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Every Childs Time


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Policy Brief on US Educational Reform recommends a 5% multi-age, interdisciplinary, technology-infused "test-bed" in public K-12 schools. Eliminating the "industrial age" age-based grades and grade level expectations.

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Every Childs Time

  1. 1. One Third Bored, One Third Behind Ira David Socol 2009 use with credit and permission
  2. 2. Every Child’s Time: Releasing National Educational Policy from the Tyranny of Grade Level Expectations Ira David Socol Michigan State University College of Education
  3. 3. “ Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish. “ This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow.” (President Barack Obama, 24 February 2009)
  4. 4. Failure 60% - 80% of American students routinely fail to achieve US defined “proficiency” in any subject at any grade level. (NAEP – The Nation’s Report Card ) US high school drop out rate is at least 10% and may be 30% (US Census Bureau and Center for Educational Progress)
  5. 5. Failure Despite decades of research and “reform” efforts these statistics have not significantly improved. (NAEP – The Nation’s Report Card - US Census Bureau and Center for Educational Progress) Nor has the basic “design” of US education, adopted at the turn of the 20 th Century, been altered.
  6. 6. The Cost of Failure If only 10% of US students fail to complete high school, the minimum annual cost in direct wages is over $107 billion. (US Census Bureau – annual median earnings differences based in educational achievement as of 1999) If this is 25% and lost college potential added, the annual cost in wages may exceed $400 billion. (US Census Bureau – annual median earnings differences based in educational achievement as of 1999 and Center for Educational Progress)
  7. 7. The Cost of Failure Vocational Rehabilitation Costs Adult Education Costs Public Assistance, Medicaid, ADC Employment Services Crime Lost Employee Productivity Reduced Workforce Competitiveness
  8. 8. The Social Justice Cost of Failure Groups most impacted: Students with identified disabilities Students with unidentified disabilities Students from minority groups Students from impoverished families Students for whom English is a Second Language (Darling-Hammond, 2003)
  9. 9. Different Centuries, Different Solutions
  10. 10. The Machine and the 20 th Century School The 20 th Century School was created to be like other “Machine Bureaucracies” (Skrtic, 1995) based in the ideas of industrial processing. Faced with a newly large number of students to convert into citizens and industrial workers, industrialists designed schools in the form of stamping plants, where repeated applications of pressure would eventually (over 8 or 12 years) yield a finished product.
  11. 11. The Machine and the 20 th Century School Industrial processing works with consistency of raw materials, consistency of component parts, and consistency of tools. With “tightly coupled” processes – rationalized and formalized for maximum efficiency (Weick, 1976 through Skrtic, 1995). This processing model worked well in the production of consistent graduates where teachers (workers), tools (funding/parent support), and students (raw materials) were “standard” and “consistent.”
  12. 12. The Machine and the 20 th Century School Where teachers (workers), tools (funding/parent support), and students (raw materials) differ from “the norm” – varying from the center of the distribution – this model has failed.
  13. 13. The 21 st Century School The purpose of school has changed: Economically: We are no longer preparing workers for single-industry careers, or for simple production lines. Socially: We are no longer preparing students for lives and citizenship on an isolated continent. Functionally: We are preparing an increasingly diverse group of students.
  14. 14. The 21 st Century School We are now seeking both quality and equity, social justice and equal economic opportunity. We now believe that every child deserves a chance at success, despite unequal backgrounds or initial capabilities. We can now ask questions about the purpose of our schools, our lessons, and our strategies, seeking new paths which are designed to meet these new expectations. (Slee, 2007).
  15. 15. How do “grade level expectations” contribute to school failure?
  16. 16. What are “Grade Level Expectations”? The concept of age-defined school “grades” is based in the presumption that all children will learn the same things – in all subject and skill areas – at the same chronological point in their lives. Grade Level Expectations, and examinations based on those expectations, enforce this presumption.
