Sunday, March 30, 2008

From "minimal" to "high-quality"?

How should we respond to this call from a state senator?

Pledging to do more for our schools

Sunday, March 23, 2008

If this is true. . .

Received this email today—Is this factually true? And, if it is, does it really prove how poor schools are today?

The email:

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...

Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS - 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of "lie,""play," and "run."
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7. - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per a cre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. Hi story is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
[Do we even know what this is??]

1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.'
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba,
Hecla, Yukon, St. Helen a, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.

Gives the saying "he only had an 8th grade education" a whole new meaning, do esn't it?

Also shows you how poor our education system has become and, NO! I don't have the answers!
Now go here:

Does this test prove schools are worse today?

And here:

105-year-old Saline County test in nation's spotlight

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Education Orientation Meeting!

The Faculty in the Education Department is having an orientation meeting for those students who are interested in applying to the teacher education program on March 27 (Thursday) in Hipp Hall 205 at 4:00 p.m.

At this meeting, you will receive the needed information to be admitted into the program, learn more about the transition points as you progress through the program, and the teaching internship. Please plan to attend if you wish to explore certification options or intend to teach in any of the following areas:
* Elementary Education (Grades 2-6)
* Secondary fields (Grades 9-12), includes:
Biology, Chemistry, English, Math, Physics,
or Social Studies
* Languages (Grades PK-12), includes:
French, German, Latin, or Spanish
* Music Education (Grades PK-12)

For more information, please contact

We look forward to meeting you!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. . .

Take this quiz:

American History Quiz: Questions

Then check your answers.

Now, what is "true"? What is "Truth"? And. . .who decides. . .?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Learning Theories and Educational Philosophy



Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning

Critical Theory

And consider this by Maxine Greene—assumptions about learning? Philosophical grounding?

"Carpe Diem: The Arts and School Restructuring," Maxine Greene (Teachers College Record, vol. 95, no. 4, pp. 494-507)

Friday, March 14, 2008

What do you make of this?

Teaching Kids a Healthy Way to Start the Day

Breakfast Program Helps Improve Scores

By Natalie McGill
Gazette Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Chapter 2

Struggling with Educational Tensions

Critical Pedagogy and the Knowledge Wars of the Twenty-First Century Details PDF
Joe L. Kincheloe

Learning Styles

Online Learning Styles Inventory


Individual Differences

A Cycle of Learning

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More education in the news. . .

. . . Students
"What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?": The Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2008
"Survey Finds Teenagers Ignorant on Basic History and Literature Questions": The New York Times, February 27, 2008
"Teaching Boys and Girls Separately": The New York Times, March 2, 2008
"Minorities, Poor Get 'Highly Gifted' Lift": The Denver Post, March 4, 2008
"High School Dropouts Cost State Billions": See results of a new report from the California Dropout Research Project. San Francisco Chronicle, February 28, 2008
"Busing to Suburbs Didn't Boost Test Scores": Star Tribune, March 3, 2008
"Cheating Scandals Rock Three Top-Tier High Schools": ABC News, February 29, 2008

. . . Teacher Quality
"Results Mixed in First Year of Texas's Teacher Merit Pay Plan": See the one-year evaluation report of the state program. The Dallas Morning News, February 28, 2008
"Performance-Pay Results Show Need for More Work on Concept": Read about performance-pay initiatives in other states. Education Week, March 3, 2008
"In Final Months, Ed. Dept. Seeks Teachers' Advice": Education Week, March 3, 2008

. . . NCLB
"New TAKS Tests May Mean Lower Scores": Star-Telegram, March 4, 2008
"Lawmakers to Consider New Statewide Student Tests": Lincoln Journal Star, March 4, 2008
"Costs of Administering the WASL Set for Sharp Increase": The Seattle Times, March 2, 2008
"Children Are Spending More Time in the Classroom": NewsLink Indiana, February 27, 2008
"Students Who Don't Speak English to Take ISAT": ABCNews7Chicago, March 3, 2008
"Bush Education Budget Inadequate, Spellings Is Told": Education Week, February 27, 2008

Group topics

Claire, Eliza, Hayley: public v. private

Sam, Sara, Bailey: ESL/bilingual education

Morgan, Sarah, Cody: Educational systems of other countries (I recommend Grain of Sand documentary about Mexico)

Sharon, Mary, Abby: Teacher Quality/ Teacher Accountability

Charis, Kate, Laura: art, music, and physical education

Allie, Michael, Stephen: Single-sex education

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Proof. . .

U.S. Position on Research Seen in Flux

With political change coming soon to the nation’s capital, policymakers and national groups are trying to divine what the shifts might mean for the U.S. Department of Education’s long-running, and sometimes controversial, campaign to transform education into an “evidence based” field.

The movement to promote more scientifically rigorous research in education predates President Bush’s tenure by a year or more.

