About the Forum||Journals||FPP Online||Contributor Information||Board Members||Order Forms||Contact||
|| Back to Forum on Public Policy Online||Fall 2006 || Winter 2007 || Spring 2007 || Summer 2007 ||
Summer 2008: Table of Contents
||Curriculum||Environment||History||Human Rights Law||Literature||Migration and Diversity||Religion||
||Trade||Arts and Sciences (Two Cultures)|| Women's Issues||
CurriculumBack to top
Unintended Consequences of No Child Left Behind Mandates on Gifted Students
Sally R. Beisser
Since the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, education policy makers have focused on students at the lower end of the achievement spectrum, specifically those struggling to meet standards, particularly in reading and mathematics. However, those who are considered gifted have been increasingly underserved, at the expense of high ability learners in the United States. When the No Child Left Behind law was enacted in 2001, it forced schools to deeply subsidize the education of students performing below grade level. As result, gifted programs have suffered. For example, Illinois’s gifted and talented programs experienced a $16 million cut and $5 million was eliminated from Michigan’s GT programs. Federal spending declined from $11.3 million to $7.6 million in 2007 alone. This paper will provide historical background on NCLB and gifted education in the United States, funding trends for NCLB and gifted programs, and the impact of this legislation on our nation’s best and brightest students.
Back to top
cation: What Does it Mean and How Can it be Achieved?
One of the most fundamental questions that can be asked about education is what it is for. Why do we need education? Which are its most fundamental purposes?
The most obvious and generally accepted answer is that education aims at providing students with knowledge and skills which match the demands of employers, thus enabling students to find jobs and employers to find employees—call this the vocational goal. However, many thinkers and traditions of thought have stressed the importance of non-vocational goals of education. In Greek thinking, the ideal of paideia included the development of moral virtues and logical and rhetorical skills which were thought essential for becoming a good human being and democratic citizen. In a similar vein, today’s liberal education in the US and other countries aims at providing students with a basis of general, non-specialised knowledge and skills which allow them to contribute actively and positively to society. In German philosophical and educational thought, J. G. Herder, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Hans-Georg Gadamer and others have developed the concept of Bildung, a word which in its most literal sense means formation, but which here refers more specifically to formation or cultivation, in education or otherwise, of human moral virtues and other capacities. (Herder 2002, Humboldt 1791-1792/1993, Gadamer 1960/1989.)
Commodification of Knowledge in Developing Economy: The Case of the University of Botswana
Many universities in developing economies were established as public universities to provide training for manpower requirements of the developing state. In the recent past there has been a shift in emphasis of preferred economic drivers towards practices common to knowledge based economies in developing countries. This move has compelled Higher Education (HE) institutions to pursue programmes which are aligned to the notion of commodification of knowledge. Although within this emerging environment public funded universities are not expected to be profit making, they have to function or operate in a manner that demonstrates entrepreneurship by engaging in third stream income generation without compromising their social responsibility even as they remain entrepreneurial to raise third stream revenue. To what extent is this possible and is it necessary? This paper identifies and discusses the parameters that would influence and direct state funded university operations towards attaining the phenomenon of commodification of knowledge. It uses the University of Botswana’s context to guide discussion.
Is the No Child Left Behind Act Adversely Impacting the Academic Performance of Latino Students in the U.S.? Yes, Indeed!
This paper first examines the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 on the academic performance of Latino students in the U.S. Although the purpose behind NCLB is to help improve academic proficiency in the areas of reading, language arts, and mathematics, research demonstrates that there is still an achievement gap between minority and non-minority students. Second, the paper describes how NCLB impedes the academic success of Latino students by narrowing the curriculum. Third, in describing her longitudinal study with Latino students enrolled in an alternative education program, the author explains how designing a multicultural/anti-racist curriculum helped the students overcome the negative effects of oppositional culture.
Enhancing The Learning Proficiency of Students in Higher Education
Erik De Corte and Chris Masui
Higher education is facing world-wide a number of problems such as: adjusting to larger and more homogeneous student populations, increasing the number of graduating students, and preparing them for lifelong learning. Enhancing students’ learning proficiency can make a substantial contribution to solving each of these major concerns.
