Archive | May, 2012

Missouri program: Parent home visits

30 May

One of the mantras of this blog is that education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be involved.  Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well. A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Class Matters

Teachers and administrators as well as many politicians if they are honest know that children arrive at school at various points on the ready to learn continuum. Teachers have to teach children at whatever point on the continuum the children are. Jay Matthews reports in the Washington Post article, Try parent visits, not parent takeovers of schools:

A modest program in Missouri — similar to one in the District — has found a way to help parents improve their children’s education. But nobody is paying much attention.

Instead, something called the parent trigger, the hottest parent program going, has gotten laws passed in four states even though it has had zero effect on achievement.

The Missouri program, the Teacher Home Visit Program or HOME WORKS!, trains and organizes teachers to visit parents in their homes. It is quiet, steady, small and non-political.

The parent trigger, begun in California by a well-meaning group called Parent Revolution, is also authorized in Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana and is deep into electoral politics. Both the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns have embraced it….

Few parents have the free time or experience to take charge of a school and figure out which of the many competing ideas for change are best. They are at the mercy of school promoters and local school bureaucrats and unions. It is hard for them to agree among themselves what they want. Their good intentions get them nowhere.

The first two attempts to use the trigger in California have been stymied by lawsuits and political quarrels. Anyone who understands the dynamics of public schools in a democracy knows the trigger is never going to get parents what they want.

Home visits are different. They don’t require that parents figure out how to fix an entire school. Their only responsibility is to help teachers improve the learning of their own children, something they are uniquely qualified to do.

The nonprofit Concentric Educational Solutions Inc. START PROGRAM has been knocking on parent doors in the District for two years and has has started to do the same in Delaware and Detroit. The group says it has reduced truancy by as much as 78 percent. Teachers naturally wonder whether they have time for after-school visits, but the group’s executive director, David L. Heiber, says what they learn from parents can save many hours in class. With full staff participation, the most visits they might have to do in a year is 15, producing better attendance and more attention.

The Missouri HOME WORKS! program operates in 15 schools in the St. Louis area. Teachers, paid for their extra time, are trained at the end of the school year and beginning of the summer. The first round of summer visits allows teachers and parents to get to know each other and share what they know about students’ interests and needs. A family dinner for all wraps up the summer.

The second round of training sessions and visits comes in the first semester before the end of daylight saving time. The teachers explain to the parents where their child is academically and provide tools to increase their capacity to help their child. There is another family dinner, and sometimes there is a third round of visits in the spring.

A study by the St. Louis public school system last year of 616 home visits found that the third- to sixth-grade students involved had an increase in average math grades and that the grades of students not involved declined. A study of 586 home visits in the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District showed students involved had better attendance.

The key ingredient is parental involvement. The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (Council) has a great policy brief on parental involvement.

In Parents As Partners in Early Education, the Council reports:

Researchers generally agree that parents and family are the primary influence on a child’s development. Parents, grandparents, foster parents and others who take on parenting

roles strongly affect language development, emotional growth, social skills and personality. High quality

early childhood programs engage parents as partners in early education, encouraging them to volunteer in programs, read to their children at home, or be involved in curriculum design. Good programs maintain strong communication with parents, learning more about the child from the family and working together with the family to meet each child’s needs. Some ECE programs include occasional home visits as a way of maintaining a relationship between the program and parents. These approaches are the more typical, standard way of involving parents in early childhood programs.

It is going to take coordination between not only education institutions, but a strong social support system to get many of children through school. This does not mean a large program directed from Washington. But, more resources at the local school level which allow discretion with accountability. For example, if I child is not coming to school because they have no shoes or winter coat, then the child gets new shoes and/or a coat. School breakfast and lunch programs must be supported and if necessary, expanded. Unfortunately, schools are now the early warning system for many families in crisis.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Research papers: Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform

30 May

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein. In Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein report about American Education, moi said:

The Council on Foreign Relations has issued the report, U.S. Education Reform and National Security. The chairs for the report are Joel I. Klein, News Corporation and Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University. Moi opined about the state of education in U.S. education failure: Running out of excuses Education tends to be populated by idealists and dreamers who are true believers and who think of what is possible. Otherwise, why would one look at children in second grade and think one of those children could win the Nobel Prize or be president? Maybe, that is why education as a discipline is so prone to fads and the constant quest for the “Holy Grail” or the next, next magic bullet. There is no one answer, there is what works for a particular population of kids

Jay Mathews of the Washington Post is reporting in the article, U.S. school excuses challenged about a new book by Marc S. Tucker, “Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems.” In his book, Tucker examines some of the excuses which have been used to justify the failure of the American education system.


U.S. Education Reform and National Security

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date March 2012

Price $15.00

108 pages
ISBN 978-0-87609-520-1
Task Force Report No. 68


Joy Resmovits of Huffington Post,Schools Report: Failing To Prepare Students Hurts National Security, Prosperity

CEP’s report is Student Motivation: School Reform’s Missing Ingredient.

Here is the press release:

Student Motivation: School Reform’s Missing Ingredient

CEP Report Summarizes Research on Understanding, Spurring Motivation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 22, 2012 – A series of papers by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) underscores the need for teachers, schools, parents and communities to pay more attention to the role of student motivation in school reform. While there is no single strategy that works to motivate all students, or even the same student in all contexts, the many different sources reviewed by CEP suggest various approaches that can help improve student motivation, the report finds.

For example, programs that tailor support to individual students who are at risk of losing motivation, that foster “college-going” cultures in middle and high schools, or that partner wit low-income parents to create more stimulating home learning environments can increase motivation, the report notes, but only if they incorporate factors that research has shown to be effective.

The CEP report, Student Motivation—An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, pulls together findings about student motivation from decades of major research conducted by scholars, organizations, and practitioners. The six accompanying background papers examine a range of themes and approaches, from the motivational power of video games and social media to the promise and pitfalls of paying students for good grades. Each paper covers one of these six broad topics:

What Is Motivation and Why Does It Matter?

Can Money and Other Rewards Motivate Students?

Can Goals Motivate Students?

What Roles Do Parents, Family Background, and Culture Play in Student Motivation?

What Can Schools Do To Better Motivate Students?

What Nontraditional Approaches to Learning Can Motivate Unenthusiastic Students?

Student motivation isn’t a fixed quality but can be influenced in positive or negative ways by students’ experiences and by important people in their lives,” said Alexandra Usher, CEP senior research assistant and lead author of the summary report and background papers. “How teachers teach, how schools are organized, and other key elements of school reform can be designed in ways that may either encourage or discourage motivation.” The summary report and accompanying papers highlight actions that teachers, school leaders,

parents, and communities can take to foster student motivation. The following are just a few of the many ideas included in the report:

Programs that reward academic accomplishments are most effective when they reward students for mastering certain skills or increasing their understanding rather than rewarding them for reaching a performance target or outperforming others.

Tests are more motivating when students have an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through low-stakes tests, performance tasks, or frequent assessments that gradually increase in difficulty before they take a high-stakes test.

Professional development can help teachers encourage student motivation by sharing ideas for increasing student autonomy, emphasizing mastery over performance, and creating classroom environments where students can take risks without fear of failure

Parents can foster their children’s motivation by emphasizing effort over ability and praising children when they’ve mastered new skills or knowledge instead of praising their innate intelligence. Many aspects of motivation are not fully understood, the report and background papers caution, and most programs or studies that have shown some positive results have been small or geographically concentrated. “Because much about motivation is not known, this series of papers should be viewed as a springboard for discussion by policymakers, educators, and parents rather than a conclusive research review,” said Nancy Kober, CEP consultant and coauthor of the summary report. “This series can also give an important context to media stories about student achievement, school improvement, or other key education reform issues.”

The summary paper, six background reports, and an appendix table outlining the major theories of motivation are available for free at For further information, contact Ali Diallo at 301-656-0348 or


Based in Washington, D.C. at the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and

Human Development, and founded in January 1995 by Jack Jennings, the Center on Education Policy is

a national, independent advocate for public education and for more effective public schools. The Center

works to help Americans better understand the role of public education in a democracy and the need to

improve the academic quality of public schools. The Center does not represent any special interests.

