Reflections on Education

Sue Magruder takes a look back at the changes that have happened since she was teaching in Missouri in the the 1950s. Her first post was working with students from different local rural communities who came to school in one place:

I learned more than I taught.  I learned how to approach parents whose language I did not understand to seek permission for their daughter to take part in a National Folk Festival.  I learned how to deal with foster parents who cared little for the children in their charge.  I learned when it was appropriate to call the state patrol when violence erupted with an older, unstable student.  I learned how to Bunny Hop down the hall with other teachers to relieve tension.

Later on in the post she takes a look at educational philosophy and the emphasis on test scores, wondering about their value in education of a child.

In full

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Common Grounds: ‘A Test You Need to Fail’

Ruth Ann Dandrea writes an open letter to her 8th Grade student students, which includes

“Because what I hadn’t known—this is my first time grading this exam—was that it doesn’t matter how well you write, or what you think. Here we spent the year reading books and emulating great writers, constructing leads that would make everyone want to read our work, developing a voice that would engage our readers, using our imaginations to make our work unique and important, and, most of all, being honest. And none of that matters. All that matters, it turns out, is that you cite two facts from the reading material in every answer. That gives you full credit.”

The letter in full

Attendance in online classrooms

Dr Staub was recently asked by his district to start implementing a blended learning program. He surveyed his staff and has included the discussion notes in the post. Some likes included flexibility between disciplines and dislikes included lack of interaction and nuanced conversation being missing.

I wonder, if traditional students were not compelled, how many of them would show up?  How many would do the work? This is not an argument about whether students should be forced to take classes.  Rather, this is a suggestion that for too long traditional teachers have used the mandatory attendance and completion of a course to teach lazily, without excitement, and without student engagement.  Such teaching, whether traditional or online, will lack results in achievement

In full

First Do No Harm: New Evidence on Online Learning in Higher Education

Matthew M Chingos reviews a recent series of experiments that they carried out where students participated in seven introductory statistics courses in a hybrid format (machine guided instruction with one f2f every week). The courses involved more traditional forms of assessment

We found that students in the hybrid format did just as well—in terms of pass rates, final exam scores, and performance on a standardized statistics test—as their counterparts in the traditional version of the same course

In full

Is Blended Learning a silver bullet?

Diane Ravitch refers to a recent decision by Indianapolis to open 19 new charter schools based on the concept of blended learning. She questions the decisions which refer to both the cost savings involved and how test scores were more positive.  She believes that a good teacher is the best of all technologies

My old-fashioned brain says that what matters most in a classroom is a teacher who engages in a deeply human way with students: to encourage them, enlighten them, inspire them, teach them. There is a place in every classroom for technology. I use it every day. And certainly students can use their computers to do research and writing and explore.

But in the current environment of high-stakes testing, computers are geared to passing the tests

In full

Rural Achievement Mostly Better Than 40 Years Ago

Diette Courrege reports on a project at   , which looks at achievement in rural America over the last 40 years.

they point out a couple of areas where statistics aren’t in rural communities’ favor, specifically the widening gap between rural and urban areas for the percentage of adults with college degrees. Rural areas have improved that percentage to 15.4, but they’re further behind the national average (27.9 percent) and urban areas (30 percent) than they’ve been in the past 40 years

In full

Social media and video games in classrooms can yield valuable data for teachers

Nick Pandolfo discusses findings from a recent report and panel session which mentioned familiar concerns about what technologies and how they can be used in education. He reviews recent initiatives which are looking at the use of big data to provide information about students progress

The idea is that the data collected by video games and social media sites can be provided, sometimes in real time, to teachers who can then use it to better understand their students and tailor instruction to meet individual needs.

The panel were also asked whether there was still a need for schools with these advances in technology.

In full

We do things differently here, evaluation and assessment in NZ

Deborah Nusche reviews a recent OECD report on evaluation and assessment in New Zealand schools, where there is not an emphasis on traditional assessment methods in primary schools.

What struck the review team most about New Zealand’s approach was the great amount of trust in the ability of students, teachers and schools to evaluate their own performance and engage in self-improvement. While international developments are closely followed, the global trend towards high-stakes accountability is not seen as a good option for New Zealand. Especially in primary education, there is a general consensus against national testing and the use of test results for school rankings.

In full

Exploring the Brazilian Higher Education System

Nikiforos Philyppis questions whether assessment statistics are actually a realistic view of Brazilian education or whether schools are just passing students to improve their UNESCO statistics. Brazilian higher education is mostly private education. He explores the relationships between markets, students as consumers and education as a commodity.

Educational laws and rules are tough for educational organizations. A student does not pay in advance, he can stop paying his installments in a current year and the school cannot stop giving him the education for that year. After that, he has the legal right to ask for his report and transfer the credits to other institution, and so on. That creates a vicious circle, treating the student as customer and creating all the possible means to maintain him in your client portfolio. In that scenario, passing the student is a rather plausible (although unethical and, I should dare, illegal) strategy.

In full