Why is this visionary?
Sometimes we tinker with improving education. We tweak a learning strategy or we implement a new behavior management procedure. We see small gains in student learning. Sometimes, not often, we radically alter the landscape of education. Proficiency-based teaching and learning is visionary and landscape altering. How? It answers simple questions that over decades became lost in teaching. It answers: How do we know what students should be learning? How do we know if they learned it? How do we keep everyone learning at their own rate—the students who struggle to learn and the students who learn rapidly? Lastly, the most visionary question of all—what if students who quickly learn the material, instead of waiting for other students to catch up, could just move on to another class?
Traditional Classroom Teaching and Learning
Consider how classroom learning occurs in the current typical classroom. How do we know what students should be learning? The typical classroom learns from a textbook. Students go through the book from the first to the last chapter answering all the questions and doing all the activities. Other ways of determining the knowledge and skills students should learn rarely factor in. How do we know if they learned it? The typical classroom tests at the end of the chapter or unit. Students receive a grade, and the class moves on regardless of student learning. How do we keep everyone learning at their own rate—the students who struggle to learn and the students who learn rapidly? The typical classroom distinguishes between learning rates mostly at the end of the unit by assigning a grade rather than re-teaching during the learning process. What if students who quickly learn the material, instead of waiting for other students to catch up, could just move on to another class? In the typical classroom, students who learn rapidly are given additional work which is called an anchor or enrichment activity because the school structure mandates that all students move to new classes or subjects at exactly the same time. (more…)
Robin Ye is a recent graduate and former Student Body President of the International School of Beaverton. He will be attending the University of Chicago in the fall, where he plans to study Economics and Political Science. As a member of the Oregon Department of Education Youth Advisory Council in 2011-2012, Robin participated in education public policy discussions and discovered his passion for education reform.
“IB For All.” That is the motto at the International School of Beaverton (ISB). The teachers swear to it, parents buy into it; the students live it day in and day out. ISB is a unique school, in theory and in practice. The “I” in ISB comes from its unprecedented goal: to fully immerse every ISB student in the full International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
For five grateful years I attended ISB, graduating this past June with the fruits of my labor: the IB Diploma. Comparable to its American Collegeboard mainstream counterpart – Advanced Placement (AP), the IB Diploma Program is a rigorous, standardized worldwide curriculum offered in more than 140 countries. The IB Program is a balanced and challenging two-year foray into six subject areas – Literature and Language, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Experimental Sciences, Math and Computer Science, the Arts – and three other “core requirements,” otherwise known as the bane of IB kids’ existence. (more…)
Kaitlyn Delaney is Chalkboard Project’s summer intern. She is currently in an elementary education teacher preparation program at Florida State. This is Part 2 in her series of blog posts on Florida’s school grades. Read Part 1 of Kaitlyn’s post here.
Last month I wrote about the school grading system in my home state of Florida and the grades’ unique relationship to standardized testing and school-wide funding. The Florida elementary school grades were just released for the 2011-2012 year, and boy, was there a change in scores. (more…)
Randy Hitz is the Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University.
Educators throughout the nation and state are strengthening the profession by recruiting a more diverse and talented pool of candidates, improving preparation, and improving ongoing support for teaching and learning. We seek a more seamless, efficient and effective system. In this blog post I will specifically address two ways we are improving teacher preparation.
At the heart of preparation are school/university partnerships and, most notably, the student teaching or clinical experience. There are significant national and state efforts devoted to improving clinical experiences for educators, for evaluating performance, and for creating more seamless systems for professional preparation and professional development. The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has an initiative with eight alliance states, including Oregon, to improve the clinical experience. The NCATE standards have recently been adopted by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) and have become increasingly rigorous, especially with regard to expectations related to clinical experiences and school/university partnerships. The creation of a new set of model standards for teachers (InTASC) by the Council of Chief State School Officers is a major step forward and these new model standards have also been adopted by both the Oregon Department of Education and the TSPC. The InTASC standards are aligned with NCATE standards and with the standards of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. As such they form a key leverage point for improving school/university partnerships and the clinical experiences for teacher candidates. (more…)
TIME magazine’s feature story declared, “Not Legal, Not Leaving” after President Obama issued an executive order June 15th, 2012 stating certain undocumented immigrants would no longer be deported. According to reports, this affects over 800,000 public school students in the U.S., although the exact number is unknown and could be much higher. Some undocumented students have uncertain ID making the exact numbers difficult to calculate. The main benefits of the President’s mandate on deferred deportation status surround work provisions as the qualifying undocumented immigrants can now get legal work visas. The effect in education is secondary but profound.
