Author Archive | James Campbell

Is the term “gifted student” outdated?

 From Education Week:

Whatever we call them, there are students who are ill served by grade-level curriculum—some because they have already mastered it, and others because they are far behind.

One recent study found that, across the United States, 95 percent of kindergartners tested in the fall demonstrated mastery of counting up to 10, identifying one-digit numbers, and recognizing geometric shapes. Despite this widespread level of proficiency, teachers reported spending an average of 12.7 days per month reteaching this content, a finding negatively associated with student learning.

American schools have long focused on remediation with the goal of ensuring that all students reach basic proficiency. But just as struggling children deserve resources to help them catch up, advanced learners also deserve differentiated programming if they are to grow.

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Charter legislation moving in US House

From Education Week:
By
Alyson Klein

States and districts would be encouraged to help grow high-quality charter schools—and ensure that they enroll and retain English-language learners and students in special education—under a bipartisan bill approved overwhelmingly by the House Education and the Workforce Committee last week.

The measure, which was sponsored by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the panel, was approved by a vote of 36 to 3 on April 8.

During debate on the bill, a number of committee Democrats lambasted charter schools for siphoning off resources from other public schools—before voting for the legislation anyway.

Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., bemoaned the fact that the bill does not require charter schools to hold open meetings, a criticism also levied by the National Education Association. And Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., even went so far as to say that charter schools are leading the country “back to a time before Brown v. the Board of Education.”  Read more

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Is parental involvment overrated?

From the New York Times:

Most people, asked whether parental involvement benefits children academically, would say, “of course it does.” But evidence from our research suggests otherwise. In fact, most forms of parental involvement, like observing a child’s class, contacting a school about a child’s behavior, helping to decide a child’s high school courses, or helping a child with homework, do not improve student achievement. In some cases, they actually hinder it.
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Giving Up on 4-Year-Olds

New York Times Editorial

A new report released by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, examining the disciplinary practices of the country’s 97,000 public schools, shows that excessively punitive policies are being used at every level of the public school system — even against 4-year-olds in preschool. This should shame the nation and force it to re-evaluate the destructive measures that schools are using against their most vulnerable children.

Black students, for example, are suspended at three times the rate of white students. Minority children with disabilities fair worst of all; the race effect is amplified when disability comes into the picture. More than one in four minority boys with a disability — and nearly one in five minority girls — receive an out-of-school suspension. Students with disabilities make up 12 percent of the student population, but 25 percent of those are either arrested or have their disciplinary cases referred to the police.

This is distressing enough when it happens to adolescents. But the new data show that disparate treatment of minority children begins early — in preschool. For example, black children represent 18 percent of preschool enrollment but nearly half of all children who receive more than one out-of-school suspension.

The fact that minority children at age 4 are already being disproportionately suspended or expelled is an outrage. The pattern of exclusion suggests that schools are giving up on these children when they are barely out of diapers. It runs counter to the very mission of early education, which is to promote school readiness. It harms children emotionally at an age when they are incapable of absorbing lessons from this form of punishment. And it places those children at greater risk of falling behind, dropping out or becoming permanently involved with the juvenile justice system. Federal civil rights officials do not explain why minority preschool students are being disproportionately singled out for suspension.

Regardless of the causes, there are ways to combat this crisis. Walter Gilliam of Yale University, who has studied the expulsion problem extensively, has suggested several ways to minimize it. Among other things, Mr. Gilliam has called for: limiting enrollment to 10 students per preschool teacher (preferably less) so that teachers have adequate time with the students; making sure that those teachers work reasonable hours; and giving them access to children’s mental health consultants who can assist them with the occasional difficult case. Young children with challenging behaviors should not be thrown out but should be assessed to see if a more therapeutic environment might better suit their needs. The goal should be to do everything possible to bring them into the mainstream.

The Obama administration has taken some steps to end practices that disproportionately and unjustifiably subject minority students to suspension, expulsion or even arrest for behavior that should be dealt with by the principal. It has ramped up civil rights investigations and forced some districts to modify their policies.

Earlier this year, it issued extensive guidance to school districts on to how recognize and avoid discriminatory practices, and it called for more training for teachers in classroom management. School districts need to re-examine how they discipline students, especially the youngest and most fragile in their care.

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