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This strategy could help younger at-risk students master math

E-School News – Laura Ascione

“Low-income minority kindergartners learn math better when taught in small groups, according to a new report from University of Michigan (U-M) researchers. This type of instructional approach not only has a positive impact on achievement, but can help bridge the gap with higher-income peers, the researchers say in a report. Robin Jacob, co-director of the U-M Youth Policy Lab, and Brian Jacob, professor of education and public policy, evaluated 655 kindergarten students in the one-year math enrichment High 5s program in 24 low-income elementary schools in New York City.” (more)

Analysis — Beyond Achievement Gaps, a ‘Relationship Gap’: It’s Not Just What Students Know, It’s Whom They Know That Enables Them to Succeed

The 74 Million – Julia Freeland Fisher

“The NAEP scores released in April set off a flurry of headlines about the sobering state of achievement gaps across the nation. The general consensus? Despite pockets of promise, and slight declines in gaps by race, achievement data reveal that gaps by income have remained relatively flat, or uneven at best.” (more)

Expansion of AP computer science draws more girls and minorities

The Seattle Times – Nick Anderson

“Ten years ago, girls were so scarce in high school computer science classes that the number of female students taking Advanced Placement tests in that subject could be counted on one hand in nine states. In five others, there were none. Latino and African-American students were also in short supply, a problem that has bedeviled educators for years and hindered efforts to diversify the high-tech workforce.” (more)

Can 600-plus California districts narrow the achievement gap?

Ed Source – John Fensterwald and Daniel J. Willis

“As part of the California School Dashboard, the state’s new school accountability system, 1 in 4 school districts will receive assistance from county offices of education and the state to help improve the performance of groups of students who have done particularly poorly on criteria set by the state.”(more)

Schools need freedom to make our kids intelligent

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

In the late 1990s Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist working at Harvard University, broke intelligence into eight areas: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Even though many psychologists disagree with Gardner’s views on intelligence, the categories he created provide a good base for the abilities people need in the modern workplace.

It is nearly impossible for someone to succeed if he/she is only intelligent in one area. Artistic products require technical and financial support and the most technical products require beauty and a strong user interface. It is pointless for a scientist to conduct amazing research unless he/she can effectively communicate his/her findings to his/her colleagues; and it makes no sense for a musician to create beautiful songs, unless he/she can execute successful contracts so the songs make him/her money.

In short, all kids need strong visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal abilities. Sadly, few children graduate from high school with strong abilities in all these areas. Perhaps it is because we have tasked our K-12 schools with so many things (teaching, coaching, parenting, counseling, etc.) that it is impossible for them to succeed.

Maybe we should encourage schools to return to their primary mission. Then they can focus all their energies on maximizing visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, and logical-mathematical intelligence.

This limited focus would give schools time to rethink their approach to building intelligence and encourage them to find ways of identifying learning gaps early. They would have time to implement third party curriculum based testing (teachers have not seen the test ahead of time) at least once a quarter. Then teachers could identify deficiencies within a few weeks of when a student has missed a concept and could take corrective action quickly,

Some people worry that returning the focus of K-12 schools to academic areas would impact students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal development. In fact, the opposite might be true. Instead of relying on schools to offer sports, leadership, and other pursuits, schools could contract with community organizations to handle these activities. These organizations have lower overhead, so they could offer these activities at a fraction of the cost. Best of all, the students would have a wider range of options available to them.

Technology has changed the world. Now it is time for us to set aside preconceived ideas and think about how we can change education to prepare children for this new world.

Some Schools Much Better Than Others at Closing Achievement Gaps Between Their Advantaged and Disadvantaged Students

Education Next – David Figlio and Krzysztof Karbownik

“Recent research demonstrates that the test score gap between relatively advantaged and relatively disadvantaged students is much higher in some school districts than it is in other districts. But measured school quality often varies dramatically within a school district, and therefore it is important to know whether individual schools differ in the relative success of advantaged and disadvantaged students. We make use of detailed, linked birth and school records in Florida to investigate the degree to which this is true.”(more)