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Class size and composition most important public policy issue in BC teachers dispute

Cross post from Institute for Critical Education Studies blog.

Class size and composition is arguably the single most important public policy issue in the current dispute between BC teachers and government.

The educational and economic implications of class size and composition policies are huge, but in the context of collective bargaining and related court cases public discussion of the costs and benefits of class size reduction has been cut short.

Class size is one of the most rigorously studied issues in education. Educational researchers and economists have produced a vast amount of research and policy studies examining the effects of class size reduction (CSR).

What is the research evidence on CSR?

Since the late 1970s, the empirical evidence shows that students in early grades perform better in small classes and these effects are magnified for low-income and disadvantaged students. Most studies have focused on primary grades, but the relatively small number of studies of later grades also shows positive results of CSR.

Randomized experiments are the “gold standard” in social science research. One such study, known as Project STAR, involved 11,500 students and 1,300 teachers in 79 Tennessee schools produced unequivocal results that CSR significantly increased student achievement in math and reading.

A CSR experiment in Wisconsin illustrated student gains in math, reading, and language arts. In Israel, which has high, but strict maximum class size rules, a rigorous study of CSR produced results nearly identical to Project STAR. Studies in Sweden, Denmark, and Bolivia find similar results.

Do all studies of CSR produce unequivocal positive results? No, but the vast majority of research, including the most rigorous studies, leave no doubt about the positive effects of CSR.

The research evidence on CSR led to class-size caps in California, Texas, Florida, and British Columbia, before the BC government stripped them from the teachers’ contract in 2002.

Why are smaller classes better?

Observational research in reduced size classes finds that students are more highly engaged with what they are learning. That is, students have higher participation rates, spend more time on task, and demonstrate more initiative.

In turn, teachers in smaller classes spend more time on instruction and less time managing misbehavior. They also have more time to reteach lessons when necessary and to adapt their teaching to the individual needs of the students.

One, perhaps counter-intuitive, finding from the research is experienced teachers are better able to capitalize on the advantages of smaller classes than more novice teachers.

How small is small enough?

Project STAR reduced class size from an average of 22 students to 15. Previous research found significant positive effects of CSR at below 20.

Based on these findings some have argued that CSR is not effective unless these levels are attainable. But, the broad pattern of evidence indicates a positive impact of CSR across a range of class sizes.

What about the costs?

There are demonstrable costs involved in reducing class size. As with all public policy questions both benefits and costs must be considered. The potential future costs of not creating smaller classes in public schools also must be taken into account.

Reduced class size boosts not only educational achievement, but has a positive impact on variety of life outcomes after students leave school.

Results from a number of studies show that students assigned to small classes have more positive educational outcomes than their peers in regular-sized classes including rates of high school graduation, post-secondary enrolment and completion, and quality of post-secondary institution attended.

Additionally, students from small classes have lower rates of juvenile criminal behavior and teen pregnancy; and better savings behavior and higher rates of homeownership than peers from regular-size classes.

What are the policy implications of CSR research?

Class size in an important determinant of a broad range of educational and life outcomes, which means policy decisions in this area will have a significant impact on future quality of life in the province.

The money saved today by not reducing class size will be offset by more substantial social and educational costs in the future, making class size reduction the most cost-effective policy.

Sample of CSR Research Articles:

Angrist, J.D., & Lavy, V. (1999). Using Maimonides’ rule to estimate the effect of class size on scholastic achievement. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 114(2), 533-575.

Browning, M., & Heinesen, E. (2007). Class Size, teacher hours and educational attainment. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 109(2), 415-438.

Chetty, R., Friedman, J.N., Hilger, N., Saez, E., Schanzenbach, D.W., & Yagan D. (2011). How does your kindergarten classroom affect your earnings? Evidence from Project STAR. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126(4), 1593-1660.

Dynarski, S., Hyman, J., & Schanzenbach, D.W. (2013). Experimental evidence on the effect of childhood investments on postsecondary attainment and degree completion. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 32(4), 692-717.

Finn, J., Gerber, S., & Boyd-Zaharias, J. (2005). Small classes in the early grades, academic achievement, and graduating from high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(2), 214-223.

Fredriksson, P., Öckert, B., & Oosterbeek, H. (2013). Long-term effects of class size. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 128(1), 249-285.

Krueger, A.B. (1999). Experimental estimates of education production functions. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(2), 497-532.

Krueger, A.B., & Whitmore, D. (2001). The effect of attending a small class in the early grades on college test taking and middle school test results: Evidence from Project STAR. Economic Journal, 111, 1-28.

