'Blended learning, as I have now said in a variety of ways, is all about shifting the focus off the teacher and to the student '
Raise your hand if you understand that the goal of corporate neo-liberal education reform is to have students connected to online lessons with teachers replaced by adjunct education techs that simply manage the display of online lessons. This may end grades and simply be a climb to finishing modules to become certified in performing a certain job. This is the cheapest format that end the teaching profession and sending K-12 teachers to being part time adjuncts as happened in public universities. Right now, Baltimore students in underserved communities are doing just that----sitting in front of computers doing lots of online lessons with Teach for America employees rotating through. Flash forward a decade if these platforms in cities continue----this expands across the State of Maryland to all schools because it is the cheapest model.
A first world democratic society does not just allow this to happen overnight just as with ending vital social programs like Medicare and Social Security. You have to PRETEND you are installing policy that is VALUE-ADDED----now we call it ----
GIVING THE STUDENT MORE CONTROL OVER THEIR EDUCATION.
See why Detroit was brought to bankruptcy to install global education policy from K-career college? Look for the same in cities targeted for bankruptcy in this coming bond market crash-----Baltimore for one.
Below you see where teacher training becomes a shift from creating lesson plans, delivering information, and grading them to learning how to implement already developed lessons by global education corporations. Soon, a system of education customer service reps will be the education techs that a student must contact if help is needed. These can be people anywhere in the world as with all customer service banks. The people in the classroom become tech tools and volunteers that simply move a child from one online unit to another. There is an application process involved----that is the apprenticeship of students right into the corporate campus operations used as free labor.
Teaching and Teachers in Blended Learning Models
Posted by Riley Justis on Oct 24, 2012 in Blog, Schools For The Future
As education makes a move toward technological innovation, forgone are the once common sights and sounds of the classroom. The heavy textbook and the sound of its pages turning has given way to the clicking of keyboards with collaborative analysis of a virtual text. These once staples of American education systems are giving way to the new normal- technology and technology based instructional design. As we look at this development, not only have the physical landscapes of the classroom changed but so too has instructional pedagogy. Whether you are flipping the classroom, accessing virtual learning environments or taking part in the the unique combination of instructional approaches known as blended learning, the feeling and focus has shifted from the teacher to the student. So where does that leave our idolized icon of the classroom, the “imparter”of knowledge the vessel filler? This new role is much harder to define and yet I will try….
What defines a blended learning teacher?When discussing an effective educator within the blended learning environment there are factors beyond that of the traditional school setting. We must begin the investigation of these unique educators through the identification of both their skills and knowledge base. As we transition to technology based learning, the interaction between content knowledge, instructional pedagogy and technology based skills development becomes paramount to the success of the individual learner within the blended model. Each component now bringing equal weight to the fight for educational successes.
Schools For the Future Detroit: A Case Study
Content Knowledge:As we delve into this investigation of blended instruction, content knowledge and its impact on lesson development is pushed to the forefront. Teachers must not only understand the content that is to be taught within the classroom but they must now have a depth of understanding that allows the content to be morphed into the a delivery system allowing the student to take ownership in their learning process. As we began the content investigation process we did as many do, building backwards from the content standards to develop the scaffold instructional scope and sequence. This process would allow for the teachers to not only identify the component focused process but also become familiar with the resources added to the learning management system for the student to utilize in the learning process. But was this curriculum complete? Far from it…The whole idea behind foundational content development is that is allows for the teacher, schools and districts to tailor curriculum and instructional progression the the student population they serve. In Detroit we could not yet pin point the specific needs of the students in their learning so flexibility of content progression was introduced.
Pedagogy:Now we have located and addressed the first component of effective blended learning educators: content knowledge. Next, equally important is the process by instruction is given and received in the learning model. I am purposeful in my verbiage, not identifying learning to be contained within the walls of the classroom. At SFF Detroit one of our core values is that instruction and learning can take place 24/7. So…how do we reach these ends? It is through a combination of effective pedagogy and technology based instructional innovations. For now lets focus on the former. How do we as educators take into account the needs of the wide scope of learning needs within a single class? Traditionally the teacher acts to differentiate the lesson so as to increase the access of the learning objective to a wider number of students. I believe that we have developed a methodology by which the student can access the growth in their learning by any means that fits their individualized understanding of the given objective. What does this look like? If a student is tasked to learn the concept of civic responsibility, they are first taught the skills to explore the concept. This lesson break down, which I will explore in greater depth later, allows the student to self pace learning. First working with the teacher to develop a skill, then applying the skill through guided/suggested investigations and finally, applying their learning in the performance of learning. The individual lesson is developed in three “phases” acting to increase learning while reducing teachers role in the learning process. This acts to alter the direction of the lesson progression while forcing the learning to higher order skills and processes.
Technology:The final component of the success that we are seeing in our model school in Detroit is a three fold application of technology integration. First in this process was the selection and application of a learning management system (LMS). This system is the heart beat of the learning process, allowing for virtual delivery of the content (notice I did not say instruction). The LMS is an online depository of lessons, resources and virtual tools where content can be accessed and collaboration can be experienced. This interaction between teacher and student, student and student and student and content, through the LMS is paced as a reflection of individual student learning needs. While many LMSs exist the vital aspects for our program were the intuitive nature, allowing teachers to alter the content thus applying their depth of content understanding, the accessibility of the platform (24/7) and the interaction that could be fostered through the learning process to enrich and deepen learning outcomes. Second, we find the application of Web 2.0 tools as a supplemental component of the curriculum development process. There currently are and will continue to be amazing learning tools for free on the web. The questions with these tools is, how is it acting to aid instruction? This brings us back to both the depth of content understanding and introduces us to the necessary depth of technology tools with applications to learning. Just as with any technology, if not used properly it becomes a distraction from the learning that you strive to enhance. Finally, the hardware components, for us it was the introduction of Google Chromebooks as a learning and teaching resource. This hardware solution allows for the elimination of site based servers and introduces the process of cloud based computing in the learning environment. Through this cloud each student is able to access their work from anywhere, and the interaction between all stakeholders in enhanced through real time computing and program applications. Each student in our model has a chrome in each classroom. This unifies instruction and allows for the growth of the individual to become a data point that can be shared with the learner. For the first time for our students, they have been given a voice in their education, learning process and program development. Learning is no longer a by product of the few rather it is a reality for all of our students through effective use of blended instructional processes.