But experts agree that the Bush administration and Congress gave it a mighty push, first by enacting the No Child Left Behind Act, which calls more than 100 times for basing education decisions on “scientifically based research,” and then by reorganizing the Education Department’s research arm into the Institute of Education Sciences, which has led the charge for toughening research standards.

Now, both the No Child Left Behind law and the Education Sciences Reform ActRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, the 2002 law that gave birth to the IES, are up for renewal. The Oval Office will change hands next January, and the six-year term of Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, the IES’ first director, ends in November.

“I think we’re in the midst of a perfect storm brewing,” James W. Kohlmoos, the president of the Knowledge Alliance, a Washington-based organization that represents a wide range of research groups, said at a Feb. 7 conference here on the topic. The conference, sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, was one of two held in recent weeks to focus on what’s ahead for federal education research.

Redefining Proof

One sign that changes may be afoot is the proliferation of proposals to revise the way the federal government defines scientifically based research in education. The NCLB definition emphasizes randomized experiments over other kinds of research, prompting some critics to complain that it promotes too narrow a view of education scholarship. ("‘Scientific’ Label in Law Stirs Debate," Oct. 17, 2007.)

Widely used in medicine, randomized controlled trials are experiments in which subjects are randomly assigned to either the experiment group or a business-as-usual condition. Experts consider such studies the “gold standard” for seeing whether an intervention works. But randomized trials are rarer in education and hard to conduct in some school settings.

By comparison, newer definitions for “scientifically valid” research say that studies that try to make strong cause-and-effect claims may “include but not be limited to random-assignment experiments.” Such definitions popped up in legislation for renewing the Higher Education Act and the federal Head Start program for disadvantaged preschoolers, as well as in an early discussion draft for reauthorizing the NCLB law.

“We can’t be constrained solely by quasi-experimental and random-assignment studies in education,” Roberto Rodriguez, a senior education adviser to U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told participants at a Feb. 21 panel discussion on Capitol Hill. “I also think we have to be more conscious about it and ask ourselves how we’re using that standard and in what context. We may need to have different standards in different environments.”

However, an Education Department official who spoke at the same forum cautioned against going too far in loosening up federal research standards. He said such a step could leave educators to choose programs and products on the basis of fad and anecdote, rather than solid research.

“Unless we bring in rigor, we’re not going to bring in really scientific advances,” said Williamson Evers, the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the Education Department.

Congress Steps In

Another sign of a brewing backlash to the evidence-based movement came recently when Congress succeeded in scuttling a $5 million random-assignment evaluation of the federal Upward Bound program, which provides college assistance to students from disadvantaged families. Program advocates opposed the random-assignment study, which was already under way, because it would deny services to students after they had undergone an elaborate application process.

The congressional action came in the fiscal 2008 omnibus spending bill that President Bush signed into law in late December, which effectively bars any funding of the evaluation in this fiscal year. Furthermore, both the House and Senate versions of bills to renew the Higher Education Act contain language that would prohibit such an evaluation in the future. Those bills, which differ on other issues, are awaiting reconciliation.

The Education Department, which had originally signaled it would either retool the study or press on with it, notified grantees on Feb. 21 of its plans drop the study.

Proponents of the evidence-based movement, including Mr. Whitehurst of the IES, see the congressional ban on the randomized study as a dangerous precedent. “To have a program put outside the realm of collection of data on its effectiveness ultimately puts that program at risk,” Mr. Whitehurst said at the Feb. 7 meeting, which took place before the House voted that day to pass its version of the HEA bill.

“It is unfortunate, but is that more unfortunate than having the federal government dictate how scientific research should be done?” said Gerald E. Sroufe, the director of government relations for the Washington-based American Educational Research Association, which favors a broader conceptualization of education research than the language used in the NCLB law.

Though his 25,000-member group quibbles with some existing definitions of “scientifically based” research, Mr. Sroufe said the organization would like to see the current IES structure remain mostly intact when Congress gets around to renewing the federal authorization for it—a task that lawmakers are not likely to take up until after the NCLB law is reauthorized.

“There’s a lot of value to the system we have now,” he added. “I do not want to start over and have another authorization like NIE [the National Institute of Education] or OERI [the office of educational research and improvement],” referring to previous incarnations of the federal education research agency.

Other groups favor strengthening some ties between the Education Department and the IES. The research agency was set up to be more independent than its predecessor to protect against potential political bias. Mr. Kohlmoos of the Knowledge Alliance, however, said greater cooperation could help make education research more usable and relevant to educators and policymakers.

“There’s a moat between the Department of Education now and IES, and I think the department needs to build some bridges there,” he said at the American Enterprise Institute meeting.

Innovation Eyed

If any changes are in store for the federal education research enterprise, most experts hope one of them will be an increase in federal support for innovation and for developing applications for research that educators can put into practice fast.

“There has been a real lack of federal support and energy around innovation for the last seven years,” Glenn Kleiman, the executive director of the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University, in Raleigh, said at the Feb. 21 discussion. The event was organized by the Knowledge Alliance, the Software & Information Industry Association, and the Association of American Publishers, three Washington groups with a big stake in the debate on evidence-based research.