Download files:

Summary Paper – Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform (PDF format, 598 KB) *
Background paper 1 – What is motivation and why does it matter? (PDF format, 155 KB) *
Background paper 2 – Can money or other rewards motivate students? (PDF format, 188 KB) *
Background paper 3 – Can goals motivate students? (PDF format, 247 KB) *
Background paper 4 – What roles do parent involvement, family background, and culture play in studen (PDF format, 172 KB) *
Background paper 5 – What can schools do to motivate students? (PDF format, 237 KB) *
Background paper 6 – What nontraditional approaches can motivate unenthusiastic students? (PDF format, 244 KB) *
Appendix – Theories of motivation (PDF format, 69.4 KB) *
Press Release (PDF format, 41.3 KB) *

The report discusses the role of parents.

In Paul E. Peterson will piss you off, you might want to listen, moi said:

Moi has been saying for decades that the optimum situation for raising children is a two-parent family for a variety of reasons. This two-parent family is an economic unit with the prospect of two incomes and a division of labor for the chores necessary to maintain the family structure. Parents also need a degree of maturity to raise children, after all, you and your child should not be raising each other. Moi said this in Hard truths: The failure of the family:

This is a problem which never should have been swept under the carpet and if the chattering classes, politicians, and elite can’t see the magnitude of this problem, they are not just brain dead, they are flat-liners. There must be a new women’s movement, this time it doesn’t involve the “me firstphilosophy of the social “progressives” or the elite who in order to validate their own particular life choices espouse philosophies that are dangerous or even poisonous to those who have fewer economic resources. This movement must urge women of color to be responsible for their reproductive choices. They cannot have children without having the resources both financial and having a committed partner. For all the talk of genocide involving the response and aftermath of Katrina, the real genocide is self-inflicted. It is interesting that the ruling elites do not want to touch the issue of unwed births with a ten thousand foot pole. After all, that would violate some one’s right to _____. Let moi fill in the blank, the right to be stupid, probably live in poverty, and not be able to give your child the advantages that a more prepared parent can give a child because to tell you to your face that you are an idiot for not using birth control is not P.C.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

What exactly are the education practices of top-performing nations?

28 May

In Is it true that the dumbest become teachers? Moi said:

There is a quote attributed to H.L. Mencken:

Those who can — do. Those who can’t — teach.

People often assume that if a person could do anything else, they probably wouldn’t teach. Matthew Di Carlo, senior fellow at the non-profit Albert Shanker Institute, located in Washington, D.C. has an interesting article in the Washington Post.

In Do teachers really come from the ‘bottom third’ of college graduates? Di Carlo writes:

The conventional wisdom among many education commentators is that U.S. public school teachers “come from the bottom third” of their classes. Most recently, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took this talking point a step further, and asserted at a press conference last week that teachers are drawn from the bottom 20 percent of graduates.

All of this is supposed to imply that the U.S. has a serious problem with the “quality” of applicants to the profession.

Despite the ubiquity of the “bottom third” and similar arguments (which are sometimes phrased as massive generalizations, with no reference to actual proportions), it’s unclear how many of those who offer them know what specifically they refer to (e.g., GPA, SAT/ACT, college rank, etc.). This is especially important since so many of these measurable characteristics are not associated with futuretest-based effectiveness in the classroom, while those that are are only modestly so.

There isn’t really a definitive answer.

Mercedes White of Deseret News has written a fabulous article, Can U.S. schools adopt education practices of top-performing nations?

While different countries have different approaches to and attitudes about education, there are things that all high performing countries do. Two of these are paying teachers well and keeping students in school longer.

Some object to these proposals on the basis of cost: adding more school days and paying teachers more will cost states money they don’t have. Other objections to the idea of borrowing the practices of other countries are more philosophical. Americans have different cultural values from many top performing countries which may limit the transferability of their techniques, according to James Stigler, professor of psychology at UCLA….

Unlike American teachers who come from the bottom 30 percent of their university classes, in Finland admission to education programs is competitive. Successful completion of a teacher training course is no guarantee of a job, however. There is under a 10 percent acceptance rate into the profession. The situation is similar in Korea. Elementary education majors are recruited from the top 5 percent of their high school classes, according to the Center for International Benchmarking in Education. Moreover, only 30 percent of secondary school teaching candidates in Korea are able to find jobs.

Difficulty getting a foot in the door adds to the prestige of the profession, but high pay is what attracts the best candidates. In all these countries teachers are also well compensated. American teachers make 97 percent of per capita GDP, whereas Finnish teachers make 110 percent. In a country with an extensive social services, this means that the average Finnish teachers purchasing power is well above average for discretionary purchases. Canadian teachers make 180 percent of per capital GDP, Japanese teachers 140 percent and Korean teachers a whopping 225 percent, according to data from OCED.

Not only are teachers in other countries better compensated, they work less. American teachers work an average of 1100 hours according to OCED data. By contrast teachers in Finland work about 600 hours, in Korea they average 550 hours. These factors combine to make teaching an attractive profession for high achievers.

Time to learn

Another shared characteristic of top performing nations is the amount of time their students spend in school. American students spend 180 days in school compared to the 243 days Japanese students spend in classes. Korean students aren’t far behind spending 220 days in school while the Finns have 190 instructional days…..

One of the arguments used by opponents of extended time in school, and increased teacher pay for that matter, is that it costs too much. While that may be true it is interesting to note that all of these countries are able to make it work on much less than the United States spends on education. In Canada they spend $7,770 per student. In Finland it is $9,500 per student. Korea spends $7,500 per student and Japan spends $9,800.

Many have a love affair with by Finnish education system.

Moi wrote about the Finnish education system in The love affair with the Finnish education system:

Many educators around the world have a love affair with the Finnish education system. The question is what if anything which is successful about the Finnish system can be transported to other cultures?

The Pearson Foundation lists some key facts about Finland in their video series,Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education Pasi Sahlberg urges a measured analysis in his Washington Post article, What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform. See, Are Finnish schools the best in the world?

There are probably some lessons which can be learned from the Finnish experience, and the experiences of other nations, but we shouldn’t be looking through rose colored glasses.

Still, it is interesting to note that other nations have better results and spend less than the U.S. per student.


Should summer break be shorter for some children?

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Study: The plight of African-American boys in Oakland, California

27 May

Absenteeism is a huge problem for many children who are not successful in school. In School Absenteeism: Absent from the classroom leads to absence from participation in this society, moi said:

Education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process.

Katy Murphy of the Oakland Tribune writes in the article, Report reveals challenges facing African American boys in Oakland school:

– A series of detailed reports released Tuesday by the Urban Strategies Council revealed some stark statistics on how black boys are faring in the Oakland school district and in some of its schools in particular.

After analyzing rates of chronic absenteeism, out-of-school suspension, grade-level retention and standardized test scores from 2010-11, researchers concluded that as early as elementary school, barely more than half of the district’s black boys were solidly on track to earn a high school diploma.

By middle school, using grades instead of test scores, that estimate had dropped to 33 percent.

Urban Strategies CEO Junious Williams said he hoped the analysis — which also includes schools with favorable statistics — will lead to real changes in the experience of black youths in the city’s public schools.

“People have considered these to be so intractable, the problems of inequitable outcomes, that we’ve all kind of gotten a free ticket on that one,” Williams said.

The disproportionately poor outcomes of Oakland’s African-American students — and in particular, its boys — has been a long-standing challenge in the school district. Superintendent Tony Smith in 2010 used private funding to create a small office, African American Male Achievement, to address them. The reports, produced in partnership with the Oakland school district, underscored the degree of the challenge.

One report found that 20 percent of Oakland’s black male students missed at least 10 percent of the school year, compared to 12 percent of all students. Another found that 33 percent of the district’s African-American middle school boys were suspended from school at least once in 2010-11.

Many urban areas are facing the problem of making sure African-American boys finish school.

