Anna, if you know a way to save every student then it should certainly show in your classes, right? Our district has a size limit (3rd grade) of 18 students. I can attest that the teacher in my son's class worked very hard and did everything you just stated. I almost wanted to add the website he uses to report test scores to parents to my spam filter because of the number of results coming to my email. There are literally ten's of pages of results for just one year of school. I think it was overdone, but still, closer to what you suggest than not. And he tallied those results and used those results to formulate lesson plans. Naturally, when I would meet him on parent conference days I was very curious (I told him pedagogy is like a weird hobby of mine) and he was very generous in sharing with me his techniques.
Did he get results? Yes he did. The problem, and this has been why the NCLB has been unable to close the gap, is that this form of pedagogy seems to just judge each of the students up a notch. A student that was a 4 is now a 5, a student that was a 2 is now a 3, a student that was a 1 is now a 2, and though this sounds ridiculous, a student that was a 0 is now a 1. I think the expected result was that it would bring all of the students up to the same level, or at least all of the students over some decent bar. When standards based education first became popular I don't think anyone (including myself) thought that it would only result in nudges. But that seems to be the results, and I will get to the costs shortly.
So why is it resulting in just nudging students and not flipping them entirely? Well, from my observation, some students are having much more serious learning issues than we originally suspected. I have to be honest, many of these students are not just waiting there for the right teacher to flip them (go from a 1 to a 4). In my opinion, the worse issues seem to be behavioral and emotional, these just wreck any hope of building "habits of mind". Next are the cognitive issues (yes, I would rather deal with a cognitive issue than the first two). Then the sensory issues, and finally, practical issues, like little or no parental involvement or a bad home life. Now, I am not trying to paint the struggling students as raving lunatics, just the seriously bad ones, the rest are just struggling and the vast majority of them don't just flip.
Now our district is not overwhelmed with struggling students, but we do have our fair share. Can you imagine what it is like in a school that is overwhelmed? There are schools in Miami where the passing rate (a 3 or better) on the FCAT is in the single digits. I would call that overwhelmed. Do you really think that standards based teaching or lack thereof is the problem there?
So, what are the costs to this intensive assessment guided nudging? Well, as an example, I had a conversation with my son about decimals the other day. I don't remember what started it but it was a teaching opportunity for decimals and it went like this. "What is 20% of 10?" I asked. "2" he replied. "And what is 30% of 10?" I asked. "3" he replied. "So what is 25% of 10?" I asked and after some thought he replied "2 and a half." and I said, "No, in decimal, what is it?" and he replied pretty quickly "2.5?". Then I asked him "What is 28% of 10?" and after some hinting he replied "2.8!" but better yet "Wow, that is easy, you just multiply it." and I replied "Yeah, that is why we use them."
Those conversations don't occur in intensive standards based teaching. I would still be a supporter of intensive standards based teaching if the students were actually flipping and then we could get on with the point of all this, but they are not. You still have to implement standards and assessments in a classroom, but from all the test results out there and the direct observations I have had, the majority result of intensive standard based / assessment guided teaching is nudging. I don't think nudging is saving the day. I don't like the idea of tracking in elementary school, but I really think that the bottom 25% of the students would be better served in their own class (same grade) where you can really focus on them alone. And this is not really tracking in the common use of the term. The goal is to get some of them to grade level (in all senses of the phrase). I can picture things that I would do in such a class that I wouldn't do in a regular class. Mainly, there would be a lot of repetition till they got it, and in a regular class you would lose the students interest with that much repetition. Still, I suspect that you could only reach a small portion of the students.
I never said that teachers were sitting on their asses and we all know the results of over a decade of very intensive standards/assessment based teaching. Many of these states have spent 100's or millions of dollars on this pedagogy and all they got for it was nudging. And even though I have lost faith in it flipping kids, my gripe now is that it has been so overdone that we forgot what teaching the kids at the other end of the spectrum looks like.