Taking the growing knowledge base on self-regulated learning as a background, this article presents a project that aimed at the design and evaluation of a powerful learning environment for improving university freshmen’s learning proficiency. More specifically the intervention in this environment focused on the trainability of four cognitive (orienting, planning, self-testing, and reflecting), and four complementary affective (respectively self-judging, valuing, coping, and attributing) skills.
The effects of the learning environment were investigated using a pretest–posttest design with control group. The participants were 141 first year students of business economics.
The major positive effects of the intervention on the learning proficiency and the academic performance of the students in the experimental group are summarized and illustrated mainly for two of the eight self-regulation skills, namely orienting (preparing one’s learning process by examining the characteristics of a learning task) and self-judging (evaluating one’s competencies in view of an accurate appraisal of the efforts needed to approach and accomplish a learning task).
Complexity and the Universe of Education
Alejandro J. Gallard Martínez
In this paper, I take the position that in order for education policy makers and teachers to reform teaching and learning, they must be good consumers of education research. Good consumers of education research understand that education is a complex endeavor and as such resist accepting findings that simplify or complicate teaching and learning. A second position maintained in this paper is that influences on teaching and learning are holons, a term coined by Koestler (1996). There are several categories of holons; education is considered a social holon. All holons are influenced and governed by their own sets of rules. Within the social holon of education exists other social holons such as policy and students.
In order to understand the universe of education as a complex endeavor, education researchers, policy makers and teachers must make explicit (acknowledge) the tensions (mitigating factors) between and amongst holons. Acknowledging tensions (social holons) is to respond to the influences of each holon to include the individual student. As a consequence, the interplay between who a learner and teacher are and the influencing contexts they are constantly having to negotiate in and out of the classroom on a daily basis are made explicit. Education research and policy based on the notion of cause and effect (linear) reduces adaptations and evolutions of students and teachers to simple and mechanistic human beings, ignoring the myriad of daily changes they go through. In other words, the complexities of teaching and learning are oversimplified. When tensions are not created, acknowledged or appreciated by policy makers, there can be no ebb or flow, and as such, there can be no change.
Beyond Insanity: Creating All Male Classrooms and Schools as a Policy Option in the Portfolio of Local School Districts
Wilhelmina D. Goff and Norman J. Johnson
Over thousands of years the brain has evolved. Our ability to change its structure is quite limited. What we can do is change the way we work with the brain and appeal to it. These notions are the building blocks for this paper.
Three strands of intellectual work (neuroscience to include social intelligence, pedagogy, and environment/culture) are explored. Their relationship with each other is considered. The objective is to find a path with a higher probability of closing the fiercely persistent gender gap in educational performance especially for the performance of young men of color.
Instruction informed by the gender findings emerging from neuroscience to include social intelligence is a path forward likely to produce better best practices and educational interventions. The environment/culture strand aligned with better best educational practices will produce an intervention that works thus yielding a performance pay off for boys and girls. New male schools along with new ways of working with the parents of those who populate these schools and new ways of engaging the community can produce enduring performance success.
Educational interventions that work will aid in shrinking the persistent performance gap. This should insure that every child has a chance to wisely invest every day so that he or she can participate in the emerging flat world as an option.
“Who's Got The Chalk?”: Beginning Mathematics Teachers and Educational Policies in New York City
Under The No Child Left Behind act, beginning mathematics teachers in New York City find themselves at the crossroad of multi-level educational policies that span the different domains of the teaching profession, from the recruitment and support process to accountability, standards and assessment requirements, to pedagogical models and the teaching practices in the classroom.
In this research the author provides the beginning teachers’ perspectives on their experiences as they face some of these policies as “novices” in the context of a New York City classroom. The data reported here suggest a dissonance among the various policies and confirm how high stake test are narrowing the mathematics curriculum and how teachers filter the policy messages according to their priorities and experiences.
Creating Change in the Large Urban Public Schools of the United States
Ernest L. Heyman and Peter Vigil
Minority groups make up a large share of the working and the non-working poor. Moreover, throughout the last several decades, many minority students in the large urban schools, particularly Hispanic, Native and African-American, have had a difficult time taking advantage of a public education. The major tension points and associated problems include prejudice, low achievement rates, and high dropout and suspension rates. The premise of this paper is that solutions to these problems reside in the identification of the changes that must be made by each of the major stakeholders. Teachers need to examine attitudes and practices that may foster low expectations and discipline problems. Although the students are the victims, student attitudes need to be similarly examined. One key change calls for the repudiation of a prevalent notion among many minority students that studying is “acting white.” Studying is a norm requisite for minority groups to effectively compete in public schools. Minority community leaders and groups need to lead the call for repudiation of the “acting white” phenomenon. They also need to collaboratively engage with the schools in order to improve student success. Finally, urban teacher education programs need to emphasize effective interpersonal skills, knowledge and understanding of the diverse urban culture, and effective instruction in linguistically relevant pedagogy.
