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Posts: 94
Reply with quote  #16 

If I have to choose just one, it would be:   Support career and technical education as a pathway to earning a middle class income.  The reason being:  Not all students will choose to / nor be able to attend college.  However, our high schools could prepare them for a job that could eventually lead to a middle income lifestyle and be able to support themselves.    The school district I work in has a Business, Career and Technology Center.  Some classes offered are floral arranging, cosmetology, culinary arts, the health sciences, automotive, computer programming, etc.  Students are also given the opportunity to earn a license in that particular field.  An apprenticeship in the 2nd half of junior year and all of senior year would be good.  Then perhaps, the last half of senior year, the student could earn a wage.  School administrators collaborating with communities to see what the needs are for non-college required jobs/careers makes the program even more relevant.  Hands on training in these areas along with an internship will have students ready to enter the workforce after high school graduation and with a livable salary plus it fills a need in our communities/cities.

Following are several websites that list and discuss non-college required careers.

Some non-degreed options:

Dental Assistant 
Health Information Technician
Elevator Installer
Massage Therapist
Computer User Support Specialist
Construction Supervisor



Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #17 

Each of these make strong suggestions, and I can see the validity in all of them. I have to pick the ones that are closest to my heart at this moment in time.

DuFour made an excellent point in Chapter 4 when he said “We have yet to establish a cultural norm in which working and learning are interwoven” (pg. 79). I feel like this relates directly to Stipulating That Teachers are Provided with Time for Collaboration. Another point he makes is that “There is virtually no  time for teachers to confer with colleagues regarding all other tasks of teaching…” (pg. 79). As a first year teacher, I’m going to need all of the help I can get! Teaching is a unique profession where everyone takes a little from someone else and bends it to their own personality. The educator prep program allowed me some insight to veteran teachers and their systems, and I’ve attended several professional developments this past month to help guide me. When I actually start teaching, I am going to need some help. The short 45 minutes (often times less) once a week is not enough to get anything accomplished in often cases. And I would love to have time to go classrooms of teachers within different content areas to observe their classroom management. But since we aren’t considered to be working unless we are standing in front of a classroom giving instruction (pg. 79), the opportunity for that is minimal. Even if we were given time, one class period is not enough to sit in - for secondary teachers. Delaware proved that with the right funding, this could be accomplished. When the money ran out, so did the motivation. Why?

Another suggestion that I fully endorse is to Support Career and Technical Education. From the first day of Kindergarten, many students have been told that they will go to college. This is the most important decision of their future! By middle school, many students feel like they need to have the next 10+ years mapped out, or they have failed. No pressure! One thing I really like about the district I will be working in is their T-2-4 initiative. It is their goal to double the number of students completing a technical certificate, two year or four year degree. This reinforces to students that it is totally fine not to go to a university! A lot of high schools offer programs that relate to fields their students are interested in. This is great! I was able to take part in one in high school - the Early Childhood Professions Program.

The director of the ECP program, my teacher, made a point to take us on a tour of the local community college to explain how we could earn our Associate Degree and then transfer to a four year college. If I hadn’t know that, I don’t know where I would be today. By giving students this knowledge of the options they have, it can have a massive impact on their lives. Don’t just box them up.



Posts: 27
Reply with quote  #18 
In most of today's classrooms testing takes the center stage while meaningful learning connected to meaningful- real world scenerios takes to the back burner. It is my opinion that while testing is important it should be done at a minimum. Students should be regularly assessed to see if they are on track and meeting the academic goals they've been set. It' should be used as a means to gather data in efforts to improve student learning and teachers teaching.

Posts: 83
Reply with quote  #19 

"There are consistent lessons about effective school-reform policies in countries around the world that we would be foolish to continue to ignore.”  (Chapter 4, page 66)

Out of the suggested policy changes the author mentions below, which one do you think would be the most effective for the public school system? Why?

-Establish clear standards regarding what teachers should know and be able to do

-Provide universal early childhood education


I believe all the mentioned ideas would greatly benefit our public school systems.  However the two I left above are the nearest and most relevant to me.  
Pages 74-75 list several ways preschool education's benefits last beyond the primary grades.  Students who attended preschool scored higher on the TIMSS math assessment, PISA assessment, smaller achievement gaps between black and white students, and positive effects on young adult outcomes (teen pregnancy, high school graduation, etc.)  It is unlikely that we can eliminate child poverty, but early childhood education could go a long way towards closing the gap between children in poverty and those who are not.

