Friday, August 21, 2009

Dept of Education report on Online Learning

A study just came out from the US Dept of education on the efficacy of online learning vis a vis traditional learning and, basically, the report states that classes that infuse online learnining are more successful than those that solely use traditional face-to-tace education.
Here's a quot4e from the Abstract:
The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.

If you have the time to read the full 93 page report, here it is (pdf file).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Obama Administration: Tests will matter more!

Just read a New York Times article about the obama administration's push for education. It seems that the emphasis on students scores is only going to increase. Here's a quote

“We’re mindful of all the criticisms about federal overreaching, about too much testing, of all the complaints about No Child Left Behind,” Mr. Cunningham [Education Department spokesman ]said. “These complaints come up all the time in conversations about all our programs, not just this one, with education officials across the country. The context that No Child has generated is the context that we have to live with.”

The administration is also pushing that teacher evaluations be more closely tied to student test performance-- Many teachers, including myself, find this problematic. If you're asking, yourself 'Why don't teachers want to be assessed based on student performance?' you're probably not a teacher. It is not because I do not want to be held accountable--but rather becuase associating teacher performance with student test performance opens a pandora's box of issues--only a few of which I'll discuss.

#1) If you get a strong vs a weak class, your test scores will unfairly affect your reviews as a teacher--for better or for worse. All of us who have taught know how true this is--a strong class will do well no matter who teaches them and some classes are unmotivated no matter what you do. Moreover, I get 1-2 'skewed' classes a year (strong or bad) and that's over half of the number of classes I teach that take a standardized test. In other words, more than half of the data that would influence my year end performance will, on average, be comprised by a 'good' or 'bad' class's performance. Moreover, what about the teachers who only teach 1 standardized test based class?

#2) States will have even more of an interest in making tests easier. Anyone who has taught Math in New York state just needs to look at how easy the Math A regents (or the new Integrated Algebra) have become over the last 7 years or so. Also consider this, how can you hold an Integrated Geometry teacher responsible for low test scores on the difficult Geometry test when the same students passed the prior year's integrated Algebra exam--even though the latter test is a complete joke requiring like 1/3 of the total points to pass?

#3) It's almost a gurantue that by encouraging teachers to 'teach to the test' the 'good' teachers who encourage true thinking and inquiry will have to replace thought provoking education will test tricks--trust me, test tricks work but they do not necessarily teach much else.

A Great New City Dentist

This post does not fit in with my normal one here--but I had to help promote this guy--he's a dentist that I just started going to and basically, he saved me from having to get a root canal! My prior dentist said I needed one, but went Dr. Auerbach who was able to fill my tooth : no root canal needed!

So if you live in or near Rockland county, New York and need a great New City Dentist check out his website or read about him on yelp.