Although I understand that many elementary schools are moving to ability-based classrooms in the belief that they will do a better job of teaching what students are expected to know and do under the Common Core State Standards, I still think they are a big mistake.
Teaching to the presumed level of a whole class never works as well as hoped because students still have significant differences in work habits, paces of learning, and outside of school experiences. But there is another, more serious problem: the effects on students in the low level classes.
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Recently she linked to at study by Net Impact that surveyed currently-enrolled college students and college-graduates across three generations Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers. The questions focused on life goals and work priorities. They found significant differences between students and college grads, as well as interesting generational differences.
image via flickr:CC | topshampatti
Motivation—there are two kinds: intrinsic, which involves doing something because we want to do it, and extrinsic, which is doing something because we have to do it. A negative relationship exists between the two. Extrinsic motivation undermines intrinsic motivation. Students won’t be attending class because they want to if attending class is required. As a result of this negative relationship, students don’t have much intrinsic motivation because it’s been beaten out of them by most extrinsic educational experiences. And that’s a nutshell version of how most teachers understand motivation.
Using a data set with about 900 high school valedictorians, she asked whether students applied to highly selective colleges, if they got in, and whether they matriculated.
She found a stark class difference on all these variables, especially between high socioeconomic status (SES) students and everyone else. Over three-quarters of high SES valedictorians (79%) applied to at least one highly selective college. In contrast, only 59% of middle SES and 50% of low SES valedictorians did the same. Admission and matriculation rates followed suit.
Deeper Learning represents the evolution of a conversation that has gone on for some time now. The primary thrust of that conversation is that the pre-eminent challenge facing our schools is not one of student achievement on standardized assessments but rather a fundamental misalignment between school and the realities of our modern economic and civic life. Deeper Learning represents an attempt to better align the experiences that students have in school with the demands that will be made of them by the world.
What is the most important problem facing American children today? According to the Academic Pediatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is the effects of poverty on the health and well being of young people.
The role of poverty on student achievement has been one of the flashpoints between supporters and critics of modern school reform. Supporters insist that citing poverty as a reason for lack of student achievement is “an excuse” made by people who want to support the status quo. Critics of reform say that the major reform efforts ignore the effects that living in poverty have on children and their ability to do schoolwork and perform on standardized tests.
Kids who were better at reading and math at age seven ended up in a higher socioeconomic class age 42, regardless of what other advantages they had.
Most teachers think that students today have a problem paying attention. They seem impatient, easily bored. I’ve argued that I think it’s unlikely that they are incapable of paying attention, but rather that they are quick to deem things not worth the effort.
image via flickr:CC | AngSocialMed
But the test had one feature that shocked this test-taker and surely others who noticed it: product placement.
As a student who takes these tests year after year, I (and many others) can testify to the nonsensical and, at times, illogical qualities of many test passages and questions. Last year, for example, Pearson had to throw out six questions onits eighth grade English test that followed a perplexing fable with the moral, “Pineapples don’t have sleeves”. I thought that nothing could be worse than that test. I was wrong.
image via flickr:CC | gingerbeardman
My major concern is the increasing standardization of the college experience. In order to make online learning worth the cost of development, institutions must achieve economies of scale so as to spread its costs over a large number of students. But achieving these economies of scale means losing certain intangible aspects of the classroom environment; indeed, online education makes no room for the interpersonal interactions that are an essential part of an authentic education.
My second concern is that cost-saving technologies will have different consequences for rich and poor institutions and for rich and poor students. Public institutions have faced decreased taxpayer subsidies for years and feel acute pressure to reduce costs through standardization. In contrast, wealthy private universities have little incentive to standardize and cheapen their learning environments.
According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, self-affirmation is the process of identifying and focusing on your most important values. Doing this can boost problem-solving abilities, the researchers claim.
“An emerging set of published studies suggest that a brief self-affirmation activity at the beginning of a school term can boost academic grade-point averages in underperforming kids at the end of the semester.
One in six U.S. high school students reported being electronically bullied within the past 12 months, according to a new study.
The study also found that almost one-third of high school students spend three or more hours each day playing video games or using a computer.
“Electronic bullying of high school students threatens the self-esteem, emotional well-being and social standing of youth at a very vulnerable stage of their development,” said Andrew Adesman, M.D., F.A.A.P., of Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York and lead author of the study.