Thursday, July 26, 2007

Study Says NCLB Cuts Time from Other Subjects

This article appeared in this week's NY Times. The basic premise of the study is this:

"The report, by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington group that studies the law’s implementation in school districts nationwide, said that about 44 percent of districts have cut time from one or more subjects or activities in elementary schools to extend time for longer daily math and reading lessons. Among the subjects or activities getting less attention since the law took effect in 2002 are science, social studies, art and music, gym, lunch and recess, the report said.

The report, based on a survey of nearly 350 of the nation’s 15,000 districts, said 62 percent of school districts had increased daily class time in reading and math since the law took effect."

1 comment:

Jet City mom said...

Its too bad that the way some schools seem to approach elementary school education splits off history from math or reading from art.

While I would agree that some specific reinforcement is necessary for some kids in some subjects- I also think that elementary education could be more successful if perhaps we approached it the way Evergreen State College teaches their subjects.

For example- when my daughter was in 1st grade- she studied American History.Circa 1860s. This was in a class that was K-2. Each student developed a character & a backstory for that character who was going west with the wagon trains, as a guide or a pioneer etc. They each kept a journal for their character which was to be written in all year.
They used math, when calculating what supplies they would need for the trip- they each figured out what their character would need, as not every one was in same wagon.

When researching weather and travel conditions, which could affect their supplies, they were learning meterology, physics, geography...

Botany, came into play when studies included common illnesses and remedies, including use of plants.

They built models of covered wagons and drew pictures of their characters and what they saw. They learned music through improvised instruments that the pioneers might have had, and songs that were from the era that their character might have known.

They didn't even realize they were learning, it was more like play.

I really don't see why we insist on the easy way out with predigested
curriculum, that doesn't seem to relate to anything.

As these kids stayed with the same teachers the next year- they continued the curriculum. Through the 1st year- the pioneers traveled. The 2nd year, they had arrived in Washington ( they jumped ahead a few years to the late 1880s' in Seattle) Some of them changed characters if theirs had died or they had lost interest in their story.
Now they studied early Seattle, they built a model of Seattle with seperate buildings, and had to redo it as it would have been after the great Seattle fire of 1889 and start over.

again they used physics when discussing the problems that would have come into play when redoing the streets and deciding where to build.
This again took the majority of their day throughout the year.
Field trips, speakers, projects all related to the theme.

Making learning relevant isn't unheard of in SPS
Van Asselt has great results teaching kids English- while teaching them about the culture

In 2003, Van Asselt, which enrolls the most elementary-age limited-Englishspeakers in the district — more than half of the school's enrollment — became the first Seattle school to train its staff in Project GLAD, which stands for "guided language acquisition design."

GLAD provides educators with a framework, such as chants, "inquiry charts" or photo collages, for teaching language and content simultaneously. Students listen, speak, read and write in all subject areas, and teachers deliver thematic units that blend lessons in science, social studies and literature.

The GLAD model is based on brain research showing that children acquire language more effectively when they understand the purpose and joy of reading before being asked to study its mechanics.

Van Asselt teachers used the GLAD model, and it seemed to work. About half of the fourth-grade limited-English speakers passed the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) reading test in 2004 and about 42 percent last year. From 2001 to 2003, about 15 percent of the limited-English speakers at Van Asselt passed the reading test annually.