The idea of a “flipped classroom,” or classrooms where video lectures replace the bulk of teacher-student lectures is becoming more popular, says a report from Education Week. The movement to replace traditional teaching with video instruction was made mainstream by Salman Khan, who created a free online course covering various topics.
The crux of the flipped classroom mentality is that students swap homework for classwork—they watch the video lectures at home instead of listening to them at school. This then frees up class time to allow teachers to engage students in activities related to the coursework they watched outside of school.
The authors of this American Enterprise Institute report interviewed 28 leaders and practitioners of four national educational reform organizations to catalogue opportunities for and barriers to “parent power.” The report unevenly reflects the competing conceptions of “parent power” underlying the national debate on education reform. One conception, embraced uncritically by the authors and the new wave of well-funded national advocacy organizations, sees parents primarily as “consumers” of educational services who seek better choices in a more privatized education marketplace. An alternative, dismissed and overlooked by the authors but embraced by a long tradition of community organizers and public education advocates, views parents as the citizen owners-managers of a public education system that is a central institution of democratic civic life. These competing visions arise from sharply different histories and politics and give rise to dramatically different prescriptions for reform. The report suffers from an inadequate and slanted literature review; highly selective sampling; a serious lack of objectivity; disturbing characterizations of urban parents as “ignorant,” under-engaged and resistant to change; and a failure to contend with empirical evidence that challenges their views on “what parents want.” Its failure to adequately examine and document the full range of “grass-roots activism,” organizing, and history reflects both its blinders and its narrow political objective: to provide a briefing paper for the side it has chosen in what it calls “the fight.”
More than 40 states have now signed onto the Common Core standards in English language arts and math, which have been both celebrated as a tremendous advance and criticized as misguided and for bearing the heavy thumbprint of the federal government. Assessing the merits of the Common Core math standards are Ze’ev Wurman and W. Stephen Wilson. Wurman, who was a U.S. Department of Education official under George W. Bush, is coauthor with Sandra Stotsky of “Common Core’s Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade” (Pioneer Institute, 2010). Wilson is a professor of mathematics at Johns Hopkins University, served on the National Governors Association-Council of Chief State School Officers “feedback group” for the Common Core standards, and was mathematics author of Stars by which to Navigate? Scanning National and International Education Standards in 2009: An Interim Report on Common Core, NAEP, TIMSS, and PISA.
State and municipal policymakers are increasingly addressing the practice of social promotion in schools—moving children along to the next grade whether or not they have mastered the curriculum—by mandating test-based grade promotion. This paper draws conclusions about the effects of a policy limiting social promotion. To do so, it employs a methodology known as regression discontinuity, which is capable of producing causal estimates of policy effects to study the impact of Florida’s test-based promotion policy on later student achievement. Under this program, students must take an exam to automatically pass from third to fourth grade (some students scoring below the automatic promotion threshold may still advance at teacher discretion). Students who are retained in third grade also receive a rigorous remediation regime aimed at improving their long-term performance. By studying the long-term performance of children who just barely passed the test, as well as those who were just barely left behind, it was possible to compare two essentially identical populations: one set of students who moved forward despite only borderline understanding of the material; and another set who stayed behind a year and received tutoring, mentoring, and other remedial interventions.
I am frequently asked why the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) conducts and supports research in reading, given that the NICHD is part of the National Institutes of Health, a federal agency that emphasizes basic biomedical science and health-related research. A primary answer is that learning to read is critical to a child's overall well being. If a youngster does not learn to read in our literacy-driven society, hope for a fulfilling, productive life diminishes. In short, difficulties learning to read are not only an educational problem; they constitute a serious public health concern.
The U.S. education system is broken, yet our efforts and finances are focused on trying to fix what we perceive to be wrong with the students and the teachers. The structure and management of public schools and the actual process of educating students in the classrooms contradict each other, philosophically and practically. This dichotomy between belief and practice is the cause of the current educational chaos, which will not end until there is a complete paradigm shift in our school structure and management.
The current system engages in a form of bullying of students and teachers with unrealistic expectations that each student should be able to learn the same measurable amount of knowledge and skills taught within the specified time frame of a grade level. An expectation that all children will develop at the same rate physically would be considered ludicrous, and yet our school system is designed with the expectation that all children will develop at the same rate cognitively, or be chastised for failing to do so.
Updating national nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold in schools could help students maintain a healthy weight and increase food service revenue, according to a health impact assessment (HIA) released today by the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project and the Health Impact Project.The findings come as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prepares to issue policies requiring that food and beverages sold outside of federal school meal programs meet minimum nutrition standards. These items sold in vending machines, school stores, and cafeteria a la carte lines are often called “competitive foods” because they compete with school meals for students’ spending. “The evidence is clear and compelling,” said Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project. “Implementing strong national nutrition standards to make the snacks and beverages our children consume healthier is something that schools and districts can afford. The USDA should do all it can to finalize and help implement strong standards.” Read the executive summary or full HIA
Americans currently consume 3.6 zettabytes of digital information per day. Put another way, that’s 3.621 or 3,600,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. For the visual learners, picture the equivalent in paper stacked seven feet high across the U.S. including Alaska.1
The place of digital content in public education is therefore not a matter of debate; it is inevitable. But school leaders and education policymakers do need to consider how to manage the influx of online learning opportunities in order to make sure students get their full benefit and not end up lost in cyberspace.
In this report, the Center for Public Education describes various ways digital learning is offered to students, from individual online courses to full-time virtual schools. In addition, we examine current state and district policies that govern its administration, including funding and accountability; and we discuss what is known -- and more importantly, what is not known -- about the effect of online learning on student outcomes. We conclude with a list of questions for state and local policymakers to ask when considering policies to expand online learning.
The timing of this report is key. K-12 online learning is growing rapidly. Close to two million online courses are taken by public school students annually (Queen et al., 2011). The number of students in full-time online schools is four times what it was a decade ago, and grew by 50,000 to the current 250,000 in the last year alone (Watson et al., 2011).
The determination that a child has a specific learning disability (SLD) and is in need of special education requires a carefully implemented multi-step process. The objective is to ensure that the child receives the instruction, support and services needed to succeed in school. There is, however, considerable variation in practice and policy in state and local education agencies as they interpret the federal requirements to determine if a child has an SLD as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004. For example, there is a lack of consensus on the extent of cognitive assessment that should be included in a comprehensive evaluation. Furthermore, the rapid adoption of Response to Intervention (RTI) in schools across the country requires new policies that balance the timelines of IDEA’s Child Find mandates with the integration of RTI data into the process of determining if a child has an SLD. The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) recognizes the critical need for guidance on the development and implementation of effective and efficient polices and practices for the identification of students with SLD. To that end, this position statement addresses key issues and concerns regarding determination of SLD that have been expressed nation-wide by educators and parents.
Timely and efficient evaluation is essential for the purposes of delivering effective instruction and determining whether a child meets criteria for SLD. Data provided by parents and educators and through comprehensive evaluations are the essential building blocks of the decision-making process, both in terms of designing and implementing effective instruction and determining eligibility for special education services. The integration of RTI practices and the incorporation of robust student progress data into the determination process can greatly enhance the accuracy and efficiency of SLD determination. NCLD welcomes opportunities to work collaboratively with other organizations and individuals to advance this position and contribute to the effective and efficient determination of specific learning disabilities.