Establishing clear standards regarding what teachers should know and be able to do would help districts (such as mine) with higher turn over rates continue a consistent level of effective teaching even with brand new teachers.  I have personally witnessed a wide range of skills come through our grade level, all from teachers with the supposed same degree/certification.  Quality instruction naturally leads to higher quality learning, and more successful students. 


Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #20 
"There are consistent lessons about effective school-reform policies in countries around the world that we would be foolish to continue to ignore.”  (Chapter 4, page 66)

Out of the suggested policy changes the author mentions, I think paying the college cost of students who graduate in the top quarter of their class who agree to teach for five years would be the most effective for the public school system.  DuFour writes that "American reform policies have yielded so little", a conclusion from the research of other authors says, "the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers."  A United States comparison to Singapore and Finland, two of the most consistent highly-performing countries on national assessments shows: 

Singapore selects teacher candidates from only the top 30% of their high school graduates.  The government provides grants that cover the entire tuition costs for their undergraduates.   

Finland on considers students from the top 20% of their graduating classes to become teacher candidates.  It also offers a free university program to all who qualify to be trained as teachers. 

The United States teacher candidates tend to come from those with average to low range of college entrance examination scores, and assume most of their own costs for a college education. 

Students that excel in academics from the start are potentially the most capable, and as we saw in chapter two, poverty is a leading cause of failures.  Using the Singapore and Finland models to select our most capable candidates, and not subjecting them to monetary barriers, would be a beginning in enhancement for our teaching systems.


Posts: 61
Reply with quote  #21 
All of the suggested policies are important and would probably be effective individually, but certainly collectively.  The most effective?  I'd have to go with the one I know the best, which is to support CTE as a pathway to the middle class.  As an Office Administration instructor at Job Corps, I work with young adults who may, or may not, have completed high school. In either case, for these individuals who are unable (financially or academically) to go to college, the focus on testing didn't give them the skills they will need for gainful employment and promotion.  I'm not just teaching them the skills such as typing, but also the acceptable behaviors in an office.  They'll be on their own - there's no test at the end or teacher to help them out.  If they don't produce, they'll be let go.

As an instructor, I see a great need for collaboration.  We teach from 8-4 year round, so there's minimal opportunity to meet with instructors from other centers. I remember how useful our planning period was every day at the public school, so I hope that will be expanded for all schools. 


Posts: 95
Reply with quote  #22 
I think supporting schools as they transition to professional learning communities has the potential to transform education if done correctly.  When teachers are allowed time and resources to come up with solutions to local issues, students in the local school will benefit tremendously.  My school has implemented PLC time for our high school.  I think having time to focus on the curriculum and find ways to solve problems unique to our school has been very productive.  The PLC process gets us in the mindset of continuous learning and improvement.  

Changing the scope, frequency and purpose of testing is another way that education can be transformed.  The culture of testing is not allowing our students to gain the the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century.  

Posts: 70
Reply with quote  #23 

"There are consistent lessons about effective school-reform policies in countries around the world that we would be foolish to continue to ignore.”  (Chapter 4, page 66)

Of the suggested policy changes the author mentions, I think that paying the college cost of students who graduate in the top quarter of their class who agree to teach for five years would be the most effective for the public school system.  

I think that all of the changes have merits, and they would all help to improve the public school system in America, but I'll pick this one to discuss.  Imagine if America's public school teachers were viewed as the "best of the best."  I think that would change the mindset of the American public.  However, just letting the top graduates teach would not be enough.  I'd love to see a 4-year college program that puts these top students into classrooms as soon as they start college.  Imagine having four years to learn about classroom management and effective teaching skills.

Also, with the rising cost of a college education, many middle class people can't afford college.  This would reward students who do well in school.  I could see this being a game-changer in who majors in education and goes on to be a teacher.

I've read recently how medical schools have been putting their students in clinical rotations and have them meet with patients much earlier than they used to, and that would be good for education students as well.  It's great to learn about education theory and write up classroom lesson plans, but more experience in the classroom would lead to more confident and effective teachers.

