on education

thoughts from a graduate student at the university of mary washington
Browsing EDCI 506

21st century skills vs. core knowledge. week two.


I’d like to start out this week by saying that this particular sided argument is interesting for me. I don’t view this as a one or the other, all or nothing kind of debate. My own personal approach to teaching is definitely a mix between 21st century skills and core knowledge.

I very much so value inquiry learning, as we learned about in chapter one of Using Inquiry in the Classroom.¬†I definitely feel like this is crucial to the learning process and fits very well with my hybridization of 21st century skills and core knowledge approach to the classroom. I believe that there is a set of information that everyone should know, but beyond that I also believe that students won’t value their education and won’t be present in it if they’re not engaged and it doesn’t apply to them directly. “Inquiry ensures that students are not only memorizing required factual information, but are also applying the facts to the development of meaningful questions and their own understanding” (Coffman, 2013, p. 1). I found the Verbs and Inquiry chart on page 5 to be particularly useful for writing objectives in lesson plans. The verbs you choose really do matter. If you don’t know exactly what you want your students to do, how can they possibly know what’s expected of them? Perhaps I like inquiry learning so much because I actually come from a science background. I spent most of my time in high school and college on the pre-med track, and actually entered college as a human biology major, which I was for 3/4 of my time at Texas. Just a little tidbit, there. Coffman tells us that “the inquiry approach to learning originates in science education, where students create and test a hypothesis…” (Coffman, 2013, p. 1). You stick with what you know, right?

I teach the little ones. Like it or not, there are things they just have to memorize. Like their ABCs. And multiplication tables. The knowledge they will gain as they go throughout their schooling is based on this information readily available in their brains. That being said, there is no way that that’s all an elementary classroom should be. These kids are absolutely digitally entrenched, and it’s foolish not to use new and innovative technologies to engage them in the learning process once that factual information is in place. As much as I love a core knowledge classroom (and I really do, isn’t that weird?), we can’t let the one institution that brings children up to be gainfully employed, productive citizens be irrelevant. As educators, we simply are not doing these kids any justice by holding them in the past just because that’s the way it’s always been. You’ve had those teachers, haven’t you? The ones that teach The Iliad every year because that’s just what you do. I remember in my 9th grade English Honors class, we thought it was just the cat’s pajamas that we got to learn about archetypes by watching the Star Wars movies on grainy VHS tapes!

The rainbow you see on the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website really does a pretty nice job of summing up how I feel about education. You see the core knowledge in there, but it’s infused with all of the other categories. “While the graphic represents each element distinctly for descriptive purposes, the Partnership views all the components as fully interconnected in the process of 21st century teaching and learning” (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2011). For example, it’s quite possible to teach your students how to dissect media while reading newspaper articles from the Civil War era. It’s equally possible to teach them this using photographic images from the same era (they’re media, are they not?). Not only are they learning the facts about the Civil War, they’re learning how people felt about it, the propaganda that surrounded it, and they’re internalizing that it’s important to possess these critical thinking and analytical skills in our own time, for our own media. How many extensions can come of out of that lesson that invite inquiry and experiential learning?! Our own media shapes the way we view the world around us, and as the Partnership points out, we need to teach kids that they are global citizens. How can you be a true global citizen if you only pay attention to Fox News or MSNBC? What about BBC? Al Jazeera? Le Monde? With iPads and COWS in schools, our students have access to all of these news outlets. The world is literally at their fingertips, and what a shame it would be for them to spend their technology time playing typing games or Oregon Trail.

It is as Marvin Gaye said: Mercy, mercy me. Things ain’t what they used to be.

So why keep education the same?


And without the proper tools prevalent in 21st century learning goals, would your students know that this song is actually social, cultural, and ecological commentary? Or would they just jam out to Marvin Gaye? Would they even have an opportunity to hear this song in a core knowledge classroom? Of course not! There’s no time for such ridiculous fluff.

I kind of love this video! Rethinking Learning: The 21st Century Learner








Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom. (2 ed.). New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2011). Framework for 21st century learning. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/overview/skills-framework

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group project reflection. week sixteen.


We’re done!

The culminating project for this course was to design a 21st century school from the ground up. Decide the learning environment, funding, professional development, curriculum, assessment.. you name it. For those on the outside looking in (hi, nameless individuals out there in cyberspace), I should tell you that our class was really small. There were six of us. So, we busted into two groups, and so we had just two different approaches to this project. My group chose to design an elementary school, the other group designed a high school.

There were a few overarching similarities in our presentations. Our groups took the opportunity to move away from teacher-centered, static learning environments. We came up with schools that used progressive ideas like experiential learning and authentic assessment. We all agreed that technology would play a major role in our schools. The world is based on technology, and it’s important for our students to be well-versed in how to use it and apply it to their lives, jobs, and communities. Our ideas on professional development flowed in the same vein as well, but there were some key differences. Our group stressed the importance of ongoing, continuing education for educators, to include seminars, inservice training, and graduate level coursework. The other group really focused on assessment of teachers and how to use that to make them better at their jobs. It’s tough to compare our ideas on curriculum because of the vast difference of our school demographics, but one thing that both of our groups said would be key to a student’s success is project-based learning, specifically within the community.

After watching the other group’s presentation and listening to the input of our professor, I realized that we didn’t think enough about funding our school. And you can’t do much if you don’t have the money, right?! Our supposition was that we wouldn’t need a lot of it because of our innovative ways of using renewable resources to cut down on costs that can normally cripple a school. I suppose that relying on a lot of free money maybe isn’t the best option, though, especially when the population served is pre-k through 5th grade. In order to have the kind of community support our budget was counting on, we’d first need to have the community involvement that would come with our curriculum. Cart before the horse is what happened there, I think.¬†I had a lot of fun watching the other group’s presentation, and it definitely gave me some ideas.

Here’s our presentation:

We did it on a free iPad app, so, excuse the volume issues and the crazy scribbling from my group mate, Cassie. ūüôā

What do you think? Are we crazy? Overall, our goal is community-oriented. We wanted to involve and invest the community in our school, while using it to teach our students about the world in which they’ll be living and participating before they know it. We really took our renewable resources and sustainability seriously; we feel that it’s a key component of twenty-first century living. Our schooling has to mean something and be relevant to our students, or it’s not worth a dime. “Unquestionably, the goals of education must be relevant to the times. If the schools cannot adapt to changing conditions and social forces, how can they expect to produce people who do?‚ÄĚ (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).