A Comparative Analysis of the Influence of High Stakes Testing Mandates in the Elementary School
Albert Inserra and Kenneth R. Bossert
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, sponsored by President George W. Bush, calls for 100 percent proficiency in reading and mathematics by 2014. This Federal mandate has caused all public schools in the United States to examine the programs in use to meet these requirements. In addition, states across the country have implemented a series of high-stakes testing to insure that school districts are accountable for measurable growth among the student population.
New York State has been on the front line in the implementation of high-stakes testing and increasing accountability. New York State is now administering assessments in English/Language Arts as well as Mathematics to all students in grades three through eight. This empirical research examined how elementary teacher attitudes towards high-stakes testing influence the range of instructional methods they employ and their self-reported ability to engage students in enrichment activities within the classroom.
Increasing Male Academic Achievement
Barbara Talbert Jackson
The No Child Left Behind legislation has brought greater attention to the academic performance of American youth. Its emphasis on student achievement requires a closer analysis of assessment data by school districts. To address the findings, educators must seek strategies to remedy failing results. In a mid-Atlantic district of the Unites States, the failing of male students was manifested on the statewide assessment as follows: Of the thirty-five schools serving grades 9 through 12, thirty schools or 86% showed boys scoring lower than girls in reading, and twenty-one schools or 60% showed boys scoring lower than girls in mathematics.
Seeking a possible solution to the failing of the male students in the school district resulted in uncovering valuable research on how and why boys learn the way they do. These data also offer suggestions and strategies for educators and parents that will lead to greater academic success for male students. The proposed organizational solution was to apply for public charter school funding to establish an all-boys school, with an emphasis on athletics (an area of interest for boys). Athletics was to be the strategy for getting the boys hooked on academic rigor. The school was identified as the Capital City Collegiate Sports Academy (the academy).
Preparation for such an undertaking required background information on the following: (1) charter schools, (2) single-sex schools, (3) learning theories, (4) brain research, (5) curriculum and instruction innovation, and (6) the sports industry. Additionally, a school plan was developed in accordance with the public charter schools’ organization guidelines. The academy school plan includes (1) a statement of need, (2) the population, (3) the mission statement, (4) the philosophy, (5) the school goals, (6) the curricular offerings, and (7) the governance structure.
The results of this proposed solution are futuristic. However, what has been discovered in the planning stages for the academy should prove invaluable in developing a sound research-based instructional program to meet the academic needs of male students. Moreover, the curricular approach should result in these male students’ personal fulfillment as productive, contributing members of society.
Apply Deming’s Methods to K–12 Curriculum and Improve Student Achievement
Thomas F. Kelly
The United States has been engaged in school reform for three decades. The federal government as well as all fifty states have passed numerous versions of reform legislation to mandate and regulate the process. Educators have adjusted their practices to the policy created by this legislation. They have also allocated hundreds of billions of dollars to implement the mandated reforms. The effort has also involved literally tens of thousands of educators and millions of students.
There have been countless assessments of the results of reform legislation. None deny that student achievement nationally is about where it was when reform started thirty years ago. What has not been done throughout the three decades is any assessment of the policies that have driven the reform movement. This article proposes use of the systems theory of W. Edwards Deming to assess the educational system and offer a new set of policies that can bring about dramatically improved student achievement.
Blending Assessment with Standards-Based Instruction as an Approach To Adding Equity To No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
Edward L. Meyen,
Diana L. Greer, and
John C. Poggio
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation in the Unite States is not equivalent to a national curriculum; however, it does set forth some conditions essential for enhancing student achievement at scale (e.g., curriculum standards, assessment standards, and expectations of compliance). The missing component within these conditions is support for teachers in translating curriculum standards into instruction so students are fairly assessed through the NCLB state assessments. This paper examines some commonalities with the Education Reform Act of 1988 and the National Literacy Strategy (NLS) implemented in England in 1998 and reports on the development, implementation, and effectiveness of the Blending Assessment with Instruction Program (BAIP). BAIP is a program designed to provide support to teachers in aligning their instruction with indicators that operationally define curriculum based standards in mathematics. The online lessons for teachers are supplemented by online instructional tutorials for students that are aligned with each lesson, designed to develop competencies in the skills, and knowledge required by indicators and standards in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and high school. BAIP includes a feedback system that immediately provides individual student and aggregate performance data to teachers to enhance instructional decisions. BAIP has been beta tested in 187 schools districts with 88,700 students.
