Archive for the 'Dropout Prevention' Category

Carnegie Corp. Issues “Compelling” Call to Arms to Promote Math & Science Education

Need For Understanding Role of  Differentiated Learning

The call to arms is compelling, concise – and urgent.

“The United States must mobilize for excellence in mathematics and science education … so that all students … achieve much higher levels of math and science learning,” says the opening lines of a new report from the Carnegie Corporation’s Advanced Study Commission on Mathematics and Science Education.

We couldn’t agree more.

The report, titled “The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy,” details a list of specific actions steps  to make fluency in math and science common among students at all levels of their academic careers.  (Read the full report here: http://www.opportunityequation.org/report/executive-summary/.)

The Carnegie Corporation’s to-do list is deep and broad.  The report calls for a national mobilization – bringing together government at all levels, educators, administrators, unions, businesses and others – to create momentum. And the individual action steps range from how school systems are structured to teacher preparation and the need to adopt common (and higher) standards.

At stake is not just where we rank competitively in terms of academic performance against China, India and other emerging economic powers, but just what kind of society we want to be in the very near future. We all know that high-value, stable jobs — the underpinning of our economy and prosperity – are increasingly dependent on workers with skills and talents that, alas, are just not being learned by too many students.

We like to think that we’re already making a contribution to the very real need to put math and science education front and center.

Indeed, one of the Carnegie study’s detailed prescriptions calls for steps to engage teachers in data analysis and identification of students’ differentiated learning needs.

Differentiated learning is at the core of what we offer through our online, on-one-one tutoring services. We work with classroom teachers in the schools we serve to develop individualized leaning pathways, and then give each student the tools and support they need to make progress at his or her own speed. And we provide detailed reporting back to teachers and their schools so each student’s progress can be tracked closely.

We know from standardized test scores and, equally important, anecdotal evidence from tens of thousands of administrators, teachers and students that the approach works.

We are changing lives and helping young people be better prepared for the lives that await them – one student at a time.

What do you think about the Carnegie Corporation’s call to arms? We’d like to hear from you.

Hurry: “Teacher Innovator of the Year” Deadline is This Week

Attention teachers: Do you have a story to share with other teachers around the country about how you’re incorporating our online supplemental learning program into your classroom?

We’ve been on the prowl to find the “Apangea Learning Teacher Innovator of the Year” and right now we’re busy reviewing submissions from your peers in school districts nationwide. They’re telling us all the imaginative ways they’re putting our online supplemental learning program to work in their classrooms and how they’re getting their students pumped to work hard.

Got a story to tell? We want to hear it. But you’ll have to hurry – the deadline is Saturday, May 9th.  Please submit ideas to lwise@apangea.com.

We’ll be issuing a news release after we’ve picked the winner and runner-ups.

Stay tuned … big news ahead.

For ninth graders, academic odds are stacked against them

According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for ninth-graders starting classes in metro Atlanta, the academic odds will be stacked against them. One in five could flunk this year and by May 2008, close to a 10th of the class of 2011 could disappear from high school altogether.  

Ninth grade seems to be the make-it-or-break it year and many principals are searching for ways to improve students’ chances of earning a diploma.  

The article suggests creating freshman academies that isolates ninth graders from upper classmen. Other suggestions include employing veteran teachers; providing tutoring to make sure struggling students get help before falling behind (those students pulling less then an average of 75 percent would have to attend 30 minutes of mandatory, daily tutoring during lunch); and allowing students to explore post graduation plans. 

Research was conducted earlier this year that also suggests “a three-pronged approach focused on prevention, intervention and bringing dropouts back into schools is the most effective [solution].”

Technology is on the forefront of all these efforts, and may just give educators, families and communities the edge needed to keep students from giving up.

 ~ MATT HAUSMANN, Vice President ~

Rethinking how we reach and teach middle school students

A recent article in the New York Times noted that the percentage of eighth graders who perform at grade level is just 45.6 percent in math. New York and the nation do have to rethink middle school programs and the best way to teach (and reach) adolescents.

There is no one solution to this problem, but if student performance levels are to rise dramatically, it is critical to engage and motivate every student. Technology, properly integrated into the classroom environment, can achieve both results.

Integration of technology can also address other serious issues: dropout prevention; individualized learning to address specific needs of each student; one teacher to one student instruction; and supplemental instruction to prepare students to pass tests required for graduation. Technology can effectively reduce class sizes.

I agree with Mayor Bloomberg, “… the real answer here is to take a look at the schools we have and make them work.” Embracing, integrating and using technology might just be that “real answer.”

~ MATT HAUSMANN, Vice President ~

When Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Everyone has had a parent tell them that “the ends do not justify the means.” Really?  Is it true? This question has never been more important than in today’s world of K12 public education.  NCLB, NEA, student censorship, Intelligent Design v. Evolution, school board politics – so many of these important education issues represent a breakdown in the “means” of our society’s ability to engage in meaningful discourse. When do the ends justify the means? Good question — here is the issue: when the means are cheapened, the ends are nearly always damaged in the process. 

Last night I watched a school board elect a new Superintendent on a 5-4 vote.  No problem there – the majority has the right to make decisions; however, it became clear that the minority had not been included in the decision making process in a meaningful manner.  Why is this important?  Because when the means are subjugated, then the ends are irrevocably weakened.  The end result of this meeting was a new Superintendent; however, by not working diligently to get at least one vote from the minority, the majority has significantly weakened the leadership position of this Superintendent.  Being a Superintendent in today’s world is a really tough job.  It is patently unfair to a new Superintendent to have to deal with factious parents, students, teachers, administrators and board members – all because a board majority did not feel the need to follow the proper “means” in its decision making process.  Although this may be the right person for the job, he now faces an uphill battle to successfully lead this district.  The collateral damage to this decision making process is very real.

Being in the majority is a true challenge.  It requires an unwavering commitment to the processes that properly represent the views of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority.   A majority does not have license to act in an autonomous manner; instead, it represents a responsibility to use that majority position in a prudent manner.  The same ills that afflict today’s political arenas now affect our schools. 

So, when do the ends justify the means?  The answer is very, very, very rarely.  One of the core principles of education is that it teaches each of us the value of dissenting views.  How can we expect our children to learn this value if we do not live it ourselves?

I know that I will be telling my children that “the ends do not justify the means; instead, the means validate the ends.”  

~ LOUIS PICONI, Founder and Chief Executive Officer ~


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