Ornstein, A., Levine, D., & Gutek, G. (2011). Foundations of education. (11 ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning


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curriculum and instruction. week thirteen.


This week, we’ve been asked to consider curriculum and instruction and where it’s headed as we step firmly into the twenty-first century. As a general rule, I believe that the first step to a successful curriculum and instruction plan is to keep it local. Let the teachers and schools decide what their students need; let them tailor it to their communities. But how does it work? Let’s take a look.

what do students learn in schools?

Unfortunately, I have to say that most students in school today are learning to take multiple choice tests and pass them. They’re learning testing strategies and copious amounts of boring and irrelevant information that they never apply outside the scope of their high stakes exams. Knowing things is great, but creating things out of that knowledge is even better. I found this video (and the music might put you to sleep – sorry about that) and I think it’s got some good information and ideas in it. Nevermind what students ARE learning, what should they learn? How should they learn? How should our curriculum and instruction methods change to meet their needs?


current trends in curriculum development

As we push toward all of these 21st century goals, I would say that the theme of curriculum reform is moving away from teaching “the 3 Rs” – reading, writing, arithmetic to Robert Sternberg’s “other 3 R’s” — reasoning, resilience, and responsibility. These days, most educators aim to have their curriculum blend critical thinking skills and creativity with core subject content. There is a large push for overall community literacy, which is leading to more problem-based learning and real-world applications. According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, instruction should be research-based, student-centered, and include modern technology (2007). And of course, technology should be integrated across the board.

how teachers plan and deliver instruction

Planning instruction can be overwhelming unless you have a plan. I surfed around online, and I found a website that gives a pretty good one. I found it on About.com. I’ve adapted it here for my blog to fit how I would personally organize my planning, so if you’re curious about all of the steps, you should check out the website listed in the references.

  1. Look over state and local standards, as well as textbooks. Create a plan of study.
  2. Create a lesson plan calendar.
  3. Plan units.
  4. Plan lessons within units.
  5. Create or get whatever you need. Now. Before you forget. Because you will forget. Handouts, paperclips, food dye, whatever it is. Get it and have it.

These steps are courtesy of Melissa Kelly, again, adapted by me.

I also found a great website that talks about delivering instruction — edutopia.org. Earlier this year, they had a 5-part series and part 3 dealt with delivery of instruction. They used a guest blogger – a 4th grade teacher with 36 years experience, Paula Naugle. I feel like maybe we should listen to what she has to say. These are her suggestions:

  • Decide on delivery method (teacher-led, group, etc).
  • Hook your students.
  • Give clear directions.
  • Question, but allow time for them to think. *Randomly select students to answer questions* (I personally don’t always feel like this a great option — it really depends on your classroom climate. It’s okay, Paula, agree to disagree).
  • Pacing! Pace yourself! Don’t talk too fast, and don’t you dare talk too slow.
  • Use formative assessments for evaluation and reflection.

models of direct instruction

Direct Instruction is explicitly teaching your students content and strategies. It was developed by Englemann in the 60s and is widely used and sworn by across the country as a very effective teaching model. The key to direct instruction is scaffolding. There are 5 phases of direct instruction:

  1. Orientation
    This is where the teacher activates a student’s prior knowledge and connects it to the new concept or strategy being taught. The purpose of the lesson is usually very explicitly (yes, explicitly, this word is very important) given to students.
  2. Presentation
    In this phase, the teacher basically models for the students what she wants them to do. A specific, (anyone?) explicit strategy is used in the lesson’s objective.
  3. Structured Practice
    Structured support is given to students — training wheels, if you like. Students are given tools to never crash into the bushes, like graphic organizers or something. This is where the teacher starts to relinquish a little bit and let the students take over learning.
  4. Guided Practice
    This phase involves structured response techniques and moves students toward more independence. You can think of this as the work students do in class with you, the teacher’s, help and guidance.
  5. Independent Practice
    Well, I mean… yeah. So, this is where students work independently with the concept or strategy that’s been introduced to them to make sure they get it. They should be able to apply it to new situations.

This is my one citation for that entire blurb: (Moore). You can find him down below, hanging out in the references. Smart guy.

In Texas, this is how they teach you to teach. All — and I mean every. last. one. — of my lesson plans were written in this style. There’s even somebody who made it up! It’s the Madeline Hunter format. I have it memorized. Wanna see?

  • Objective.
  • Anticipatory Set.
  • Objectives/Standards Addressed.
  • Input/Modeling.
  • Checking for Understanding.
  • Guided Practice.
  • Independent Practice.

You can check out this website¬†if you think I’m fibbing.

models of indirect instruction

Indirect instruction is basically the exact opposite of direct instruction. It uses concepts and abstract ideas taught within the context of strategies that stress concept learning, inquiry, and problem solving. You can almost think of it as assimilation and accommodation in response to a stimulus.

Some examples:

  • Generalization – the student would respond in a similar way to a variety of different stimuli
  • Discrimination – the student would “selectively restrict” information in response to stimuli

More importantly, here are some instructional strategies for indirect instruction courtesy of Pearson (the textbook people):

  • advance organizers – conceptual previews
  • conceptual movement — induction and deduction
  • examples and non examples — basically sorting out relevant information
  • using questions that guide discovery
  • using student ideas
  • self-reflection
  • group discussions

how teachers facilitate thinking and problem-solving skills

According to Robert Keller and Thomas Concannon of UNC-Chapel Hill, there are some things teachers can do to facilitate problem solving. Their argument is that students aren’t good at it because of emotional and psychological factors, so it’s up to the teacher to help them out. “To develop better problem-solvers, instructors must help students overcome both emotional and cognitive barriers to learning effective problem-solving skills” (1998). They bust it up into two main strategies: pedagogical (or teacher-centered) and methodological (student-centered). From a pedagogical standpoint, teachers should create a comfortable learning environment where students don’t feel threatened or afraid to make mistakes. Class discussions should be used and teachers should take care to address several different learning strategies. The methodological strategies are slightly more complex:

