Recently found … 09/07/2011

  • tags: educational reform testing assessment

    • Using tests to assess our kids’ memory of rote facts may have been important in the pre-industrial or possibly even the industrial era, but not now.
    • The fact is that we forget most of the facts that we cram into our heads to prepare for tests. Instead, what many of us get from school is the false message that some of us are smart and some of us are dumb, that remembering a few pieces of well-placed information is significant when the reality is that it’s not.
    • The real skills that we need to teach our kids are how to use knowledge in new, innovative ways and to adapt to new circumstances. Teaching our kids to think creatively and instilling in them the confidence to listen to the voice inside of them that is pushing them forward in their lives is how we can best prepare them for an unpredictable future in an ever-changing global landscape.
    • Creativity and confidence are the secret to success. They always have been, and they always will be.
    • If we stop preparing our kids for a bygone era by prepping them for the next test on state capitals and instead promote their creative thinking skills and self-confidence, then we will have prepared them for the most important test of all: the test of life.
  • tags: educational reform NCLB testing

    • We allowed the proponents of NCLB to control the discussion from the beginning. They wrote the language, sent out the media notices and explanations, wrote the definitions of AYP, Highly Qualified and leaned heavily on the fact that none of us would dare protest anything to do with a name that implies we would be providing a high quality education for every single child in America. They were right. We chose not to speak out, not to fight against a system we knew from the beginning would set us all up for failure, and instead, in our best Dudley DoRight impersonations we set about to change the way we taught and measured and tested and graded and thought.


      We knew from the outset that NCLB and its goal of 100 percent  – every child proficient in every area as determined by a single test on a single day each year – was patently, blatantly and insidiously absurd, but we took no concerted action. We knew Adequate Yearly Progress was a sham, and we literally and figuratively rolled over and tried our best to meet whatever impossible goals they set for us and our students. We knew that Federal law in NCLB was a violation of Federal law in IDEA but we went along with the insanity of testing Students with Disabilities based on chronological age rather than by IEP.

    • Oh sure, some of you stuck your necks out and said something to the effect of “NCLB forced us to take a closer look at ourselves, and we are better off for that” in spite of the fact that it was our students that were suffering the consequences. What balderdash. What hubris. Our kids were the ones whose education was stilted by our submission to the belief that one test could effectively distill and determine the depth and extent of an entire year of a child’s education.
    • I struggled with the rest of you as to why NCLB would go to such great lengths to make public education appear to be such a failure, to set up a system that would guarantee failure for practically every public school as we advanced toward that magical 100 percent level and provide no tangible rewards for success and such punitive actions for not meeting arbitrary goals. On top of all of that, I failed to recognize why our nation’s legislators so nimbly avoided even the discussion of reauthorization to change what everyone knew was a failed policy. One day it finally hit me.


      They didn’t want to change the policy, because the policy was designed in theory and in fact not to aid education but to create an image of a failed public school system in order to further the implementation of vouchers and the diversion of public education funds to private schools.

    • We failed in our obligations to protect our students from one of the most destructive educational policies since “separate but equal.”  We did not educate the public on the myth and misdirection of Adequate Yearly Progress, and we allowed closet segregationists to direct the implementation of policies that we knew would result in our being the guys in the black hats responsible for “the failure of public education.”


      Now we are paying the price. AYP is here to stay in one form or another, and the vast majority of our parents and public really believe the propaganda that it actually measures a school’s educational progress. If we try to convince them otherwise we are “making excuses.”

    • I hope the generation of teachers and administrators that follows has learned something from the failure of our generation to ward off those determined to destroy public education. We didn’t stand up to be counted, we didn’t stand in the schoolhouse door and tell them they couldn’t do that to our kids, and we didn’t educate the public about what a gigantic failure another one size fits all education policy would be. In the words of that great educator and philosopher Jimmy Buffet: “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”


      We have all been left behind.