  17. 17. What are “Grade Level Expectations”? The idea of the “graded school” is neither “natural” nor “American.” It was a controversial 19 th Century decision, based on the “industrial processing” model, imported from Prussia, which replaced the “One Room Schoolhouse” where all ages – 6 through 14 – learned together. (Kliebard, 1995 – Pratt, 1986)
  18. 18. What are “Grade Level Expectations”? In the “One Room Schoolhouse” students entered lessons wherever appropriate, worked with students on the same “level” (regardless of age), and moved ahead or worked to catch up. Those ‘more advanced’ helped teach those who needed help.
  19. 19. What are “Grade Level Expectations”? Graded classrooms, in contrast, are taught to an ‘age-based median’ which leaves less opportunity to either excel or to catch up. “ Accountability” testing encourages grade retention – which leads to dropouts. Special Education Services and Gifted and Talented Programs are added cost replacements for the mentoring of the “One Room Schoolhouse.”
  20. 20. What are “Grade Level Expectations”? In age-graded classrooms skills and information are limited to those tied to “grade level expectations” which limits the ability of those who fall behind due to any specific skill deficit (such as reading) to ever catch up on missed subject matter, And students who fall behind or are retained early are rarely able to recover sufficiently to succeed. (Jimerson, 1999, Lloyd, 1978, McCoy and Reynolds, 1998)
  21. 21. The Multi-Age Choice Multi-Age is broadly defined as educational environments where students across at least a two-year age span work together. Multi-Age includes 2-grade classrooms, large rooms with first through fifth graders and multiple teachers, and K-8 rural schools, among many options.
  22. 22. The Multi-Age Choice Multi-Age classroom management means the abandonment of most “whole class” teaching, and requires a high degree of individualized learning design for all students.
  23. 23. What is the choice? Multi-Age Groupings have consistently showed significant benefits, especially for younger students who “consistently outperformed their peers in age-segregated classrooms” (Milburn, 1981) . And have particular benefit for “children whose development differs from the norm” (Pratt, 1986) .
  24. 24. What is the choice? Multi-Age Groupings, even just 2-grade split rooms, offer better services for students outside the center of the achievement scale (Pratt, 1986) . The in-class mentoring support improves achievement, especially in math (Dever, 1994) .
  25. 25. What is the choice? Diverse age environments appear to promote “greater cooperation, nurturance, and friendship for [at the minimum] no apparent cost” (Pratt, 1986) . Multi-Age has significant positive impact on High Ability students where differentiated instruction is included rather than pull-out support (Lloyd, 1999) .
  26. 26. What is the choice? Advantages have been reported for both high- and low-ability students (Lloyd, 1999; Lou et al., 1996) . However, gains are most consistently noted for “blacks, boys, underachievers and students of low socioeconomic status" (Anderson & Pavan, 1993, p. 50) . ( Kinsey, 2001) Students in multiage classrooms demonstrate more positive attitudes toward school, greater leadership skills, greater self-esteem, and increased prosocial and fewer aggressive behaviors, compared to peers in traditional graded classrooms (McClellan & Kinsey, 1999; Veenman, 1995). ( Kinsey, 2001)
  27. 27. Multi-Age Does Better, especially early Lincoln Park Elementary (dark blue) is a highly socio-economically and racially diverse elementary school in a suburban school district (light blue) in Michigan (grey). Despite higher poverty levels than the rest of the district, the results from this school with its multi-age programs (2/3 of students participate) meet or exceed the testing results of all other area schools.
  28. 28. Federal Action Document photo via Twitpic from Bill Genereaux of Kansas State University as he visited the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library on 24 February 2009
  29. 29. Federal Action From 1958 when the National Defense Education Act contained “statutory prohibitions of federal direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution,” (US Department of Education) to 2001 when the No Child Left Behind Act effectively prescribed curriculum, instructional programs, and personnel qualifications, the role of the federal government has been debated.
  30. 30. Federal Action NCLB firmly favored standardization, and it’s testing demands were fully focused on the idea that all students learn at the same rate. This tends to leave one-third of students bored, and another third behind, reinforcing the one third success rate of American education.
  31. 31. Federal Action But new federal support could embolden multi-age experimentation, embracing a post-industrial paradigm for a post-industrial America. America needs creative and inventive individuals, not assembly line workers, and a return to the “One Room Schoolhouse” offers a chance to let all students succeed and to reinvigorate American creativity.