Here are the demographics of Oakland, CA:

One race






Black or African American



American Indian and Alaska Native






Asian indian


















Other Asian



Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander



Native Hawaiian



Guamanian or Chamorro






Other Pacific Islander



Some other race



Two or more races



Hispanic or Latino and race
Total Population



Hispanic or Latino(of any race)






Puerto Rican






Other Hispanic or Latino



Not Hispanic or Latino



Urban Strategies has information at their site about strategies for achievement:

The African American Male Achievement Initiative focuses on seven key goals that reflect the massive disparities faced by young Black males in Oakland. For an analysis of why these goals matter to our students read this post.


Goal statement: The disparity data for African American males in the city of Oakland will show a significant reduction in the gap between them and their White male peers.

Baseline Measures:

28% of African American male students were proficient or higher on the English Language Arts CST in 2009-10, compared to 78% of White male students (a 50 percentage-point gap).

30% of African American males were proficient or higher on the Math CST in 2009-10, compared to 76% of White males (a 46 percentage-point gap).

Proposed Targets:

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, 90% of African American males are proficient or higher on the English Language Arts CST.

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, 90% of African American male are proficient or higher on the Math CST.

By the end of the 2014-15 school year, the gap between African American and White males has been eliminated.


Goal statement: By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the graduation rate for African American males will be double what is it in June 2010.

Baseline Measure:

In June 2009, the graduation rate for African American males was 49%. The graduation rate equals the number of graduates divided by graduates plus dropouts in grades 9-12 (National Center for Education Statistics formula.)

Proposed Target:

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the graduation rate for African American males will be 98%. The full alignment of OUSD graduation requirements with the A-G standards for the class of 2014-15 is likely to make it more difficult to reach this already ambitious target.


Goal statement: By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the gap in fourth-grade literacy between African Ameican boys and others will not exist.

Baseline Measure:

In the 2009-10 school year, 42% of African American male 4th graders were proficient or higher on the English Language Arts CST, compared to 55% of OUSD 4th graders overall and 80% of White male students (gaps of 13 and 38 percentage points, respectively).

Proposed Target:

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, 90% of African American male 4th graders are proficient or higher on English Language Arts CST.

By the end of the 2014-15 school year, the gap between African American male 4th graders and OUSD 4th graders overall and between African American males and White males has been eliminated.


Goal statement: Suspension rates of African American males will not show any significant disproportion.

Baseline Measure:

In the 2009-10 school year, 18% of African American male students were suspended once or more, compared to 8% of students district wide and 3% of White male students.

Proposed Target:

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, no more than 5% of African American male students will be suspended one or more times, assuming an overall district-wide goal of no more than 3% of students suspended once or more.


Goal Statement: Chronic absenteeism (absence for 10% or more of school days) will be reduced by 75% for African American males.

Baseline Measure:

23% of African American male were chronically absent in 2009-10.

Proposed Target:

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, no more than 6% of African American male will be chronically absent.


Goal Statement: By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, middle school academic performance of African American males will be on par for district averages for GPA, community services and school holding power.

Baseline Measures:

In 2010-11, 45% of African American boys in grades six, seven, and eight did not display any warning signs of risk for high school dropout (i.e. they had passed Math and English, attended more than 90% of school days, had not been suspended, and had not been held back).

On the 2009-10 California Healthy Kids Survey, 39% of African American male 7th graders reported high levels of school protective factors. The percentages of African American males reporting high levels of each protective factor at school were as follows: 35% reported high levels of caring adults, 64% reported high levels of high expectations by adults, and 18% reported high levels of meaningful participation.

Proposed Target:

By the end of the 2014-15 school year, 90% of African American boys in grades six, seven, and eight will not display any early warning signs of high school dropout risk.

By the end of the 2014-15 school year, 75% of African American boys will report high levels of protective factors at school, and high levels of each protective factor (caring adults, high expectations by adults, and meaningful participation).


Goal Statement: Incarceration rates for African American male youth will decrease by 50%.

Baseline Measure:

In 2009, 16.2% of African American males ages 10-17 in Oakland were detained by the Alameda County Probation Department (903 youth). Detention may be pre- or post-adjudication and includes: Juvenile Hall, Camp Sweeney, secure facility (out of county), non-secure facility (in county), Santa Rita Holding (awaiting transfer to adult prison).

Proposed Target:

By 2015, no more than 8% of African American males ages 10-17 in Oakland will be detained by the Alameda County Probation Department.

The initial goals are explained in more depth in this report. Historical data and current progress toward goals are detailed in this PowerPoint presentation.

These strategies may be applicable to other cities.


Study: When teachers overcompensate for prejudice

We give up as a society: Jailing parents because kids are truant                                                      

Who says Black children can’t learn? Some schools get it

ilda says this about that ©

Should summer break be shorter for some children?

27 May

In Good schools are relentless about basics: School day length, moi said:

Rosalind Rossi, education reporter for the Chicago Sun Times is reporting in the article, 2011 Illinois school report cards: Top schools have longer days.

The 10 highest-ranking suburban neighborhood elementary schools all have longer days for kids than the typical Chicago public school — but shorter ones than those advocated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city public school officials.

Chicago’s current typical 5-hour and 45-minute elementary school day — usually without a regular recess — looks paltry compared to a top-scoring 2011 suburban average of just under 6½ hours that includes daily recess, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis indicates.

However, Chicago’s proposed 7½-hour day would keep city elementary kids in school an hour more than their top-scoring suburban counterparts. Such a day is appealing even to some suburban parents.

The Mid Continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) has great information posted at its site about school day length.

According to McRel in the article, Extended School Days and School Years:

Does more time in school matter?

Several scholars have argued that simply extending school time in and of itself will not produce the desired results. Larry Cuban, a Stanford University professor of education, has argued for example that what matters most is not the quantity but the quality of time students and teachers spend together in the classroom (2008).

In our 2000 meta-analysis of the impact of school, teacher, and student-level variables on achievement, McREL concluded that student achievement can be strongly affected if schools optimize their use of instructional time.

In 1998 WestEd researchers Aronson et al. examined the research on time and learning and arrived at three conclusions:

  • There is little or no relationship between student achievement and the total number of days or hours students are required to attend school.
  • There is some relationship between achievement and engaged time, that subset of instructional time when students are participating in learning activities.
  • The strongest relationship exists between academic learning time and achievement.

However, in recent years some notable extended time initiatives have produced gains in test scores, graduation rates, and college attendance, including the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), which increases the amount of time students spend in school by nearly 60%, and Massachusetts 2020. Conversely, a $100 million effort in Miami to extend school days by one hour and add 10 days to the calendar produced no significant benefits.

The key seems to be longer time spent in instructional activities.      

Sarah Garland posted How summer increases the achievement gap at Hechlinger Education Blog:

As I was visiting a school in Delaware last month, an elementary school principal ushered me over to his computer to show me a graph that distressed him. It traced how one of his students, who came from a poor family, had progressed over the course of two years.

A test taken in September of the previous school year was a low point. Then, the student’s achievement level leapt upward in remarkable increments, to a high point in the spring. But by the next fall, the student’s achievement level had sunk again, back toward the point where he had started the previous year.

The principal named the culprit: Summer.

Much of the discussion about the wide discrepancies in educational achievement between poor and affluent students is focused on what schools and teachers should be doing to close it. But researchers are gathering more evidence suggesting that summer—when students are typically out of contact with their schools and teachers—is one of the root causes of the gap.

At the Education Writers Association annual conference last week, a panel of researchers and educators, moderated by Education Week’s assistant managing editor-online, Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, discussed how summer affects student learning, and what to do about it.

“When kids return to school in the fall, on average they’ve slipped by about a month from where they were in the spring,” said Catherine Augustine, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research group, and co-author of a report released last year on summer learning programs. But, she added, the averages mask significant differences between poor children’s summer learning loss compared to that of their wealthier peers.

More advantaged children tend to stay at the same achievement level, or even make gains, over the course of the summer, Augustine said: “They’re reading, they’re being read to, they’re going to fancy camps.”