  1. algorithmic procedure
    These are limited to low-level tasks and are very specific to a domain. It’s a step-by-step instruction manual for students to solve problems. Think of “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” for math class. That’s an algorithmic problem-solving procedure that teachers use.
  2. heuristic methods
    These are general schemes used to derive solutions to problems. Keller & Concannon use the example of IDEAL (which I’ve actually never heard of, and for the record, I think I’m an okay problem solver. Soo… there.)
  • Identify the problem
  • Define and represent the problem
  • Explore possible solution strategies
  • Act on the strategies
  • Look back and evaluate

They also talk about some Generalization and Group/Independent Practice  methods, too. It sounds remarkably like the direct instruction I talked about above. Anyway, I liked what they had to say.

brainstorming: authentic assessment tools for my general education PK-5 classroom

So, how will I assess whether or not my students are learning anything? Authentic assessment is a great way. (Pssst — that means ¬†asking students to do real-world things that show they can apply what they’ve learned). Here are a few ideas:

  • Create propaganda (perhaps for a World War unit).
  • Studying the contents of a garbage can at school to learn how to reduce waste (science! yay!) and give a presentation to their fellow students on waste reduction.
  • A sorting task for young children that gets them to sort various objects by multiple criteria, making up rules for their categories and then explaining them. Then they could graph and analyze their data.



Madeline hunter’s itip model. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.hope.edu/academic/education/wessman/2block/unit4/hunter2.htm

Dabbs, L. (2012, 01 31). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/new-teacher-delivery-instruction-lisa-dabbs

Keller, R., & Concannon, T. (1998). Teaching problem solving skills. For Your Consideration: Suggestions and Reflections on Teaching and Learning, 20, Retrieved from http://cfe.unc.edu/pdfs/FYC20.pdf

Kelly, M. (n.d.). Planning instruction. Retrieved from http://712educators.about.com/od/techingstrategies/a/planning_task.htm

Moore, D. (n.d.). Direct instruction: targeted strategies for student success. Retrieved from http://www.ngsp.net/Portals/0/Downloads/HBNETDownloads/SEB21_0414A.pdf

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2007). 21st century curriculum and instruction. Retrieved from http://www.vtsbdc.org/assets/files/21st_century_skills_curriculum_and_instruction.pdf

Pearson. (2010). Chapter overview: teaching strategies for indirect instruction. Retrieved from http:wps.prenhall.com/chet_borich_effective_6/48/12538/3209831.cw/-/3209833/index.html



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the changing purposes of american education. week twelve.


A blog that I recently read used this example to illustrate education in the 21st century.

This is a (probably overused) example of a student’s answer on a math exam. While the answer is technically correct, it’s not relevant. And within the context of what’s being asked of them, it’s just plain wrong. The author of the blog, Sam Gliksman, goes on to say that the education we’re giving our students right now is irrelevant. It doesn’t prepare them for the context they’re being raised in and around. He argues that life outside of school is vastly different than what happens on the inside, and “the more that life in, and outside of school, starts diverging, the less relevant institutional education becomes for our students (Gliksman, 2011). He gives some really interesting statistics on the use of technology in the world today — for example, 85% of children aged 7 to 16 have a cell phone, but only 72% of children in that same age group have a book at home. Most of our students have instant access to up-to-the-minute information, and we’re teaching them with 5 or even 10 year old textbooks. That doesn’t entirely seem logical or relevant to me, a lot like circling “X” on a math exam asking you to give a mathematical analysis. Mr. Gliksman also points out a valid criticism of the way in which schools are using technology. A lot of schools now have white boards (or smart boards) in their libraries or classrooms. However, teachers are still approaching their classrooms and lessons the same way despite this awesome technology. They’re standing in the front of the room, magic pen in hand, and lecturing to their classes. Who cares if you have technology if you’re still standing up there, blabbing at your students and not engaging them, right? RIGHT!

The world we live in today demands that we change the way we think about teaching our students. The transition from school to the real world should be seamless. We need to incorporate social media, web 2.0, and the technologies that our students have access to on a daily basis into our curriculum. Beyond that, we need to change the way that teaching happens inside the classroom. No more talking at our students, imparting static information. Students have to take charge of their education and build their own knowledge. Make their own experiments. Solve real-world problems. We can’t expect them to be an engaged and active citizenry if we don’t teach them how to do it. “Unquestionably, the goals of education must be relevant to the times. If the schools cannot adapt to the changing conditions and social forces, how can they expect to produce people who do? (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.429). Part and parcel of reforming the way we educate is involving the community and parents in education. The saying that it takes a village has truth in it. It only works – really works – if everyone takes action together. “Many people throughout society refuse to admit their own responsibility for helping children develop and learn…Without significant cooperation from parents and community members, schools are likely to struggle, and reform efforts are ¬†likely to be frustrated. (Ornstein, et al., 2011, p. 429).


This video is quick, but what I love about it is how the students interviewed are excited about going to this teacher’s class because of the way that he approaches education. And they’re only referring to one tool in his class — YouTube. Notice how he also says he’s able to move around his classroom more. He’s not just standing up there, watching them watch YouTube. I love it!



YES! Look at what happens when students take charge of their learning!



Gliksman, S. (2011, 02 04). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://ipadeducators.ning.com/profiles/blogs/are-schools-struggling-to

Ornstein, A., Levine, D., & Gutek, G. (2011). Foundations of education. (11 ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning


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EEO. week eleven.


As we inch closer to being thrust into our own classrooms, there is much for us to consider and prepare for. Far beyond what color paper we’ll use on our bulletin boards or what the class theme will be, there are pressing issues that we, as educators, need to have a plan for. Because of budget cuts, schools are moving away from separate classes for gifted students. That means they’re in a general ed classroom. Because we want students to be in the least restrictive environment, students with disabilities are being mainstreamed into general education classrooms. Add everyone together, and what do you get? The reality for a teacher in the 21st century – an inclusion room with as many types of learners as there are students in your class.

We will be faced with a conglomeration of learning styles and abilities and it will be up to us to decide how best to approach our students’ needs. That’s why we’re here, right? So, let’s get crackin’.


curriculum and instruction for gifted students

According to Joyce VanTassel-Baska, founder of the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary, there have historically been 3 effective models for gifted and talented curriculum and instruction: the content mastery model, the process/product research model, and the epistemological model.

