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Topic: A Model to Emulate
Replies: 26   Last Post: Jul 17, 2000 7:40 PM

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by way of Gene Klotz

Posts: 47
Registered: 12/4/04
Re: A Model to Emulate
Posted: Jul 10, 2000 3:21 PM
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Thanks for forwarding the Star Bulletin article, Wayne, which I found quite
interesting. In particular, I noted the following, which I suspect may
have some importance:

1. "Most important, she treated her teachers with respect. Ichinaga made
sure they had all the materials and tools needed to focus on instruction,
and clearly delineated her high expectations."

2. "(I told them) everyone had to teach well. If only every other teacher
taught well, their good work was likely to be cancelled out by a poor
teacher the next year," she said. "And poor teachers would always pull down
the average school score."

In our culture of "working behind closed doors" and "individual
excellence", the challenge is figuring out how to raise the performance of
every teacher within a school. I would be interested to learn more about
the professional development opportunities that were made available to the
Bennett-Kew teachers.

One way in which teachers at a school can improve is to share with their
colleagues their successes and failures in the classroom. However, the
recent NCES report, Mathematics and Science in the Eight Grade: Findings
from TIMSS (, shows
some interesting data on the frequency with which teachers observe others
(Fig. 4-13, p. 129) and are observed (Fig. 4-14, p. 130). Sixty-four per
cent of mathematics teachers never observe another teacher's lesson; fewer
than 10% observe others on a monthly basis. Sixty-one percent are never
observed; 6% are observed on a monthly basis.

Patsy Wang-Iverson
Mid-Atlantic Eisenhower Consortium (
Research for Better Schools
444 N. Third Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123-4107
vox: 215.574.9300 x264
fax: 215.574.0133

Wayne Bishop
<wbishop@calstatela To: AMTE <>
.edu> cc:
Sent by: Subject: A Model to Emulate

07/09/00 06:10 PM
Please respond to

This is the lady who started the Inglewood miracle. Even more amazing than
success at Bennett-Kew is the fact that her message has spread and
unabated across her district. I reported on the top five of the thirteen
elementary schools in her district, those above the 70th percentile on
school-wide SAT-9 averages of schools and that test at least 95% of their
students, in spite of very low SES numbers and high LEP population. Of the
remaining schools, one is in the 3rd decile, two in the 4th, and two in the
fifth. The other three are in the 6th, all thirteen testing at least 95%
their students. That is, eight of the thirteen are above the mean in a
district that was consistent with the situation Ms Ichinaga met when she
went to Inglewood; one of the lowest districts in the state in terms of
performance. Perhaps even more amazing is that this has been a grass-roots
effort at the school levels, often in opposition to district policy. As an
example of the latter, she is currently leading the campaign against
imposition of a hands-on, textbook-free science program, the third such
at her school in the last fifteen years; this one funded by the NSF through
Caltech. The good news is the publicity that she has been getting has
led to politicians listening to her, including her appointment to the
California State Board of Education. Regrettably, that recognition of her
sound and proven advice remains beyond the grasp of the education

Early and direct instruction in reading and no primary instruction in
are two ingredients of her formula that are probably even more important
her mathematics program; e.g., her students learn to read English in
*kindergarten* and are placed and/or retained as appropriate to allow whole
class instruction thereafter. She has no tolerance for the perspective
less affluent African American or Hispanic children should be expected to
perform at a "separate-but-equal" level different from more affluent whites
Asians. I have her on tape from a local PBS show a couple years ago
saying, "I don't think I've been criticized as much as I've been asked,
'How do
you get away with it?'" Her answer, obviously enough, is the school's test

I challenge any of the lurkers or regular contributors to this list who
the waning NCTM reform movement in mathematics to offer us anything
close to this level of performance increase in one district, even one with
times the number of schools. The usual "evidence" - no-name schools in
districts - will not suffice, of course.


Changing Hawaii
By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Friday, May 26, 2000

Tap expertise of famous educator from Kauai

IF you graduated in 1948 from Waimea High School on Kauai and wondered
whatever happened to classmate Nancy Miyashiro, then you haven't seen
recent editions of the Wall Street Journal or Los Angeles Times.

For the past 26 years, the California public school principal has been
making waves on her Inglewood campus.

Most recently, she won a national award, has been written up in
large-circulation newspapers and hosted visiting dignitaries like GOP
presidential candidate George W. Bush.

What'd she do? Nancy Miyashiro Ichinaga, 70, merely transformed one
of the worst elementaries in California into one of best.

Ichinaga graduated in 1952 with a teaching degree from the University
of Hawaii and taught one semester at Kaiulani Elementary before moving to
San Diego to live with her sister.

In September 1974, on becoming principal of Bennett Elementary near
the L.A. airport, Ichinaga found the school without a single set of basic
reading books. It had no identifiable curriculum and housed a student body
that was 95 percent illiterate.

That fall, third-grade reading test scores showed Bennett ranked in
the lowest percentile in the state. It was the lowest-achieving school in
the district.

Ichinaga used that dubious distinction as a starting point for a

She instituted back-to-basics reading and math programs, was
heavy-handed in dealing with class troublemakers, and fought the trends of
social promotion and bilingual education.

Most important, she treated her teachers with respect. Ichinaga made
sure they had all the materials and tools needed to focus on instruction,
and clearly delineated her high expectations.

"(I told them) everyone had to teach well. If only every other teacher
taught well, their good work was likely to be cancelled out by a poor
teacher the next year," she said. "And poor teachers would always pull down
the average school score."

Bennett's emphasis on a return to basics worked. The school's
third-grade test scores in reading rose every year after that. Today,
Bennett-Kew Elementary students rank above the 70th percentile in reading
and language, and above 85 percent in math.

To recognize her achievements, Ichinaga was awarded a Heritage
Foundation "No Excuses" Award in 1998, and was appointed to the state Board
of Education by Gov. Gray Davis.

She'll also spend more time being an unpaid consultant to the L.A.
school district after June 30, when she officially retires after 40 years
of service.

Here's an idea: Wouldn't Nancy like to come back to Hawaii - maybe
even retire here - and help improve the public school system of her home
state? "I'd love to," says the Kauai born-and-raised Ichinaga, "but nobody
has asked me."

How about it, Superintendent Paul LeMahieu? Can't we pay for an
exploratory trip so an esteemed educator - who is willing to share her
wisdom, war stories and vision - can visit you for a nice, long talk?

Or better yet, Dr. LeMahieu: You visit her.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525_8607, via e_mail at, or by fax at 523_7863.

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