In contrast, poor children fall far behind. “Low-income kids are less likely to be going to those camps,” she said. “They’re more likely to be playing video games, watching TV, and staying indoors, particularly if they live in unsafe neighborhoods.”                                                           


Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning

Published :

June 2011, 93 pages

Author(s) :

Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Catherine H. Augustine, Heather L. Schwartz et al.

Publishing Organization :

RAND Corporation



Summer learning programs can prevent the loss of knowledge and skills that occurs over

the summer for many students and especially low-income students. School districts, providers,

policymakers, and funders should • make planning a year-round effort

• start early to hire quality staff and recruit students

• incorporate best practices from successful programs

• establish partnerships

• seek and support stable funding

• expand the research base on the long-term and cumulative effects of programs.

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) has some great information about summer learning loss.

In Primer on Summer Learning Loss, RIF says:

On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Studies reveal that the greatest areas of summer loss for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, are in factual or procedural knowledge.

Low-income children and youth experience greater summer learning losses than their higher-income peers. On average, middle-income students experience slight gains in reading performance over the summer months. Low-income students experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of more than 2 months.

Summer learning loss contributes to the achievement gap in reading performance between lower- and higher-income children and youth. Research demonstrates that while student achievement for both middle- and lower-income students improves at similar rates during the school year, low-income students experience cumulative summer learning losses over the elementary school grades….

Current Interventions

Remedial Summer School Programs
A survey of the 100 largest school districts recently found that all districts operated some type of summer program. More than 90 percent of summer programs were described as “remedial,” targeting only students who were not on grade level. Remedial summer school programs are typically intermittent single-summer interventions offered only at gateway grades. Findings from a recent study of the Chicago’s Summer Bridge program include:

  • Students were extremely positive about their experiences in summer school.
  • Whether teachers knew their students before summer school was an important predictor of test-score increases and teacher practice.
  • Higher-achieving schools ran more effective summer school programs.
  • The quality of interactions between teachers and students was a distinguishing factor between the most effective and the average classrooms.
  • Students whose teachers spent more time individualizing the curriculum and working with students outside of class had greater learning gains than students in classrooms where teachers spent less time adapting the curriculum and providing individualized attention.
  • Summer school may be a useful intervention for students who are behind, but it is not a substitute for effective instruction during the school year. There was no evidence that Summer Bridge had an impact on school-year learning rates.

Modified School Year Calendars
Another possible remedy for summer loss is modifying the school calendar to distribute the long summer break into shorter cycles of attendance breaks. This intervention does not actually increase the number of days children are in school, but distributes vacation time more evenly throughout the year. Emerging research on this model is generally positive; however, effect sizes associated with modified calendars are small compared to many other educational interventions.

Extended School Year
Attempts to add instructional days to the school calendar are typically based on international comparisons that show that U.S. students spend less time in school than students from high-performing countries, such as Japan. This model faces considerable opposition due to strongly held cultural beliefs about summer and financial interests connected to the current school calendar. For example, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions supports efforts to fight “bloated school calendars and year-round school calendars.” Arguments against year-round schooling also question the extent to which additional time in school might lead to increased student fatigue.                                                                              

See, Keeping Kids Intellectually Engaged In The Summer

There should not be a one-size-fits-all approach to education. For children who need a longer school year, that extra time should be available.


Dave E. Marcotte and Benjamin Hansen , Time for School?Education Next, Winter 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 1

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on School Day’s Length video …

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Coalition says federal policy is bad for early childhood education

25 May

In Early learning standards and the K-12 contiuum, moi said:

Preschool is a portal to the continuum of life long learning. A good preschool stimulates the learning process and prompts the child into asking questions about their world and environment. Baby Center offers advice about how to find a good preschool and general advice to expectant parents. At the core of why education is important is the goal of equipping every child with the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR dream, whatever that dream is. Christine Armario and Dorie Turner are reporting in the AP article, AP News Break: Nearly 1 in 4 Fails Military Exam which appeared in the Seattle Times:

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, professor emerita at Lesley University and an author of several books; Diane E. Levin, professor of early childhood education at Wheelock College; and Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, founding teacher at the Mission Hill School in Roxbury, Ma., as well as the director of the Defending the Early Years coalition and founder of Empowered by Play have written a provocative WashingtonPost article. In, How ed policy is hurting early childhood education, Carlsson-Paige, Levin, Bywater McLauglin opine:

The educational leaders met recently to discuss growing concerns that federal Race to the Top policy mandates on early childhood education are undermining education practice that research tells us is in the best interest of young children’s optimal development and learning. Their concerns fell into three major categories.

1. Current standards are not based on knowledge of child development — both how children learn and what they learn.

The standards require that children learn specific facts and skills — such as naming the letters — at specified ages. This has led to more teacher-directed “lessons,” less play-based activity and curriculum, and more rote teaching and learning as children try to learn what is required.

Yet decades of research and theory tell us that young children learn best through active learning experiences within a meaningful context. Children develop at individual rates, learn in unique ways, and come from a wide variety of cultural and language backgrounds. It is not possible to teach skills in isolation or to mandate what any young child will understand at any particular time.

2. Current policies support an over-emphasis on testing and assessment at the expense of all other aspects of early childhood education.

Already strapped for time and money, schools turn valuable attention and resources toward preparing teachers to administer and score tests and assessments rather than meet the needs of the whole child. As teachers strive to raise test scores, they increasingly depend on scripted curricula designed to teach what is on the tests. We know, however, that children learn best when skilled and responsive teachers observe them closely and provide curriculum tailored to meet each child’s needs. Standardized tests of any type do not have a place in early childhood education, and should not be used for making decisions about young children or their programs. Individualized assessments of each child’s abilities, interests and needs provide teachers with the information they require to individualize teaching and learning.

3. Cumulatively, current policies are promoting a de-professionalization of teachers.

The growing focus on standards and testing disregards the strong knowledge base early childhood teachers have. It undermines teachers’ ability to teach using their professional expertise, to provide the optimal, individualized learning opportunities they know how to offer. Instead, teachers are often required to follow prescribed curricula taught in lock step to all children. At the same time, more teachers without strong backgrounds in early childhood education are being hired, increasing the dependence of teachers on standardized tests and scripted curricula.

As one of their first initiatives, Defending the Early Years (DEY) is conducting a national survey of early childhood professionals — teachers, child care workers, program and school directors — on the ways their work is currently affected by federal, state, and local policies, such as standards for learning and mandated tests. Responses are anonymous. The data are being collected and tabulated by an independent opinion research firm. The results of this research will be used to inform the efforts of the DEY group to advocate for more child-centered, humane, and effective policies in the education and care of young children.

The Defending the Early Years group has set-up a blog:

This is what Defending the Early Years says at their blog:

This web site is a public forum managed by Defending the Early Years, a nonprofit project whose purpose is to encourage educators to speak out about current policies that are affecting the education of young children.

Our principal concern is defending children’s right to play, grow, and learn in an era of so-called standards and accountability. For years we have worked with organizations like the Alliance for Childhood, Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE), the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Concerned Educators Allied for a Safe Environment (CEASE), and others to promote play-based early education and common-sense policymaking. In 2010 we joined hundreds of other educators in issuing a joint statement of concern about the Common Core Standards for the early grades (see

Now we are seeing a new wave of standards and testing about to wash over preschool. Though it has become fashionable to give lip service to the importance of children’s play, the reality is that play continues to disappear in many schools, even for the youngest children.

Enough is enough. Defending the Early Years was launched to pursue these goals:

  • to track the real effects of these new preschool standards;
  • to promote appropriate guidelines for early childhood educators;
  • to mobilize the early childhood community to speak out with well-reasoned arguments against inappropriate standards, assessments, and classroom practices.

We are collecting evidence from across the country and will be surveying teachers, program directors, and child development experts, publishing our findings, and doing everything we can to make our collective voices heard. Let us hear from you. Tell us what is happening in your classroom, in your school, in your community.

