Wednesday, September 30, 2009
In fact, the National Bureau of Economic Research noted that as of late 1975, the United States granted more scientific and engineering doctorates than Europe, and more than three times as many as Asia. However, by 2001, Europe granted 40% more science and engineering doctorates than the United States. Furthermore, the U.S. ranks below 13 other countries in the percentage of 24 year olds with a college degree in STEM related subjects, down from the third place 25 years ago. Overall, it’s not surprising that most engineering jobs are now given to people born abroad. Indeed, 24% of U.S. jobs requiring a Ph.D. in science and technology were filled by individuals born abroad in 1990. Now that number has increased to 38%. If current trends continue, by 2010, 90 percent of all scientists and engineers will be living in Asia.
With the way STEM education has been progressing and the retirement of the baby-boomers, The National Academy of Science argues that we will eventually lose quality jobs to other nations, resulting in a lower standard of living, reduction of tax revenues, and weaker domestic market for goods and services.
Our task as educators is to educate graduates for STEM related fields. First of all, we need to reshape the curriculum. With the creation of No Child Left Behind Act, intense focus on math and reading has been placed across schools at the expense of programs focusing on science, engineering, and technology. Furthermore, NCLB requires students to be only tested in reading and math. The literature suggests that the U.S. is the only country that emphasizes reading/language over math/science. Other nations have recognized for a long time how important science and math education is to the future of the country. The United States needs to grasp the same lesson.
The research also suggests that we do not have trained teachers educating our students. In fact, there is a shortage of trained science and math teachers. A study found that 28% of science teachers who teach science in middle school and high school do not have a major in science. Even more shocking is that 40% of public school math teachers who teach math in grades 7-12 have not majored in math in college. It seems that math and science graduates have more lucrative career options than teaching. After all, the state teaching certification requirements has not made it easier or more appealing for trained graduates to enter the field of teaching.
I agree with Steve Ricks, a state director of the STEM initiative, in that the first step for educators is to have the students enjoy the subjects. Schools can establish this with trained professionals. Teachers who have not majored in math/science already approach the subject as if it was something difficult, giving students the impression that math and science are difficult subjects. A survey also discovered that nearly two-thirds of students are discouraged to pursue STEM careers because they don’t have contact with anyone who works in these fields.
I believe that school curriculums need to be reshaped entirely so that math/science are priority. Furthermore, I think schools need to do a better job recruiting science/math teachers and exposing students to STEM related careers. With enough perseverance and funding, I believe that the United States can at least provide some skilled STEM workers so that we do not depend entirely on Europe and Asia.
A Framework for Understanding Poverty
Today, teachers, principals, administrators are in a quandary. They are faced with enormous challenges on how to close educational achievement gap between poor and wealthy school districts. The pressure is even more apparent for those failing school district with large number of disadvantage, homeless and foster children. Since the advent of NCLB law in 2002, administrators and principals have been scrambling around trying to find programs that address the needs of disadvantage children, so that teachers could apply different learning methods and use tools to help their students improve test scores. One such person who received a great deal of popularity is Ruby Payne, author of the book, A Framework for understanding Poverty. She conducts over two hundred workshops a year based on the principles from her book. The main components of her book are scenarios and topics such as the use or lack of resources, “hidden rules” of different classes, language and story in speaking and writing, characteristics of poverty (generational and situational), and different approaches to discipline, role models and support systems. Her workshops focus on the habits and behaviors of people with different socioeconomic backgrounds. Some educators in school districts praise her work, while academic researchers frown upon it.
How useful is A Framework for Understanding Poverty in closing the achievement gap for poor students? According to Payne, it may serve as “practical, real-world support and guidance in working with people from all socioeconomic backgrounds” (1995).
It may help educators:
· Establish open dialogue about issues of poverty particularly “class” differences
· Recognize and apply cognitive strategies to be used to create meaningful relationships between teacher and student
· Recognize the different characteristics of poverty, generational and situational so that recommendations can be made to the appropriate support agencies.