My first teaching job straight out of college (non-education major) was a bit overwhelming.  I spent a lot of time just making lesson plans but not thinking about how I would teach or reach the students, it was more of just *what* to teach.  It would have been great to have more classroom experience before jumping in.  But it was a great learning experience for me!

I like that Finland restricts the number of teaching candidates to the expected demand for teachers (p. 57).  Having top students train and enter the teaching profession knowing that they have a job when they graduate would be a big draw.  Especially in today's economic uncertainty for even university graduates, I think that people would go into education if they knew they could have a job upon graduation.  Maybe in another generation or so, with fewer high paying jobs for people with general degrees, more qualified people will go into teaching.



Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #24 
I think these are all great ideas and each policy would benefit public education.  The school where I work does allow time for collaboration and we are starting PLC this year, so I do see some of these policies happening.  I would like to see changes to the teacher education programs.  I think that "establishing clear standards regarding what teachers should know and be able to do" would make the greatest impact in our public schools today.

I just want to add that I loved the last paragraph in Chapter 4 - "The Educators We Deserve?"  The author recognizes the struggles of teaching public school today and praises the hard work that is being done.  Students are learning at higher levels than ever before in more difficult situations.  With or with out proper training, teachers are getting the job done - because we love our job and we are passionate about teaching our kids.  "We do not have the teachers we deserve, we have better teachers than we deserve."

Chellie Nelson

Posts: 148
Reply with quote  #25 
Out of the policies mentioned in this chapter I would like to see us adopt the policy of “change the scope, frequency, and purpose of testing.” I feel the author makes many good points for this policy.  The author states again that “high performing nations reject the American idea of testing every child every year starting in third grade and instead use testing two or three times during the entire K-12 experience (66).  I like this idea because I feel we test our students more than we teach.  We pre-test and post test weekly.  We give unit, benchmark, practice STAAR, and then the real STAAR test each year.  Secondly he also states again how “standardized testing in the United States has narrowed the curriculum “(67).  This is evident in the changes to how I teach.  When I first began I was given the TEKS and I made thematic units that included the TEKS and were easy to create plans across the disciplines.  Now I teach with  premade curriculum maps that have TEKS lined out for me that do not always allow for cross curricular planning.  Finally I like the statement that “scores would not be used as evaluation of individual teachers but would be a vehicle for identifying struggling schools (68).  This statement especially is the part I would like to see enacted considering the changes in our current evaluations.  Some teachers have classes that do not do care about doing well.  I have personally seen students  do well on mock tests and then not complete the real test because they did not like the teacher they were testing with on test day.

Posts: 42
Reply with quote  #26 

I believe the thing that needs to be changed the most in our education system is Changing the scope, frequency and purpose of testing.  I believe too much pressure is put on everyone about testing.  From teacher, principles, parents, and children.  I feel like children should learn about real life situation and teachers should help prepare them for the future.  Instead, students are only focusing on how to pass a test to advance to the next grade level. 

I also think that it is an issue when students are getting good grades all year long but they may be bad test takers so they don't score high enough on one test.   This could end up forcing them to repeat a whole school year.   I believe that children should be graded on the whole year and not just one test to determine if they are ready for the next grade level or not.  


Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #27 

The most effective policy change that we can advocate is to change the scope, frequency and the purpose of testing. I don’t think that a test prepares students for the real world’s not like we are tested on how well we parent and nurture our children transforming them into viable or productive citizens.  No, but it is us, the teachers who are accountable for every educative progress measure we impart on our students.  Wow, no stress there...said no teacher ever!  We need to focus on providing our students with real world connection experiences that they can apply.  For example, summer is coming and you have been watching youtube videos on how to build your own pool.  How much time, materials and money would you need to achieve your diy project?  This would imply that students would need to use the the skills they used in school like reading, math, technological design, art,  geography and science ( type of soil and regional vegetation would dictate what type of materials will be needed.)  This would be a real world connection.  