In the content model, “gifted students are encouraged to move as rapidly through the content area and possible and thus content acceleration in some mode tends to dominate the application of this model in practice” (VanTassel-Baska, 1986). This particular method isn’t widely used because it requires individualization for each student and a very competent teacher implementing the curriculum. The students are pre-tested and then given materials to master the content. Teachers don’t tend to like using this model because it uses the same curriculum, but accelerates the rate at which students learn.

The process/product model “places heavy emphasis on learning investigatory skills, both scientific and social, that allow students to develop a high quality product” (VanTassel-Baska, 1986). The key to this particular model is a very collaborative set-up, with the teacher and the student being more like a team. It uses a lot of independent work, specifically with the scientific method, in exploring topics. The end goal of the process/product model is to engage students in finding problems and then solving them with adult experts in the area. Summer enrichment activities are common, where students participate with adult practitioners in coming up with a research topic and then seeing that experimental process through. “The process/product model for curriculum and instruction of the gifted differs from the content mastery model in that content is viewed as less important and rarely acts as the organizer for this type of curriculum” (VanTassel-Baska, 1986).

The epistemological model “…reflects a concern for exposing students to key ideas, themes, and principles within and across domains of knowledge so that schemata are internalized for amplification by new examples in the future” (VanTassel-Baska, 1986). It seems that this is by far the most effective model for curriculum and instruction for gifted students. Because they tend to be very good at seeing and understanding interrelationships, the conceptual nature of this model sits well with them. It’s a very enrichment-heavy model and typically exposes students to many things that don’t exist is normal curriculum. It involves a strong aesthetic appreciation, which we heard about in our in-class video this last week. Unlike the previous two models, this one seems to be used across the board in both elementary and secondary schools. I like this one the best, though VanTassel-Baska suggests that the three models need to be synthesized for “clear and meaningful curriculum work” (1986).


students with disabilities

The Educational Policy Reform Research Institute at the University of Maryland came out with a report in 2003 on how to prepare educators to teach students with disabilities in an age of accountability and and standards-based reform. I have to say, the list I came up with as I was preparing this blog was not nearly as long as their list is! To be honest, I’m a bit nervous about it. There is so much that I don’t know about disabilities. I rely heavily, actually, on my best friend for information in this arena. She’s been teaching special ed since we graduated from college (and has a degree in Applied Learning and Development, aka Special Education) and always provides me with so much insight. I feel like this is one of the things that’s key in preparing to teach students with disabilities. Latch on to somebody who really knows what they’re doing and exhaust their knowledge base. Rule number one. Number two on my list is becoming well versed in the laws dealing with this subject. Number three for me is to make sure your classroom environment will support learning for all students, especially those with disabilities.

The Educational Policy Reform Research Institute’s report can be found here, and the list of things teachers should know/do to prepare for students with disabilities can be found on page 19. In-depth explanations follow. PS – it’s a doozie, like 75 pages. Sorry about that.


professional collaboration and the inclusive classroom

In the report Collaboration: A Must for Teachers in Inclusive Educational Settings, author Hwa Lee says, “Through collaboration, ideas can be shared, new and better strategies can be developed, problems can be solved, students’ progress can be better monitored, and their outcomes are evaluated effectively. True collaboration will enhance an effective inclusive education and will be beneficial for all the individuals involved in the child’s education, including parents.”

I actually can’t think of a better way to say that, so, there you have it. I completely agree. Don’t worry – Dr. Lee is legit — (s)he is a professor of education at Seton Hall. (Dr. Lee, if you’re out there, it drives me a little nuts that you don’t date your articles or reports. Just FYI.)


resources for effective, inclusive teaching 

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. God bless the British. They’ve got a really great website for parents, teachers, anyone really, working with inclusion classrooms. It actually links to a variety of resources, all of them FREE!

More? Okay.

  • http://aasep.org/professional-resources/profession-specific-resources/inclusion-teachers/index.html
  • http://www.teachervision.fen.com/special-education/resource/5346.html
  • http://nichcy.org/schoolage/placement/inclusion
  • http://www.people.vcu.edu/~bhammel/special/intro/inclusion.htm
  • This article is actually really great for ideas on managing an inclusive classroom. It directly addresses that Sweet Jesus, you want me to do what? kind of attitude that a lot of teachers have about inclusive classrooms and turns fear into F.E.A.R. (You’ll like it. I promise.)





This video deals with inclusion of kids with disabilities.



This one deals with gifted students in a general ed classroom! I think there are videos that follow it, this is just the intro to get you started.



Lee, H. (n.d.). Collaboration: A must for teachers in inclusive educational settings. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/infoBriefs_local/shure/collaboration.pdf

Thompson, S., Lazarus, S., & Thurlow, M. (2003). Preparing educators to teach students with disabilities in an era of standards-based reform and accountability . Educational Policy Reform research Institute, Retrieved from http://www.cehd.umn.edu/NCEO/onlinepubs/eprri/EPRRITR5.pdf

VanTassel-Baska, J. (1986). Effective curriculum and instruction models for talented students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 30(4), 164-169. Retrieved from http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/7158_tassel_ch_1.pdf


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class time and student achievement. week ten.




A newscast about year-round school offered at one elementary school in Ralston Public Schools, located near Omaha, Nebraska. Parents, teachers, and students all seem to be on board with year-round school. But does it work?  Are there other options?


“Several national reports, including A Nation at Risk and Prisoners of Time, have recommended providing more time for teaching and learning. Possible approaches include extending the school year, lengthening the school day, or offering after school and summer learning programs” (Orenstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011, p. 520).¬†Below, I’d like to go over some options in this vein for extending class time and what research has shown.

The standard school calendar is 180 days. There are 365 days in a year, which leaves students with 185 days that they aren’t learning. Accounting for random student holidays and weekends, there is still a 3-month gap with no instruction whatsoever. This time is critical, especially for at-risk students. In his article, Why and How Communities Should Focus on Summer Learning, Ron Fairchild explores the origins of the school calendar. While it is a common understanding that our calendar is based entirely around an old, agrarian society and calendar, Fairchild argues that our 180-day, summers-off calendar actually stems from schools catering to wealthy families that would frequently flee large cities during the summer months. This was due to “heat, threat of communicable diseases, and poor municipal sanitation during the early 1900s…” (Fairchild, 2011). His main point is that since times have changed, so, too, should the school calendar.