As state legislatures and Congress try to craft budgets, what may look to some like an empty cash drawer, this is a plea to fully fund basic education at all levels. We need more educated people, not just people who sat in chairs, either passively or unwillingly, until they in their own mind received their parole as evidenced by a meaningless diploma. We need more people who have the critical facilities and independence of mind to not be swayed by the wackos at either end of the political spectrum. People who do not simply spout meaningless platitudes based upon their own empty thoughts, which are unchallenged by either facts or reflection, but people who pragmatically consider the available options. Finally, the nasty trend that we do not live in community with others but live at the expense of others must be challenged. Education and learning should start early.

Our goals should be: A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

Think small, Not small minded ©

Money spent on early childhood programs is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.


The state of preschool education is dire


Why Preschool Matters?

Why Preschool is Important?

The Benefits of Preschool

Will Preschool Education Make a Child Ready for Kindergarten

Preschool, Why it is the Most Important Grade

National Conference of State Legislatures Resources on Kindergarten

Education Commission of the States, Full Day Kindergarten: A Study of State Policies in the United States

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Introverts, especially introverted children have strengths too

23 May

Children who are introverted can face challenges in school and may even be labeled as less intelligent. The Myers & Briggs Foundation defines

Extraversion (E)
I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”
  • I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.
  • I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.
  • I sometimes jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over.
  • Before I start a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.

Introversion (I)
I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “reflective” or “reserved.”
  • I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own.
  • I prefer to know just a few people well.
  • I sometimes spend too much time reflecting and don’t move into action quickly enough.
  • I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience.

Studies indicate that schools seek to bring students “out of their shells” and that this might not be the appropriate approach for many introverted students.

Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, Studies Illustrate Plight of Introverted Students:

Educators often look for ways to bring quiet children out of their shells, but emerging research suggests schools can improve academic outcomes for introverted students by reducing the pressure to be outgoing and giving all students a little more time to reflect.

“Whoever designed the context of the modern classroom was certainly not thinking of the shy or quiet kids,” said Robert J. Coplan, a psychology professor and shyness expert at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada. With often-crowded, high-stimulation rooms and a focus on oral performance for class participation, he said, “in many ways, the modern classroom is the quiet kid’s worst nightmare.”

Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, published by Random House this year, argues that such children often stop learning when they feel emotionally threatened in a class environment in which being an extrovert is considered the norm.

“There is too often a tendency to see it as inferior or even pathological,” Ms. Cain said, “so teachers feel they have to turn the introvert into an extrovert.”

Quiet as Stupid?

Take a typical class review session, in which a teacher asks rapid-fire questions and calls on students in turn.

“So if a teacher asks a question and the person doesn’t answer right away,” Mr. Coplan said, “the most common thing is the teacher doesn’t have time to sit and wait, but has to go on to someone else—and in the back of their head might think that child is not as intelligent or didn’t do his homework.”

That slowness to speak can dramatically affect a student’s success in classrooms where vocal participation and group activities are critical.

A 2011 study found teachers from across K-12 rated hypothetical quiet children as having the lowest academic abilities and the least intelligence, compared with hypothetical children who were talkative or typical in behavior.

Interestingly, teachers who were identified as and who rated themselves as shy agreed that quiet students would do less well academically, but did not rate them as less intelligent.

As many as half of Americans are introverts, according to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, located in Gainesville, Fla.

There’s a distinction between shyness—generally associated with fear or anxiety around social contact—and introversion, which is related to a person’s comfort with various levels of stimulation.

A shy student, once he or she overcomes the fear, may turn out to be an extrovert, invigorated by being the center of attention.

By contrast, an introverted child may be perfectly comfortable speaking in class or socializing with a few friends, but “recharges her batteries” by being alone and is most energized when working or learning in an environment with less stimulation, social or otherwise, according to Mr. Coplan and Ms. Cain.

Tenth graders Kintaro Campbell, foreground, and Jamel Martin, make use of a hallway nook at City Neighbors Hamilton Charter School in Baltimore. The school tries to provide an introvert-friendly environment.

Matt Roth for Education Week

Mr. Coplan and his colleagues found differencesRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader between shy and introverted students as early as age 4: In play observations, shy children tended to hover anxiously just outside a group of unfamiliar children, while introverted children played quite happily on their own and did not attempt to approach other children.


Is silence golden? Elementary school teachers’ strategies and beliefs regarding hypothetical shy/quiet and exuberant/talkative children.

By Coplan, Robert J.; Hughes, Kathleen; Bosacki, Sandra; Rose-Krasnor, Linda

Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 103(4), Nov 2011, 939-951.


The primary goal of the present study was to examine elementary teachers’ strategies, attitudes, and beliefs regarding hypothetical shy (i.e., quiet), exuberant (i.e., overly talkative), and average (i.e., typical) children. We explored whether these strategies and beliefs varied as a function of the gender of the hypothetical child as well as teachers’ own shyness. Participants were 275 elementary school teachers (241 women, 34 men) ranging in age from 23 to 64 years (M = 40.97, SD = 10.02). Teachers were presented with vignettes depicting hypothetical children displaying shy/quiet, exuberant/talkative, or average/typical behaviors in the classroom and responded to follow-up questions assessing their strategies and beliefs. Teachers also completed a self-report measure of shyness. Among the results, teachers were more likely to respond to exuberant/talkative children with high-powered and social learning strategies and to employ peer-focused and indirect strategies for shy/quiet children. Teachers also believed that shy/quiet children were less intelligent and would do more poorly academically than would exuberant/talkative children. However, some of these findings were moderated by teachers’ own level of shyness. Results are discussed in terms of their educational implications for the social and academic functioning of shy and exuberant children. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Polly Leider had an excellent CBS News report about introverted children.

In, ‘Hidden Gifts Of Introverted Child‘ Leider reports:

A new book, “The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child,” offers insight into the special talents of introverts and offers parents some valuable advice. Author Marti Olsen Laney joined The Early Show on Monday to discuss the book with co-anchor Rene Syler.

Laney outlined some of the characteristics shared by most introverts.

  • They enter new situations slowly
  • They speak softly and sometimes hunt for words
  • They need time alone to re-charge
  • They have one or two good friendsOlsen also emphasizes that introverted children should not be confused with shy children.

    “Shyness is really when your threat system is easily triggered so that you feel afraid or threatened by people or situations,” she explained. “So either extroverts or introverts could be shy and, actually, more extroverts are shy.”

    What separates introverts from extraverts is their reaction to social situations. While extraverts thrive on social interaction, introverts are exactly the opposite. “Everything they do in the outside world takes energy, drains energy,” Olsen said. “For extroverted kids, everything they do in the outside world gives them energy. That makes a big difference for people.”

    Olsen offered tips for how parents can help their introverted children thrive and make the most of their hidden talents.

    Don’t try to turn your introverted child into an extrovert
    “They are hard-wired, their brain and nervous system, so that they have a certain temperament and it affects a lot more areas than just socializing,” she said. That includes “sleeping, eating, how they do homework, how they learn, how they behave in school.”

    Speak like an introvert
    “Most parents will be extroverted, since there are many more extroverts than introverts,” Olsen pointed out. “It’s important for them to learn to slow down, pace, have silences, don’t finish their sentences don’t fill in words and listen a lot more. And don’t expect them to talk after school, because they are pooped.”

    Be prepared for the party
    “A party is very over-stimulating for them. Even if it’s a good friend, you can expect them to need to ease into the party, stand and observe,” said Olsen. “Any kind of social event, they’ll need to stand on the sidelines and observe so they can kind of get their energy calmed down, and it’s really good to have them rested and be sure they have protein beforehand.”

See, Ten Tips for Parenting Your Introverted Child

It would be a very bland world if everyone was exactly the same.

The limited circle is pure.”

Franz Kafka

The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.

Aldous Huxley

The best thinking has been done in solitude.

Thomas Alva Edison

Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature.