· Reinforce “formal register” language skills over “casual register” to improve test-taking and employability skills.
· Take the initiative to be good role models in supporting student learning
· Establish open communication with parents and guardians
Some positive comments include:
“…the chapter on The Role of Language and Story…has changed the way I approach writing in the classroom.”
“…I found her explanation of the registers of language and issues surrounding them to be particularly useful in understanding some of the problems in schools today that are related to both cognition and behavior.”
“…Payne’s book has helped me look at my students behaviors through a different lens.”
Some of Payne’s work has been met with much criticism from academic scholars. The two most common criticisms have been that her work is based on assumptions rather than scientific thought, and that she perpetuates offensive stereotypes of poor families. For example the quiz from her book, “Could You Survive Poverty” make reference to these comments about people in poverty:
· I know how to get someone out of jail…
· I know how to get a gun even if I have a police record…(p.38)
Bohn (2006) says, “her work ignore social science research on poverty and language.” Gorski (2006) says that “Payne manages to exploit nearly every stereotypical deficiency” of the poor. Perhaps this might be true.
Payne’s work has raised a level of awareness in identifying different language styles and characteristics “hidden rules” of people who grow up in poverty, and that these differences in social and cultural belief influence student behaviors in the school environment. By knowing this, it may help teachers to connect and reestablish better teaching methods with poor students. However, as her critics point out it can be dangerous when she offends the same ethnic groups and does not address serious social issues that plague our schools. Perhaps, Payne needs to revamp or rework on issues relating classism and social injustices. If we want poor students to be successful in school and work, we need to modify lesson plans and instructional activities. Perhaps, if we put more emphasis on project-base learning activities, this may help improve critical thinking skills, promote creative thinking and teamwork and thus lead to better test-taking skills for all students.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
The Federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation has impacted every public classroom around the Country by redirecting the focus of our teachers towards the state tests. Schools have begun to spend more time on math and reading as compared to other subjects. Some schools have even lengthened the time of the math and reading periods. Teachers are spending so much time teaching to the state tests that they have narrowed the content of the curriculum being taught to our children. Students are not being provided with adequate time to develop their critical thinking skills. Nor are they provided with adequate time to pursue other special interests such as art and music. More time is however, being spent on individual students who fail to meet the benchmarks set for state standardized tests. Schools have begun to analyze individual student test results to determine which students need more help. These students are being pulled out of other classes to be tutored in the area of reading and math. This practice has reduced the achievement gap with regard to the standardized tests.
The NCLB legislation was signed into law in January 2002 with bipartisan support. The purpose of the legislation is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and assessments. The NCLB legislation requires every state to put in place a set of standards together with a detailed testing plan designed to make sure the standards are being met. These standards defined by the individual states must at least include math, reading, language arts and science. The legislation requires schools to raise reading and math test scores and it gives the states twelve years to reach their target. The success of the legislation, as it is currently written, will be highly dependent upon the way it is administered by states and specific strategies they devise to promote improvement. Since the fifty states are allowed to set different academic standards, states are able to dummy down their standards and testing which may result in artificially high test scores.
While NCLB holds schools accountable for their students’ test scores, individual students are not. NCLB does not require standards for high school graduation or levels of performance for passing one grade to the next. While states can require these standards on their own, they are under no Federal mandate to do so. Arne Duncan, U.S. Education Secretary, “thinks we are lying to our students because when they meet state standards, there is a false assumption that they’re prepared for leaving high school. But when the students have trouble passing the ACT and SAT tests, it becomes evident that they were not adequately prepared at the high school level. Our students must be prepared for global competition when they graduate high school. National college-ready standards would ensure that no student is surprised when they leave high school and take college entrance exams.” National standards that conform to internationally bench marked standards must be incorporated into the NCLB legislation to prepare our students for the global competition which they will face upon entering the job market.
