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The Conversation: Pursuing successful education reform might mean going the way of Adventists

November 17, 2010 | 11:34 am

Student

In an Op-Ed from Tuesday's pages, Camille Esch, director of the California Education Program at the New America Foundation, proposed a way to train better teachers. She wrote that training programs for teachers could be improved upon if those if those running the training programs knew how effective they'd been, if they could follow up with their graduates once they'd become teachers to assess and track their success rates in a real-life classroom. "This kind of information," she wrote, "would be invaluable to programs seeking to innovate, and to prospective teachers seeking an effective training program."

Another option in the pursuit of education reform is "taking a cue from the Adventists," writes Elissa Kido in an Opinion piece for the Christian Science Monitor. In her independently financed study, the professor of education at Seventh-Day Adventist college La Sierra University, found "that students at Adventist schools outperformed their peers at the national average in every subject area" regardless of socioeconomic status. Why? Because Adventists specialize in holistic learning, engaging their students' mind, body and spirit for achievement.

What about specifically closing the achivement gap between white and black students? On the The Root [via NPR], author John McWhorter implores educators to use the Direct Instruction method.

[I]n the early '70s, Siegfried Engelmann led a government-sponsored investigation called Project Follow Through. It compared nine teaching methods and tracked their results among 75,000 children from kindergarten through third grade. It found that the Direct Instruction (DI) method of teaching reading -- based on sounding out words rather than learning them whole (phonics), and on a tightly scripted format emphasizing repetition and student participation -- was vastly more effective than any of the others. And for poor kids. Including black ones.

One thing is for sure, as the editorial board stated Monday: California needs an operational student database, which other states have had for years.

The information it would yield would allow the state to calculate real dropout rates and determine which school programs work best. The data would also form the basis for so-called value-added systems, in which school districts could track whether student test scores rise or fall under individual teachers.

 

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--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Kelechi Okereke and Andrew Wilde-Price, right, conduct an experiment for an advanced placement chemistry class at Berkeley High. Credit: Robert Durell/For The Times

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