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Schools That Divide

27 May

Foucault on Prisons and SocietyP.L. Thomas constructs a narrative from Reagan administration education policy to the present ascendancy of charter schools, zero tolerance policies, standardized testing, and police in the hallways.
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Seattle Puts MAP Into Its Proper Role

21 May

seattle-test-boycottWe can debate a policy that takes the most prudent course between accepting students as they are and motivating them to join the mainstream, but a school district in Seattle has exposed the hypocrisy of requiring public schools must administer the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP test, while private do not, and, indeed, choose not to administer it.

AMY GOODMAN: Jesse Hagopian, Garfield High School didn’t start this boycott. Explain the origins of it and how it links in with other protests against high-stake testing around the country.

JESSE HAGOPIAN: Well, we’ve seen movements against high-stakes testing all over the nation, you know, from parents opting their students out of these tests across the country to the principals’ associations in New York state saying we’ve had enough of these high-stakes tests.

But I think, in a way, you’re right: Garfield didn’t start the boycott. In my view, the boycott of the MAP test really began with the elite private schools, who never give these tests. They want their students to have access to corporatecritical thinking skills and creativity. They want their students to be prepared to be leaders in the world today, and so they don’t inundate their students with these high-stakes tests like they expect to be done in the public schools. So, in that way, you could say this boycott really began of the elite schools. But, in actuality, you know, Garfield, I think, was the first school to unanimously vote, of all the faculty, “we refuse to give this test.”

And it’s a real crisis, I think, for these corporate education reformers, people like Michelle Rhee, who wrote an editorial in The Seattle Times against our boycott. And I think it’s a crisis for them, because their whole system of ed reform rests on these data points, on reducing teaching and learning to a single score that they can use to close schools, like you’re seeing being proposed in Chicago and Philadelphia, that they can use these data points really to degrade education and profit from it and privatize our schools, turning them into charters. And this boycott represents a threat to their ability to reduce teaching and learning to a single score. And I think that’s why you see Michelle Rhee and these corporate education reformers so upset that we stood up to their tests and refused to give them. And I think that’s why so many teachers and parents and students across the nation are celebrating this victory, including the Garfield High School PTSA that voted unanimously to support us.

Valerie Strauss highlights the lack of discretion the MAP’s supporters deploy when even the tests’ corporate supplier advocates caution

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Quizzes Improve Online Learning

14 Apr

Students-Online-Learning-SystemSteven Novella makes a perceptive comment about college education: students don’t like sitting in lecture halls forced to listen to a professor. Students like online learning, but there are some drawbacks to listening to a podcast or watching a video on your smartphone or tablet, at least from the perspective of the educator who has to evaluate students within a certain period of time. According to two psychologists, there’s a simple solution for teachers, to match online education and conventional methods: quizzing (via SGU #404).

By interspersing online lectures with short tests, student mind-wandering decreased by half, note-taking tripled, and overall retention of the material improved, according to Daniel Schacter, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Psychology, and Karl Szpunar, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology. Their findings are described in a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“What we hope this research does is show that we can use very strong, experimentally sound techniques to describe what works in online education and what doesn’t,” said Szpunar. “The question, basically, is how do we optimize students’ time when they’re at home, trying to learn from online lectures? How do we help them most efficiently extract the information they need?

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