Friday, May 12, 2017

Know-It-All School Reformers | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Know-It-All School Reformers | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Know-It-All School Reformers

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Listen to Michael Mann, a climatolgist at Penn State University who talked about the science behind global warming and rising sea levels.
Any honest assessment of the science is going to recognize that there are things we understand pretty darn well and things that we sort of know. But there are things that are uncertain and there are things we just have no idea about whatsoever. (Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise, 2012, p. 409).
Ah, if only federal and state policymakers, researchers, and reform-minded educators would see the “science” of school reform in K-12 and higher education in similar terms. “Science” is in quote marks because there is no reliable, much less valid, theory of school reform that can predict events or improvements in schools and classroom instruction.
Still, for K-12 children and youth there are “things we understand pretty darn well.”
*We understand that socioeconomic status of children’s families has a major influence on students’ academic achievement.
*We understand that a knowledgeable and skilled teacher is the most important in-school factor in student learning.
*We understand the wide variability in student interests, abilities, and motivation.
*We understand that children and youth develop at different speeds as they move through the age-graded school.
Then there are “things that we sort of know.” Such as some schools with largely low-income, minority enrollments out-perform not only similarly-situated schools but schools that serve families from middle- and upper-middle income schools.
Or that the more educational credentials graduates collect over time, chances are they will earn more in their lifetime than those who fail to finish school and college.
Or that curriculum standards can outline what students have to learn but the tests–and the rewards and penalties tied to those tests–measuring whether Know-It-All School Reformers | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:
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