Albert Einstein


Why Introverts Can Make The Best Leaders

Shhhh! The Quiet Joys of the Introvert     

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Harassment, bullying, and free expression guidelines for public schools

22 May

Parents and students should familiarize themselves themselves with their school’s code of conduct or ethics policy. Adam Cohen has an interesting case study at Time. In Can Schools Punish Students for Posting Racy Photos Online? Cohen reports:

Two Indiana girls — one 16, one 15 — took racy photos of themselves at a slumber party and posted them online. When their high school found out, it suspended the girls from participating in a certain amount of their extracurricular activities. Can the school legally do that?

A federal district court in Fort Wayne, Ind., recently ruled that it cannot — because the punishment violated the girls’ First Amendment rights. The legal question of what rights students have to post provocative material on the Internet, and what rights schools have to restrict such postings, is still unsettled. But the Indiana decision is the second important ruling in recent months to strike a blow for students’ online speech rights.

In other words people have a right to be idiots. The question is do you want to be identified for posterity as terminally stupid?

Nirvi Shah is reporting in the Education Week article, Groups Urge Balance Between Censoring, Stopping Bullies:

Parts of the guidelines are bolstered by several unrelated court rulings. In a 2011 ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, for instance, a judge wrote that the phrase “Be Happy, Not Gay” on a student’s T-shirt was not derogatory or demeaning to other students. Students wore the shirts on the Day of Truth, a response to the national Day of Silence. The latter, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, based in New York City, is intended to bring attention to anti-lesbian, -gay, -bisexual, and -transgender name-calling, bullying, and harassment in schools.

In this Illinois case, two students had sued their school district after they were prevented from wearing the shirts at school….

Students may have a right to say what they’re saying, but etiquette in a pluralist society sometimes means you can’t say everything you want to say when you want to,” he added. “The approaches we’ve outlined will work to diffuse controversy.”

One notable exception to the list of groups endorsing the guidelines was GLSEN. Executive Director Eliza Byard said she appreciated the guidelines’ intent, and the distinction made between a simple statement of belief versus bullying and harassment.

However, she said, given the political climate, her organization feared misuse of the document, so they didn’t endorse it.

She referenced several states’ proposals to ban the discussion of homosexuality in school, or “Don’t Say Gay” bills, as they have been dubbed, including one in TennesseeRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader that died earlier this month and another effort still alive in Missouri….

Spelling It Out

The guidelines note that “students should be able to attend school without being—or even reasonably feeling—threatened by others. School officials should be mindful that abusive peer conduct may deny students full access to an education, even when it is not on a basis prohibited by law.”

They also say that there is no gray area when it comes to suppressing any kind of physical assault, unwanted touching, or violence.

But in general, unless a student exercising his or her right to free speech or expression is creating a substantial disruption of the school environment, it should not be squelched.

That criterion was established more than 40 years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Tinker decision over whether students could wear black arm bands in protest of the Vietnam conflict.

For example, the guidelines say the presence of a Confederate flag, clothing expressing a stance on abortion, or something that provides a viewpoint about homosexuality aren’t inherently bullying or harassment. Exceptions in which schools may intervene include speech that promotes the use of illegal drugs, speech considered lewd or vulgar, and school-sponsored speech, such as what’s printed in a school-run newspaper, Ms. Trainor said. When schools do face a situation in which students’ speech is disruptive, the guidelines suggest asking the students to stop what they’re doing rather than immediately punishing the students.

The guidance left the question of off-campus speech fairly untouched, noting a mixed collection of court rulings and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to take up such cases earlier this year.

We are responsible for protecting students and teachers from online harassment, but in doing so, we may trigger a lawsuit from a student claiming that his or her free speech has been impinged upon,” said Sasha Pudelski, the government affairs manager for the AASA. “As a result, the line between what is appropriate punishment and what is appropriate speech continues to remain blurred. In the meantime, school districts could be at risk for litigation when they attempt to punish students for online, off-campus speech.”

While there is a gray area, it may not be as murky as some think, said Justin Patchin, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center.

The standard is the same: whether the expression results in a substantial disruption at school…..

Lawsuits are often triggered when schools attempt to quell the speech and punish the posters severely, such as by expulsion or suspension, or when schools fail to intervene at all, including simply having a conversation with parents of the student who posted the offending material.

Here is some information about the guidelines:

Harassment, Bullying and Free Expression:

Guidelines for Free and Safe Public Schools

Produced by:

American Jewish Committee

Religious Freedom Education Project/First Amendment Center

Endorsed by:

American Association of School Administrators


Center for Religion and Public Affairs, Wake Forest University Divinity


Christian Educators Association International

Christian Legal Society

Hindu American Foundation

Islamic Networks Group and its Affiliates

Islamic Society of North America

Muslim Public Affairs Council

National Association of Evangelicals

National Association of State Boards of Education

National Council for the Social Studies

National School Boards Association

Religion Action Center of Reform Judaism

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

This is a general statement from the guidelines:

Where Should Schools Draw a Line?

The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that students have the right under the First Amendment to express religious, social and political views in public schools, even on subjects as controversial as the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War while that war was still ongoing, unless the school can demonstrate or reasonably forecast that the expression will cause a substantial disruption of the school environment or violate the legal rights of others (Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, 1969).5 Most litigation has focused on the disruption prong of the test – what the Supreme Court meant by intruding on the legal rights of others is uncertain.

School officials may lawfully prohibit speech, upon a showing that the expression either causes an actual disturbance to the school’s educational program – or makes it reasonably foreseeable that the expression would cause such a disturbance.6 In reviewing the content of student expression, school officials should apply the following

5 More detailed summaries of Tinker and subsequent cases can be found at

6 The Supreme Court has recognized that public schools may in some circumstances restrict speech that is school-sponsored, lewd or vulgar, or related to illegal drug use.

safeguards and guidelines:

· Generally, the offensiveness of the content alone, without a showing that the speech is, or is likely to be, substantially disruptive, is not a basis for silencing speech. Fully-protected speech is often offensive to someone. Of course, grade level and developmental stage matter.

· When faced with disruptive or harassing student speech which conveys an idea, absent exceptional circumstances or a previously published specific rule, school officials should generally ask the students to discontinue the speech rather than immediately imposing discipline. At the same time, school officials have an

affirmative duty to prevent anti-harassment and anti-bullying rules from being used as a “heckler’s veto” of unpopular speech.

· Narrowly tailored bans on speech determined to cause, or likely to cause, substantial disruption should, absent exceptional circumstances, be viewpoint neutral.

· Student expression of ideas occurring outside of school should be subject to school action only, if at all, upon a clear showing of disruption, or likely disruption to the school, or a violation of the rights of school administrators and officials, teachers and other school employees, or students.

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988); Bethel v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1987);

Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. 393 (2007).

The authority of school officials to discipline students for off-campus speech, and the liability for doing so, is currently in dispute in the state and lower federal

courts. It is likely that, at some point, further legal guidance will come from the Supreme Court.

· Regardless of how the First Amendment issues about out-of school speech are ultimately resolved, schools should consider incorporating proactive measures as part of their response, apart from discipline and suppression of speech. For example, schools could monitor the locations within the school where the students

involved in incidents of off-campus bullying or harassment may interact; publicize statements that the school will not tolerate in school harassment; incorporate harassment awareness education into the curriculum and professional development programs; and engage parents and community groups. If adopted, such programs

should be designed with sensitivity to a wide range of community views.

· True threats of physical harm or targeted, continuing harassment may be the basis for disciplinary action, while speech intended to convey a student’s viewpoint or ideas on social, religious, political, or cultural issues (among others) may not be the basis for disciplinary action absent a showing of substantial disruption (or likely disruption) or a violation of another student’s legal rights. Schools should teach students that, as a general matter, there is no right to be free of speech one does not like, whether in school or elsewhere.

The Tanenbaum Center which honors the work of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum has a really good definition of the “Golden Rule” which is stated in an interview with Joyce Dubensky entitled, The Golden Rule Around the World At the core of all bullying is a failure to recognize another’s humanity and a basic lack of respect for life. At the core of the demand for personal expression and failure to tolerate opinions which are not like one’s own is a self-centeredness which can destroy the very society it claims to want to protect.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Homeschooling is becoming more mainstream

22 May

Parents and others often think of school choice in terms of public school or private school. There is another option and that is homeschooling.Homeschooling is one option in the school choice menu. There are fewer children being homeschooled than there are in private schools. There are fewer children in private education, which includes homeschools than in public education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the vast majority of students attend public schools. Complete statistics can be found at Fast Education Facts

The question, which will be discussed at the end of this comment, is: What is so scary about school choice? After all, the vast majority of children are enrolled in public school and school choice is not going to change that.