How do you find effective blended learning educators?So…the question now becomes where does one locate these “new” educators, the teachers of tomorrow, the barons of blended learning? This is not a question of where are they, rather whom can we develop into the instructional leaders and the blended teachers that we seek for our schools. The process of locating effective educators is much the same as it always has been- seek those with passion, drive and a depth of content understanding. This is much as it has been with one dramatic shift- are they, as professionals, ready to embark on a paradigm shift from the role of teacher to the role of educational “cheerleader.” I use the verbiage of cheerleader with a bit of tongue and cheek, as the role in the blended learning environment looks to the teacher to support student led learning rather then delivery of the content. This new form of educator allows the learning to take place in wide sweeping scope of methodologies and is tasked with a supporting role in the classroom learning environment.
What about training?About the training now, this process is as I have already identified a foundational component of the success of not only the individual teacher but more over the greater educational program. The training needs to be at its core founded in best practices- what does the research say about our students, what does the data identify as the needs and how can we provide extensions to the learning beyond the walls of the school? These questions and many more along the same lines can be addressed through effective professional development programming. Much like the breakdown of the effective educator we must look to the 3 core components of the teacher to reverse engineer the professional development needs of the staff.
First, through a depth of content interaction the teacher becomes adept with curriculum, building a understanding not only of the scope and sequence, the objectives and outcomes but also an ability to modify and alter the content to meet the individual needs of the learning population. If a student does not understand a given objective the teacher must be able to quickly modify and readdress the needs of the learner in a individualized way. The buzz word is differentiation of content, but effective content training allows for the development of fully scaffold curriculum design around the learning needs of the individual. No longer is the same assignment given in different ways, now a wide scope of learning opportunities are presented to meet the one or more objectives of the lesson. This process can only be done with a depth of content understanding beyond the common place.
Next pedagogy- How do you train a teacher, new or veteran, a completely new way of conducting instruction? Modeling. Give a staff an assignment, to investigate a given topic via online video or by any other means as homework. When the staff arrives at the professional development, they are now ready to delve into the learning supported by their own understanding of the content from their own exploration of the topic. This process induces rich discussion, debate and questioning that could not be reached if your time was spent explaining the topic and ensuring they all understood what you as the teacher wanted them to retain. This to is a shift in training and thinking…teachers are taught in college to teach through modeling, yet we all were mostly taught through lecture. Was this effective in making you a more complete and independent student or teacher? No… Training must reflect the instruction that we are expecting our teachers to produce. Support the learning process, remove yourself from the center..it is not about you and that is ok.
Finally, technology skills, how do we train a group of adults to become the digital natives that our students are? The short answer is play…play with the tech, you will not break it and it does not bruise that easily. Depending on the application of technology in your setting if it is not utilized in training effectively it becomes a toy, a bright and shinny distraction or worse yet a paper weight. Is technology an effective instructional tool…yes…if it is used and the teachers have a high level of comfort with the tool.
How does the role of the teacher change in the blended learning environment?Through blended learning models the role of the teacher has shifted…as with the role of the learner. Content can be accessed independently, investigation and depth of understanding can be found divergent of the teachers influence. So, where does that learn the role of the teacher and why would I refer to the profession that I love and have devoted my life to as cheerleading? The simple answer is that if I can focus on working with the student to develop the foundational skills to seek, identify and analyze content without my help haven’t I provided a life long resource to each learner? This is not a overnight process by any means. Both teachers and students must begin to understand how they play these new roles in learning prior to it becoming effective in the learning environment. The best way to expedite this transition is the development of process focused learning. As a concrete example, within Schools for the Future Detroit we utilize a learning management system as a depository for all core content lessons. To develop the independence and define the new roles of the teacher and student we have developed a instructional process flow chart. This allows the teacher to focus their attention of the micro groupings of students within the classroom to build and refine the skills that will be used throughout the lessons development. As the student gains the skills they can then proceed to the next stage of the lesson development, the investigation. At this point we begin to see the new role of the teacher take hold, allowing the students independence in the investigation and ensuring the time and resources to work with those that have not yet gained the level of understanding to move on. Through the investigation stage students are able to utilize the teacher as a learning resource and the teacher is able to process check the students understanding. Finally the student has developed an understanding of the concept and progresses to the performance or the assessment phase of the lesson. This is the time at which the new role of the teacher becomes most transparent. The teacher, rather than the giver of knowledge has shifted to become the learner, being taught not only the objective of the lesson but also the meta-cognitive component of the individualized learning process the student went through to reach the outcomes that they present. The student has been pushed to the highest order of thinking skills and has developed a true depth of understanding in the learning process, all as the teacher has played the role of educational support- the cheerleader of learning for each individual student.
