November 2016 Archives

I was a public school teacher for many years in a state that suffers from low test scores year after year. For many teachers, the way that they want to teach and the way that they are forced to teach vary greatly, and much of that is due to unreasonable accountability standards that include student performance on standardized tests.

Everyone can agree that applied knowledge is crucial to the learning process, so standardized tests need to do better when measuring it. Every child needs to be able to articulate what he or she knows, not just repeat it. While it may not be as efficient to grade answers that go beyond filling in a bubble, these are the questions students need to answer to apply their knowledge in real-world applications. Instead of simply finding the answer, students need to explain their answers.

There are plenty of black men who positively impact the young men coming up in their communities. Some are high-profile while others are local businessmen or even teachers. As a general statement, however, black boys have fewer people to look up to and hold accountable than their white, and even other minority, peers.

The statistics on high numbers of black and Latino boys in special education programs is more than an interesting tidbit—it's a call to action. What can we do to identify true learning delays and isolated behavior problems and disseminate them from disabilities?

An assistant superintendent shares how his district's quest to gather data on social-emotional learning helped it place relationships at the center of education.

Students who take tests on computers or tablets will be more comfortable with the material at hand, and it will feel like more of an integrated process. To remain a world leader when it comes to the fast-pace of technology, we as educators need to insist that technology is part of not only the teaching process but also of assessment policy too.

In Part I of this series, I discuss why students need to be taught how to obtain knowledge. In Part II, I will discuss how we can educate our learners about how to obtain the BEST knowledge from the pool of available options.

Even in the face of such challenging poverty and language-related barriers, Alder students and staff continue to amaze our community and beat the odds by holding the title of fastest improving school in the Reynolds School District. Test scores over a recent two-year period show that reading proficiency in 3rd grade doubled. Over the same period math proficiency for 4th grade tripled, giving us the number one rate of growth in math among all middle and elementary schools in our district in the last two years.

In this vast digital age, there is more information available than can ever possibly be processed, and the way that students vet this data is incredibly important. While the internet has opened up the world in amazing and beautiful ways, it has also skewed the way information is obtained. Instant knowledge, or perceived knowledge, is available as soon as kids are old enough to type in a computer password or swipe the lock screen of a tablet or smartphone.

There are far too many students in the United States who can't read proficiently. And, the reading achievement gap has persisted for decades. It's time to re-examine how we in the education community assess and personalize reading. The convergence of new developments in reading research and technological advances illuminate a pathway forward to improve student literacy, and subsequently, academic outcomes.


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