Monday, May 15, 2006

My Last Word

KDeRosa, I am bored with your blame game. I accept full responsibility for every student who fails my class and the WASL. I wish to become more like that school in Baltimore, the one you always mention, what is its name? Oh yeah, City Springs School.
Except, I found myself slightly confused when I visited their web page. You had said once that parents cannot be blamed for failure, that 100% of the responsiblity, at least in the 95% of educable students, belongs to me, the teacher. Here are your words, "But at the end of the day, blaming lack of parental support when students fail is not a valid excuse." Now, before you go twisting my words, let me say again, that sometimes students fail because it is their fault, and sometimes students fail because of life at home, and sometimes students fail because the teacher didn't use Direct Instruction--that was my position.
But, here's my dilemna: City Springs School is wasting a lot of time by informing parents that they play a vital role in the education of their child. They have a page, a whole page outlining what they can do to support their student. You should e-mail the administration and let them know that the money and time spent on that page could have been used in the classroom.
And don't forget to mention that students don't need to be well-fed before they come to school to help them succeed. They actually spend money on providing food before school for those who don't get it at home. The nerve.
In addition, apparently some teachers at the school are not using the Direct Instruction program properly. The school had to devise a Discipline Code for disruptive behavior. At one point even mentioning using the police. For the sake of Direct Instruction's reputation, please go fix this.
And there's more. Again, apparently, some teachers at the school are not using the Direct Instruction program the way you prescribe. Some students have to be retained.
What I couldn't find, things like class size or funding--did you know that not every elementary school in the Baltimore City Public School system has a website? It seems unfair. The other things I couldn't find are teacher to student ratios. How many aides are in the classrooms. That type of information.
But, like the title says, those are my last words on the issue. I will continue to reevaluate my terrible teaching and lack of effectiveness on the lives of my students.

16 Comments:

At 8:07 PM , Blogger Mike in Texas said...

You give KDeRosa too much credit on his website. He has never taught a day in his life, but he has read plenty of studies commissioned and paid for by DI, therefore he is much more of an expert than say, you, who teach reading everyday.

 
At 10:20 PM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

You mentioned that you use the READ 180 curriculum. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be very effective. There is only so much that even the best teacher can do with a bad instructional program. You claim:

sometimes students fail because it is their fault

How do you know it is their fault and not the instructional program's fault? How do you know that they would not have performed better in a more effective program.

sometimes students fail because of life at home

ditto

and sometimes students fail because the teacher didn't use Direct Instruction

This isn't about DI. DI is just the benchmark I use because it has an extensive research base. I'm sure there are other effective instructional programs that could be used.

Now let's deal with your strawmen.

You had said once that parents cannot be blamed for failure, that 100% of the responsiblity, at least in the 95% of educable students, belongs to me, the teacher.

Let's clarify. My position is that schools should not exonerate themselves from teaching the educable children by blaming external factors. I never claimed that these external factors did not exist or did not make the job of teaching more difficult. My position is that schools have no business blaming anything or anyone as long as they are using ineffective instructional programs, such as READ 180.

City Springs School is wasting a lot of time by informing parents that they play a vital role in the education of their child.

There's nothing wrong with parental involvement. When you can get it. The problem is what you do when you don't get it--like blaming the negligent parents when you're using an ineffective instructional program.

And don't forget to mention that students don't need to be well-fed before they come to school to help them succeed.

And they should also turn on the lights and heat the school house too. The school is responsible for maintaining an adequate learning environment.

I see you are scraping the bottom of the barrel now.

The school had to devise a Discipline Code for disruptive behavior.

Which all schools should have as part of a sensible classroom management system. As I have acknowledged, some students do not respond to even the most effective classroom management. And then you have the problem of transferring students (the district has a 25% mobility rate) from failing schools; the later you get them the more difficult it is to reach them, if at all.

Some students have to be retained.

These would be part of the 5% or so that don't succeed. You think they're mostly transfer students?