How are our teachers adapting?As we continue to think about the teachers in this new blended model, we ask ourselves how are the teachers adapting, what are they doing and how are they using their time to support the development of greater success. Within our program at SFF Detroit, while far from perfect, the teachers have hit the ground running. How… through the development of and implementation of effective proactive professional development. Each of the PD sessions that we have utilized in the opening of this school have shifted focus from the research to the practical- how will this look in my classroom with my students was the objective questions training would continuously circle and explore. Data, the life blood of best practices in education, allowed us to honestly assess the ability of each individual learner and as such the necessity of a proactive data collection strategy had to be developed. Through this process teachers began to look at the students not only as a group of learners but the leaders in their own educational performance. To ensure the value of this developmental training and shift of focus all student data had to be demystified and returned not only to the teachers but also to the students to develop effective next steps in the learning process. This is not to say that training is the silver bullet to high performing blended learning educators, rather much as with technology skill development the most can be taught and learned through individual exploration…much like what we are now asking our students to do.
And in conclusion … how can we utilize other adults in the classroom most effectively?Adults in the classroom… these are the foundation individuals that can be either the foundation of learning or the road block to educational development. Through the blended model teacher and others in the classroom must view the lesson as primarily a skill development process. This focus allows the attention of adults to be shifted toward the beginning of the lessons development and to act as the fail safe in the learning process. If adults can be viewed as one of many (web, resource text, peers) resources not only can they become a more effective part of the lesson but it also acts to improve the interaction and community of the learning environment. Adults become a resource rather than THE resource in the classroom. Blended learning, as I have now said in a variety of ways, is all about shifting the focus off the teacher and to the student. This simple shift has and will continue to have dramatic outcomes in the learning process and depth of understanding in our student populations.
SURPRISE SURPRISE---NO ONE IN DETROIT LIKES THIS.
Empowering students is the progressive posing that pretends having students tied to online lessons and used as free labor is value-added. This is what Baltimore will see happen after this coming economic crash and it does end the teaching profession and create education techs. Think these online lessons are designed by ordinary teachers? They are all lessons written by global education corporations and US Ivy League universities.
All of this is very neo-conservative and Detroit under Rick Snyder is very neo-conservative as is Baltimore under Hopkins. You see where Snyder is taking the first step in dividing schools according to arbitrary criteria and this division will continue as schools are aligned with vocation and corporate campuses.
In Baltimore, no news media on this, nothing from so-called education advocate non-profits or our teacher's union---yet all of them know this is the goal of neo-liberal education reform.
This is why it is critical to have a Baltimore City Council and Mayor who are REAL progressive social democrats who will fight this same thing happening in Baltimore. It is all against the US Constitution and any city CAN ENFORCE FEDERAL EDUCATION LAWS EVEN IF OBAMA PRETENDS TO IGNORE THEM. This is what national labor and justice organizations support when they support Clinton neo-liberals!
Detroit teachers' protest shuts schools, draws fire
Shawn D. Lewis and Chad Livengood,
Detroit News Lansing Bureau 11:41 p.m. EDT April 30, 2015
Detroit Public School teachers demonstrate in front of the Capitol Thursday morning, protesting Gov. Snyder's proposal to split Detroit Public Schools into two units. Mike Benson of Thirkell Elementary, left, brought the largest sign of the day. By 10 a.m. the size of the group had swelled to more than 300. With so many teachers absent, 18 schools in Detroit were closed for the day. Dale G. Young/The Detroit News
In anticipation of Snyder's announcement on the future of DPS, the school district's 4,000-member teachers union plans to bus members to Lansing on Thursday for a protest at the Capitol.(Photo: Dale G. Young / The Detroit News)
Detroit — As Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled his plan to overhaul Detroit's fractured school system Thursday, 18 city schools were closed after hundreds of unionized teachers took the day off to protest in Lansing and Detroit.
Snyder seeks debt-free Detroit public school district
The mass teacher absence and protests sparked criticism from the district, state lawmakers and Snyder himself.
At a Detroit news conference where he discussed his proposal to split Detroit Public Schools into "new" and "old" districts, the governor said the teachers were "protesting without having heard what I have to say. I'm not sure how their being out there protesting is helping the kids."
About 300 members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers rallied at the state Capitol in Lansing ahead of Snyder's midday announcement, and a group of about 20 picketed outside Cadillac Place as the governor spoke on the 15th floor.
The president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, Steve Conn, called the closings and the demonstrations "a testament of the teachers union's power and their determination to fight for the future of their students and the people of Detroit."
In Lansing, teachers said they wanted an end to state control of DPS, restoration of a 10 percent pay cut and a cap on class sizes of 35.
DPS officials said they had to close the schools because there weren't enough teachers on hand. In a statement, Emergency Manager Darnell Earley said about 500 teachers were absent, out of slightly more than 2,800.
"This unplanned turn of events is seriously misguided and directly harms our students — taking away a day in the classroom that students can ill-afford given the school days already missed due to our severe weather this past winter," Earley said.
Earley said a majority of the absent teachers took "personal business days" under their contract. "The district, however, reserves the right to investigate instances of suspected abuse of leave," he said.
The schools closed Thursday were Pasteur, Brewer, JR King, Western, Mackenzie, Ron Brown, Bates, Wright, Nichols, Neinas, Dixon, Sampson, Frederick Douglass, DCP @ NWHS, Durfee, Gompers, Emerson and Thirke.
Earley said the district is looking into how the missed day will be handled for students at those schools. Bill Disessa, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, said DPS could apply for a snow day waiver.
House Speaker Kevin Cotter condemned the protest.
"Today's careless political maneuvering by the Detroit Federation of Teachers is another example of the selfish attitude that has put the demands of adults above the needs of Detroit's kids for decades," he said.
Below is a really long and probably boring article on education policy that relates to exactly where all these education reform policies lead. Please glance through to the next article. We need to stop allowing the media and corporate pols talk about these issues one by one as individual policy and look at what the entire education policy has as a goal. I show Federal education law below that makes clear all these vocational assignments of students and tracking of students is illegal. It already happens in Baltimore City and it will be installed permanently if we do not reverse it now.