Alignment in teacher education and distribution of leadership: An example concerning learning study
The critical aspects distribution of professional leadership, alignment in learning and research close to practices, were lifted forward in order to exemplify a research project with learning study as an approach for alignment between teacher education and practice, and as consequence an instrument for distribution of power. The results showed that alignment of learning in a way seems to be unproblematic according to teaching and learning subject knowledge and professional and research knowledge developed. Nevertheless, problems are occurring in communication between the organizations regarding epistemological and ontological questions and the teaching and learning of subject knowledge seems to be affected. This leads to the conclusion that it is possible with improved reaching of intended learning outcomes, both for teachers and pupils, with strengthened communication.
New Problems and Solutions in Basic University Teaching
Mogens Noergaard Olesen
In this paper we will examine some of the problems and difficulties in modern university teaching and how these difficulties were overcome and the problems were solved. Because the syllabus in Danish (and other European) high schools has been substantially weakened over the last decade and especially since 2002, the university students have experienced new serious problems in their first year learning. This has had the consequence that many students dropped out of their studies and that many others failed at their first year exams. This was not acceptable and therefore something had to be done. In this paper we will only deal with the first year courses in mathematics for economists at The University of Copenhagen, and it is told how the teaching in mathematics was changed during the last two years such that the rate of failure dropped considerably. Many resources were spent to reach this aim, and it was very important to engage and activate the students and to give them more personal excitement, such that they also obtained higher ability for studies on their own hand. The result of the new way of teaching was remarkable and the aim of a much lower rate of failure was reached. Furthermore the students saw mathematics not only as a scientific tool useful in modern economic theory but also as a cultural and academic discipline with a long and interesting historical development. The students got much more knowledge and they obtained a personal attitude to their mathematical education. Both for the students and for the Department of Economics this was a success.
Biliteracy and the Attainment of Sustainable Development in Multilingual Nigeria
Although Nigeria understands the indispensability of English in its human and material development, sustainable development has continued to elude it because of its failure to develop bi-literacy in English and its Mother Tongues (MT’s). The products of its school system cannot, with fluency, read and write in both. Examining why inter/intra national initiatives to enhance literacy in Nigeria have failed, this paper posits that, unless bi-literacy in English and the Nigerian MT/s is promoted, critical and creative thinking as well as effective and efficient communication will continue to elude the products of Nigerian school system and its adult population who may want to benefit from its adult literacy enhancement program. It suggests ways of promoting bi-literacy in Nigeria so that Nigerians can have the literacy empowerment for promoting information dissemination, good governance, effective resource renewal and management and sound promotion of national economic policies without which sustainable development will continue to elude Nigeria. Bi-literacy in a multilingual Nigeria can enhance sustainable development if there is the political will to tap on language resources as a catalyst for attaining development.
Trends and Choices—Taiwanese and Chinese Identities: An Examination of Language and Culture Textbooks in Taiwan
In many nations educators are fighting to build a curriculum that reflects the knowledge and beliefs of all peoples rather than a dominant political power group. This perspective is particularly significant when examining school discourse in Taiwan, a country with a long-standing multicultural population and a diverse history of alien occupations. After ending 38 years of martial law in 1987, Taiwanese intellectuals began to challenge the Sinocentric education of national standardized Chinese language/culture textbooks which had neglected unrepresented ethnic groups, hindering the development of students' Taiwanese identity. In 2001, the Ministry of Education relinquished the editorship of high school standardized textbooks to private publishers. This paper examines how political ideology and cultural representation in grade-seven Chinese textbooks have influenced the formation of Taiwanese students’ identities since the 1970s. The data samples are from junior high school Chinese textbooks between 1970 and 2004. The results indicate in the early 2000s private publishers’ textbooks enhanced not only Taiwanese discourse but also a hybrid of Chinese, Taiwanese and Western discourses promoting local and mixed identities, as well as a global identity.