“We have to figure out how to remove barriers that are keeping schools from participating in new programs,” Mr. Kleiman said.

One of those barriers, educators at that conference said, has been the accountability provisions of the NCLB law, which mandate sanctions for schools that fail year after year to raise students’ test scores.

“In schools that do not perform well, … principals can lose their jobs,” said Wesley L. Boykin, the executive director of research, accountability, and assessment for the Baltimore County, Md., public schools. “Would you want your superiors to fire you if you were innovative and it failed?”

Federal Money for R&D

The research-and-development budget of the U.S. Department of Education falls far short of the total R&D budgets, shown below in millions of dollars and including facilities, of many other federal agencies.

Educational innovation is also hampered by a lack of federal funding, some experts say. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Education Department’s $321 million budget for research and development in fiscal 2008 is a small fraction of those of most other federal agencies.

“One of the greatest contributions the federal government can make toward innovation would be an increase in funding for research and development in education,” said Nina S. Rees, a former assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the Education Department who is now the senior vice president of strategic initiatives for Knowledge Universe Education, a for-profit education services company based in Menlo Park, Calif.

Trials Gain Traction

Yet to assume that pending political changes could undo the evidence-based movement is to ignore the inroads that it’s made during this decade, proponents have noted. In a report to Congress last May, for instance, the IES listed 23 large-scale, federally sponsored evaluations under way, 18 of which are randomized studies. That is a significant increase from 2000, the report said, when just one of the evaluations under way was a randomized study.

“These are not only showing things that don’t work,” said Jon Baron, the executive director of the Washington-based Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. “A few are also showing things that do work, that do produce important educational outcomes, and positive examples are critical to keep the momentum going.”

The omnibus 2008 spending bill included language strongly supporting federal evaluations “using rigorous methodologies, particularly random assignment, that are capable of producing scientifically valid knowledge regarding which program activities are effective,” and endorsed the IES as the lead agency handling those evaluations.

“Policymakers have passed a tipping point in understanding the need for education to be built on good evidence and research,” Mr. Whitehurst said in an e-mail.

Although nothing bars President Bush or his successor from nominating Mr. Whitehurst to another six-year term as IES director, he has not publicly expressed interest in continuing in the job.

The research agency is also underwriting interdisciplinary research-training programs in the education sciences for 160 predoctoral students at 10 universities, in an effort to build some future capacity in the field.

“It is the work of a generation that we’re involved in,” Mr. Whitehurst told participants at the AEI forum last month, “not the work of a few years.”

Vol. 27, Issue 26, Pages 1,14

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Berea Middle Tutoring/ Katherine Christie

Christie, Katherine


Education Issues in the News

The debate on education

Cheating in schools

Negative impact of testing in UK

Merit pay in Texas

The stigma of free meals

Single-Sex education

SAT-prep help more affluent?

"Zero tolerance" and public discussions of education

Read the Op-Ed linked below from The Greenville News? Is "zero tolerance" an effective discipline stance for schools? What do the comments on-line reveal about how we view schools and discuss education as a society?

Parents speak against rigid discipline policies

Expulsion can cause lifelong difficulties for students and enduring problems for society

Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2008 - 2:00 am

Feb 6 and 7 class sessions

To Do:

1) Class introductions! Let's introduce ourselves all around. . .

2) Form groups and decide topics for groups/final essay.

3) Email me or come to class with your Qs about assignments, expectations. (Be sure to read "Welcome to the Occupation.")

4) Look at Educational Leadership issues and discuss scholarly writing.

5) More about proof and "scientific". . .

Monday, March 3, 2008

February 4, 2008, First Class Meeting

Some music:

"The Scientist"
(A Rush of Blood to the Head)
© coldplay

Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart
Tell me your secrets, and ask me your questions
Oh let's go back to the start
Running in circles, coming up tails
Heads on a science apart

Nobody said it was easy
Oh it's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said that it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start

I was just guessing at numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart
Questions of science, science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart
Tell me you love me, come back and haunt me
Oh and I rush to the start
Running in circles, chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh it's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I'm going back to the start

Oh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh (x4)

And poetry:

e. e. cummings

[since feeling is first]

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for eachother: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis


[the trick of finding what you didn't lose]

the trick of finding what you didn't lose
(existing's tricky:but to live's a gift)
the teachable imposture of always
arriving at the place you never left

(and i refer to thinking)rests upon
a dismal misconception;namely that
some neither ape nor angel called a man
is measured by his quote eye cue unquote.

Much better than which,every woman who's
(despite the ultramachinations of
some loveless infraworld)a woman knows;
and certain men quite possibly may have

shall we say guessed?"
"we shall" quoth gifted she:
and played the hostess to my morethanme

And a short story:

"Eleven," by Sandra Cisneros

And a comic strip:

"No Pressure," from married to the sea

And maybe some more music:

The National on David Letterman.