On May 27, 2012, at 8:21 PM, Anna Roys wrote:
> - --f46d0444e943d2bc0004c10db327 > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1 > > Responding to what Haim wrote: > " You are confusing me with some other pudgy, middle-aged white guy. The > catastrophe of American public education is not about some loop holes, it > is about a systemic collapse in a major social institution. The foundation > of the house is disintegrating, and you are worried about painting the > windowsills. " > > Anna wrties: > While I continue to be insulted by the "Education Mafia" references over > the years, I will weigh in here again with a few comments. For my own > sanity, I will rename "Education Mafia," "Public Education in America" > > I strongly believe that there is no mafia or conspiracy - instead what we > have are a lot of inefficient systems (districts and charter schools) that > need improvement - one hand does not know what the other is doing. How can > this be a system of conspiracy? Using this way of thinking, "painting the > windowsills" may be exactly what is needed. > I think we need to fix our educational systems. one district, one school, > one classroom, - one student at a time. > > Good assessments are needed and then good follow up. Using assessment data > can help kids. If teachers know exactly what topics need re-teaching and > then actually re-teach instead of just moving forward to the next worksheet > without determining student understanding, then more success could be had. > We have too many worksheet pusher teachers. A culture of working for > mastery is what is needed in my opinion. > > I think that often, kids fail because they were absent the day the material > was covered, transferred schools so they were not introduced to the > material at all, or because they were not paying attention during > explanations and examples given, due to classroom disruptions or just > plain - kids' failure to believe in themselves. When a kid has only known > failure, how can we possibly expect them to believe otherwise about > themselves? I assert that all kids can learn - if they believe in > themselves, are supported and challenged in a safe environment where > teachers cultivate intellectualism, grow themselves, are skilled, and if > kids really believe their teachers genuinely cares about their success. > > Larger classrooms make this all more difficult for teachers. Cutting > educational funding increases classroom sizes in most cases. This just > makes things more difficult for teachers who actually care and are > dedicated to helping their students gain mastery. I think this applies to > Math and any subject or integrated subject studies (STEM for example). > > So, how do we cultivate a culture of working for mastery? There are > probably many ways, but I think it begins with the "windowsills" in each > district, charter school, classroom and supporting student student at a > time - not by just declaring a and whining about some contrived conspiracy > and offering the suggestion to close America's public schools. > > Anna > Public Certified Teacher who cares! > > - --f46d0444e943d2bc0004c10db327 > Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1 > Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable > > Responding to what Haim wrote:<div>" > <span style>=A0You are confusing me with some other pudgy, middle-aged whit= > e guy. =A0The catastrophe of American public education is not about some lo= > op holes, it is about a systemic collapse in a major social institution. = > =A0The foundation of the house is disintegrating, and you are worried about= > painting the windowsills.</span>=A0"<br> > <br>Anna wrties:</div><div>While I continue to be insulted by the "Edu= > cation Mafia" references over the years, I will weigh in here=A0again= > =A0with a few comments. =A0For my own sanity, I will rename "Education= > Mafia," =A0 "Public Education in America"=A0</div> > <div><br></div><div>I strongly believe that =A0there is no mafia or conspir= > acy - instead what we have are a lot of inefficient systems (districts and = > charter schools) that need improvement - one hand does not know what the ot= > her is doing. How can this be a system of conspiracy? =A0 Using this way of= > thinking, "painting the windowsills" may be exactly what is need= > ed.=A0</div> > <div>I think we need to fix our educational systems. one district, =A0one s= > chool, one classroom, - =A0one student at a time.=A0</div><div><br></div><d= > iv>Good assessments are needed and then good follow up. Using assessment da= > ta can help kids. If teachers know exactly what topics need re-teaching and= > then=A0actually=A0re-teach instead of just moving forward to the next work= > sheet without determining student understanding, then more success could be= > had. =A0We have too many worksheet pusher teachers. A culture of working f= > or mastery is what is needed in my=A0opinion. =A0</div> > <div><br></div><div>I think that often, kids fail because they were absent = > the day the material was covered, transferred schools so=A0they=A0were not = > introduced to the material at all, or because they were not paying attentio= > n during explanations and examples given, =A0due to classroom disruptions o= > r just plain =A0- kids' =A0failure to believe in themselves. When a kid= > has only known failure, how can we possibly expect them to believe otherwi= > se about themselves? =A0I assert that all kids can learn - =A0if =A0they be= > lieve in themselves, are supported and challenged in a safe environment whe= > re teachers cultivate intellectualism, grow themselves, =A0are skilled, and= > if =A0kids really believe their teachers genuinely cares about their succe= > ss.=A0</div> > <div><br></div><div>Larger classrooms make this all more difficult for teac= > hers. Cutting educational funding increases classroom sizes in most cases. = > This just makes things more difficult for teachers who =A0actually care and= > are dedicated to helping their students gain mastery. I think this applies= > to Math and any subject or integrated subject studies (STEM for example).<= > /div> > <div><br></div><div>So, how do we cultivate a culture of working for master= > y? There are probably many ways, but I think it begins with the "windo= > wsills" =A0in each district, charter school, classroom and supporting = > student student at a time - not by just declaring a =A0and whining about so= > me contrived conspiracy and offering the suggestion to close America's = > public schools.</div> > <div><br></div><div>Anna</div><div>Public Certified Teacher who cares!</div= >> <div><br></div> > > - --f46d0444e943d2bc0004c10db327-- > > ------- End of Forwarded Message >