Thursday, December 23, 2010

Maybe you are failing the school, Chancellor ...

Tireseus (the blind prophet): Do you really think closing schools is the answer?

Chancellor: The school is failing.

Tireseus: Or maybe you are failing the school. Why not give them what they need to succeed?

Chancellor: But schools must be held accountable.

Tireseus: And what about you, Chancellor? Who’s holding you accountable?

From: Declassified: Struggle for Existence (We Used to Eat Lunch Together). Conceived of by students from Jamaica High School and Queens Collegiate High School in the Actor’s Workshop at Queensborough Community College. Full play available at:

Boring Study

Data from the 2007 and 2008 High School Survey of Student Engagement

Pervasiveness of Boredom in School
* Two out of three respondents (67% in each year) are bored at least every day in class in high school.
* Approximately half of the students (51% in 2007, 50% in 2008) are bored every day.
* Approximately one out of every six students (16% in 2007, 17% in 2008) are bored in every class.
* Only 2% in each year report never being bored

Reasons Why School Is Boring
* More than four out of five cited a reason for their boredom as "Material wasn't interesting" (83% in 2007, 82% in 2008).
* About two out of five students (41% in each year) claimed that the lack of relevance of the material caused their boredom.
* About one-third of the students (33% in 2007, 32% in 2008) were bored because "Work wasn't challenging enough."
* Just over one-fourth (27% in each year) of respondents were bored because "Work was too difficult."
* More than one-third of respondents (35% in each year) were bored due to "No interaction with teacher."

Perceived Impact of School on Future Success
Not more than one-third of the students reported that their school contributed "Very Much" to their growth in the following areas related to rigor and relevance:

* "Acquiring skills related to work after high school" (23% in 2007, 24% in 2008)
* "Writing effectively" (31% in 2007, 30% in 2008)
* "Speaking effectively" (27% in each year)
* "Thinking critically" (32% in each year)
* "Reading and understanding challenging materials" (28% in each year)
* "Learning independently" (28% in 2007, 30% in 2008)
* "Solving real-world problems" (20% in 2007, 21% in 2008)

Source: Adapted from Yazzie-Mintz, E. (2009). Engaging the voices of students: A report on the 2007 and 2008 high school survey of student engagement (pp. 5–8). Bloomington, IN: Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, Indiana University.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ebook report

Survey: Most teachers pay out of pocket for e-books
The price of electronic books and e-readers may be keeping many teachers from using them in the classroom, according to a recent survey. A report found that school librarians were more likely to use e-books because, in most cases, they were paid for by the school. However, among teachers who purchased e-books, 70% say they had to pay for the books themselves.
Fredricks, J. (2010). eBooks: K-12 Educators' Usage and Attitudes. Egremont.

California teacher shortage report

California's budget crisis is worsening teacher shortage
The number of teachers in California has dropped to a 10-year low, and about one-third of the state's teaching force is expected to retire during the next decade, according to a report. Meanwhile, the report shows that California's budget troubles have reduced the number of first- and second-year teachers, and training programs are enrolling fewer participants. The report calls for adequate funding for public education and a greater focus on teacher development.
Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. (2010). California’s Teaching Force 2010. Santa Cruz: Author.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Low-performing schools study

Failing schools are rarely improved or closed
Schools that struggle to meet standards rarely improve and rarely are being closed, according to a new study that shows only 1% of schools said to be failing in 2003-04 exceeded state standards five years later. The study examined failing elementary and middle schools in 10 states, and found that more than 90% of such schools remained in the bottom quartile of schools after five years.
Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Basis Policy Research. (2010). Are bad schools immortal?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Teacher performance study

Gates Study Offers Teacher-Effectiveness Clues
Preliminary findings show that value-added histories and student perceptions of teachers strongly predict teacher performance. “Value added” gauges based on growth in student test scores and students’ perceptions of their teachers both hold promise as components of a system for identifying and promoting teacher effectiveness, according to preliminary findings from the first year of a major study. The study found that student improvement on standardized tests reflected gains in learning and critical-thinking skills, not memorization, as some critics have suggested. Furthermore, the value-added predictions were corroborated by the results of student surveys, which often identified the same teachers as the most effective.
Gates Foundation. (2010). Measures of effective teaching. Seattle: Gates Foundation.