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Define “good practice”, please

September 30, 2010

The more I delve into topics dealing with the education “reform” movement, the more I conclude that what really gets a chance is the noisy, splashy stuff.  People (in the media, at least) want dogs and ponies, whistles, Lady Voldemort’s, oops, I mean, Michelle Rhee’s sneering sound bite in the promos for that movie whose-name-I-will-not-mention, mariachi bands, the like.  It’s not necessary that solutions actually work over the long term, rather that they render the impression to a casual observer that “something” is being done.  And a big, raucous something that lacks substance beats the pants off a well-constructed and deliberate response that lacks pizazz. That’s why I appreciate the irony of the brief description of a  story that the NBC site had posted this past Sunday (during their week-long homage to charter schools and the notion that business-types and wealthy folks are eminently more qualified to talk about the future of education than educators).

KUSA’s Nelson Garcia takes a look at one Colorado school district that is finding success by grouping students by ability rather than age.

Whoa, wait a minute, results are out on the success part.  If you watch the clip, you will hear an administrator admitting that CSAP scores actually dropped this past year.  Not exactly success as we are currently defining it.  District officials expect results will change in the next 3-5 years, as the program gets more established.  Hmm, doesn’t research already advocate for giving a program 3-5 years to establish norms before determining its effectiveness?  My question here is mostly about which ideas get implemented to improve performance, as well as the motives behind doing so.  Honestly, this plan sounds a little disruptive and I do have to wonder how the kids establish relationships and manage to make connections with key people they can trust.  It does earn points for splashiness, but how is it really working? Rumor has it at least one other district in the state is testing the same waters.  I would really enjoy hearing more stories about attention-getting innovations in your state.  Are they working as well as their PR would have us believe?  Please share.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2010 6:47 pm

    I stand for the notion that learning needs to be self sustaining for life, individually directed and joyful.
    I stand for the idea that all learning is social, active and interactive.
    I stand for the notion that play is the work of the child and that teachers are crucial to the learning process.
    (I could go on!)

  2. mariasallee permalink*
    September 30, 2010 7:42 pm

    Thanks, Josie. I agree with all the above. Are you also an early educator, by chance?

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  1. Define “good practice”, please « Failing Schools « Parents 4 democratic Schools

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