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Posts Tagged ‘curriculum reform’

Are America’s Students ‘Racing to Nowhere’ or ‘Waiting For Superman?’

December 29, 2010 2 comments

This year’s ACT college readiness test results revealed that many graduating high school students are unprepared for college. In fact, as pressure on schools increases to improve their graduation rates, more and more are passing students who don’t even meet graduation requirements. The documentary Waiting for Superman investigates how schools are failing to intellectually stimulate, challenge, and adequately prepare students for the real world. Meanwhile, the documentary Race to Nowhere tells a different story in which students grapple with curricula so vigorous, schedules so tightly packed, and pressure from parents so intense that their creativity, physical and mental health, and, in some cases, their very lives, are at stake. Should parents and faculty be pushing students harder or easing up? Read more…

One of the Worst (and Biggest) Schools Becomes One of its State’s Best

September 28, 2010 1 comment

Faculty in Brockton High School in Massachusetts used to be ashamed of their school’s dismal performance on not only state tests, but in graduating its students. Sam Dillon of the New York Times in his article shares statistics that illustrate the school’s disastrous condition: in the year 2000, one in three students would drop out and only a quarter would pass standardized exams. Many would point to a school with a population of over 4,000 was an exemplar of what has become a maxim in the education world: the smaller the better.

But then, a number of Brockton’s teachers decided they’d had enough. They organized comprehensive reform, requiring all teachers to attend training and meetings, to incorporate writing and reading skills in all their curricula (including physical education!

The result? Over the last ten years, Brockton has not only gotten itself out of the academic hole, but its students’ test scores are now exceeding that of 90% of Massachusetts’ schools! For a student population comprised mostly of minorities and students of low economic status, teachers have not only revised their curricula, but they have also changed the way they talked to students, motivating them, and speaking to them about college as a legitimate possibility, not a fanciful dream. What school faculty can learn from this case study is that, no matter what the school size, tenacity, creativity, and handwork on behalf of a dedicated faculty can make all the difference.