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  1. #1
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    Default Wayland community input on educational priorities

    As part of its ongoing Long Range Strategic Planning effort (LRSP), the Wayland School Committee seeks input from the community on the evolution of the Wayland Public Schools over the next ten plus years with an important caveat: in the current fiscal climate, it is unlikely that we would be able to add a new program without cutting an existing one. Any program changes would not impact capital plans such as the potential Wayland High School project.

    To collect this input, the Committee has posted a survey at the following location. Please respond once only.
    http://mywayland.wufoo.com/forms/wayland-community-input-on-educational-priorities/

    The Committee's next meeting is the fall public forum scheduled for Tuesday, November 18th, at 7:00pm in the first floor Large Hearing Room in the Wayland Town Building. The Committee will report at the forum on any responses received prior to that date.

  2. #2
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    Arrow Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

    Jeff,
    See this link...
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/2008110...after10thgrade

    Evidently, NH is taking the lead in allowing kids to exit high school after taking a proficiency test to enter junior colleges or technical and trade schools.
    Those who wish to go to full universities can stay till 12th and take other more rigorous exams. This plan is designed to guarantee better proficiency in core subjects. The article is pretty self explanatory.

    This plan would not only filter kids based on desires and abilities but it would ultimately reduce the need for manpower, infrastructure and their associated costs.

    What would *you* and/or the SC think about this.
    I think this is something that should be considered.

  3. #3
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    Default

    Alan, this idea strikes me as one guaranteed to perpetuate non-success. Half of their students attend community colleges? So they decide, let's ship them off sooner (when they are even less prepared and even more likely to require remediation?) so we can focus on the kids who are better prepared?

    How about just letting them drop out sooner then if their scores are sufficiently low? I mean, if they aren't going to make it, why not face that a couple of years sooner, and really save some money?

    There may be some good ideas lurking in there, but I don't think what they are looking at in NH is quite it.

  4. #4
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    Default Controlled Early Exit

    From what I'm reading is that the kids who can pass a given test and have other plans to enter 'non-university' schooling or trades can exit at 10th and do that sooner.

    Not everybody is destined to go to a 4 year college or even a 2 year college.
    Electricians, BMW auto mechanics, plumbers etc... make good livings and they could exit 10th into a trade school to get a head start on life.

    I don't think this plan is to avoid dropping out at all, I think this is a realistic filtering program to accommodate different types of people with different goals and futures.

  5. #5
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    Alan, I would just be very skeptical of a plan that incentivized local districts to push kids out earlier.

    You're certainly right that not everybody is destined for Harvard. However, I think you go down a slippery slope suggesting that some kids could leave earlier. Perhaps as early as 8th grade you know who's really not likely to go to a four-year college... maybe in the future, we could use DNA testing and just skip school entirely for some kids? (I'm obviously being facetious here.)

    I went to High School with someone who may well have taken the early exit strategy. He was a bit of a late bloomer - but junior year he started getting a little more serious about school and really kicked in as a senior. He found an area of history that he really loved. Today he holds a PhD and is a college professor.

  6. #6
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    Default

    Alan, thanks much. I first read the "Tough Choices or Tough Times" executive summary two years ago. Following the most recent School Committee meeting and my suggestion that the members do some individual research into cost efficiency, I tried to find that report, but wasn't able to remember its name until I read the article you posted.

    I certainly agree that there's no "one size fits all" when it comes to education. Through the Minuteman program, we have a few students each year who pursue a more vocational/technical education that what they would receive in Wayland. I can't speak for the Committee, but see no reason why we couldn't offer something like what NH is trying. In the end, though, the choice needs to remain that of the student and the family.

    A few thoughts to take into consideration.

    • Marc Tucker, co-chair of the New Commission on Skills of the American Workforce (NCSAW) that authored the "Tough Choices or Tough Times" report, argues that "most American teenagers slide through high school, viewing it as a mandatory pit stop to hang out and socialize. Of those who do go to college, half attend community college." As the following point illustrates, this does not describe Wayland.

    • 88% of Wayland students attend 4-year public or private institutions (MA DESE), so our "market" would appear to significantly smaller than what Mr. Tucker imagines.

    • With on the order of 25 fewer students per cohort in 11th and 12th grade, the numbers would have to break exactly right to reduce the number of classroom sections and therefore save money. And, as a technical point, we would need to know which students are "opting out" almost a full year in advance so that the impact of their departure could be accounted for in the budgeting process.

    • Moreover, NCSAW imagines that the savings (from not sending some students to 11th and 12th grade) would be spent on recruiting, early education, and closing the achievement gap. Those are all worthy endeavors, just not ones that will result in less money being spent.

    I definitely recommend that people read the "Tough Choices or Tough Times" report--it's thought-provoking.

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    Default Suggestion

    If you haven't read Clayton Christensen's "Disrupting Class", I strongly recommend doing so.

    The book's subtitle is "How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns".

    Dave

  8. #8
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    Default

    Dave, thanks, I read "Disrupting Class" this past summer and am in strong agreement. A white paper (attached) that I wrote back in 2005 and updated a year later echoes some of the themes that Christensen outlines so eloquently and convincingly.

    It's a great read--I encourage anyone interested in education to take a look.

    Other excellent books on education that I recommend:
    • Jim Collins, "Good to Great and the Social Sectors"
    • Larry Cuban, "The Blackboard and the Bottom Line"
    • John Merrow, "Choosing Excellence"
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default follow-up

    Are there software applications available that can discern a student's learning style and provide information in a manner optimized for that style?

  10. #10
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    Default

    I'm not an expert on learning styles, but my understanding is that it's an area that engenders considerable debate. The three most commonly listed styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Not surprisingly, different learners can be expected to have different blends of these styles. Measuring or even simply specifying this blend for a given student is more art than science.

    By their nature, software programs can deliver instruction, practice, and assessment in visual and auditory but not kinesthetic fashion. Within the visual/auditory realm, I'm not aware of any programs that adapt to one or the other of these two styles.

    What is more common, however, is software that adapts to a student's particular educational need. The objective is to provide tasks at the "Zone of Proximal Development," the point where the student is challenged but not overwhelmed or bored.

    Three examples (there are many others) of companies that create software with this sort of adaptive branching are Lexia Learning Systems (reading), Symphony Learning (math), and Children's Progress (reading and math assessment). (Disclosure: I have financial and/or other interests in all three of these companies; others with which I do not have an association include but are not limited to AutoSkill, Carnegie Learning, MindPlay, and Scientific Learning.)

  11. #11
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    Default Thanks

    Thanks for the references, Jeff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    By their nature, software programs can deliver instruction, practice, and assessment in visual and auditory but not kinesthetic fashion.
    As the Wii videogame system has demonstrated, kinesthetic learning could also be supported.

    Dave

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