What Does Quality Programming Mean For High Achieving Students?
The Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing (Missouri Academy) is a two-year accelerated, early-entrance-to-college, residential school that matches the level, complexity and pace of the curriculum with the readiness and motivation of high achieving high school students. The school is a part of Northwest Missouri State University and located on its campus in Maryville, Missouri. The school enrolls qualified high performing high school students (who have completed 10th grade from traditional high schools) into a curriculum consisting of college coursework taught by professors at the university. Missouri Academy students sit in the same classrooms with traditional university students, and professors have the same high expectations of them as they do for traditional university students. Students who complete this program receive a high school diploma and an Associate of Science degree.
The school has two primary goals: (i) to increase the pool of high school students adequately prepared to succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and (ii) to provide a sanctuary for the gifted, talented and high performing high school students. The Missouri Academy has made significant progress towards achieving its goals since its inception in August 2000. This success is in large part due to the way the school defines quality. The school defines quality in terms of; (i) a rigorous academic curriculum that is demanding, engaging and yet flexible; the curriculum is tilted towards science and mathematics, but contains key courses of study to develop (oral and written) communication skills and the humanities, (ii) high student expectations both in academic performance as well as personal character, and (iii) a residential life program that is age-appropriate, complements the academic program, and is designed to develop and nurture critical thinking skills.
This paper presents the philosophy, structure, organization and operation of the Missouri Academy, with the hope that this successful model may be replicated in other environments.
Why Band-Aids Don’t Work: Analyzing and Evaluating No Child Left Behind (NCLB) In Light Of Constructivist Philosophy, Theory, And Practice
Arthur Shapiro and Alana S. Thompson
In this paper the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, a top-down, one-size-fits-all coercive nostrum constructed by politicians purportedly to improve all American public schools that piddles with symptoms rather than deal with root causes, is first delineated and analyzed. Its departure from local educational governance to an accountability-focused nationalizing influence with draconian sticks and carrots is cited. Its major awards and sanctions are noted including its Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) criteria as an attempt to denigrate public education in order to privatize it. Next, the main tenets and practices involving constructivism are briefly explored, its major schools of thought mentioned, together with the nature of its resulting individualized educational practices. Last, constructivist thought is held aloft as a prism to critique NCLB and AYP, followed by conclusions and implications for fundamental policy and practice changes that depart significantly from NCLB initiatives to address basic underlying societal dysfunctions cited.
Are State and National Standards Leaving the Advanced Learners Behind? The Crisis Ahead
Sandra Watkins and Zhaohui Sheng
The study analyzes the achievement trends of all third grade students in the state of Illinois who scored in the Exceeds category in reading and mathematics on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) in the year 2000. ISAT performance of this cohort group of students was followed through the eighth grade. Descriptive analyses were utilized to describe the trend data and to explore the influence of various district characteristics on the trend data.
Results illustrate that the advanced learners are not making adequate achievement gains as they advance from earlier elementary grades to later grade levels. The declining achievement trends were persistent even when data were disaggregated based on district SES, district size, and district per pupil expenditures. Implications of the results of this study are discussed in relation to teachers, administrators, and policy makers at the state level.
Can universities survive the 21st century?
Alastair J. S. Summerlee and Jacqueline Murray
Universities worldwide are facing a number of contradictory and competing pressures that range from under-funding to the very nature of universities and their roles in society. Pressures of the information explosion, the democratization of information through access to the Internet, and the advent of the knowledge-based economies have changed the educational landscape and universities are under threat.
To survive universities need to reform. We must graduate citizens with a broader, interdisciplinary knowledge and an ability to take responsibility for their own learning. At the University of Guelph, we have turned the telescope around and are offering small group introductory courses during the first year of university. Through interdisciplinary, enquiry-based courses we help students develop critical thinking and research skills at the start of their university careers. We have charted the impact of this approach and document significant improvements in motivation, academic achievement, critical thinking, library and other resources use, and personal development. Contact time with faculty is reduced and students have a deeper and more sophisticated approach to learning. The presentation will explore how this approach can be used to create a different type of university education that is more relevant to our complex world.
Back to top
©Copyright by the Forum on Public Policy
All rights Reserved. Electronic edition published 2006