Friday, October 29, 2010

ASCD Fall 2010 Keynote: A Bolder Approach to Reform (#ascdfc)

Pedro A. Noguera - Understanding and Responding to the Achievement Gap
ASCD Fall 2010 Conference

This session was livestreamed at

Despite all the challenges this country is facing, education continues to surface as a priority issue.

Amazing that so many people out there, just because they once went to school, think they are the experts.

Waiting for Superman:  Solutions of charters and blaming unions are obstructing attention on the real problems.

Social issues affecting education and schools are being ignored.

Many people do not understand why they are not making progress in schools and thus will pursue the same strategies that haven't worked (NCLB, etc).

The failure of past reforms:

1.  High dropout rates and low achievement patterns are symptoms of deeper systemic problems (multi-dimensional).

2.  Many school reforms have not been implemented with a clear focus on how they will solve the problems schools face.

3.  Raising standards is unlikely to lead to better outcomes unless we improve learning conditions and respond more effectively to student needs.

There are examples of turnaround schools.  How can you create success in environments with high crime and poverty.  Not by test prep.  Expose to rich curriculum, reading good books, writing regularly, cultivating a love of learning.  Educators with the same vision can make this happen.

Why do we assign the least experienced teachers to work with the most difficult classrooms without support?

Gates Foundation:  Spent $2 billion on small schools initiative and it didn't work.

We need to change how schools respond to students:

1.  Challenge assumptions within schools about why certain students are likely to fail.

2.  Provide schools with accurate information on student needs and guidance on how to respond.

3.  Develop greater clarity among policy makers about what might be done to change to improve struggling schools and districts.  Need a strategy for developing the capacity of schools.

Being an educator today is a commitment to life-long learning.

Too many examples of surface level reform.  We put a coat of paint on the wall but don't check to see if the drywall is rotting.

"Seeing is believing." If your school is not getting the results you want, send teachers to observe schools that are.

Part of the problem is policies disconnected from the realities of school. NCLB 2014 goal has no strategies, just a date.

Build capacity for schools to be successful:

Have faith in parents; vast majority want their kids to succeed.  They must be our partners.

Focus on extending after-school programs with not only remediation but with quality, accelerated opportunities.

Schools need community partners.

Give parents explicit advice through respectful conversations and they will more likely do their part at home.

Can't just teach to the test.  What about history, science, music, and art?  We need a well-rounded education.

Break stereotypes by exposing students to new learning opportunities (robotics, etc)

Bolder Approach: Our theory of change:

Data driven instruction and university support for school reform.
  • Classroom based coaching
  • Personalized systems for students
  • Development of new schools and lab schools through partnerships with universities
  • Student engagement strategies focused on youth development, mentoring and internships

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