What I couldn't find, things like class size or funding

I believe they get about $11k per pupil. Typical for urban schools. That buys the typical amount of teachers and aides per classroom.

Now you're grasping at straws in the strawmen.

I will continue to reevaluate my terrible teaching and lack of effectiveness on the lives of my students.

Now you're taking it personally. You need some professional detachment when engaging in an internet debate.

It's been fun.

MiT -- your comments are more inane than usual tonight.

 
At 11:11 AM , Blogger LesMO said...

Kderosa,

You're making this problem black and white, when in reality, it has more shades than one could ever imagine. What you're professing is like a terrible science experiment. You said earlier that there may be a myriad of ways to do perform a job, but there is also a right and a wrong. That is too black and white. Some of the major breakthroughs in our society have come from people doing things the wrong way, or so it appeared. Your approach has no potential: it's chained to the ground. You act as if kids are never going to change, as if society isn't constantly changing. Your teaching method would be very successful under certain conditions, but not norm. I'm a student and I'm around students all day. I have to say, I feel for teachers, kids in general have lost their grasp on the important of education. Is this the teacher's fault? What are we teaching the kids of tomorrow by constantly making teachers adapt to STUDENTS. Is this how it is in the real world? I'm not going to show up to my job late and tell my boss to grit and bear it: I'd get fired. Kderosa, I respect your approach, but I think it is bland, and a pipe dream. Again, that is only my opinion, and I am aware that there are many ways of teaching. You should take the same approach when viewing Mcnamar.

 
At 12:29 PM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

You said earlier that there may be a myriad of ways to do perform a job, but there is also a right and a wrong. That is too black and white.

There are potentially a myriad of right ways and a myriad of wrong ways. The fact that there might be many eays of doing something doesn't relieve the practioner when he selects the wrong way.

Some of the major breakthroughs in our society have come from people doing things the wrong way, or so it appeared. Your approach has no potential: it's chained to the ground.

We call this experimentation. And, experimentation is not done on a grand scale until there is some evidence of effectiveness. And, even then, you get the consent of the guinea pigs before you experiment on them.

Would you like your child being experimented on when it comes to one of the most important areas in his or her life -- learning how to read?

I'm all for experimentation when it is done in a rsponsible manner.

Your teaching method would be very successful under certain conditions, but not norm.

And you know this how?

kids in general have lost their grasp on the important of education.

I've pointed out how this loss has been caused mainly by bad instructional practices. No one has rebutted this proposition yet.

What are we teaching the kids of tomorrow by constantly making teachers adapt to STUDENTS. Is this the teacher's fault?

The school's fault. They're doing this voluntarily already. It's called differentiated instruction. And, it doesn't work.

Is this how it is in the real world? I'm not going to show up to my job late and tell my boss to grit and bear it: I'd get fired.

bad comparison. Your employer pays you. We (taxpayers) pay schools to educate kids. All kids. Even the ones who aren't too bright.

I respect your approach, but I think it is bland, and a pipe dream.

Bland for whom? Certainly not the kids.Even if it were bland, the choice is not between bland & effective and exciting & effective. It's between bland & effective and slightly less bland & ineffective.

Why is it a pipedream?

You should take the same approach when viewing Mcnamar.

I did. I didn't tell him waht to teach. I merely argued that schools should be blaming external factors while they use ineffective practices.

 
At 2:56 PM , Blogger LesMO said...

I did. I didn't tell him waht to teach. I merely argued that schools should be blaming external factors while they use ineffective practices.

It's quite apparent you didn't tell him what to teach, why would you? I just find it hard how you can critique a teacher you don't even know.

Like I said, this is a terrible analysis. From what I've read, you don't agree with how he teaches. You can't blame any one factor in this problem. The way you are laying things out simplifies the problem way too much, when in reality, it's a huge mess. A person who has an answer to everything isn't looking at the problem from all angles. There is no ONE answer for these types of problems.

And the fact that you said he's taking this too personally is absurd. Of course one is going to take this personally, especially him because that is his profession. Any person who has passion and cares about their job or beliefs, is going to take this personally.