Peterson, Paul E. No Child Left Behind? The Politics and Practice of School Accountability
Duncan, Arne – Interview with Brian Lehrer – summer 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Eighty-seven percent of U.S. citizens ages twenty-five to thirty-four earned a high school degree in 2004. Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development recently released over half of the countries’ population of twenty-five to thirty-four individuals report earning a high school diploma. Furthermore, Canada, Japan, Korea, and a few other elite countries exceed this percentage to ninety percent. The U.S. dropped in rank to 16th in high school graduation and 9th in higher education enrollments. The U.S. higher education enrollment increase to twenty-one percent from 1995 to 2003. However, this increase is insignificant to countries such as, Australia, the Czech Republic, Greece, and several others. These countries postsecondary education enrollment increased from thirty-three percent to one hundred and sixty-nine percent from 1995 to 2003.
The higher education system invites international students to attend U.S. universities and colleges. However, once international students achieve their degree they fly home to their native country a hero. These former students then become the U.S. competition. Back in their native homes advancements develop in companies from technology to engineering.
Drawing awareness to global competition sheds light on closing the achievement gap. The urgency of not only maintaining, but improving the education system contributes to raising the issue of the achievement gap. In response to global competition affecting the education system the U.S. stress improvement on standardize test.
John V. Farr and Donna M. Brazil suggest emphasizing leadership skills. Farr and Brazil, mainly focused on the development for future engineers, provide insight into how educators can inspire students to learn on a different level. Instilling leadership skills presents students with a chance to act proactively in their education, instead of taking the back sit and allowing teachers to man the forefront.
Survival of the fittest is a humanistic reaction. Global competition is an issue that will always raise important conversations. For years to come, the U.S. and other countries will fight to be the best. However, education will be the key piece to staying one step ahead of the competition.
Note: Language Arts and Mathematics standards are not yet rolled out as "revised." For these and all standards that are still in a draft stage, use the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards Archives, found at:
2. Think of your 5 favorite units & lessons:
Do they match the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for your grade level?
If not, can the lesons be modified to do so?
If the answer to eithr question is "yes," add thse lessons to your map first!
3. Fill in lessons for 80% of the days between September and April (expect the unexpected)
4. Put them in a sensible sequence
5. Put those that don’t make the top list in May or June
6. Put the rest on an “if-there’s-time” list
Fixing and Preventing the Dropout Rate
The rate at which students in the United States drop out of school has remained alarmingly high for many years. In fact, it has been estimated that one in eight children never graduate from high school in their lifetime, and that 1.2 million students drop out of school every year. According to Sandra Christenson and Martha Thurlow (2004), dropout statistics are especially distressing since jobs that pay “living wages” and benefits have essentially disappeared for young adults without a high school diploma. Those who do manage to find a job will earn $9,245 less per year than their counterparts who have obtained a high school diploma. Numerous programs have been established throughout the country in light of this epidemic that include counseling services, mentoring programs, tutoring, attendance monitoring, and after-school programs.
In the article School Dropouts: Prevention Considerations, Interventions, and Challenges, Christenson and Thurlow discuss various intervention programs that have been established to help prevent students from dropping out of school. Students may begin to consider dropping out of school at a very young age; therefore interventions to prevent this should begin at an early age and should remain in effect throughout the high school years. This article maintains that “supporting students to help them meet the academic standards of their schools, as well as the underlying social and behavioral standards” will increase students’ engagement and enthusiasm for school, which will encourage them to stay in school. When students are engaged in school they will become academically and socially successful throughout their education and therefore more likely to graduate.
In the article School Dropouts/Truancy, Frances Prevatt discusses the factors that predict students who will drop out of school, programs that have been established to help prevent dropping out, and other factors that contribute to the high dropout rate in this country. Prevatt describes students with disruptive and aggressive behavior and achieved low academic grades as early as first grade were more likely to drop out of school before graduating. In addition, unpopular students and students with low self-esteem were more likely to drop out of school. This article also described the factors associated with a high likelihood of graduating from high school. These factors include the existence of strong relationships that are capable of overriding the peer pressure to drop out of school, the ability to comply with school regulations, and a higher level of parent educational attainment.
