The number of international baccalaureate programs in Michigan has nearly tripled in five years as parents and school districts scramble for challenging curricula to help boost student college applications and prepare students to compete globally.
What educational approach will work for this world?
"One in which students are actively involved in their education. Knowledge is not something to be passively received and codified; it is to be sought out, questioned, created, and investigated. Students need to be engaged in the processes of asking, acquiring, analyzing, and adding to knowledge. What one needs to know is subject to a rapidly changing world, but the "how" and the "why"--the core skills needed to acquire, evaluate, and add to knowledge--once instilled become the basis for creative engagement with the world. Don't just sit there: Ask, question, explore, rethink, argue--learn the process of learning!"
Colleges aren't actually becoming more selective. They're just finding ways of getting more people to apply.
College Still Easy To Get Into For Qualified Candidates, Despite Low Acceptance Rates.
The Washington Post (12/1, Ehrenfreund) “Wonkblog” reports universities “waste everyone’s time and money in the process” when they try to artificially depress their acceptance rates. Data shows that students who are qualified can still expect to get into elite schools as schools are making “themselves seem more popular by encouraging even unqualified applicants to apply.” The “shell game” that schools play adds to the calls for a formal ranking system from the government despite the protests of university officials.
The Slate Magazine (12/1, Weissman) “Moneybox” blog reports that the college admissions game “isn’t nearly so vicious as the people who profit from it would have you believe” since admission rates are “misleading.” One factor driving down the admissions statistic is that many of the kids applying to top institutions “aren’t qualified” and are therefore not making the process more competitive for students with high grades and SAT scores.
Mel Riddile's insight:
There is another longer-running shell game--admitting students that colleges know have little chance of graduating, thus undermining the efforts of principals and teachers to raise the rigor of high school instruction.
Survey Shows Indiana Teachers Skeptical Of Evaluations.
The Indianapolis Star (12/1) reports that a new Indiana University survey “yielded perhaps unsurprising results on educators’ sentiments about controversial teacher evaluations,” showing that Indiana “teachers are far more skeptical of the merits of teacher evaluations than superintendents and principals are.” The article concludes that ED recently reviewed Indiana’s NCLB waiver, and found that “the state’s teacher evaluations had relied less on student test scores than what had been originally promised.”
Education Week (12/1, Superville) reports that ED has recently “trained its efforts on principals by rolling out a series of initiatives that build on the growing body of research underscoring the role they play in schools’ success.” The article paints this as “a departure” for Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s focus during President Obama’s first term, and notes that ED’s programs “focus primarily on school improvement and professional development and training for selected principals.” The piece notes that the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals “say the new focus is heartening, but more action is needed,” noting that both associations “have asked for more funding for the School Leadership Program.” The article adds that some observers see the appointment of Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Delisle “as the pivotal moment for the department’s emphasis on principals,” and quotes her saying, “I am very aware that while a school or a school district may adopt higher standards, for example, that unless there is a school culture in which the principal and teachers share a common vision that all students can succeed, then the standards won’t really mean anything at all. It’s not just to have an awesome staff, but it’s certainly to have a visionary, courageous leader at the helm.”
Girls read more books than boys do, in every grade, but boys aren’t that far behind girls from kindergarten through third grade. It’s beginning in fourth grade that reading habits really diverge by gender.
Starting in fourth grade, girls read, on average, 100,000 more words per year than boys do. Over the course of a child’s elementary, middle and high school education, that adds up to an almost 800,000-word difference (3.8 million words for girls vs. 3 million words for boys). The chart above shows the number of words that boys and girls, on average, read in each grade.
“It’s striking,” said Stickney, the research director at Renaissance. “It’s hard to learn new words when you’re not exposed to them, and girls are getting exposed to a lot more words.”
Students “transfer” knowledge rather than just memorize it.
"The focus on memorization, fueled by standardized testing, has obstructed learning, according to Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University, who argues that students have been losing or squandering most of the information they acquire in school.
But if that information is applied or actually used to solve problems, students will leave school with a much richer education. Enter “deeper learning” – the process of fusing content knowledge with real-world situations. Students “transfer” knowledge rather than just memorize it. The benefits of deeper learning, says Darling-Hammond, can’t be overstated."