It is the Governor and Maryland Assembly pols responsible first-----it is Baltimore City Hall responsible next------it is the State's Attorney responsible next----and it is education advocacy groups responsible next----
AND MOST IMPORTANT---IT IS CITIZENS RESPONSIBILITY AT ALL STAGES.
TODAY WE HAVE POLICY CONTROLLED BY CORPORATIONS AND THEIR POLS PRETENDING THEY CAN IGNORE THE US CONSTITUTION AND BILL OF RIGHTS WHEN THEY CANNOT===GET RID OF CORPORATE POLS.
This is not just the ordinary tracking to high school students into a vocational/academic track during high school-----which has always been voluntary. This will begin in pre-K and affect which schools a child attends----not only courses and classes inside schools.
I know for a fact that teachers feel they are forced to choose winners and losers in classrooms with these policies. Teachers will tell you this format ends with only the best students engaged and actively learning with far more students marginalized. The next stage in these practices is to bump those students not making the best groupings out of a charter school. Please Google this video for a great discussion on ability grouping.
Ability grouping, tracking and grouping... www.youtube.com/watch?v=tItvMjRxL_c Apr 04, 2010 · This video explores the history, practice, perils and alternatives to grouping students for classroom instruction according to their perceived abilities.
Report | March 18, 2013
The Resurgence of Ability Grouping and Persistence of Tracking
By: Tom Loveless
Part II of the 2013 Brown Center Report on American Education
This study examines the use of ability grouping and tracking in America’s schools. Recent NAEP data reveal a resurgence of ability grouping in fourth grade and the persistent popularity of tracking in eighth-grade mathematics. These trends are surprising considering the vehement opposition of powerful organizations to both practices. Although the current study will not delve into the debate—it is interested in what schools are doing, not why or whether they should do it—discussion is offered at the end of the article on implications of the findings for the controversy surrounding the topic.
The Resurgence of Ability Grouping and Tracking: A Return to Controversial Practices? Ability grouping and tracking are often confused. They both attempt to match students with curriculum based on students’ ability or prior performance, but the two practices differ in several respects. Tracking takes place between classes, ability grouping within classes. Tracking primarily occurs in high school and sometimes in middle school. In tracked academic subjects, students are assigned to different classrooms, receive instruction from different teachers, and study a different curriculum. The names of high school courses signal curricular differences. Advanced math students in tenth grade, for example, may take Algebra II while others take Geometry, Algebra I, or Pre-Algebra. Advanced tenth graders in English language arts (ELA) may attend a class called “Honors English” while other students attend “English 10” or “Reading 10.” Excellent science students may take “AP Chemistry” while others take a course simply called “Chemistry” or “General Science.” History may also be tracked, as when Advanced Placement courses are offered in U.S. or European history that not all students take. Some middle and high schools do not track at all, creating instead classes that are heterogeneous in ability. Students of all abilities study the same material.
What Tracking is Not
Perhaps the best way to clarify what tracking is, because of widespread misconceptions, is by describing what it is not. Tracking is decided subject by subject. Students are not assigned to college preparatory or vocational tracks that then dictate coursework all through high school; that practice died out in the U.S. in the late 1960s and early 1970s. European and Asian school systems still practice a form of this type of tracking (they call it “streaming”), typically in the final two or three years of secondary schooling.13 Students take placement exams and based on the scores are selected into separate schools with markedly different post-secondary destinations rather than attending different classes at the same school. Exam-based selection into high schools was common in the U.S. in the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, but fell to the wayside. The comprehensive high school—with all students of a particular community attending the same school and then divided into distinct tracks within the school—came to be enshrined as the American model.
Ability grouping typically is an elementary school practice. Most elementary classes feature a single teacher with a classroom of students who are heterogeneous in ability. To create more homogeneity, teachers may divide students into small instructional groups reflecting different levels of ability, most often for reading in the primary grades (K–3) and perhaps for reading or math in later grades (4–6). While the teacher provides instruction to one group, the other students work independently—engaged in cooperative group activities or computer instruction or completing worksheets to reinforce skills. The teacher rotates among the groups so that each student receives a dose of teacher-led instruction in these small settings.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins conducted a comprehensive survey of ability grouping and tracking in 1986. The study analyzed national data augmented by an in depth survey of Pennsylvania schools. Several interesting patterns were uncovered that still hold true today. Disaggregating the data by grade level revealed that ability grouping is most prominent in first grade and then slowly recedes over subsequent grades. Ability grouping and tracking are inversely related; the school system’s strategies for creating groups that are as homogeneous as possible shift over the K-12 grade span. Tracking is rare in the elementary grades and, after increasing dramatically in middle school (in mathematics, in particular) peaks towards the end of high school. It is rare for students, once grouped between classes by tracking, to be grouped again within classes by ability grouping.
Because the groupings are within-class (and often decided by a single teacher), ability grouping is more flexible than tracking. Groups may be reshuffled periodically to reflect changes in student performance. Ability groups might study from different levels of the same textbook series or use the same book and move at a different pace (with enrichment activities for the faster groups until the others catch up). Instead of the formality of transcript designations for high school courses, ability groups often take the names of animals—redbirds, bluebirds, sharks, dolphins, and the like—or the names of the books in the reading series that the students are using.
The most popular alternatives to ability-grouped instruction are whole class instruction, in which all students in the same classroom receive the same instruction, and the creation of small heterogeneous groups. Sometimes cooperative learning strategies are employed with heterogeneous groups, but cooperative learning can be used with any small group regardless of the criterion by which it is formed. Success for All, for example, is a popular program combining cooperative learning with small ability groups that are frequently reorganized to reflect student progress.