In the article Increasing Rates of School Completion: Moving from Policy and Research to Practice, the authors discuss the issues surrounding school dropout rates and interventions to help increase graduation rates. This article asserts that a review of school performance, including behavior, attendance, and academics, during the elementary years can identify future dropouts fairly reliably. Since the decision to drop out takes many years, early intervention is the best approach to encourage students to graduate. The authors of this article give various components of intervention programs that have been shown to have some validity through a review of numerous studies. The components that seem to have the most positive outcomes in reducing the dropout rate include a combination of counseling, smaller and more personal classrooms, vocational training, and personal and family related support systems.
The article, Can Early Intervention Prevent High School Dropout? Evidence from the Chicago Child-Parent Centers discusses an intervention program that was implemented in twenty Chicago school systems. The Chicago Child-Parent Center and Expansion Program offered a government-funded educational intervention program for preschool through third grade in twenty of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. This article sought to determine if the students who received those intervention programs as children would be more likely to graduate high school. It was established that participation in the intervention program was associated with a seven to eight percentage point reduction in the probability of dropout. It was established that the involvement of parents in schooling and avoidance of frequently changing schools are also important predictors of high school completion.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Technology & Curriculum
By Kristina E. Bergman
Technology in schools is not only up and coming, it is already here. If you are not on the proverbial technology train, you will be left far behind. Unfortunately, many of US schools, especially those located in urban and rural areas, are the last to get on board. The era of Essentialism and Perennialism philosophy in schools is on its way out. The current philosophies are the Progressivism and Reconstructivism philosophies, both benefiting from being society centered and being sensitive to global issues, as well as being student and activity centered, and deemphasizing the role of the three R’s and rote learning.
The advancements of technology today not only go across the US, but encompass the world. This results in increased pressure on US high school and US college undergraduates to become more competitive in what they decide to do as a career. There is no longer a guarantee of a good, high paying job unless you are either a college graduate in one of the STEM areas or at least a high school grad with vocational training in Computer Technology or Engineering. This increased awareness that the US is falling farther and farther down the global technology ladder, in regards to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), is alarming. We, as educators, need to encourage our students to learn the skills necessary to better prepare them for the future. Using technology both in the classroom and out is an excellent way to accomplish this goal. Considered a ‘disruptive innovation’ by Clayton Christianson, on line education is a new tool that will completely change the way we currently teach and transfer knowledge to our students. On line education is so simple, anyone, any age, can use it, or in other words, it has ‘asymmetrical competition’. Today, laptops are not only affordable, but highly portable. Combined with wireless capabilities, and the small wireless attachments available, the world can now be at anyone’s fingertips, anywhere at all. The latest statistics show that by 2013, approximately 10% of all classroom seat time will be utilizing on line instruction. This will not only teach to individual needs, which studies have shown, are how students learn best, but the software available will also allow students to go at their own pace. As an example, I personally offer my Special Education students time in the high school computer lab to hone their computer skills with a research project on a specific historical person. They have relatively no difficulties in negotiating the web or finding out how to do the computer programs. They have more questions regarding spelling or grammar or how the project should be set up than about how to work on the computer. Occasionally, we use the laptops in my classroom as well, as our school has wireless capabilities. Several of our classrooms have the new technology, ‘Starboard’, a form of smartboard that utilizes the computer to bring more of the World Wide Web to our students. New lessons, new people, and new teaching ideas – all thanks to technological advances in curriculum and grant money.
Incorporating technology into our teaching and our curriculum is imperative to prepare our US students to compete with other global countries and give them a fair and level playing field. Statistics have shown that public schools have spent nearly 60 million dollars putting computers and technology in the classroom. Unfortunately, placing all this new upgraded technology on top of old business and technology, usually leads to breakdowns in the form of down time, slow service and frustration. One plan to incorporate this technology into everyday curriculum is with careful planning and cooperation. Initially, a technology planning team would be organized, which would be comprised of a sampling from all segments of the school and the community. It should include members of administration, teaching staff, and business persons who are technological experts in their field, as well as parents. They should select a team leader, to keep them on target and to shoot for an approximate finish date. There should be specifics on how the technology will be used in the school; how the role of the teacher and parent can be affective; and most importantly, how will this technology ultimately benefit the students of the school to be successful in this globally competitive market?