Even though there are numerous studies indicating that this huge gap in instruction time is bad for students, especially at-risk, working-class students, there has been much resistance to changing this calendar. Fairchild argues that this is because of substantial business interests in keeping summers learning-free. For example, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions supports lobbying efforts to keep the school calendar the same (Fairchild, 2011). Do you really want our students’ learning time being dictated by Six Flags?! Here’s the scary part: “In the past decade, it has been successful in restricting the official start date of the school year to September in over a dozen states. The association also funds The Coalition for the Traditional School Calendar, which fosters grassroots opposition…by middle and upper-income families…” (Fairchild, 2011). Are you kidding me?! I had no idea! Did you?!

Ultimately, Fairchild goes on to say that even though there are a few driving forces behind this aversion to changing the school calendar, cost is ultimately the most important. He gives facts and figures for students in Boston, stating that adding just 30 days to the school calendar would cost taxpayers an additional 155 million dollars (Fairchild, 2011).

But, this is the evidence: most students suffer some loss during the summer, but low-income students suffer the worst. On average, they lose over 2 months of reading achievement each summer! Middle-income students are more likely to actually make gains, making the disparity even worse when school finally starts up again. “All students, regardless of family economics, lost roughly equal amounts of math skills over the summer…” (Fairchild, 2011). So, what’s his solution? If it isn’t financially feasible to extend the school calendar, how do we fix this serious issue?

Summer school!

The results of the Teach Baltimore study, a 3 year study of summer school effects, found that “when such summer learning programs are begun early, before disadvantaged students have had the opportunity to fall so far behind, they can help prevent the anticipated growth in the achievement gap attributable to summer” (Fairchild, 2011). Fairchild also points out that many major cities and schools are actually partnering with non-governmental and public entities for enrichment and summer activities, such as universities and other community-based organizations. On average, programs like this that have been put in place cost significantly less than adding 30 days to the traditional, instructional calendar. The cost per pupil in that Boston figure was almost $2,800. These enrichment programs cost between $1,000 and $2,000 per pupil. They involve the public-private partnerships that I previously blogged about here.

Ultimately, Fairchild’s point is that in order to address the major educational inequity in US public schools, we need to re-think what we do with our summers and how we specifically involve low-SES students so that they gain, and not lose, critical achievement and knowledge.

The next bit of research I’d like to present you with focuses not on summer learning, but extending the school day with after-school programs. Researchers Ken Springer and Deborah Diffily studied 719 2nd through 8th grade members of the Boys and Girls Club in the greater Dallas, Texas area from 2009-2010. In their report, The Relationship Between Intensity and Breadth of After-School Program Participation and Academic Achievement, they found that participating in such programs positively affected GPA, especially for elementary students. However, they found that student achievement is only positively affected when students are very involved in such programs (Springer & Diffily, 2012).

In other words, students only demonstrated substantial gains when they not only went to the program multiple times a week, but spend a good deal of time each day in the program. In the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas, students are expected to complete any homework (which the club provides aids and tutors for) before they are allowed to engage in other provided activities, like sports or character building (Springer & Diffily, 2012). “Consistent monitoring and support of homework activities and the completion of homework in a group setting are the mechanisms that may link club participation to academic benefits, over and above any benefits conferred by participation in specific, academically-oriented programs (Springer & Diffily, 2012).

We’ve looked at both summer and after school programs. Which do you think is better? Or, do you think it would still be better to find money to extend the school year like the school seen in the video? Do you agree with the current 180-day school calendar?




Fairchild, R. (2011). Why and how communities should focus on summer learning. National Civic Review,100(4), 13-20.   doi: 10.1002/ncr.20079

Ornstein, A., Levine, D., & Gutek, G. (2011). Foundations of education. (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Springer, K., & Diffily, D. (2012). The relationship between intensity and breadth of after-school program participation and academic achievement: Evidence from a short-term longitudinal study. Journal of Community Psychology, 40(7), 785-798. doi: 10.1002/jcop.21478


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cross-cultural education. week nine.


This week, we have been asked to look at the differences between cultures and how it will affect our classrooms. The cultural patterns and values of Asian Americans is of special importance. Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, the Asian population in the United States grew 46% (United States Census Bureau, 2011). As of the 2010 census, 17.3 million people identified themselves as Asian (United States Census Bureau, 2011). This means a growing number of students in our classrooms will come from this ethnic makeup, and it is important for us as educators to know their cultural backgrounds so that we can be more effective.

cultural patterns of asian americans

It is important to note that “Asian American” actually encompasses many different people that share similar cultural traits. The ethnic group of Asian includes Cambodians, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Mien, and Vietnamese peoples (Uba, 1994, p. 1). While some of the overarching cultural traits are the same for these groups, they also have their own nuances that make each subset of Asian Americans unique. Some of the broad brushstrokes we can apply to this ethnic subset of the population are as follows:

  • They typically do not show intense emotion. In fact, such a display is seen as as a “loss of face” (Elliott, 2010).
  • Social status is important, and one’s place in the caste should always be known. Direct eye contact, especially with people of a higher station or in an authority position, is avoided (Elliott, 2010).
  • They are group-oriented, placing less emphasis on the individual and more on the collective. Identity and status are intimately tied to the status of the family throughout life (Elliott, 2010).
  • They tend to take the long view of things, and are much better at being patient than their Anglo-American counterparts (Elliott, 2010).
  • They are not blunt, to-the-point people. Rather, they tend to talk in circles and may seem evasive when they answer questions (Elliott, 2010).

the impact of gender roles on teaching and learning

According to an article in the Journal of School Psychology, girls are more prone than boys to display learned helplessness, or attributing a failure to a lack of ability and giving up easily on the task (Meece, Glienke, & Burg, 2006). Girls tend to see themselves as excelling in the arts and language, whereas boys see themselves stronger in science and mathematics.

There has been much research on the achievement expectations of girls vs. boys in the classroom. Studies have shown that teachers tend to give much more time to boys than to girls for any kind of feedback, positive or negative, and also for providing time to reach content mastery (Meece, et al., 2006).