What is Homeschooling?

Family Education defines homeschooling. 

Homeschooling means learning outside of the public or private school environment. The word “home” is not really accurate, and neither is “school.” For most families, their “schooling” involves being out and about each day, learning from the rich resources available in their community, environment, and through interactions with other families who homeschool.

Essentially, homeschooling involves a commitment by a parent or guardian to oversees their child or teen’s educational development. There are almost two million homeschoolers in this country.

There is no one federal law, which governs homeschooling. Each state regulates homeschooling, so state law must be consulted. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has a summary of each state’s laws. State Homeschool Laws The American Homeschool Association (AHA) has resources such as FAQ and the history of homeschooling at AHA

Why Do Parents Homeschool?

According to the Washington Homeschool Organization, there are many reasons parents choose to homeschool.

Advantages of Homeschooling

·     Parents are with their children all day.

·     Parents know and understand their children, and are influential in their lives, even as they enter the teen years.

·     Homeschooling prevents premature parent-child separation, avoiding inappropriate pressure on children.

·     Children are allowed to mature at their own speeds, no “hurried child” syndrome.

·     Parents and other adults are the primary role models for homeschooled children.

·     Homeschooling provides positive and appropriate socialization with peers and adults.

·     Homeschooled children are largely free from peer pressure.

·     Homeschooled children are comfortable interacting with people of all ages.

·     Homeschooled children view adults as an integrated part of their world and as natural partners in learning.

·     Family values and beliefs are central to social, emotional and academic development.

·     Family life revolves around its own needs and priorities rather than the demands of school.

·     Homeschooling creates/maintains positive sibling relationships.

·     Homeschooling promotes good communication and emotional closeness within a family.

·     Research shows that the two most important factors in reading and overall educational success are positive home influence and parental involvement; homeschooling provides both.

·     A child’s natural thirst for learning is nurtured, not squelched, and learning becomes a lifelong joy.

·     Each child’s education can be tailored to his or her unique interests, pace, and learning style.

·     Homeschooling children have time to pursue their special interests and talents.

·     Homeschoolers enjoy unlimited educational resources; the world is our classroom, and resources abound in the community.

·     Homeschooling provides a high adult/child ratio for the student.

·    Homeschooled children become independent thinkers who are secure in their won convictions. 

A. Bruce Arai, in an early article on homeschooling looks at the civic implications of homeschooling and discusses some of the socialization impacts. 

In Homeschooling and the Redefinition of Citizenship He quotes Callan:

He argues that a true common school, in which all students receive a common curriculum, with some reasonable departures, provides the best way of ensuring a vibrant sense of citizenship among present and future generations. This sense of citizenship is built around the virtues of a critical tolerance of diversity, the power of rational thought and argument, and commitment to a defensible moral code. Citizens who develop these graces will have an understanding of the world which will give them the freedom to choose how they live their life, which is the ultimate aim of the liberal democratic state. Moreover, it is through common schooling that these attributes are best developed.

Some have opined that many homeschool parents seek not only a better education for their child, but seek to prevent interactions with those of different races, religions, and backgrounds.

Julia Lawrence writes in the Education News article, Number of Homeschoolers Growing Nationwide:

Since 1999, the number of children who are being homeschooled has increased by 75%. Although currently only 4% of all school children nationwide are educated at home, the number of primary school kids whose parents choose to forgo traditional education is growing seven times faster than the number of kids enrolling in K-12 every year.

Any concerns expressed about the quality of education offered to the kids by their parents can surely be put to rest by the consistently high placement of homeschooled kids on standardized assessment exams. Data shows that those who are independently educated typically score between 65th and 89th percentile on such exams, while those attending traditional schools average on the 50th percentile. Furthermore, the achievement gaps, long plaguing school systems around the country, aren’t present in homeschooling environment. There’s no difference in achievement between sexes, income levels or race/ethnicity.

Recent studies laud homeschoolers’ academic success, noting their significantly higher ACT-Composite scores as high schoolers and higher grade point averages as college students. Yet surprisingly, the average expenditure for the education of a homeschooled child, per year, is $500 to $600, compared to an average expenditure of $10,000 per child, per year, for public school students.College recruiters from the best schools in the United States aren’t slow to recognize homeschoolers’ achievements. Those from non-traditional education environments matriculate in colleges and attain a four-year degree at much higher rates than their counterparts from public and even private schools. Homeschoolers are actively recruited by schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Stanford University and Duke.

Nor do homeschoolers miss out on the so-called socialization opportunities, something considered a vital part of a traditional school environment and lacking in those who don’t attend regular schools. On the contrary, those educated at home by their parents tend to be more socially engaged than their peers, and according to the National Home Education Research Institute survey, demonstrate “healthy social, psychological, and emotional development, and success into adulthood.”

Homeschoolers of Color

The Village Voice has an excellent article about the experiences of Black homeschoolers and why they made the choice of homeschooling. Black Homeschoolers

Black parents tend to take their children out of the schools for other than religious reasons, and homeschooling groups say black children taught at home are nearly always boys. Like Robinson, some of New York’s parents have concluded that the school system is failing the city’s black boys, and have elected to teach them at home as an alternative.

The National Home Education Research Institute which cites statistics from The Condition of Education 2009 reports the number of homeschoolers of color is growing.

If one reviews the statistics from the last four years of USDE research (i.e., the last two USDE reports), one will find that 77.0% of homeschool students were white in 2003 while 76.8% were white in 2007 (i.e., a 0.2% decrease in those who are “white”). Second, this authors’ roughly 25 years of experience with and studying the homeschool community shows that the percentage of the homeschool community comprised of minorities is continuing to increase. Third, homeschool leaders across the nation are telling this author the same; that is, an increasing percent of the homeschool community is non-white.

Homeschooling is the choice for many parents because they don’t feel that current education institutions serve either their child or their values well.

Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

Tamma DeHart summarizes the pros and cons of homeschooling. Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

The advantages of homeschooling over public schooling:

•    Homeschooling provides individual attention and quality time to each learning student which is not possible in a public school. A parent can observe how their kids progress and can help them in areas they find difficult to cope.

•    Homeschooling is more flexible than public schooling as the schedule can be adjusted to the child’s suitability. Flexibility also helps in changing the curriculum according to what is easy for you and your child. Parents can help children understand the subject matter and yield good results.

•    Children are made to learn in a practical environment thereby involving them in a variety of situations. Children tend to learn faster and enjoy working in such situations.

•    Another big advantage of homeschooling over public schooling is the cost structure. Homeschooling is comparatively less expensive as compared to public and private school fees. You can involve your child in social activities that can help them to develop their social skills and hence save a lot of money too.

•    There is no age classification for homeschooling children; hence children not only get engaged with same age group but also with children of different ages and adults as well. Such factors have induced many parents to opt for homeschooling but one should not forget the positive aspect of public schooling which a child lacks in home based schooling. The advantages of public schooling over homeschooling are:

•    Public schooling provides social development of the child. Although a homeschooling child can be involved in social activities, none will be as effective as being a part of some social groups for years to come. The classroom setting provides the benefit of socializing for your child.

•    The parent is left with the complete responsibility to educate the child during homeschooling. Thus, you might not get time for yourself and your job which is otherwise possible in public schooling. This also helps in reducing financial stress for parents who are both working.

•    Public schooling has trained teachers who are well equipped with the knowledge of teaching a wide range of subjects. Homeschooling, on the other hand leaves no option but for the parent to understand each and every subject before making it easy for their child to learn. Moreover, the parents have to research and gather the curriculum for each of their child.  