In the 1970s and 1980s, a barrage of studies criticized tracking and ability grouping. Race and class figured prominently in the debate. Grouping students by ability, no matter how it is done, will inevitably separate students by characteristics that are correlated statistically with measures of ability, including race, ethnicity, native language, and class. Critics argued that tracking and ability grouping do not separate students into socioeconomic status-related groups by accident. Ray C. Rist’s “Self-Fullfilling Prophecy in Ghetto Education” (1970) followed a group of kindergarten students through the first few years of school and noted how the composition of reading groups rarely changed, consistently reflecting students’ socioeconomic status (SES). The SES differences are hardened, Rist argued, as teachers develop different expectations for groups of low and high performing students, even if those groups are given innocuous sounding names to mask their status. James Rosenbaum’s Making Inequality (1976) described working class youth at a New England high school who were channeled into vocational and remedial tracks that were nothing more than boring, academic dead ends.20
In 1985, Jeanie Oakes’ classic book, Keeping Track, was published. Oakes drew on data from several junior and senior high schools. Building on the social reproductionist theories of Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis’s Schooling in Capitalist America, Oakes argued that although tracking is typically justified by educators as a strategic response to student heterogeneity, the practice is undergirded by normative beliefs regarding race and class—and politically defended by white, middle-class parents to protect privilege. Black, Hispanic and poor children populate remedial classes; middle-class white children populate honors courses. Tracking and ability grouping are not mere bystanders to social injustice, Oakes and other critics charged. Such practices don’t just mirror the inequalities of the broader society. They reproduce and perpetuate inequality.
This critique had a profound effect on policy and practice. In the 1990s, several prominent political organizations passed resolutions condemning tracking, including the National Governors Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Children’s Defense Fund, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Some states urged schools to reduce tracking and ability grouping, most notably California and Massachusetts. A surprising implementation story ensued. Although the call to detrack was not accompanied by conventional incentives—the big budgets, regulatory regimes, and rewards and sanctions that draw the attention of policy analysts—detracking was, in a field famous for ignored or subverted policies, adopted by a large number of schools.
Surveys of Ability Grouping
How much did ability grouping decline? A 1961 national survey revealed that about 80% of elementary schools grouped students by ability for reading instruction. A three-group format was the dominant approach, with students organized into high, middle, and low performing groups. Although subsequent national surveys of ability grouping are scarce until the John Hopkins study in the mid-1980s (mentioned above), carefully crafted studies of local practice reported similar frequencies. Eighty percent or more of elementary schools used within-class
Then things changed. A mid-1990’s survey of a random sample of pre-K through fifth grade teachers reported startlingly different results. When allowed multiple responses, only 27% of teachers reported using ability grouping for reading instruction. Another 56% of teachers indicated that they used flexible grouping. Some of the teachers with flexible grouping may have utilized ability as a criterion for grouping. Whole class instruction was by far the most popular organizing strategy, with 68% of teachers reporting its use. Removing the overlapping responses makes it clear that ability grouping served a subordinate role as a method of organizing students. When teachers were held to one response and asked to identify their primary organizational approach, the order was: whole-class instruction (52%), flexible grouping (25%), and ability grouping (16%).
A more recent survey suggests ability grouping has regained favor among teachers. Barbara Fink Chorzempa and Steve Graham (2006) surveyed a national random sample of first through third grade teachers. Their questionnaire asked questions similar to the Baumann et al. survey of the 1990s, but also included questions about why teachers ability group. Three times as many teachers (63%) said they use ability grouping as the earlier survey. The authors explain that the discrepant findings may stem from the different grade levels of teachers in the two surveys. Pre-K and fourth- and fifth-grade teachers, who are included in the earlier
survey but not in the latter, may be less likely to employ ability grouping than first through third-grade teachers, the target population of the latter survey. Interestingly, the top reason teachers gave for using ability grouping was “that it helps them meet students’ needs;” however, respondents also expressed concern about the quality of instruction in low ability groups. About 20% of teachers did not ability group at all because the practice was banned by district or school policy.
Is ability grouping in decline or on the rise again? How about tracking? Let’s turn to NAEP data to shed light on these questions.
NAEP Data on Ability Grouping
Table 2-1 displays NAEP data on ability grouping in fourth grade reading. Teachers were asked on what basis they create instructional groups (ability, interest, diversity, and other) with “not created” also an option. Bear in mind that asking fourth-grade teachers about ability grouping, as compared to sampling teachers of several elementary grades, has both an upside and a downside in elucidating trends. The upside is that grade level is held constant over several surveys. This is important because we know ability grouping varies by grade level. The downside is that fourth grade isn’t where the action is on ability grouping—that’s first grade, where unfortunately NAEP does not collect data. Fourth grade is well after ability grouping’s apogee and somewhere near the midpoint of its diminishing use by elementary teachers.
Table 2-1 is revealing. The percentage of students placed into ability groups for reading instruction skyrocketed from 1998 to 2009, from 28% to 71%. And the percentage of students whose teachers did not create ability groups fell from 39% in 1998 to 8% in 2009. In other words, the odds of a fourth grader being ability grouped in reading were less than 50-50 in 1998 but by 2009 had increased to about 9 to 1. The question was not asked prior to 1998.
Table 2-2 shows the frequency of ability grouping in fourth-grade mathematics. Teachers were asked if they create math groups based on ability. This question was asked twice before 1998 and in 2011, so it gives a deeper historical perspective than the question on reading. Math ability grouping dips from 1992 to 1996 (48% to 40%), stays about the same until 2003 (42%), and then accelerates from 2003 to 2011 (reaching 61% in 2011).