Girls tend to view their achievement in terms of effort, and not ability, whereas boys link their achievement to ability. Boys also tend to engage more with their teachers, providing for more interaction. “Whether or not these teacher-student interactions reflect teacher responsivity, the patterns serve to reinforce gender role stereotypes of male authority and competence” (Meece, et al., 2006). This shows that teachers, whether on purpose or not, give more opportunities to the boys in their class than the girls. Add to that the research that shows that girls have a higher rate of learned helplessness, and it shapes up to look like being female puts students at a disadvantage in the classroom.

the role of educational technologies

In our push for 21st century learning, we are often asking our students to become more autonomous, experiential learners. The educator’s job is to set up the learning process, letting the students discover on their own. This usually includes some kind of educational technology, whether it be projectors, computers, or Web 2.0 tools. In our culture, this is what we value. It would be pertinent, though, to understand the cultural value of technology in the classroom for differing cultures (in this instance, Asian). “In some cultures, students are not encouraged to be independent learners, but are expected to honor their teachers and be guided by them in all their learning” (Williams & Rogers, 2009). The attitude with which our students approach educational technology greatly shapes the results that we see in the classroom.

how i will come to know my students

At the beginning of the year (and also as I get new students), I like to start with an All About Me segment. We make posters with pictures about ourselves, including some of our favorite things, places we’ve been, books, poems, and more. I like to spend time getting to know where each of my students is from, and what their cultural heritage is. I like to have “bring a favorite family recipe” day in class, during which students often get to experience multiple cultures through food. In the younger grades, I think that “show & tell” is a fantastic way to get to know a student’s likes, hobbies, and heritage.

As we go along in the year, I learn more about how they learn and how they approach education, which helps me to tailor the way I approach teaching them.

how will the differences between anglo-european americans and asian american students affect teaching and relationships with students and parents? 

The way that these two cultures mesh will be very interesting in a classroom setting. Anglo-European Americans tend to differ greatly from Asian Americans in many regards, making the relationships I make with parents and students different between the two groups. It’s important to always keep them in mind so as not to offend. Some of the major differences are:

  • Anglo-Europeans tend to speak directly and in a linear pattern, often being very frank and to the point. Asian Americans will often use metaphor, allusion, or other rhetorical patterns that walk around the point instead of heading straight to it (Elliott, 2010).
  • Anglo-Europeans tend to see the identity as unique and dealing with one individual. It is not connected to a collective, be it an ethnic group or family, as it often is with Asian Americans. Anglo-European children are raised to be self-sufficient, whereas Asian children lean on family and have their identities intimately tied to those family groups (Elliott, 2010).
  • Many Anglo-Europeans view time as a linear idea, and you can never get back what you’ve lost. They’re obsessed with the idea of wasting time and saving time, and because of this try to do things as efficiently and quickly as possible. This is in stark contrast to Asians, who see time cyclically and tend to take their time with things (Elliott, 2010).
  • Anglo-Europeans tend to look people in the eye, especially if they’re being spoken to. Speakers are also expected to look people in the eye as a sign of honesty and sincerity. Asians see looking somebody like a teacher in the eye as a sign of disrespect (Elliott, 2010).

These major points mean that I have to approach my students and their parents in very different ways in terms of instruction, communication, and assessment. For example, I can’t assume that one of my Asian students is lying to me about completing a homework assignment because (s)he refuses to look at me and explain the situation. Because I come from an Anglo-European background, these cultural norms are imbedded in me; I don’t even think about them. However, to be successful, I need to be very mindful of other cultures present in my classroom, and how they compare with my own.

I found this video on the Teaching Tolerance website. In it, a 3rd grade teacher discusses some of the stereotypes placed on Asian students in the classroom.



Elliott, C. (2010). Communication patterns and assumptions of differing cultural groups in the united states . Retrieved from http://www.awesomelibrary.org/multiculturaltoolkit-patterns.html

Meece, J. L., Glienke, B. B., & Burg, S. (2006). Gender and motivation. Journal of School Psychology,44, 351-373. Retrieved from http://clint.sharedwing.net/research/equity/gendermotivation.pdf

Uba, L. (1994). Asian americans: personality patterns, identity, and mental health. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=1ZV1zIFxadIC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=cultural patterns of asian americans&ots=K_ir0vbc6Q&sig=FFDBvISHhrJ02BGJUsHM331hmOA

United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb11-ff06.html

Williams, D. D. & Rogers, P. C. (2009). Educational Technologies and Cultural Dimensions. In M. K. Barbour & M. Orey (Eds.), The Foundations of Instructional Technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/itFoundations/

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recent issue in education: affirmative action. week seven.


In 2002, I began my collegiate career at The University of Texas at Austin. Those four years were some of the best of my life. The education I received was stellar. But I didn’t want to be there. Not really. I had my heart set on the University of Notre Dame. I spent my high school years slaving away in AP and IB courses, loading up on extracurriculars. I did everything in my power to make sure I got in. One day, in my English IV AP class, a girl overheard me talking about how I’d just sent in my application and I couldn’t wait to hear back. She asked me a little about Notre Dame, and then she said, “Hm. Maybe I’ll apply there, too.” Long story short, she got in. I didn’t. Her family had recently come from Puerto Rico. Nobody had been to college in her family. She didn’t do anything after school. Her GPA wasn’t as high as mine. But she got in. I didn’t. I didn’t understand. I didn’t blame her at all. I blamed the way schools decide who gets in and who doesn’t. I applied to the University of Texas “just in case” ¬†— Texas has a law that says that if you’re in the top 10% of your graduating class in the state, you get in to any state university (as long as you apply), period. So, I got in to the University of Texas not by someone holistically reviewing my application and deciding I would be a good fit, but simply because my high school GPA was high enough. I bet they didn’t even look at my file. Regardless, I’m proud to have gotten my education there. I’m proud of the things the university is doing and has yet to do. It was recently named one of the top 25 universities in the world. People pay attention to this place.

Enter this week’s blog subject, which centers around… dundundun… The University of Texas.

