know that I have doubts about the efficacy of the middle school model.

Despite decades of experimentation and refinement, middle school still doesn’t work in most places, leading me to conclude that the problem is not with the execution of the concept but with the concept itself.

In 2011, a Harvard study found that students moving from fifth grade to a middle school setting suffer a sharp drop in academic performance in reading and math, compared to peers who attend k-8 schools. The findings of the Harvard study confirmed an earlier Columbia University study.

Writing in Education Next, Harvard researchers Martin West and Guido Schwerdt explained:

Our results cast serious doubt on the wisdom of the middle-school experiment that has become such a prominent feature of American education. We find that moving to a middle school causes a substantial drop in student test scores (relative to that of students who remain in K–8 schools) the first …

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New research: Too many college students routed into costly remedial courses when they only need a refresher

Education Week has a fascinating story this week on emerging research showing that many college students testing into remedial classes don’t need to be there.

A challenge in writing about education is the assumption factor. In Georgia, 70,000 students take remedial classes each year at our public colleges at an annual cost of $55 million. Nationally, the price tag is $7 billion.

We all despair that so many students are showing up at college unprepared and conclude that high schools aren’t doing their jobs.

But we never ask: Are these students being correctly identified?

Could it be that all some of them need are short-term refresher courses? Consider that many students are not entering college directly from high school and may have forgotten some of their math. According to Ed Week, close to a third of all entering college students are not coming directly from high school.

One study cited in the Ed Week story found that 20 percent of students in remedial math and 25 percent …

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Did Obama learn anything at the Decatur pre-k program or was it a just one long photo op?

Did Obama learn anything from his visit today to a Decatur pre-k? A pre-k teacher says he did. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Did Obama learn anything from his visit today to a Decatur pre-k? A pre-k teacher says he did. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

The crowds have left the Decatur Recreation Center, and the camera crews are dismantling their equipment. The President is en route to Dobbins.

So, what was today about? Was it a photo op with which to promote the President’s new pre-k proposal?

Yes, but did Obama learn anything useful?

After the speech, I chatted with the Decatur pre-k teacher who was with Obama today at the College Heights Early Learning Center. Mary McMahon also introduced Obama at the Decatur Recreation Center.

A pre-k intervention teacher, McMahon is College Heights’ Teacher of the Year and spent time with President Obama in the pre-k classroom of teacher Lauren Parks.

Was this all for show, I asked her, or did the President learn something new?

McMahon felt that Obama learned something from the inclusive model that Decatur uses in its pre-k. She said that Decatur is unique in that its …

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