As schools continue to struggle to find an even medium, hopefully they can use technology and curriculum to help them, not only keep up with a changing world, but equal and surpass the world markets without spending significant amounts of time and tax payer’s money.
Dugan, Jay. Blog from April 11, 2009, titled “Technology & Change: Disruptive Innovation”
Guhlin, Miguel. Blog from 9/14/09 titled, “Defining 21st Century Literacy’s” from Around the Corner; mguhlin.org: Stare into the Abyss of Curriculum.Curriculum, Foundations, Principles, & Issues, 5th edition, pgs.38-52.
Ruby K. Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty, has sold over 1,000,000 copies sine 1996. Her company aha! Process Inc. conducts 800 to 1,000 workshops and seminars a year. Dr. Payne has been considered by some to be the premier expert on the effects of poverty on children in regards to education. Others view Dr. Payne and her work with a much more critical eye. I’ve found considerably more criticism than praise.
A Framework for Understanding Poverty is intended by the author to provide people living in middle and upper classes with a better understanding of the challenges that face those living in poverty. Payne’s company has built an entire model based on her framework. Aha! Process Inc. defines the model as “a comprehensive, research based approach to success in schools that meets the requirements set under the Federal no Child Left Behind Act.” According to the company’s website, aha! Process Inc. is conducting a study in 28 schools to measure the effects of the model.
The following is a chapter-by-chapter summary, taken from information provided by WikEd, a project of the CTER program, an online Master of Education degree program in the Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Chapter One – Definitions and Resource: prepares the reader to understand the messages in the rest of the book by defining several terms. This chapter also gives a scenario involving a 10 year old girl living in poverty.
Chapter Two – The Role of Language and Story: an overview of the five different registers of language, concentrating on formal and casual. This chapter offers the ability to use formal registers (and its benefits) as one of Payne’s “hidden rules of the middle class.”
Chapter Three – Hidden Rules among Classes: begins with a quiz that helps to point out to the reader things that are taken for granted by members of upper and middle classes. This chapter also provides a chart consisting of some “hidden rules among classes.”
Chapter Four – Characteristics of Generational Poverty: provides differences between generational poverty and situational property and middle class.
Chapter Five – Role Models and Emotional Resources: discusses the importance of appropriate role models and emotional support to those living in poverty. This chapter also advises that those living in poverty are often raised in dysfunctional relationships, and this inhibits children from going through developmental stages at appropriate times.
Chapter Six – Support Systems: is an overview of the support systems that a child can access in times of need. This chapter provides seven categories of support systems.
Chapter Seven – Discipline: describes Dr. Payne’s approach to a successful discipline plan for poverty-stricken students. This chapter advocates the use of structure and choice, behavior analysis, participation of the students, and teaching hidden rules (among others).
Chapter Eight – Instruction and Improving Achievement: seeks to provide teachers with instructional strategies that will lead to achievement.
Chapter Nine – Creating Relationships: seeks to provide educators with strategies to build relationships with students living in poverty, which can lead to achievement for those students.
One of many reasons why critics have begun to question the validity of the information within A Framework for Understanding Poverty is because Dr. Payne is essentially self-published. The information within books that are self-published does not have to be verifiable, valid, reproducible, or reliable. One published critic, Anita Bohn, questions the validity of Payne’s case studies in her 2006 article “A Framework for Understanding Ruby Payne.” Bohn writes that Payne’s case studies are no more “substantive than a few random anecdotes about children and families she claims to have encountered over the years.” Bohn’s dislike of Payne is made apparent by the terminology she uses; she refers to followers of Payne’s work as “minions.”