The NAEP data support the general finding of a drop in ability grouping in the 1990s and a resurgence in the 2000s. The rebound is more subdued in math than in reading. It is apparent by 2000 in reading (it may have begun even before then; the data start in 1998) but does not begin in math until after 2003. In the years for which data are available for both reading and math (2000, 2003, 2007, 2009), the two subjects have comparable frequencies in 2000 (39% in reading and 41% in math), but reading is more often grouped in subsequent years. In the last year with data on both subjects, 2009, 71% of fourth grade students were ability grouped for reading and 54% for math.
NAEP Data on Tracking
Table 2-3 displays NAEP data on tracking in 8th grade. Note that unlike ability grouping, which is a classroom level practice and consequently a topic for teacher surveys, tracking is a school level practice and a topic for surveys of school principals. Although the wording of the survey item varies slightly from year to year, NAEP asks principals whether students are assigned to classes based on ability so as to create some classes that are higher in average ability or achievement than others. The question is asked sporadically and about different subjects in different years.
Math has the most data, surveyed ten times from 1990–2011. Tracking in math shows a slight dip in the 1990s and an increase in the 2000s, but most of the fluctuations are too small to consider significant. The trend is essentially flat, with about three-fourths of students attending tracked math classes over the past two decades. Typically, this means schools offer an algebra class for some eighth graders and a pre-algebra class for those who are not yet ready for formal algebra (see table 3-2 for enrollment statistics). Sometimes a third class is offered, perhaps geometry for students who took algebra in seventh grade or a basic math class for students several years behind.
Data on the other subjects are spotty. They exhibit much less tracking than math and greater variation over time. In 1990, principals reported that 60% of students were in tracked ELA classes, a statistic that declined over the next several years, hitting a low of 32% in 1998. The 43% frequency of tracking reported in 2003 is an increase from 1998; however, because it was the last time the question was asked in that subject, it is impossible to tell whether an enduring rebound in ELA tracking had begun. Science and history have even less data, with both subjects registering their highest figures in 1990 and then indicating diminished tracking after that. Science seems to show a rebound from 1994–2000. For all four subjects, the least amount of tracking occurred between 1994 and 1998, when the detracking movement was in full bloom.
The national pattern is consistent with previous studies of California and Massachusetts. In those two states, detracking was most intense in the early to mid-1990s, but differences among the subjects emerged. Mathematics resisted detracking while heterogeneously grouped classes became the norm in ELA, science, and history. In a 2009 survey of Massachusetts schools with eighth grades, for example, in math only 15.6% of schools offered heterogeneously-grouped classes; 49.2% offered classes with two ability levels; and 35.2% offered three levels. In other subjects, tracking had almost disappeared—72.7% offered only heterogeneously-grouped classes in ELA, 89.8% in history, and 86.7% in science.27
This study has explored trends in the use of ability grouping and tracking by American schools. It used NAEP data to examine the frequency that fourth graders are assigned to groups and eighth graders assigned to classes based on ability or prior achievement. The investigation focused on what schools are doing, not on whether tracking or ability grouping is a good idea.
NAEP data from 1990 to 2011 were examined. Ability grouping in fourth grade decreased in the 1990s and then increased markedly in the 2000’s, with the rebound apparent in both reading and math. In reading, ability grouping has attained a popularity unseen since the 1980s, used with over 70% of students. As for tracking, it has remained commonplace in eighth-grade mathematics for the past two decades, with about three-quarters of students enrolled in distinct ability-level math classes. Tracking in ELA declined sharply from 1990 to 1998, and although there was a rebound in 2003, NAEP has not surveyed schools on tracking in ELA since then. And NAEP data are too sparse in other subjects to determine trends.
Do these trends matter? Why should anyone care about tracking and ability grouping? Although the debate today is more subdued than in the 1980s and 1990s, it does continue. A research review on the NEA website blasts both tracking and ability grouping as discriminatory. Scholars continue to wrangle over the wisdom of both practices. Effectiveness and equity persist as the dominant themes of this literature. A 2010 meta-analysis of high quality studies calculated a positive effect size of 0.22, equal to about one-half year of learning, for within-class grouping in reading instruction.29 A 2010 study of data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS), on the other hand, found “students who are lower grouped for reading instruction learn substantially less, and higher-grouped students learn slightly more over the first few years of school, compared to students who are in classrooms that do not practice grouping.”30 That finding is especially relevant to closing achievement gaps between students who may populate high and low groups.
The controversy offers a very important lesson about how education policy gets implemented in schools. Schools are not merely the last step of a vast organizational ladder, not simply the education system’s operational frontline, ready to put in place the policies that are passed down from above. Finley Peter Dunne famously observed that the U.S. Supreme Court “follows the election returns.” Court decisions not only reflect the U.S. Constitution but public opinion as well. Our schools are another institution with an ear to the ground. Educators are aware of public debates and are influenced when particular school practices become controversial.
Figure 2-1 shows the number of times the term “ability grouping” appeared in Education Week from 1983 to December 2012. Consider this a proxy for media visibility over the past thirty years. The 135 appearances over these three decades represent an average of 4.5 mentions per year. The peak coverage occurred in 1993, with 20 mentions. The years immediately preceding 1993 show a gradual build up in coverage, with 5 mentions in 1989, 13 in 1990, 11 in 1991, and 13 in 1992. The years immediately after 1993 show a gradual decline—8 appearances in 1994, 5 in 1995, 7 in 1996, 5 in 1997, and 7 in 1998. The ten years from 1989–1998 are the only years with more than 5 annual mentions. Tracking and ability grouping were in the spotlight.
The data on media visibility are inversely related to the data on use. At the beginning of the 1990s, tracking and ability grouping were conventional practices but then declined —albeit with some lag time—when they were subjected to the most public scrutiny. The mentions in Education Week peaked in 1993. The use of ability grouping and tracking reached all time lows soon after that event. As the controversy died down in the 2000s, schools returned to both practices.
