Saturday, May 27, 2006

Cherry-picking the best parts of the best systems

We've talked before about the challenges schools face when trying to balance the seemingly competing goals of providing a student-centered approach to learning with a rigorous, content-rich, standards-driven focus. The gulf that separates these two philosophies of education can seem insurmountable.

But there are schools bolding embracing both sides of the argument, attempting to bring together the traditional approach (probably what most of us parents experienced in the days of yore) with some of the more innovative concepts in education such as authentic assessment, interdisciplinary integration, and multiculturalism.

David J. Ferrero, director of education research and evaluation at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examines two such schools in his article, "Having It All" (from the May issue of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development's publication, Educational Leadership).

Ferrero discusses both the positives and negatives of trying to blend the two philosophies. On the upside, schools mixing traditional and innovative elements have seen increases in standardized test scores and a sizable positive shift in the number of students requiring remediation (extra help). On the downside, the combo-approach has upset some people within the schools by rocking their boats in uncomfortable ways.

In the end, Ferrero cautions, "It takes guts and persistence, even when all the data are on your side, to move a school in the right direction and keep it focused and disciplined over time."

If you read only one article this month, make it this one.


At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Cheryl,
Where do you work in Indonesia. In what part of the "Education" industry??

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Cheryl van Tilburg said...

Hi Anonymous!
My family and I live in Jakarta, Indonesia's bustling capitol (it's 250 miles north of Yogyakarta, where the earthquake hit on Saturday). I'm currently taking a pause from working formally in the education sector, having been a high school teacher outside of Chicago.
How 'bout you, Anonymous?

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