We work in a field that creates all of the other professions because we impart knowledge yet govt. feels that they can deviate monies from public education and give it to the affluent in private education or create a lottery ticket system via vouchers.  What they are doing is crippling the education system as a whole.  Instead of supporting, building capacity and and create many other education routes aside from college to the all comes with a price.  We have children who are disengaged, teachers who are stressed to the point of being pushed out.  It’s not that they are incompetent or need to be fired because they are deemed bad teachers---it’s the evaluation system and the administration who places their campus systems who are at fault.  A great leader will build capacity and work with alongside with its educators to help them grow and improve the campus.  Consistency in procedures is key.  Consistency in discipline and education is key.  Support the classroom teacher.  National and state govt. Need to help out the PEG schools aside from comes down to changing the mindset of the community.  Closing schools that are deemed unacceptable will cause the acceptable schools to take on the struggles of the PEG schools as well.   There are just to many factors.  Not all schools in different communities are the same.  The population has different needs within the communities yet the testing standards are all the same.  At some PEG schools there is the notion of we have to do more with less, which includes cut backs various core teaching dept. And more students in the classroom.

If we want to help our Ells, SPED., GT, and 504s we have to do it on there level test them in an alternative manner.  Most of the educational needs are taken care of at school and not at home due to parents having multiple jobs, or not being able to understand the language their children are learning in which develops a gap.  As parents they have high expectations of their child’s success yet the child’s performance in school may not be great due to comprehension gaps, and also the fact that some parents are not doing their part at home, while other have their children involved in many activities that prevents the child from doing homework or studying at home.  Perhaps if we were to apply educational progress monitoring work samples  or in exams that can atest to the child’s level of achievement on a test or state exam.  The push towards a college education is that we want students to be able to communicate and express their problem solving theories or reflections in writing using academic vocabulary as their daily language; however, this does not occur due to culture beliefs, home life, and day to day interaction with peers.  This too is affected by how much outside reading is happening at home.  Does the family go to the library? Is reading an expectation in the home life for leisure?  We need to rethink how we test achievement as a whole.


Ms. D. Palomo

" Share your heritage with a passion."

Posts: 67
Reply with quote  #28 

The change that would be most effective in my opinion would be to change the scope, frequency, and purpose of testing.  Until that has been removed from the pedestal on which it has been placed, nothing else will do much good.   It does no good to bring kids in even earlier, when they’ll be placed into a system that’s not focused on actually helping them learn.  It does no good to bring in better teachers when their hands will be tied behind their backs, just like the teachers who are already there.   Many of those other options would be fantastic and highly beneficial – having time for collaboration, transitioning schools into becoming PLCs, enticing top students to become teachers.   However, until the politicians get over their unhealthy obsession with testing as an all-important panacea, nothing else will help much.  Then again, if they actually respected teachers as capable professionals, maybe they wouldn’t care so much about testing. 


Posts: 13
Reply with quote  #29 

Out of the suggested policy changes the author mentions below, I think that providing universal early childhood education would be the most effective for the public school system. 

Just as one can not build a strong house without a firm foundation, our nation can not build an effective education system without an educational foundation for our children.  This foundation needs to begin as early as possible, while language is being developed, while vocabulary is being acquired, while social skills are blossoming, while learning/school attitudes are forming. 

It is a known fact that children growing up in poverty have a much smaller vocabulary than those children from more affluent homes.  This vocabulary deficit affects student achievement from day 1 of the child's academic career.  The child is constantly lagging behind, feelings of discouragement creep in, and eventually they will give up.  I believe this causes a majority of the discipline problems with students, along with illegal/gang activities and teen pregnancies.  All of these, in turn, increase the likelihood of a student dropping out, not graduating, and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Providing free preschool, beginning at age 3, for ALL children in the United States is the best investment we can make.  Not only for the educational foundation for our children, but for the future of our nation. 


Posts: 43
Reply with quote  #30 
Why not pay college cost to anyone that agrees to teach for 5 years? Not just the top quarter. It takes 10,000 hours to get good at anything. During that 10,000 hours you need to be interested in what you are doing and have a mentor to guide you. Once you are good at it you can mentor others. It is quite simple. As for career ladders I feel that is a bad idea. We need to focus on kids and this would just create drama. We don't even pick a teacher of the year at our campus or district. The focus needs to be on the kids. I also don't think we need any more standards for teachers and what they should know and be able to do. We are each a work in progress (remember 10,000 hours). How about career and technical education for all students not just middle class? I guess if I had to pick one from this list it would be more time for teacher planning and collaboration/PLCS. It is just hard to squeeze it all in. In a dreamworld teachers would just teach and there would be aides that could do lunch duty and recess duty. There would also be art class and smaller music and pe classes. Teachers would also have fewer kids in their class. 
S. Braddock
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