"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Wish List

Better schools! That is certainly one wish one could make. But how do schools become better? Some wishes simply tell what is wanted. But there are wishes that allow us to see more. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently published a study supported by the American Institutes of Research outlining steps needed to reform education in the United States:
Downloaded from http://naacp.3cdn.net/b405f72ea227a97b84_mlbrus9il.pdf
The NAACP believes that education reform must have the following basic elements:

  • Preschool education 
  • Effective teaching
  • More time for more learning
  • Targeted spending for widespread success
Preschool education basically address the wide gaps between children who enter kindergarten. These gaps include exposure to vocabulary and reading readiness. Improving preschool education both at home and daycare centers may address these gaps.

Challenges in effective teaching include the lack of collaboration among educators, absence of informative teaching evaluations, and poor alignment between actual teaching and teacher preparation obtained from colleges.

More time for more learning does not simply imply increase in instructional hours. More importantly, it must be time spent wisely. 

Widespread success can come from coordinated efforts that address the educational, social and health needs of the society. Recruitment and retention of high quality teachers where they are much needed is a worthy investment for society. 

The NAACP nicely summarizes the challenges and proposed solutions addressing the four elements with the following figures (downloaded from http://naacp.3cdn.net/b405f72ea227a97b84_mlbrus9il.pdf)

Preschool Education

Effective Teaching

More Time for More Learning

Targeted Spending for Widespread Success

One section in the report that really caught my attention is a wish list, an "Action Plan for the School Quality Activist". I would like to share here NAACP's list under the heading "Effective Teaching":

By 2020, we want every parent in America to be able to say the following:
  1. Teachers at my child’s school have a system where they spend time planning and working together to help each child learn.
  2. New and veteran teachers in our schools have opportunities to demonstrate their teaching skills in the classroom, coaches to help them perfect their lessons, and several weekly activities that help them become better teachers. 
  3. My child’s school has several ways of evaluating teachers and helping them improve, including observations of their teaching methods and the work that students produce.
  4. Schools and universities in my community help identify and prepare high school students who want to be teachers for the challenges they will experience in college and the classroom.
  5. Schools and universities in my community provide college students who want to be teachers at least a year of practice teaching experience linked to their coursework.
  6. Schools in my community provide mentors and continuous help for new teachers.
  7. Schools in my community have a plan to recruit parents, teachers’ aides, and other community members into teacher training and support them in their local schools.
What is on your wish list?



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