  • tags: educational reform learning teachers

    • It has become more and more difficult to consider the role of joy in our schools. Teachers have been told other things matter more: test scores, new curriculum, district initiatives and other data that suggests deficiencies.




      Is anyone measuring for joy? A joyful learning environment might be the most important thing you create for a child. If indeed the much used phrase “life long learner” is a major goal for schools could joy be an ingredient for that?




      Maybe we ought to start counting smiles. If at the end of the year, you can honestly say your students leave as joyful leaners, you’d be among the best teachers I know.

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Recently found … 09/05/2011

  • tags: educational reform learning time teachers professional development

    • we need to get teachers off of the hamster wheel of the current school-day model. Teachers need time to collaborate, to plan, to innovate. And schools need to find ways to build frequent – I believe weekly – time for everyone to sit in a room and work together to make schools better.
  • tags: educational reform learning QR qrcode

    • Quick Response (QR) codes are beginning to pop up on city buses, in museum exhibits, and just about anywhere people need easy access to information. But we’re only beginning to scratch the surface of how they can be used to improve the formal educational experience.
    • 1. Digital portfolios for students.
    • 2. Connecting with parents.
    • 3. Engaging students.
    • 4. Easing the transition to college.
    • “Rather than being a cure-all or silver bullet, one-to-one laptop programs may simply amplify what’s already occurring — for better or worse,” wrote Bryan Goodwin, spokesman for Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, a nonpartisan group that did the study, in an essay. Good teachers, he said, can make good use of computers, while bad teachers won’t, and they and their students could wind up becoming distracted by the technology.
    • It’s not the stuff that counts — it’s what you do with it that matters.”
    • The district leaders’ position is that technology has inspired students and helped them grow, but that there is no good way to quantify those achievements
    • , in the Maine math study, it is hard to separate the effect of the laptops from the effect of the teacher training.
    • schools are being motivated by a blind faith in technology and an overemphasis on digital skills — like using PowerPoint and multimedia tools — at the expense of math, reading and writing fundamentals. They say the technology advocates have it backward when they press to upgrade first and ask questions later.
      • Why is it one or the other?

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Recently found … 09/03/2011

  • tags: educational reform learning

    • the biggest problem is a preoccupation with, and the application of, the factory model of management to education, where everything is arranged for the scalability and efficiency of “the system”, to which the students, the teachers, the parents and the administrators have to adjust. “The system” grinds forward, at ever increasing cost and declining efficiency, dispiriting students, teachers and parents alike.
    • the single most important idea for reform in K-12 education concerns a change in goal. The goal needs to shift from one of making a system that teaches children a curriculum more efficiently to one of making the system more effective by inspiring lifelong learning in students, so that they are able to have full and productive lives in a rapidly shifting economy.
    • This is a shift from running the system for the sake of the system (“You study what we tell you to study, when we tell you, and how we tell you, and at a pace that we determine”) to a focus on the ultimate goal of learning (“Our goal is to inspire our students to become life-long learners with a love of education, so that they will be able to learn whatever they have to.”)
    • The role of the teachers and parents
    • The role of administrators
    • The role of tests
    • Respecting Goodhart’s law:
    • when measure becomes the goal, it ceases to be an effective measure.
    • The mode of accountability
    • Communications shift from command to conversation
    • An implementable agenda
    • From outputs to outcomes
  • tags: teaching teacher preparation teacher compensation teacher evaluation educational reform