What else may have promoted the resurgence in the 2000s? Accountability systems, bolstered by the accountability provisions of No Child Left Behind, focus educators’ attention on students below the threshold for “proficiency” on state tests. That provides a statutory justification for grouping students who are struggling. The increased use of computer instruction in elementary classrooms cannot help but make teachers more comfortable with students in the same classroom studying different materials and progressing at different rates through curriculum. The term “differential instruction,” while ambiguous in practice, might make grouping students by prior achievement or skill level an acceptable strategy for educators who recoil from the term “ability grouping.”
A substantial number of teachers believe that heterogeneous classes are difficult to teach. The 2008 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher asked teachers to react to the following statement: “My class/classes in my school have become so mixed in terms of students’ learning ability that I/teachers can’t teach them.” Responses were: 14% “agree strongly,” 29% “agree somewhat,” 28% “disagree somewhat,” and 27% “disagree strongly.”31 The percentages are surprising given the questionnaire’s blunt assertion that heterogeneous classes are impossible to teach. Moreover, the 43 percent of respondents that either agree strongly or somewhat agree with the prompt is up from 39 percent on the same survey item in 1988. Teachers’ beliefs about the impact of achievement heterogeneity on instruction undergird the use of ability grouping and tracking.
Let’s look ahead. Will the uptrend in ability grouping continue? Not necessarily. The current period may be the lull before the storm. Theoretically, at least, the Common Core establishes a curriculum that most, if not all, students will study. It is unclear how students who have already mastered the Common Core standards before beginning a particular school grade will have their needs met under the new regime. The same goes for students who lag many years behind. Tracking and ability grouping have been common approaches to addressing such challenges. These two organizational strategies affect millions of students daily. Both practices shape aspects of schooling that we know to be important—the curriculum students study, the textbooks they learn from, the teachers who teach them, the peers with whom they interact. Despite decades of vehement criticism and mountains of documents urging schools to abandon their use, tracking and ability grouping persist—and for the past decade or so, have thrived.
"To improve the competitiveness of the modern industrial systems of Guangdong,” says Wang Yang, Party Secretary of Guangdong Province, “we definitely need to build up a modern technical training system that is internationally-competitive.”
If you look below you see the exact same education model using the same talking points as is happening in the US. The difference for China which has had a vocational tracking system in place for decades-----is moving from low-level job training to higher-skilled training using the same vocational tracking system on more of their citizens. The difference between China and the US is the US is a first world developed nation with a Constitution and citizens with rights that cannot be tracked involuntarily or lose their ability to have a strong public education giving people choices in vocation.
Those Chinese cities listed in this article are all International Economic Zones. Walking in queues to class and to dorm......that is the first thing I read about University of Maryland Baltimore County.....UMBC/Grabowski------lauded in TIME magazine as the school of the future. Indeed.
Below you see the global corporate tribunal rule -------in the US Bloomberg and Wall Street----and globally the World Bank. All these education policies are neo-liberal education being installed around the world. This is how the US becomes autocratic-----
China Wants Fewer College Grads, More Skilled Workers. Sound Familiar? By Dexter Roberts June 24, 2014 Bloomberg Financial
China: Vocational Education Matches Youth with Jobs and Helps Sustain Growth
February 17, 2012 World Bank
Vocational education and training has grown fast in China, but challenges are apparent. Take a look at how the Bank-financed projects address the challenges.
- Technical and vocational education and training has grown fast in China, but challenges are apparent.
- The World Bank has helped China to develop vocational education for two decades, to make the system better meet the demands of students and the labor market.
- To support China’s shift from low-skilled, labor-intensive industries to more capital and skill-intensive ones, producing skilled workers via vocational education is critical.
He graduated from Nanjing Vocational Institute of Railway Technology and now works as a subway dispatcher in Nanjing, Southern China.
"At school, I obtained hands-on training on railway coordination and surveillance,” he says, “I also learned discipline.” His school trains students in a quasi-military style – morning exercises starting at 5 a.m., walking in queues to class and their dormitories, etc., which prepares them well for jobs that are responsible for the safety of millions of passengers of subways and trains. “This helped me land a job easily, even before graduation,” he says.
In China, each year, millions of students like Jiang joined the workforce with a diploma of technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
TVET is growing big in China. According to the Ministry of Education, the number of tertiary TVET institutes reached 1,184 and that of secondary TVET schools reached 14,767, enrolling 11 million students per year.
The World Bank has worked with China to develop its vocational education for 20 years. Three projects from 1990 to 2005, with $110 million in loans, had benefited many.
An additional two projects were launched in recent years, aiming to improve the quality of education in 11 vocational and technical schools in Guangdong, Liaoning and Shandong Provinces. Another project is also under preparation to soon support reforms of nine secondary and tertiary vocational institutions in Yunnan Province.
Filling the Need for Skilled Workers
These provinces are part of China’s growth story – Guangdong is the engine behind the country’s export-led growth. Shandong’s economy is the 2nd biggest, just after Guangdong, while Liaoning is one of the most important industrial bases and Yunnan is a strategic border province and the “bridge” between China and the Southeast Asia.
For the past 30 years, China’s abundant supply of cheap labor has been driving the country’s economic boom. But the overall level of knowledge and skills of China’s labor force is relatively low. Only half of China’s 140 million employees of urban enterprises can be classified as “skilled”, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of China.
As the country’s industries are shifting from low-skilled, labor-intensive to a more capital and skill-intensive pattern, the need for skilled workers is rising. Investing in technical and vocational education and training can fill the gap, experts say.
