-Joanne Jacobs asks why it seems to be easier to raise math scores than reading scores. I think there's a relatively simple answer. Reading scores are influenced more by home life than are math scores. Which makes sense when you think about it -- kids spend a lot more time at home speaking, listening, and reading than doing math. And it's easier to influence the way kids spend their time in school than the way they spend it at home . . . meaning it's easier to alter math scores than reading scores.
-NYC might need to fire teachers because of budget constraints. Normally, the last ones in would be the first ones out -- but that would disproportionately affect schools in the poorest neighborhoods. Klein argues that they could fire far fewer veteran teachers and achieve the same cost savings. In my mind, it raises two questions:
1.) Why not offer retirement packages to veteran teachers? 2.) What happens to next year's crop of Teach for America corps members and NYC Teaching Fellows? If NYC now has too many teachers, do they need to recruit alternatively certified fill-ins?
-Andy Rotherham argues that a lot of the firing teachers debate could be settled if principals simply hired better teachers to start out with. There are many reasons why this doesn't happen, but the most important one might be that in a lot of schools principals don't have a whole lot to choose from when hiring teachers. The school I taught in, for example, had a handful of vacancies -- they couldn't hire anybody (certified) to take the job, yet alone a standout who was going to set the world on fire -- and a quarter of our staff were novice teaching fellows.
-KauaiMark's story reminds me of something I had to do more than once: apologize to substitute teachers for the behavior of my class. Except that we could find any substitute teachers to come to our school, so I had to apologize to the other teachers in my school that covered my class during their preps. Of course, I received a lot of apologies from other teachers as well.
-Mathnew Ladner writes on Jay Greene's blog that Florida's NAEP scores have risen dramatically over the past decade and says "When it comes to education reform…I’LL HAVE WHAT FLORIDA IS HAVING!" He may be right. But I can't help but wonder: given the large influx of residents into Florida in recent decades, might demographic changes explain part of the score gains?
In regard to your first point, I also found in my dissertation that the alignment of teachers' instruction to standards and tests in mathematics has increased since 2003, whereas the alignment of instruction to standards and tests in English has not changed. I think it's easier to target mathematics instruction to the discrete skills that are tested.
I completely agree with you, that influencing students to read and good marks in their maths exam is relatively easier than anything else at home. You can give some interesting questions to them so that they can have interest in them.
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