In a nutshell, the questions that parents and society should be asking of any family that chooses the option of homeschooling are:

1.      Is there a real and sufficient commitment to homeschool?

2.      Do the parents have the educational resources both in their background and aptitude to realistically homeschool?

3.      Do the parents have the temperament to homeschool?

4.      Are there resources available in their community to provide enrichment activities to the child?

5.      The most important question of all, the choice of homeschooling the appropriate education choice for the child or is it the appropriate choice for the parent’s belief system? The child’s well-being and education should be paramount.

Tips for Parents

The Reno Homeschool Association has compiled tips for parents.

1. Know your approach or philosophy.
Be organized, patient, and flexible.
Develop a working relationship with your child.
Find other homeschool parents.
Set aside place for academic work.
Have a method of evaluation for your child.
Have a plan.

8. Take advantage of the resources in your community.

9. Don’t forget the social realm.

Reno Homeschool Association

School Choice is Good for the Education Process

Homeschooling is not a conspiracy, it is simply a choice. There is a difference between “education” and “schooling.” “Schooling” is defined as:

·         the act of teaching at school

·         school: the process of being formally educated at a school; “what will you do when you finish school?”

·         the training of an animal (especially the training of a horse for dressage)

Education” is a much broader concept. It is the process of continually being curious. Eric Hoffer aptly distinguishes the difference between “schooling” and “education.”

The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together.

Many of our children are “unschooled” and a far greater number are “uneducated.” One can be “unschooled” or “uneducated” no matter the setting. As a society, we should be focused on making sure that each child receives a good basic education. There are many ways to reach that goal. There is nothing scary about the fact that some parents make the choice to homeschool. The focus should not be on the particular setting or institution type. The focus should be on proper assessment of each child to ensure that child is receiving a good basic education and the foundation for later success in life.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Digital textbooks may or may not be cheaper

21 May

In Could ‘open source’ textbooks be cheaper than traditional textbooks? Moi said:

Open-source textbooks are another option in the calculation of the most cost effective option for obtaining needed textbooks. Information Age Education has a lot of information about the “open source” movement. The question is whether “free” is really “free.”

Education News is reporting in the article, Teacher-Written Digital Textbooks: A Cheaper Alternative?

Tired of constantly replacing their outdated — and expensive — statistics textbooks, officials in the Anoka Hennepin School District have let their teachers write their own digital textbooks instead, writes Abigail Wood at the Heartlander.

The teachers thought we could do a better job writing our own book that fit our state standards and the needs of our students,” said high school math teacher Michael Engelhaupt, who helped write the digital textbook.

Three teachers were asked to create the book and were paid $10,000 each. The whole project saved a total of about $175,000….

The push for “open source” textbooks has been around for a couple of years. Ashley Vance writes in the 2010 New York Times article, $200 Textbook vs. Free. You Do the Math. Whether the “open source” movement will evolve into the way that textbooks are sourced remains to be seen.

Daniel Lutzer has an informative Washington Monthly post, Why Textbooks Cost So Much:

Considering that the average student spends slightly under $900 buying textbooks in a year, reducing the cost of such things seems like a worthy endeavor, but how much of the textbook market can change? How much of this is worth fixing, really?

According to this piece at Mental Floss, there’s not really much we can do. As Ethan Trex wrote back in September:

In the simplest economic terms, the high price of textbooks is symptomatic of misaligned incentives, not exorbitant production costs. Students hold the reasonable stance that they’d like to spend as little money as possible on their books. Students don’t really have the latitude to pick which texts they need, though.

Professors pick the course materials, and faculty members don’t have any strong incentive to be price sensitive when it comes to selecting textbooks. Their out-of-pocket expense is zero whether the required texts cost $100 or $300, so there’s no real barrier to heaping on more reading material. If a student needs Class X to graduate, they’ll likely need to procure the required texts. This lack of cost-control incentives for professors is a major reason that at some point in college, everyone meets the expensive textbook’s even more maddening cousin, the Expensive Textbook You Never Even Use.Moreover, however, while students might complain about the price of textbooks, they don’t exert enough influence over the process to bring the costs down.

Because of the cost of textbooks, some are advocating not only open-source texts, but digital texts to cut costs.

Jason Tomassini writes in the Education Week article, Educators Weigh E-Textbook Cost Comparisons:

Proponents of digital textbooks say they save school districts money, even when factoring in the costs of tablets. In figuresRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader cited by the Digital Textbook Collaborative from Project RED, a research project that examines the use of technology in education, a 500-student school can save between $35 and $250 per student per year by switching to digital textbooks.

But more than $100 of those estimated per-student savings is associated with improved student discipline, increased teacher attendance, and digital student assessment, highly variable costs not directly tied to digital content. The estimate also assumes the price of a tablet is $250, less than many tablets, including the iPad, which runs between $379 and $700, depending on the specifications.

Independent observers have moved to debunk some of the cost-saving estimates for digital textbooks.

Using numbers from the 11,000-student Palo Alto district, in California, The San Jose Mercury News determined that hardware and content for digital textbooks on the iPad would add up to three times the cost of sticking with print.

And in a widely distributed blog post, Lee Wilson, a technology-industry veteran with experience at companies such as Apple and Pearson, determined that it could cost up to five times more to provide students with an iPad and Apple’s digital textbooks….

Different Models

McAllen Independent School District, McAllen, Texas

Enrollment: 27,000 students (67 percent eligible for free or reduced-price meals, 92 percent Hispanic)

Textbook Initiative Started: Fall 2011

Expenditures: $20 million total over five years (three years remaining). $6.5 million on infrastructure, including broadband and equipment; $12.1 million for devices, cases, and apps; $1.2 million for professional development

Funding Sources: E-rate, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, private donations, technology budget, special education budget, Title I funding

Devices Purchased: 27,000 iPad 2s

Digital Textbooks: 80 percent PDF, 15 percent interactive, 5 percent teacher-generated content

Notes: Encouraged local businesses to offer Wi-Fi so students could use devices outside class; students allowed to download music on devices; partnering with Abilene Christian University for research.

Pinellas County Schools, Fla.

Enrollment: 104,000 students

Students With Internet Access: 50 percent

Textbook Initiative Started: March 2010

Devices Purchased: 2,350 Kindles with Wi-Fi ($177 each, four-year shelf life); 1,000 Kindle Fires ($199 each), 3,100 Kindle readers, 7,500 iPads

E-textbook Publishers: CK-12 (free), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson, Cengage Learning

Funding Sources: Voter referendum, advance on school technology funds

Notes: First districtwide client for Amazon Kindle device; sent books to third-party company to “Kindle-ize” books with note-taking capabilities; Amazon delivered customized reading lists through a cloud service to each student.

Vail School District, Ariz.

Enrollment: 11,000 students

Textbook Initiative Started: May 2008

Devices Purchased: 1,300 MacBooks ($800 each); 102 iPads ($500 each); 120 iPod Touches ($200 each); 400 Hewlett-Packard netbooks ($400 each)

Classroom Hardware Purchased: 100 interactive whiteboards, document camera in each class

Expenditures: $500,000 on property and liability insurance, $40,000 per year on Internet services

Course Material Expenditures: $10 per student, down from $60 per student

Notes: District stopped purchasing new textbooks, both print and digital; all course material is free and/or generated by teachers; largest school district in Arizona with all schools rated as “excelling.”

Riverside Unified School District, Calif.

Enrollment: 44,000 students (67 percent eligible for free or reduced-price meals)

Textbook Initiative Started: May 2009

Devices Purchased: 4,500 Hewlett-Packard netbooks ($300 each); 4,500 Android devices, including Lenovo slates and Kindle Fires ($200 each); 3,000 iPod Touches ($200 each); 500 iPads ($500 each)

Digital Content: 60 percent e-textbooks, 40 percent open content

Notes: Students without devices follow Bring Your Own Technology approach; district had to cut $200 million from its budget in recent years; students use Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Fuse Algebra app ($40 each) and CK-12 Flexbooks (free).

Source: Education Week

The economics of the textbook market are one example of why it is difficult to curb some education costs.


The digital divide in classrooms                    

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum

Dr. Wilda says this about ©