But the vocational institutes and schools in China face certain challenges, vocational school students and grads point out – Training standards and curriculum are often out of date; teachers often lack practical skills themselves; it is hard to systematically engage employers and link them to the education system so as to provide workplace training for students; some schools are under-resourced, especially in rural areas and poorer provinces; there are few clear “minimum standards” for vocational schools in terms of equipment, teachers and so on; planning to meet labor market needs is insufficient.
"Strong oversight over vocational schools is critical,” says Fan Qirui, 21, who took vocational training in automobile decoration. “School management was rather random. No one was systematically checking quality and results,” he says of the school he attended.
"At school, I obtained hands-on training on railway coordination and surveillance. I also learned discipline.”
24, graduated from Nanjing Vocational Institute of Railway Technology
School-based Reforms and Innovation
To address these problems, the World Bank-funded projects concentrate on school-based reforms and innovations, including:
- Strengthening school-industry linkages
- Improving school management
- Introducing a modular, competency-based training curriculum
- Improving student assessment and quality assurance at the school level
- Re-training instructors and expanding their industry experience
- Upgrading facilities and equipment
The project in Guangdong, which has been running for two years, has already brought initial outcomes:
- School-Industry Collaboration Guidelines and model contracts have been set.
- School-Industry Advisory Committee has been established in each school.
- A provincial forum called “A Hundred Schools; A Thousand Enterprises” was organized by the Provincial Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security in May 2010, during which over 200 vocational schools signed contracts with more than 1,000 enterprises and resulted in about 3,000 collaboration projects.
- Competency-based standards have been developed in five subject areas: automotive servicing, CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) modeling, tourism and hospitality, and interior design, and industrial and chemical analysis.
- 74 modules with complete teaching/learning packages have been developed.
- New curriculum materials and pedagogy have been piloted in 20 classes involving 1,000 students.
- Positive feedback from teachers and students
Below you see what VALUE-ADDED MEANS TO EVERY CITIZEN IN THE US------any education non-profit or labor and justice organization that has not been shouting all of these issues below work for global corporations and this autocratic policy this global corporate tribunal wants installed. They would not be silent if they were working for you and me.
From parent rights to student rights---from rights of public employees tied to schools to rights of disabled students----THESE ARE ALL GUARANTEED FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS THAT ARE BEING IGNORED ILLEGALLY BY FIRST CLINTON---THEN BUSH---AND NOW OBAMA
'Parents have a fundamental right to direct the education of their children',
Protecting the Privacy of Student Education... nces.ed.gov/pubs97/web/97859.asp
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal... www.archives.gov/education/lessons/civil-rights-act
A Guide to Disability Rights Laws - ADA.gov... www.ada.gov/cguide.htm
Legal Issues and Laws Relating to School Safety -...
› School Safety
Below is an overview of legal issues and laws pertaining to school safety ... federal government has laws ... attending public schools do not "shed ...
Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination:... www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html
Immigrant Student's Rights to Attend Public ... www.k12.wa.us/MigrantBilingual/ImmigrantRights.aspx
Education Education law: An Overview
One government function is education, which is administered through the public school system by the Department of Education. The states, however, have primary responsibility for the maintenance and operation of public schools. The Federal Government also has an interest in education. The National Institute of Education was created to improve education in the United States.
Each state is required by its state constitution to provide a school system whereby children may receive an education. State legislatures exercise power over schools in any manner consistent with the state's constitution. Many state legislatures delegate power over the school system to a state board of education.
There is a strong concern with equality in education. Within states this leads to efforts to assure that each child no matter where he or she is situated receives an adequate education. The Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974 provides that no state shall deny equal educational opportunity to an individual on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin.
Parents have a fundamental right to direct the education of their children, including the right to choose a private school. However, states have the power to regulate private schools. That power is limited because the majority of private schools are religious institutions. The U.S. Constitution restricts public funding of private schools. See Establishment Clause. Consequently, there have been numerous Supreme Court opinions delineating the bounds of what is and is not public funding.
For children with disabilities special education is available. To qualify for special education a child's disability must adversely affect the child's educational performance. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq) establishes a process for evaluating a child's special needs and for providing an individualized education program. The Federal Act is binding on all states. In addition, most states have their own laws which parallel the Act. Under the Act, parents and families of special education children have specific rights such as the right to inspect the child's school records.
Lastly, homeschooling is an option for some families. Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, but it requires a large time commitment on the part of the family. In some states parents need to register their intent to homeschool with the department of education or the local district school board. In addition, many states require yearly proof of progress. States do not provide many services to homeschools, though some allow students to attend public school classes and to participate in public school activities.
menu of sourcesFederal MaterialU.S. Constitution and Federal Statutes
- 20 U.S.C.- Education
- CRS Annotated Constitution
- Code of Federal Regulations: 34 C.F.R.- education
- U.S. Supreme Court:
- U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals: Recent Decisions on Education
- CRS Annotated Constitution:
- First Amendment: Financial Assistance to Church–Related Institutions
- New York State law pertaining to Education - New York Education Code
- California law pertaining to Education - California Education Code
- State Statutes Dealing with Education
- State Statutes Dealing with Higher Education and Vocational Training
- State Regulation of Private Schools (brief description by state of legal requirements applying to private education)
- Department of Education (Listing by State)
- N.Y. Court of Appeals:
- Appellate Decisions from Other States
- U.S. Department of Education
- Office of Elementary & Secondary Education
- Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)
- Office of Migrant Education
- Office of Post-Secondary Education
- Office of Non-Public Education (private schools)
- Office of Vocational & Adult Education
- Office of Civil Rights
- 21st Century Community Learning Centers
- Special Education and IEPs (Nolo)
- National Library of Education
- Higher Education Legislation
- Education Topics
- Good Starting Point in Print: Mark G. Yudof et al., Educational Policy and the Law, Wadsworth (2001)