Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Software, Teacher Quality, and Frog and Toad

Two items from the new issue of Education Week:

Major Study on Software Stirs Debate
On whole, school products found to yield no net gains.
By Andrew Trotter

A long-awaited federal study of reading and math software that was released last week found no significant differences in standardized-test scores between students who used the technology in their classrooms and those who used other methods.

Representatives of the educational software industry immediately took issue with aspects of the $10 million study of 15 commercial software products, arguing that its findings did not mean that classroom technology had no academic payoff.

Scholars Suggest Policies to Bolster Teacher Quality
Approaches range from pay incentives to better training and conditions.
By Lynn Olson

While many scholars say surprisingly little solid evidence exists on exactly which public policies are most likely to enhance the quality of teaching, a new volume by the Washington-based Brookings Institution points to ideas that research suggests may be more effective than others.

Among the approaches highlighted in “Excellence in the Classroom,” and discussed at a forum at the think tank here March 28, are: selectively loosening up certification requirements for those entering teaching; targeting large pay incentives for highly effective teachers in hard-to-staff subjects and schools; redesigning professional development; and making it easier to dismiss poorly performing educators.

And an essay about scripted reading programs from the Spring 2007 Rethinking Schools:

'I Just Want to Read Frog and Toad'
By Melanie Quinn

One mid-September night, when I was tucking my 5-year-old son Eamonn in bed, the standardization madness came home to roost. With quivering lip and tear-filled eyes, Eamonn told me he hated school. He said he had to read baby books that didn't make sense and that he was in the "dummy group."

Then he looked up at me and said, "I just want to read Frog and Toad."

I am an experienced elementary teacher and college professor, with a long-standing disdain for "ability" grouping, dummied-down curriculum, and stupid, phonics-driven stories that make no sense. And yet here I was, seemingly unable to prevent my own child from being crushed by a scripted reading program of the type so beloved by No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

1 comment:

mmoore said...

Speaking of Frog and Toad, Masterpiece Theatre just did a delightful rendition of Frog and Toad especially for adults with a great actor doing Toad and Bob Hoskins as Badger.