The University has long been in the national spotlight when it comes to race and college admissions. In 1946, Heman Sweatt applied to the law school at UT. They didn’t want to let him in because he was black, so they formed a new law school just for negroes out in Houston. Mr. Sweatt took his grievance all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1950 the high court heard arguments in Sweatt v. Painter. ¬†The issue at hand was whether or not Texas violated the 14th amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. In other words, was the “separate but equal” ¬†outcome of Plessy v. Ferguson acceptable? The court decided that it wasn’t, and required Mr. Sweatt to be admitted to the University law school because the school made for Negroes would have been grossly inadequate and decidedly unequal. The decision of the Sweatt case paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education just four years later, which effectively ended segregation of public schools. While the facilities of white and black public schools seemed to be equal, the Supreme Court decided that there were too many intangible factors that made educating whites and blacks separately inherently unequal.

The 1996 Hopwood decision came out of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Cheryl Hopwood was a white student that was rejected from the UT law school in 1992. Hopwood v. Texas¬†centered around the issue of the law school’s admission process placing a greater value on black and Mexican students to round out the racial make-up of the student body to the detriment of whites and non-preferred minorities. The court ruled that the school was, in fact, violating the 14th amendment by significantly lowering the standards for blacks and Mexicans, while raising the standards for white applicants, making it much harder to get in. It was racial discrimination, and the court disallowed it.

The case of Grutter v. Bollinger was very similar in nature, but this one made it all the way to the Supreme Court in 2003. A white female law school applicant to the University of Michigan, Barbara Grutter, looked great on paper (hey, that sounds familiar!). She didn’t get in. Once again, the issue at hand is whether or not the school violated the 14th amendment by allowing race to be a factor in admissions, thereby giving precedence to minority applicants in order to culturally diversify the student body. The Supreme Court found that UM did not violate the 14th amendment, thereby repealing the decision in Hopwood v. Texas. Justice O’Connor wrote that the admissions policies did not violate the amendment, and instead provided great benefit from a diverse student body. Affirmative action stands.

And now, the University of Texas is in front of the Supreme Court again. Just this last week, Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin was argued. The gist: Is affirmative action allowed? Can colleges use race at all for deciding admission? If there’s a dead heat between a white woman and a black woman, who will get in? Why would the Court agree to hear something it had already ruled on? Every indication is that they will change their previous ruling. If affirmative action is ruled unconstitutional, will it affect our students?

I think it will. I think that the elementary and secondary teachers and schools will have to work even harder against the long list of factors keeping minority students from being successful on a large scale once they leave our classrooms. I see the ramifications and ripples of taking this out from under minority students. How can I stand in front of 25 wide-eyed students, telling them they can be whatever they want to be and do whatever they want to do, when there are so many inequities holding some of them back? This is where I think educational reform will be key: without this crutch — because it is one — giving a boost to many minority students seeking admission to universities across the country, how will they stay competitive? Here’s what I think: we elongate the school day. While we’re at it, let’s make school a year-round venture. Add after school programs and tutoring. And we need to seriously re-vamp standardized tests, which have been proven to favor students culturally and leave newcomers and minorities in the dust (Woestenhoff, 2011). A mentor once told me that fair is not giving everyone the same thing, but giving everyone exactly what they need to succeed.

What do you think? Is affirmative action fair? Is it constitutional? Do you see ramifications for K-12 teachers coming out of the Fisher decision?

I look at this a far different way as an educator than I did as a disheartened, disgruntled, rejected 18 year old student forced to go to a second-choice school because of affirmative action. (For the record: the Puerto Rican girl that beat me to Notre Dame? She’s also studying for her Masters in Education. She teaches in inner city New York, and continually blows my mind with her insight and thoughtfulness. I wonder if this would be the case, had race not been a contributing factor in her application to Notre Dame that got her started down this path. I’m glad it was).¬†

In chapter 7 of Foundations of Education, it is explained why federal courts can sometimes contradict each other, as was the case with Hopwood and Grutter. “Decisions of a court below the U.S. Supreme Court have force only in the geographic area served by that particular court. For this reason, it is possible to find conflicting rulings in different circuits (Ornstein, 2011, p. 260). ¬†Also in chapter 7, the authors point out that most federal cases involving education have to do with the first and fourteenth amendments (Ornstein, 2011). All of the cases I mentioned in this post relate to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.



Liptak, A. (2012, 10 10). Justices weigh race as factor at universities. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/11/us/a-changed-court-revisits-affirmative-action-in-college-admissions.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&ref=education

Ornstein, A., Levine, D., & Gutek, G. (2011). Foundations of education. (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

The Oyez Project. http://www.oyez.org/

Woestenhoff, J. (2011).¬†What’s wrong with standardized tests?. Retrieved from http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/whats-wrong-with-standardized-tests/


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(the trouble with) financing public education. week six.


Because of the economic crisis, there has been much worry about financing public education in recent years. With the collapsing economy, many school districts have found themselves trying to serve more and more students with less and less money. The recession has triggered large state revenue shortfalls, and states finance almost half of public education costs (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011). Because of this, educators everywhere are being held accountable for the money that they spend.

According to the Federal Education Budget Project, the national average in 2009 for per-pupil spending was $10,591.¬†Virginia’s per-pupil spending in the same school year came in slightly higher, at $10,928.¬†The primary sources of financing for public schools are local, state, and federal dollars. ¬†Primarily, this money comes to school districts via local property taxes. Eleven states use this tax exclusively to bring in revenue for schools (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 237). At the state level, two major sources of funding are sales taxes and personal income taxes. Half of the states and Washington, D.C. then use the money collected in a foundation plan, which guarantees a minimum annual expenditure per student by the state. While the most common practice, it is not entirely equitable, as it leaves poor schools suffering and wealthy ones better off (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011). The federal funding states receive is a much smaller number, and has shifted away from block grants to categorial grants made to schools. For example, for fiscal year 2009 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, the federal contribution was only 4% of the budget, at $11,575,000, or just under $500 per student (National Center for Education Statistics). Many say that this simply isn’t enough to keep up with the financial demands of No Child Left Behind, especially in a worsening economy when budgets are shrinking.

State spending figures vary across the country. For example, the per-pupil expenditure rate for Utah was $6,612 in 2009. In the same year, Massachusetts spent $14,540 per student (Federal Education Budget Project). To make sense of these numbers, one has to consider an array of variables, such as cost of living, overall population, wealth, poverty, property values, and whether or not states levy income taxes and what their state sales tax rate is, if they have one. It’s easy enough to deduce, though, that more money spent generally leads to higher achievement levels in the student population.