 
At 4:16 PM , Anonymous Mrs. Bog said...

Cartoon showed up on DH's cartoon of the day calendar which gave me a chortle. Posted it on the blog.

 
At 4:36 PM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

LesMO, I'm wondering why you didn't answer any of my questions. Could it be that you have no credible answers? If my analysis is so terrible you should be able to poke holes in it quite easily. So far all you've offered is unsubstantiated opinion.

The way you are laying things out simplifies the problem way too much, when in reality, it's a huge mess.

You've simplified your conclusion here so much that you've simplified away all the support needed to reach your conclusion. Why is it such a huge mess and why is my analysis too simple?

A person who has an answer to everything isn't looking at the problem from all angles. There is no ONE answer for these types of problems.

I don't have an answer for everything; but the research that I've pointed out seems to. Are you disputing that research? What are you disputing and why? Where is your support for your opinion.

Basically all the arguments you've laid out so far are on the order of "because my daddy said so." These tend to not be very presuasive.

 
At 4:49 AM , Blogger jg said...

I personally have no problem with your research. It seems as though it was fair and well thought out. My problem is what are we teachers who are being given conflicting research suppose to believe. For example, just this week we had an inservice day where someone presented loads and loads of research on how differentiated instruction was improving student learning and understanding. Now I will be the first one to admit that I did not read each piece she cited (the bibliography was 3 pages, font size 8, single spaced) but I have to imagine at least some of it was carried out in a reasonable manner and that they got good results from it.

SO where does that leave me? KDerosa is telling me direct instruction works, my district is telling me differentiated instruction works, and my college courses have been telling me that other styles work (again backed up by research). So now what? Is everyone right? Is anyone right? I know KDerosa has commented in his blog that

"Research has turned up very little evidence suggesting the need for qualitatively different forms of instruction for students who differ in aptitude, achievement levels, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or learning style."

But other people seem to disagree with that statement. So who do we believe? I (and I think Mr. McNamar) believe that what works best is what we see working in our classrooms everyday. Some days it is direct instruction and some days it is differentiated instruction and some days it is discovery learning, and some days it is something else.

 
At 9:24 AM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

My problem is what are we teachers who are being given conflicting research suppose to believe

In education, about 90% of all research is not valid scientific research (including some of the DI research). Often the problem is that the research was not conducted properly (no control groups, selection bias, confirmation bias, etc.) and/or the results were not statistically signficant. This first cut-off eliminates 90% of the field.

Then you have the facially valid studies that resulted in effect sizes that were not educationally significant (less that 1/4 standard deviation). Such studies tell us little and you wouldn't switch from what you currently are doing based on such a small likely improvement.

Then you have the further problem of educators trying to extrapolate from studies and pick out what they think are the best parts and use them in their own programs. This isn't science. The research is only valid for teh program studied. If you want to make changes to that program, you'd have to perform another study.

For example, just this week we had an inservice day where someone presented loads and loads of research on how differentiated instruction was improving student learning and understanding.

Once you throw out all the bad reseaarch, you'll find that there is no research base supporting differentiated instruction.

I will be the first one to admit that I did not read each piece she cited ... but I have to imagine at least some of it was carried out in a reasonable manner and that they got good results from it.

The odds are greatly aginst it.

But other people seem to disagree with that statement.

Opinions are cheap in education. Results are hard to come by. You only need tolisten to the people who've gotten verifiable results.

I ... believe that what works best is what we see working in our classrooms everyday.

On the whole, logitudinal test results, like NAEP, show that what is going on everyday is not working with many students. 70% of students are below proficient.

Now if you want to limit the discussion to this top 30%, your next statement is true:

Some days it is direct instruction and some days it is differentiated instruction and some days it is discovery learning, and some days it is something else.

But, that's not what's working with the lower 70%. And, who's to say that the upper 30% wouldn't also have learned more with more effective instruction. We are seeing large percentages of colege students and grads who lack basic skills they should have learned in high school.