Last year a student in my high school class seemed troubled. Suddenly she started crying and bolted from the room. I followed her into the hall where she simply sat on the floor crying. I asked what was wrong, and she looked up and said, “I want more. I want so much more. I want to go to college.” She then proceeded to tell her story as an undocumented student. She came here from Mexico at the age of six. She attended school in Oregon since first grade. Now a junior, she wanted to go to college, but had little money and did not have a social security number. A sophomore male Hispanic student stood quietly at my desk this year. He didn’t need help with the assignment, however. He wanted bigger help. He quietly said, “I don’t want to be a farmer all my life. Can you help me do something else?” He had been in the U.S. since he was a small child. Another undocumented male student asked why he should try to do well in school because all he would be able to do was work on a farm for cash. He angrily spoke of his frustration with his U.S. status. When one student spoke openly about her undocumented status, I asked if she was sure she wanted to tell people. She replied, “I am so tired of this; I don’t care anymore.” All of these students have been school and community leaders. One of these students won a student of the year award and an outstanding youth community award. Another was a church summer camp leader for elementary children. These students typify many undocumented immigrants. (more…)
Summer is here. That’s when millions of teachers hit the beach! Well, not really. Actually, many of us hit the keyboard or sign up to take classes about technology. I took an iPad class with 31 other teachers last week. As my husband said, “What is so hard about using an iPad that you need to take a class?” We don’t take the class because the tool is hard; we take it because the technology is so easy that we need to learn how to best use the tool in the classroom. It’s too easy to put an iPad in the hands of a kid and let them dink around in the unfocused tech world.
We teachers are scrambling to use time wisely since we have fewer instructional days and more to cover. New technologies are likely to change our teaching emphasis from passively taking in information to actively producing evidence of newfound knowledge. iPads are like covering broccoli with cheese sauce; they are a sneaky way to lure kids into doing what is best for them. The focus of technology in the classroom should be to raise education to a higher intellectual endeavor: that of using knowledge to experiment and create. Creative citizens who can focus on problems and devise ways to solve them are key to our economic health. Using iPads is an itty-bitty step to achieving a broader goal. (more…)
In June I traveled to New York City to attend the 2012 Social Impact Exchange conference, “Taking Successful Innovation to Scale.” Over 400 foundations, philanthropists and philanthropy advisors convened to discuss innovative methods to support scaling and the replication of high-impact nonprofit initiatives. It was a great opportunity for Chalkboard to learn about potentially scaling CLASS further, especially after presenting at the Labor Management Conference where there was significant interest around how to replicate CLASS in other states.
A blog post by Sarika Bansal at Dowser.org highlights key takeaways from the conference, “Scaling Social Impact in Six Steps.”
Read more about the conference on SIE’s blog.
“The undercutting of funding for both K-12 education and OSU was the driving factor in our decision to move, wrenching as it was. We don’t have a control group on this, but it is interesting to think about what might have been had we felt able to stay in the community we loved so much and hated to leave.”
–Jane Acker, resident of Corvallis, 1984-1995
Take a trip in a time machine with me. It’s 1984. Reagan is wrapping up his first term. MTV is three years old (Madonna, Van Halen, Huey Lewis and Billy Joel videos are duking it out at the top of the charts), and Apple’s newest product (launched with the famous Super Bowl ad) was a Macintosh 128K.
My sister-in-law Jane had just moved with her young family to Corvallis, Oregon. Her husband David Acker was pursuing his PhD at OSU, focused on international development and agriculture. With four- and one-year-olds, and a one-quarter-time job between the two, the couple had put a high premium on settling where there were good public schools. (more…)