Posts Tagged ‘ education reform ’

The Science of Neglect

This video from the Center for the Developing Child contains some very profound observations regarding the effects of neglect on brain development.

Educational Moneyball

  1. Although they require a living wage, teachers unlike baseball players are not motivated by money; if they were, they wouldn’t be in education.
  2. The real measure of a high quality educational organization should be how many of their minor league teachers can they turn into major league all-stars. Hiring effective teachers that someone else has trained is cheating. Buying the Red Sox just before the World Series, doesn’t make you the world champion. 
  3. Most educational organizations put their rookies into the starting lineup from day one. Most baseball organizations carefully cultivate their minor league players make sure they are ready for the big dance.
  4. Even the best professional baseball player doesn’t win the world series every year, and the best teacher doesn’t dramatically improve their students’ test scores every year. In fact some excellent teachers don’t even teach tested subjects!
  5. You can’t predict the winner of a baseball game by knowing which team had the highest income. And yet, academic performance and a students’ family income are very closely correlated. You can even predict ACT and SAT scores based upon this.
  6. Just like in baseball, disruptive innovation in education will not come from the big money organizations.  There are thousands of highly capable general managers (public school superintendents) in this country with low-budget educational teams in small revenue markets just like the Oakland A’s. These educational leaders will be the source of innovation. Not because they are flush with cash from grants, but precisely the opposite. There were no baseball teams using sabermetrics until Billy Beane came to Oakland.
  7. Baseball is now a statistically rich game, education (though surely more important) is statistically anemic – almost all of our performance conclusions are based upon the annual results of three to five standardized tests. This too shall pass.

I’m not sure what it is…

Charter schools were originally proposed as schools run by innovative teachers to test experimental pedagogy. They were intended for students that had difficulty learning. In fact, the enabling legislation in many states for charter schools includes that explanation. These schools are created to try new things and share what they have learned to improve and inform the practice of education.

Today’s charter school students do no better or no worse than public school students. And the good idea of experimental charter schools has been co-opted into a profit-making entrepreneurial opportunity, or a way to reinforce our society’s socioeconomic  prejudices, or one of the government-sanctioned punishments for those schools that are unable to change the predictive nature of poverty. The most recent ACT and SAT scores still correlate precisely to family income. If charters are experimenting, shouldn’t they be experimenting with that? With a few exceptions (one or two here in Charlotte), they are not.

Many charter schools exclude students by offering no transportation, or access to free and reduced lunches, or the timing of the open house experiences, or school location. If a charter school’s enrollment does not include students of all abilities and family incomes, then it is  really not a charter school is it? It is clearly not experimental. It is clearly not available to all of the public.

I am not sure what it is…

What goes around…

My assigned project for my MOOC from Stanford University’s “d. school” recently was improving the school-to-work continuum. The school to work continuum for teachers’ education is actually a circular relationship – K-12 schools provide the human capital (high school graduates) to the universities to the universities provide the human capital (teachers) to the K-12 schools. I have heard both post-secondary and K-12 institutions complain about the quality of the product they were receiving. Bill Keller in a recent New York Times opinion says improving teacher training is an urgent priority. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/21/opinion/keller-an-industry-of-mediocrity.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&ref=billkeller

I am a firm believer in constructive dialogue. IF (and that’s a big IF!) we could get the K-12’s and the universities to provide constructive feedback to one another, we could change the outcomes…and produce better students and better graduates along the way (which is really the point).

How about a Get Satisfaction https://getsatisfaction.com/corp/ dialogue for K-12 schools and universities? It could be restricted access due to personnel issues, but the aggregate reviews (80% of consumers say they are influenced by customer reviews) could be made public, like GPTW and Forbes magazine do with great companies. This would provide organizations the incentive to participate.

Timing is everything. All of our educational institutions must re-invent themselves in the next ten years or lose market share to the disruptors and die. I believe a mutually beneficial digital dialogue about improving the quality of the outcomes will yield some amazing results.

The Trouble with Education (Part Two)

If we learned anything from Malcolm Gladwell’s research about hockey players, it should be that grouping children by age puts younger students in the same age group at a significant disadvantage. Parents understand this. Given the choice between putting their child in kindergarten at the earliest possible opportunity, or waiting until the next year, most (given the choice) “hold back” their child’s entry into kindergarten. Why? So that he or she has the advantage of another year of mental and physical development and a better chance of success (at or above grade level) when compared to their “peers”.

Date of manufacture has nothing to do with a student’s intelligence and anyway, lifelong learners don’t have an expiration date.

So why do we continue to move our students through the educational assembly line grouped by age (grade level)? We even celebrate our ability to get students through high school “on time” by reporting a four-year graduation cohort as the graduation rate. But is that really cause for celebration?

Students that are unable to learn as fast as their same-age peers are not less intelligent.  Tossing them on the academic scrap heap in a comparison sort of their grade level, simply because it takes them longer to learn than others of the same age, is a waste of talent.  All 21st century students must learn what we teach. We no longer have the luxury of leaving some of them behind. We don’t have to time and date stamp their acquisition of that knowledge either.

Is combining all students of a certain age into a grade level really the best we can do?

And another thing…

(Stay tuned for Part Three.)

The Trouble with Education (Part One)

Why do we make K-12 education a timed test? In the industrial age when we had to sort the college-bound management material from the trade schoolers, I suppose this was as good a method as any. Those that were “quick” and/or “bright” were identified and eventually sent off to college. It was assumed that those headed to manual labor did not need all that was being taught, since they were to become human machinery (typists, mechanics, plumbers, etc.). The “sort” that the timed test accomplished was about right – 15/85.

Not so today. Sorting the college-bound students from the trades is no longer necessary, nor is the proportion of the “sort” correct.  We need far less human machinery, and far more critical thinkers. (I have heard estimates of the need for college graduates as high as 70/30.) Failure to learn is now the problem, not failure to learn quickly.

When  we measure success as the ability to learn within an annual or semi-annual testing timeframe, we miss the point, All students must learn the material, if we want them to succeed. And most can, just not within our arbitrary number of school days allotted before the test.

And another thing…

(Stay tuned for Part Two)

Candor in Communication

Laura Rittenhouse left Lehman Brothers in 1997 and began analyzing the candor of CEO communications.  As Sally Helgesen says in Strategy + Business there is no substitute for candor.

http://www.strategy-business.com/blog/Laura-Rittenhouses-Candor-Analytics?gko=d416c&cid=20131003aagC&utm_campaign=20131003aagC

Smoke and mirrors in the form of academic jargon and/or obfuscation has its price. If there were a Rittenhouse Ranking for organizations like yours, where would you rank?