  32. 32. Technology Infused Multi-Age Classrooms in K-8 Schools Technology Infused Personalized Learning in High Schools
  33. 33. Technology Infused Universal Design for Learning technology which supports individualization of learning is the perfect match for multi-age teaching design. Technology which offers access to content even if skills develop slowly (digital reading and writing supports)
  34. 34. Technology Infused Technology which provides access to advanced content through broadband connections to the libraries and resources of the world. Technology which links learners to special assistance via Web 2.0 communication tools.
  35. 35. Technology Infused Technology which breaks down social isolation. Technology which is available in inexpensive portable forms so every learner can carry it home. Technology which trains lifetime job and learning skills, from digital library use to effective fast text communication.
  36. 36. Personalized Learning “ Decisive progress in educational standards occurs where every child matters; careful attention is paid to their individual learning styles, motivations, and needs; there is rigorous use of pupil target setting linked to high quality assessment; lessons are well paced and enjoyable; and pupils are supported by partnership with others well beyond the classroom.
  37. 37. “ This is what I mean by ‘Personalised Learning’. High expectations of every child, given practical form by high quality teaching based on a sound knowledge and understanding of each child’s needs. It is not individualised learning where pupils sit alone at a computer. Nor is it pupils left to their own devices – which too often reinforces low aspirations. It can only be developed school by school. It cannot be imposed from above.” UK Education Minister David Miliband, 2004
  38. 38. A Commitment to the Multi-Age Classroom and Individual Student Learning Plans
  39. 39. A national test for a different paradigm 4,360 public schools (out of 95,726 * ) will be chosen to embrace radical change. Multi-Age class groupings. Infused with individualized technology. Focused on personalized learning. Diverse, student-centered, curriculum. Limited standardized testing. *National Center for Educational Statistics, 2008
  40. 40. The Multi-Age Test Bed Ten public schools in each Congressional District (five primary, five secondary) chosen for 10-year federally funded experiment. Students will take only NAEP Assessments, not state exams. Accommodations – including technology – will be available to students on NAEP assessments.
  41. 41. The Multi-Age Test Bed Teachers will not be restricted in their roles by “Highly Qualified Teacher” standards because interdisciplinary lessons and the inclusion of “Special Education” students is the expectation.
  42. 42. The Multi-Age Test Bed Teachers will report their experiences on public web sites in the form of Action Research. Each school will partner with a State University teacher training program for support and observational analysis.
  43. 43. The Multi-Age Test Bed US Department of Education will stabilize school funding to regional standards, will provide in-service teacher and administrator training funding, and will fund summer teacher institutes. US Department of Education will fund State University partner support and research activities.
  44. 44. A Commitment to Universal Design Technology
  45. 45. Technology and Multi-Age Combining individualizable learning technologies with multi-age environments offers the best support for fully inclusive education (Udvari-Solnar, Thousand, et al, 2005). The combination of multi-level groupings and personalized learning technologies supports both High Ability and Special Needs students (Mooij and Smeets, 2006) .
  46. 46. The Technology Test Bed US Department of Education will fund technology installations in these schools, including ‘one-to-one’ computing and/or handheld/mobile computing. Teacher training will also be funded. US Department of Education will fund State University partner support and research activities.
  47. 47. The Technology Test Bed Technology choices will emphasize: Broadband global access. Global communication. Individualized Learning Supports. Multiple-representations in curriculum. Interactive tools. Ubiquitous device use and training. Lifespan technology training.
  48. 48. The Technology Test Bed Teachers will report their experiences on public web sites in the form of Action Research. Each school will partner with a State University teacher training program for support and observational analysis.
  49. 49. Let us try… Let us try a different paradigm, in 5% of US public schools. Let us do this for long enough to observe and analyze what works (and what does not). Let us collect and share data and compare what happens in this “Test Bed” with national norms. It is time to try…
  50. 50. Every Child’s Time: Releasing National Educational Policy from the Tyranny of Grade Level Expectations Ira David Socol Michigan State University College of Education