School districts are starting to get creative with how they use their budgets. An up-and-coming trend that I caught wind of recently seems sound. It’s called public-private partnerships. Basically, it’s for capital projects and infrastructure spending, and it allows the school districts to go to the open market and seek out a private firm to hire. Having capital projects on the open market drives costs way down because of competing businesses, and also allows projects to be completed in a timely manner because there is virtually no red tape to cut through. They also allow investment in the right places at the right time by prioritizing projects (Kenny & Gilroy, 2012). If a contract is worked right, schools can also negotiate in maintenance costs being picked up by the private firm for the length of their contract. Now that’s savvy budgeting!

Despite creative ways to save and spend money, school districts are hurting. In Virginia, there were 2,211 schools as of 2011 (National Center for Education Statistics). How do we make sure that the funding provided to them is equitable? The current model isn’t working. In 2009, Caroline County, Virginia, spent $10,971 per student. Compare that with Arlington County, where in 2009 per-pupil spending was $21,656 (National Center for Education Statistics). Because a majority of the revenue afforded to school districts is from local taxes, it will always remain inequitable unless we change that model. My thought is to significantly lower local property taxes, if not abolish them all together. Instead, collect a state property tax and have the state then disburse that money equally to all 2,211 schools, in addition to the dollars brought in by state sales and income taxes. Hopefully, this would give wealthy districts a little less and poorer districts a little more to work with. With that money, more districts could afford to update their buildings, books, and classroom resources.

Our students deserve a system that looks a lot better than this:




Federal Education Budget Project. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://febp.newamerica.net/k12/VA

Kenny, H., & Gilroy, L. (2012, 09 28). 21st century schools require 21st century finance. Retrieved from http://reason.org/news/show/21st-century-schools-require-21st-c

National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/districtsearch/

Ornstein, A., Levine, D., & Gutek, G. (2011). Foundations of education. (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


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IDEA, NCLB, & me. week five.


I’d like to start off with IDEA, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
This came about in Congress in 1975, and its aim was to extend free and appropriate education to students with disabilities. This particular law matters very much to me, not only as an educator, but as a mother. My son was diagnosed with autism at an early age. He was also diagnosed with developmental aphasia (mixed expressive/receptive language disorder), and sensory disturbance. He also has a severe speech delay. He’s 4. He is enrolled in our school system’s early childhood special education preschool program. It has helped him so much, though he has been cut out of services he needs because of technicalities and just-high-enough test scores. Right out of the gate, I’m already all too familiar with this law and what it does for families and learning disabled children. I think it puts me in a good place, though, to know exactly how it will affect my classroom.

I don’t need research to tell me that this will be tricky. No doubt I will have a handful (or more) of kids on IEPs in my classroom for various learning disabilities. Not only will I need to take into account all of the mainstream, general education students and their learning styles, but I will also need to incorporate the needs of several different children into my lessons and assessments. I know what I expect from my son’s teacher to help him succeed; I need be prepared to have several sets of parents holding me to high expectations for their kids, too. Meeting the needs of an LD student requires much forethought, coordination, and planning. Ideally, the parents would be involved. As a new teacher, I would hope to have a mentor teacher helping me through the process, as well as an administrator to answer my questions when I’m not sure how to do something. I am shameless, and I’m not afraid to scream for help when I feel like I’m in over my head. And multiple children with learning disabilities would almost undoubtedly leave me up to my eyeballs in papers and planning in my first year.

NCLB, or No Child Left Behind, was approved in 2001 under President Bush. Its goal is to raise performance of low-achieving schools through standards and assessments. The 2001-2002 school year was my last year of high school. Even at that early stage, my teachers were groaning about what this would mean for education in our country. A decade later, I can’t say that I disagree with their assessment. While I think that the overarching goals are well-intentioned, I feel like the law itself is completely misguided. Increasingly, states are seeking and winning waivers to NCLB because their schools simply cannot meet its requirements by the 2014 deadline to avoid punitive sanctions. “If, after several years, a school still fails to meet yearly progress goals, its students are eligible to transfer to another public school in the district. Still further failure to make adequate progress subjects schools to ‘corrective action’ or ‘restructuring,’ which includes replacing all or part of the faculty and administration, conversion to charter-school status, or takeover by an outside organization…” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 384) According to a Huffington Post article (Resmovits, 2012), 32 states and the District of Columbia now have waivers for NCLB, citing the goals it set as completely unattainable. With that kind of outcome sure to hit most school districts, it’s no wonder that over half of our nation is seeking relief from such a draconian law.

Hanging a teacher’s livelihood on the results of one test hardly seems fair or reasonable. Furthermore, it is equally shameful to sum an entire school year up in one test to determine whether or not a student’s achievement is acceptable. To add insult to injury, the federally mandated law isn’t funded with very many federal dollars. Having little money makes it pretty hard to meet lofty goals when you’re talking in terms of millions of children.

In the video case we watched for this week, the educators and administrators expressed the view that a child’s progress should not be based on one drop in the bucket; it’s impossible to gauge a child’s performance by one test and not a cumulative picture. Likewise, they expressed the opinion that teachers and schools should not be judged on one test, either. It can sometimes be difficult to get those high proficiency numbers because a child could be having an off day, or going through a personal trial or trauma. They tend to view the results of this one examination as a bit arbitrary, because despite them not being labeled as proficient, they may have made solid gains over the course of the year.

Here’s a news clip I found regarding No Child Left Behind in Florida and the waiver the state received. Pay special attention to the parent that’s interviewed — I feel like this opinion is part of the reason we’ve moved from a norm-referenced assessment system into high stakes testing in the first place.

This video is a fantastic history of IDEA, and what it means, exactly, and how it has evolved through the years. It also gives you a look at where we were before its inception. It’s about 9 minutes long, but it is so worth it.




Ornstein, A., Levine, D., & Gutek, G. (2011). Foundations of education. (11 ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Resmovits, J. (2012, 07 19). No child left behind waivers granted to 33 u.s. states, some with strings attached. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/19/no-child-left-behind-waiver_n_1684504.html

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