    • Premise No. 1: The world of teaching has to change — and is slowly changing. Despite the harsh attacks on the profession by too many shrill voices, others are working to improve pay and working conditions. When these changes take effect, the exodus from the profession will slow down.
    • Premise No. 2: Schools of education are an endangered species. Somewhere around 1,400 institutions now prepare teachers, and that’s about twice as many as we will need in the future
    • Premise No. 3: The old way of paying teachers — based on years of service and graduate credits — is dying
    • Premise No. 4: Today most schools of education, especially graduate schools with their subject-specific ‘silos’ and tenure-driven organization, are insufficiently nimble to survive and prosper.
    • Premise No. 5: Schools and colleges of education don’t do enough to develop brand loyalty among their graduates.
    • Premise No. 6: The time to change is now. Soon many ‘baby boomer’ teachers will be retiring and need to be replaced.
    • 1. “Agents of change and inspiration:”
    • 2. Taking on tenure
    • 3. A new course for students
    • 4. Engagement
    • 5. Necessary changes
    • 6. Evaluation: What school districts do now is inadequate, but it’s not enough to be cursing that darkness. Schools and colleges of education need to be in the forefront of developing complex measures of student learning and teacher effectiveness.
    • 7. Payment
  • tags: psychology decision-making will power

    • Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy.
    • The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless:
    • The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing.
    • Part of the resistance against making decisions comes from our fear of giving up options. The word “decide” shares an etymological root with “homicide,” the Latin word “caedere,” meaning “to cut down” or “to kill,” and that loss looms especially large when decision fatigue sets in.
    • Shopping can be especially tiring for the poor, who have to struggle continually with trade-offs.
    • Spears and other researchers argue that this sort of decision fatigue is a major — and hitherto ignored — factor in trapping people in poverty. Because their financial situation forces them to make so many trade-offs, they have less willpower to devote to school, work and other activities that might get them into the middle class.
    • Again and again, the sugar restored willpower, but the artificial sweetener had no effect. The glucose would at least mitigate the ego depletion and sometimes completely reverse it. The restored willpower improved people’s self-control as well as the quality of their decisions
    • The mere expectation of having to exert self-control makes people hunger for sweets.
    • “Good decision making is not a trait of the person, in the sense that it’s always there,” Baumeister says. “It’s a state that fluctuates.”
    • His studies show that people with the best self-control are the ones who structure their lives so as to conserve willpower. They don’t schedule endless back-to-back meetings. They avoid temptations like all-you-can-eat buffets, and they establish habits that eliminate the mental effort of making choices. Instead of deciding every morning whether or not to force themselves to exercise, they set up regular appointments to work out with a friend. Instead of counting on willpower to remain robust all day, they conserve it so that it’s available for emergencies and important decisions.
    • “Even the wisest people won’t make good choices when they’re not rested and their glucose is low,” Baumeister points out. That’s why the truly wise don’t restructure the company at 4 p.m. They don’t make major commitments during the cocktail hour. And if a decision must be made late in the day, they know not to do it on an empty stomach. “The best decision makers,” Baumeister says, “are the ones who know when not to trust themselves.”

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Recently found … 09/02/2011

  • Nothing makes a bigger difference for student learning than great teaching. To get enough of the teachers we need, teaching has to be a great job where talented people are supported and rewarded.

    tags: teachers teacher compensation teacher evaluation educational reform

    • Nothing makes a bigger difference for student learning than great teaching. To get enough of the teachers we need, teaching has to be a great job where talented people are supported and rewarded.
    • When talented women had to choose between becoming teachers or nurses, we could convince them to teach “Julius Caesar” for 30 years with a small salary that built toward a generous pension in retirement.
    • We urgently need a new system — one that provides competitive salaries from the start, and opportunity for growth, attracting talented people entering the workforce to the profession.
    • Teacher compensation isn’t the only factor in cultivating great teaching. Other important priorities include changing how we measure student performance, providing more flexibility to teacher-preparation programs, and improving how we train and support principals.


      Yet with a million teachers set to retire nationwide in the next few years, an inadequate system to recruit and retain new teachers, and schools that are struggling to meet high expectations, we can no longer afford to continue a 20th-century system in a 21st-century world. It is time we reform our compensation structure to allow us to recruit from a strong pool of talent and to prevent us from losing our most successful newcomers to other jobs.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.