 
At 9:34 AM , Blogger jg said...

So you are seeing that the 3 pages of research I have is ALL invalid? I'll admit that certainly some of it is flawed in one way shape or form due to what you described above, but all of it? Who is funding all this inproperly done research? Since I teach math I feel as though I have a pretty good handle on reading research and understing the controls and such that need to be done and I've seen some programs that look like pretty decent research. You are coming from a very biased place if you are assuming any research that is for anything other than DI must be done incorrectly.

 
At 9:35 AM , Blogger jg said...

to clarify that is 3 pages of bibliography that cites books upon books of research not just a 3 page research paper.

 
At 11:34 AM , Blogger LesMO said...

I don't have an answer for everything; but the research that I've pointed out seems to. Are you disputing that research? What are you disputing and why? Where is your support for your opinion.

Research is not the total answer, this is your big problem. You need to combine that research with other sources or experiences. So far, you're doing the "because my daddy said so." I do not see how you out of all people could say that to anyone? Whenever you are attacked you bring up your research or in essence, your daddy.

To be honest, I don't have a lot of research. I'll tell you what I do have though. I'm around these kids everyday, interacting with them, trying to understand why some of them do the things they do. Everyday I see different teaching styles and approaches; I'm immersed. Any experiences you've had in school are a thing of the past, this is a new generation of kids. Research can point that out, but only to an extent. Again, I don't care what you say, there is no one answer to these types of problems.

Although I am not engaged into the nation's teaching struggles, I am into others. While analyzing these problems I've realized that there be a major source causing a problem, but even so, it is couple with a myriad of minor ones, in essence, making the problem very difficult to solve.

That is what makes your analysis terrible. You focus on one part of a problem and get one answer. At the end of the day, you've only solved one part of a multi-part equation.

 
At 12:15 PM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

So you are s[ay]ing that the 3 pages of research I have is ALL invalid?

That's not what I said.

I said there is a 90% chance that each one of the studies cited is invalid.

Don't believe me? Go to the What Works Clearinghouse. For middle school math research, out of 76 studies examined, 66 did "not meet evidence screens." That's a success rate of 13%.

You could do the same thing with the National Reading Panel metastudy or AIR's metastudies.

The only way for you to find out if those three pages of research studies are any good, is to examine each one of them or, preferably, find someone else who has done the hard work already.

You are coming from a very biased place if you are assuming any research that is for anything other than DI must be done incorrectly.

A lot of the research on DI is lousy too. But what remains is :

"An independent researcher conducted a meta-analysis of all studies on Direct Instruction programs from 1972 to 1995 (Adams & Engelmann, 1996). Out of some 350 publications, he identified 34 studies that met criteria for methodological rigor (e.g., pre-test scores, a comparison group). The 34 studies generated 173 comparisons between Direct Instruction and non-Direct Instruction groups; in 87 percent of the comparisons, the difference favored Direct Instruction. The mean effect size was 0.97 (an effect size of 0.25 is generally considered educationally significant). The researcher also examined studies that tracked Direct Instruction students into later grades. Several of these studies reported that Direct Instruction students continued to outperform control students in middle and high school, and two studies found that Direct Instruction students had higher graduation rates and college acceptance rates than control group students."

This included the largest educational experiment ever--Project Follow Through, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars and included over a 100,000 students.

You also might want to look at the National Reading Panel's report in which Engelmann's name, the creator of DI, ismentioned over 50 times and more than any other source.

 
At 12:44 PM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

Research is not the total answer, this is your big problem. You need to combine that research with other sources or experiences.

I suppose these "other sources or experiences" don't stand up to scientific rigor or otherwise we'd hae valid research.

If a doctor told you he wanted to treat your cancer by bleeding and leeching you would you a) let him do it as long as he assured you he had other "other sources or experiences" that the treatment would work or b) run out of his office and find a real doctor who used scientifically verified techniques.

