She'll be more than happy to explain (again) why public school educators are accountable for student progress even when students don't bother to attempt to do their assignmentsThe answer is simple. When they don't know how to do the work, kids would rather act-up, such as by being disruptive or not attempting to do the work, rather than look stupid in front of their peers. This implies a teaching problem, not a student problem, and that's why schools are held accountable. I knew the answer at the time, but I figured Edwonk was sick of hearing it from me.
Today I was reading this interview with Marion Blank, Director of the A Light on Literacy program at Columbia University, who says pretty much the same thing. Maybe Edwonk will listen to her:
This is why successful instructional programs carefully scaffold student learning so that students, even the slow ones, can answer a high percentage of the questions successfully. It's an important rule. In Direct Instruction programs it is rule one:
Years ago, when I first started observing classrooms, I was drawn to a simple, but pervasive interaction. A teacher would ask a question, call on a child to answer it and the child would be unable to come up with a satisfactory response. The pain and humiliation that the children experienced were palpable.I am not referring here to occasional mistakes. Those are an unavoidable part of the learning process. But for many children, the mistakes are frequent. In that situation, they assume a different and pernicious role. Then a multi-dimensional force takes hold that includes a sense of helplessness, the anxiety of being exposed and the repeated shame of making mistakes in front of others, including powerful authority figures and one's peers. I chose to call this force error dynamics.
Children are keenly aware of what is happening. That's only reasonable. Think back to your experiences in the classroom when you did not know the answer and prayed the teacher would not call on you. Remarkably, that fear lingers on-- for years after our school days are distant memories. It's why adults avoid sitting in the first row in a lecture hallÂthey want to make sure that just in case the speaker asks a question, they are not the ones who might be called on to answer.Amazingly, this force goes virtually unrecognized by both teachers and parents.
Rule 1: Hold the same standard for high performers and low performers. This rule is based on the fact that students of all performance levels exhibit the same learning patterns if they have the same foundation in information and skills. The false belief that characterizes the conventional wisdom about teaching is that lower performers learn in generically different ways from higher performers and should be held to a lower or looser standard. Evidence of this belief is that teachers frequently have different "expectations" for higher and lower performers. They expect higher performers to learn the material; they excuse lower performers from achieving the same standard of performance. Many teachers believe that lower performers are something like crippled children. They can walk the same route that the higher performers walk, but they need more help in walking.Eventually, these low-performers make it into Edwonk's history class after years of enduring this sort of academic abuse. Edwonk observes that these kids aren't interested in attempting to do the work anymore. Based on this observation, Edwonk concludes that it's the kids' fault. In actuality, it is the school's fault by failing to teach the material in a way that these kids could have successfully learned it.
These teachers often drag students through the lesson and provide a lot of additional prompting. They have to drag students because the students are making a very high percentage of first-time errors. In fact, the students make so many mistakes that it is very clear that they are not placed appropriately in the sequence and could not achieve mastery on the material in a reasonable amount of time. The teachers may correct the mistakes, and may even repeat some parts that had errors; however, at the end of the exercise, the students are clearly not near 100% firm on anything. Furthermore, the teacher most probably does not provide delayed tests to assess the extent to which these students have retained what had been presented earlier.
The information these teachers receive about low performers is that they do not retain information, that they need lots and lots of practice, and that they donÂt seem to have strategies for learning new material. Ironically, however, all these outcomes are predictable for students who receive the kind of instruction these students have received. High performers receiving instruction of the same relative difficulty or unfamiliarity would perform the same way. LetÂs say the lower performers typically have a first-time-correct percentage of 40%. If higher performers were placed in material that resulted in a 40% first-time-correct performance, their behavior would be like that of lower performers. They would fail to retain the material, rely on the teacher for help, not exhibit selfconfidence, and continue to make the same sorts of mistakes again.
Edwonk's mistake is a mistake of dead reckoning. He is basing his conclusion on what he observes in the classroom without a full understanding of the underlying problem and its causes.
We have never successfully taught low performers. The system has always been broken. This is why teachers are frequently wrong when they opine on education policy matters. What they know is based mostly on observations of a broken education system (and whatever crap they happened to learn at ed school). This is also why there aren't many good solutions coming out of the education establishment.
They don't understand the problems, let alone the solutions, and the system has ossified into a state in which change and innovation are all but impossible from within.