All Roads Lead to Early Childhood Ed

by Robert Pondiscio
June 12th, 2008

Want to know who will have the toughest time passing high school exit exams? Look at 4th grade test scores, grades and classroom behavior. A study Public Policy Institute of California, reported in the L.A. Times, will come as no surprise to 4th grade teachers:

The findings, based on an extensive study of student achievement in San Diego schools, call into question the effectiveness of aiming significant efforts and tens of millions of dollars at struggling high school seniors and older students to help them pass the exam.

The report recommends “moving a portion of these tutoring dollars to struggling students in earlier grades — when the students are still in school — could be a wise choice. An ounce of prevention could indeed be worth a pound of cure.”

Makes perfect sense, intervene early, and the earlier the better. I would wager real money that I could predict today which of my 5th graders are likely to graduate high school with a fairly high degree of accuracy based on their elementary school performance, and in most cases, the die was cast before they walked into my room. The battle is won and lost at an early age.

Update: Joanne Jacobs, who has probably forgotten more about education in California than I’ll ever know, is also on this.

No Time to Read

by Robert Pondiscio
June 12th, 2008

Many children in the USA are too busy, too distracted and, in some cases, too tired to read books for fun, according to a survey to be released today by Scholastic, suggesting that schoolwork, homework and the inability to find a book they like may keep them from regularly digging into more than required reading. USA USA TodayToday’s Greg Toppo got an early look at the results.

A Fuelish Notion

by Robert Pondiscio
June 12th, 2008

Some school districts are considering four-day instructional weeks to save money on bus fuel.

The Apprentices

by Robert Pondiscio
June 12th, 2008

The decision of the judge is arbitrary, capricious and final, but Eduwonk’s booker prize for the best $5 billion plan for ed reform goes to an idea to create a teacher apprenticeship plan.

Create a new role for the classroom called an “Associate Teacher” that works with a teacher for 2 years before becoming a full-fledged teacher. Every classroom team would include a teacher, an associate teacher and a teacher assistant. It would cost a lot of money to run, but would help meet the needs of all children.

A fine idea. Many elite private schools structure their classrooms in exactly this way. Count me in on any plan that raises the experience level and quality of teachers in our toughest schools. Still, I wonder how it would square with Teach For America and other alt cert programs, who train their teachers to be leaders, not associates.

Good classroom management and the ability to create a positive learning environment are the starting point of student achievement in disorderly schools, and it takes a while to hone your craft. It’s simply too much to expect neophytes to have it down right out of the chute.

More: Flypaper’s Coby Loup is underwhelmed.