3456 Chapters
Medium 9781935542544

Part I: Will and Skill

Anthony Muhammad Solution Tree Press ePub

PART I

WILL and SKILL

 

Introduction

The question of how to improve schools has long plagued practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and community members. Some have argued that the problem with low-performing schools is cultural—related to the people within the system and their beliefs, norms, attitudes, and behaviors (Green, 2005). Others have argued that the problem is structural—related to the structure of our educational system and its policies, practices, and procedures. They believe that low achievement is the product of a bad system (Viadero, 2010). We assert that it is a combination of the two—not one or the other—that has led to poor outcomes for students, particularly for struggling and underserved students, many of whom are from minority groups.

With the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, closing achievement gaps among diverse student groups became a focus of the federal government in the United States, as schools and districts were required to disaggregate student test scores and other performance data by student characteristics. This legislation created both a greater awareness of racial disparities and a rising concern about other kinds of achievement gaps, such as socioeconomic. In the decade since the law passed, most achievement gaps have not been closed to an appreciable degree, despite the introduction of more targeted interventions for different groups of students.

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Medium 9781936763528

Chapter 4 Moving Compliance to the Side of Your Plate

Lyle Kirtman Solution Tree Press ePub

Ironically, many state approaches to accountability distract leaders from focusing on improvement. The Gordon Commission (2013), a group of highly respected educational leaders, drew this very conclusion: “Accountability is not the problem. The problem is that other purposes of assessment, such as providing instructionally relevant feedback to teachers, get lost when the sole goal of the state is to use them to obtain an estimate of how much students learned in the course of a year” (p. 7).

Students are born creative and curious. By the time they enter high school, however, we have removed most of the fun and excitement from their educational experience and put in its place pressure to score high on tests and prepare for the world of being serious and getting ahead. We also seem to dash the creative spirit of teachers and administrators who at one time thought they would be part of a culture immersed in the joy of learning. One superintendent in New Jersey with whom we worked shared that he was not enjoying his work and did not feel he was a leader. He felt like his real job was not superintendent but rather compliance officer.

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Medium 9780983302032

Chapter Four: Improving Your Thinking

David A. Sousa Triple Nickel Press ePub

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

ALBERT EINSTEIN

A FEW YEARS AGO, THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION ESTIMATED THAT the average human brain generates between 12,000 and 50,000 thoughts per day, depending on how deep a thinker the person is. The unsettling part of this statistic is that most of these thoughts are nonsense—lamenting over the past, combating guilt, worrying about the future, drifting into fantasy, and playing with fiction. Frequently, these thoughts are negative, wasting valuable neural energy on past and unchangeable events. This leaves just a few thoughts for positive and consequential things. Being mindful of your thoughts is another important step toward raising your emotional intelligence and a key factor in getting the most from your brain’s extraordinary capabilities.

Thinking is essential to your survival and to your success as a leader. Do you ever think about your thinking? Ever wonder how a three-pound mass of tangible flesh can create such phantom things like ideas? Or how electric signals traveling across tiny cells can produce a symphony, design a computer, or create a weapon of mass destruction? From birth (some say, before), the brain collects information about the world and organizes it to form a representation of that world. This mental model describes thinking, the process we use to function in our environment.

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Medium 9781934009512

Chapter 8 RTI and Differentiation in Mathematics

William N. Bender Solution Tree Press ePub

While most RTI programs in middle and high schools have dealt with reading, some, like the Tigard High School RTI model described in chapter 2, provide RTI interventions for students struggling in mathematics. It will come as no surprise that students entering high school are often not prepared for algebra, and many are ill prepared for even lower-grade mathematics (Cole & Wasburn-Moses, 2010). It seems clear that upper-grade teachers of mathematics, like teachers in the reading-dependent core content areas discussed previously, will need to implement various RTI interventions as well as a wider array of differentiated instructional tactics and strategies in Tier 1 to deal with this widening gap between top- and bottom-level achievers in mathematics. In short, both RTI and differentiated instruction have become increasingly essential to meet students’ needs in mathematics.

One subtlety within these reports involves the number of students who require intensive interventions to succeed in mathematics. In fact, the data cited suggest that the need for RTI procedures and differentiated instructional supports in mathematics may be considerably greater than the need for supports in reading in the upper grade levels. As discussed in chapter 1, the traditional RTI model suggests that traditional whole-class instruction in reading, coupled with differentiated instruction, meets the needs of 80 percent of students. In contrast, these statistics suggest that by the end of eighth grade, traditional instruction in mathematics meets the needs of only 32 percent of all students (Lee, Grigg, & Dion, 2007; National Mathematics Advisory Panel [NMAP], 2008). It is quite possible that many more students need Tier 2 interventions in mathematics, as well as more intensive instruction at the Tier 1 level, to succeed. Indeed, the available data suggest that as many as 66 percent of all students in grade 8 and above may require some type of supportive Tier 2 intervention in mathematics. Middle and high school faculty may need to create many more mathematics than reading or writing intervention options for their students (Bender & Crane, 2011).

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Part III: The Reclaiming Environment

Brendtro, Larry; Brokenleg, Martin Solution Tree Press ePub

To be reclaimed is to be restored to value, to experience attachment, achievement, autonomy, and altruism—the four well-springs of courage.

Sociologist Martin Wolins once observed that the ideal of the “reclaiming” environment was best exemplified by the work of the Polish youth work pioneer, Janusz Korczak. Dr. Korczak was a pediatric physician who directed a school for Jewish street children in Warsaw from 1912 to 1942. The century’s leading champion of youth empowerment, Korczak authored 20 books, from his earlier How to Love a Child to his final Ghetto Diary, which was written while living under Nazi occupation. He saw children as the ultimate underclass and denounced adult oppression, whether by stifling love or dictatorial domination. He believed that great untapped potentials of youth were masked by traditional education and child care:

We fail to see the child, just as one time we were unable to see the woman, the peasant, the oppressed social strata and oppressed peoples. We have arranged things for ourselves so that children should be in our way as little as possible. . . . A child’s primary and irrefutable right is the right to voice his thoughts, to actively participate in our verdicts concerning him.37

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