One solution I proposed was to help all teachers intentionally teach students to annotate texts before discussing/reading the text with the whole class. To facilitate this, I met with the math, science, and social studies department leads to share how to annotate texts to improve the school-wide literacy instructional program and our practice of literacy instruction. I asked my colleagues to model their annotation instruction in department meetings in order to improve literacy instruction and the overall attitude towards it throughout our school. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and student work and classroom observations showed students annotating in all content areas.
The Obama administration supports it -- despite warnings from assessment experts.
"Last April, the Statistical Association, the largest organization in the United States representing statisticians and related professionals, said in a report that value-added scores “do not directly measure potential teacher contributions toward other student outcomes” and that they “typically measure correlation, not causation,” noting that “effects — positive or negative — attributed to a teacher may actually be caused by other factors that are not captured in the model.” After the report’s release, I asked the Education Department if Education Secretary Arne Duncan was reconsidering his support for value-added measures, and the answer was no."
Mel Riddile's insight:
The NASSP issued a release saying that its governing body has given preliminary approval and that the organization will meet early next to finalize the decision. That release quotes Mel Riddile, a former National Principal of the Year and chief architect of the NASSP statement, as saying:
“We are using value-added measurement in a way that the science does not yet support. We have to make it very clear to policymakers that using a flawed measurement both misrepresents student growth and does a disservice to the educators who live the work each day.”
Ninety-eight percent of the people who work in my occupation are different than me: I fall in the less than 2 percent of teachers who are black males. I am from Mississippi, a state perpetually plagued by its scholastic underperformance, where I recently graduated from the University of Mississippi and was accepted into Teach For …
A new report says that only 19 percent of students graduated in four years from most public universities and that only 50 of 580 public universities graduated a majority of their full-time students at the four-year mark.
Study Shows Most Students Don’t Earn A College Degree In Four Years.
The New York Times (12/2, Lewin, Subscription Publication) reports the nonprofit group Complete College America released a report saying that at most American public colleges, only 19 percent of full-time students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years. The report also found that only 50 of 580 institutions graduate a majority of students on time and that the problem is even more pronounced at community colleges where only 5 percent of students earn their associates degree within two years. The report cites the inability to register for required courses, credits lost in college transfers, and remediation sequences “that do not work” as contributing factors to the prolonged attendance at universities.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (12/2, Farkas) reports that the inability to graduate on time costs families “tens of thousands of dollars in extra college-related expenses, as well as lost wages from delaying entry into the workforce” and that to combat this students should be given “pathways” to a degree. The pathways would give students a structured schedule of courses and electives on a semester-by-semester basis that would lead to an on-time completion of a degree.
Ill-conceived ratings systems can wreak havoc on educators' careers
New York Lawsuits Draw Attention To Student-Based Teacher Evaluation Debate.
An Al Jazeera America (12/2) analysis reports that teachers in New York have filed lawsuits to overturn “the state’s controversial teacher evaluation system,” noting that the complaints “converge on the issue of whether teachers should be judged on the basis of student test scores, and New York state is poised to set a nationwide precedent on the use of value-added testing data in teacher evaluations.” The piece notes that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has praised value-added models, but notes that the American Statistical Association has “denounced” such methodology as “wrongly measuring ‘correlation, not causation.’”
If you are looking for a clear-headed professional take-down of the idea that VAM should be used for personnel decisions by the people who have to help make those decisions. As many reformsters on the TNTP-Fordham-Bellwether axis of reformdom bemoan the fact that school leaders don't use data to inform their personnel decisions, here is an actual national association of actual school leaders saying why they prefer not to use VAM data to make personnel decisions. Now if only reformsters and policy makers will actually pay attention to the school leaders on the front lines.
Schools today rely on the ability to improve the collective capacity of the entire teaching staff.
The amount of direction from experts and leaders should be inversely proportional to the degree of experience and skill of the teacher. Therefore, once the school has an agreed-upon instructional framework and an accompanying common language, more and more teacher learning should be self-directed.
A complete departure from Common Core standards could disengage teachers, who are already struggling to navigate the standards gauntlet, as well as embolden other states that are toying with the idea of rolling back their standards. Throughout the year, we'll be following this issue through the lens of its effects on Kingsport's teachers.
The backtracking puts teachers in a precarious position. Teaching to a new set of more difficult standards is tough enough. But in Tennessee, where an educator's evaluation, and in some cases compensation, is based on student test scores, teaching to Common Core while not aligning tests to those standards is problematic."
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