I'm around these kids everyday, interacting with them, trying to understand why some of them do the things they do. Everyday I see different teaching styles and approaches; I'm immersed.

In most mature professions, this experience counts for something. However, in education, it counts for very little, because with very few exceptions educators have no idea how to effectively educate the kids on the lower half of the curve. There's not much you can glean from such failure.

Have you ever taught in a typical title I school? Assuming you did or if you have a representative sample of such kids in your school, how many of them are peforming at grade level? It bet the number is close to zero.

Any experiences you've had in school are a thing of the past, this is a new generation of kids.

Who act pretty much the same and are capable of learning at the same rates as previous generations. If anything student achievement rates are remarkably stable for the past three decades. You do know we have three decades of NAEP testing to fall back on?

Again, I don't care what you say, there is no one answer to these types of problems.

And which problems would they be? You need to be more specific.

You focus on one part of a problem and get one answer. At the end of the day, you've only solved one part of a multi-part equation.

Unless, of course, that one part of the problem solves the multi-part equation. And, I've provided evidence that that, in fact, appears to be the case. Not unsurprisingly, if you fix the broken instructional delivery system, many of the variables in your multi-part equation become irrelevant. Have you considered that maybe that was what was causing most of the problems in the first place? I guess you're not a occam's razor kinda guy.

 
At 1:03 AM , Blogger LesMO said...

I said that problems have a status. I clearly stated that there is usually a major problem coupled with a myriad of minor ones. Yes, solving the major one helps has an effect on the minor ones, but it still doesn't completely solve the problem.

Student achievement rates are remarkably stable? Which demographic would this evidence support? Again, one part of the problem. If things are the close to the same as they used to be, how come so many parents are frustrated, confused, and disgusted with how things are going in public schools?

The lower half of the curve kids need teachers with experience. Some kids out there are special cases, untapped by any research. If a doctor recognized I had a special problem that had to be fixed with a certain method, more specifically, a certain method a certain way, I'd trust them. I never said teachers have to hrow out everything the learned and rely solely on experiences, you're twisting my words. Research cannot account for the lower half of the curve. Since when has America cared about those kids? How come our inner-city schools filled with those types of kids get so little funding compared to the affluent neighborhoods with the higher half of the curve? But of course, I doubt you've ever seen what those schools are like first hand, the types of kids that roam their campuses.

What research can show that?

 
At 6:15 AM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

but it still doesn't completely solve the problem.

Since my only claim is that good instruction can reach 95% of students, other problems may still account for the other 5%. Of course, one of those problems could be the inability to date to further improve the instruction.

Which demographic would this evidence support? Demographics have been fairly stable too. We've always had immigrants.

how come so many parents are frustrated, confused, and disgusted with how things are going in public schools? The data goes back to the early 70s. We've been dissatisfied with performance over this entire period going back to at least the sputnick era.

Some kids out there are special cases, untapped by any research.

You keep on dipping into the lowest 5% for your examples. The discussion is about the educable ones, which exclude this group.

Research cannot account for the lower half of the curve.

Project Follow Through studied over a hundred thousand students. Mots schools were performing at the 20th percentile. This would be the lower half. Apparently, the researh does account for the lower half.

Since when has America cared about those kids?

Since at least Johnson's Great Society era. What about title I? Bussing?

How come our inner-city schools filled with those types of kids get so little funding compared to the affluent neighborhoods with the higher half of the curve?

This is a myth. City schools may not get as much as the most affluent sububrban schools, but they tend to get more than the the average school and what they get is mmore than sufficient to educate. There might be mismanagement problems, but those aren't fnding issues.

What research can show that?

The research was conducted in schools just like this. The City Springs School was the worst of the worst performing inner city schools in Baltimore.

Oh wait, I forgot that there are "other sources or experiences" which somehow affect this.

An excuse for everything.

Maybe that's why nothing is getting done to improve the lot of these kids.

Which brings us full circle to my original complaint that we shouldn't be blaming these external factors if we expect to improve school performance.

 

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