Bohn is particularly concerned with one certain element of Payne’s work. Bohn was told by a teacher who had participated in an aha! Process Inc. seminar that she learned that “poor people can’t think abstractly.” This quote makes it fairly easy to see why Bohn as well as many others find the picture of poverty-stricken children and families painted by Payne’s work to be insulting, superficial, and bigoted. A 2008 content analysis of Payne’s framework, Miseducating Teachers about the Poor: A Critical Analysis of Ruby Payne's Claims about Poverty by Bomer et al. concludes that Payne’s work is an example of “deficit thinking,” (a deficit thinker believes that minority children lack something).
Paul Gorski, founder of EdChange, is another published critic of Payne. Gorski has written that Payne is a participant is what has been called “the war against the poor.” He feels that Payne’s belief that people in poverty share a “mindset” or “culture” that differs from that of the upper and middle classes unfairly generalizes people in lower socio-economic classes. Gorski speculates that there is no way that poor white U.S. citizens from Appalachian West Virginia, and poor Somali refuges share the same mind set and culture. According to Gorski, Payne’s framework is built on the concept of this shared mindset.
Another area that has raised concern among critics is the notion that Payne’s work seems to attempt to place blame for the lack of academic success among low-income students outside of schools.
The book itself (as opposed to the ideas within) and Payne’s company have also been heavily criticized. Upon booking a seminar with aha! Process Inc. the booker is required to purchase one copy of A Framework for Understanding Poverty per participant. Adversaries of Payne claim she has sold most of her book’s one million copies through these seminars. It is also said that the book reads like a workbook with answers missing and is useless without the seminar.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
No Child Left Behind law
Political Impacts on Education
High Stakes Assessments/NAEP
Core Curriculum Content Standards
What is Curriculum?
Fundamentals of Curriculum
STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics
The Shift from Industrial to Service Oriented Jobs
Narrowing the Achievement Gap
Year Round Schools
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Statistics such as these present a national problem. According to the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, U.S. high school students rank 18th below other countries in math and science literacy. Countries in Western Europe and Asia are, for the first time in history, surpassing us in STEM advancements.
The implications for such trends affect our standing as a world leader as well as our national economy as a whole. There is currently a shortage of highly skilled workers in our country, for which there is high demand, and a surplus of lesser skilled workers, for which there is low demand. This has led many of our businesses to “import brainpower” from others nations. In 2000 it was found that nearly 40% of jobs requiring Ph.D.s in science or technology were filled by foreign-born workers; in 1990 only 25% of such jobs were filled by foreign-born workers. Our nation is also, increasingly, filling its Ph.D. programs with foreign-born students; according to the National Science Foundation, foreign-born individuals in 2003 comprised the majority of all Ph.D. recipients in computer science (57%), electrical engineering (57%), civil engineering (54%), and mechanical engineering (52%). With increased presence and demand for highly skilled workers abroad, it is speculated that aspiring STEM workers from those countries will not only eventually cease coming to the U.S. for STEM education, but STEM employment as well. The absence of so many highly skilled workers would be detrimental to our future.
According to reports conducted by Eric A. Hanushek of Stanford University, putting into effect STEM education reform efforts would not only strengthen our country’s place in the technological world by encouraging more students to seek STEM professions, but such reform would also lead to great economic improvement. Hanushek projected that the U.S. gross domestic product would be 4% higher in 2025 than it would be without such reform and 10% higher by 2040. The 4% increase, alone, would be enough to cover the annual cost of K-12 public education.
STEM education reform is not an easy task. School districts would, potentially, face a variety of obstacles such as curriculum issues, time constraints, a lack of funding, a lack of qualified teachers, and potentially low teacher retention due to finances or motivation to pursue other careers. Societal attitudes may also prove to be a challenge to STEM reform; education in STEM content areas are often viewed to be “not for everybody”, irrelevant, too hard, or merely a stepping stone to a career too difficult to attain. The benefits of STEM education reform, nonetheless, are clearly reason enough to face these obstacles and lead our nation toward further educational, economic, and job prosperity.