Krueger, A.B., & Whitmore, D. (2002). Would smaller classes help close the black-white achievement gap? In J.Chubb & T. Loveless (Eds.), Bridging the Achievement Gap (pp. 11-46). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

Molnar, A., Smith, P., Zahorik, J., Palmer, A., Halbach, A., & Ehrle, K. (1999). Evaluating the SAGE program: A pilot program in targeted pupil-teacher reduction in Wisconsin. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 21(2), 165-77.

Word, E., Johnston, J., Bain, H.P., et al. (1990). Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR): Tennessee’s K-3 class size study. Final summary report 1985-1990. Nashville: Tennessee State Department of Education.

Urquiola, M. (2006). Identifying class size effects in developing countries: Evidence from rural Bolivia. Review of Economics and Statistics, 88(1), 171-177.

Teacher Reflections on the Relationship Between Creativity and Standardized Testing in Ontario

Critical Education
Vol 5, No 3 (2014)

Accountable to Whom? Teacher Reflections on the Relationship Between Creativity and Standardized Testing in Ontario
Catharine Dishke Hondzel

Abstract
This paper describes the reactions and emotions teachers experienced when asked to discuss the impact standardized achievement testing in Ontario has on creative classroom practices. Using an interview guide format, eight teachers were asked to consider their perspectives on, and practices related to fostering creative behaviours in children, and their own creative teaching methods in light of accountability legislation. The responses teachers provided varied from bitterness and disappointment with the way standardized achievement testing influences their schools and classrooms to acceptance and optimism for the children’s future academic success. The results of this examination are framed with reference to accountability legislation in Canada and the United States, and the potential lasting effects of a high-stakes testing environment.

Keywords
Creativity; Standardized Testing; Accountability; Educational Reform; Ontario; Canada; Education Quality and Accountability Office; No Child Left Behind; Legislation; Teachers

‘Out of the Ruins’: The Emergence of New Radical Informal Learning Spaces

Below is a call for chapters that is sure be of interest to folks interested in both resisting the authoritarian, hierarchical, and standardizing approaches to education that dominant public education and creating new radical informal spaces for learning.

Rob Harworth and John Elmore, two of the folks behind the fantastic Critical Theories in the 21st Century Conference at West Chester University, are putting together a new edited book titled:’Out of the Ruins’: The Emergence of New Radical Informal Learning Spaces and they are looking for chapters on the following broad topics:

  • The Purpose of Education and The Politics of Learning
  • Developing Theories of Transformative Possibilities and Radical Informal Learning
  • The Emergence of Radical Informal Learning Spaces
  • Learning from Our Experiences: Sharing Narratives of Resistance

The complete call for chapters, with an extended framework for the book and detailed chapter topics, timeline and contacts please take a look at this PDF: Out of the Ruins CFP.

Good luck to Rob and John on what is an exciting project!

Class Struggle and Education

Critical Education
Vol 4, No 10 (2013)
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/issue/view/182467

Articles
——–

Class Struggle and Education: Neoliberalism, (Neo)-conservatism, and the
Capitalist Assault on Public Education
Dave Hill

Abstract

In this article I examine the nexus, the mutually reinforcing connection between neoliberal and neoconservative ideology and social and political forces, and variation between countries such as Britain, the USA and Turkey. This analysis is then applied in particular to neoliberal/ neoconservative education `reform’ in England, focusing on marketisation, high-stakes testing, privatization and pre-privatisation, and the increased surveillance of teachers as a result of new public managerialism in education, as reinforced and enforced by the school inspection system. These effects are then related to the lived work experiences of specific teachers, using their own word. I conclude the article by examining and calling for resistance, for teachers and critical education workers to educate, agitate and organize in various arenas, and to consider the importance of political programme- in particular to consider the utility of the transitional programme as advanced by Trotsky.

Constructing a Bakhtinian/Freirean Dialogic Pedagogy for the College Composition Classroom

New issue of Critical Education includes Sean McAuley’s article “Constructing a Bakhtinian/Freirean Dialogic Pedagogy for the College Composition Classroom”.

Critical Education is a open access journal published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies at the University of British Columbia. Check out the journal and register to become a reader, reviewer, and/or author.

Constructing a Bakhtinian/Freirean Dialogic Pedagogy for the College Composition Classroom
Sean J McAuley

Abstract

Author McAuley discusses the perception of dialog in the field of Education and argues for a more complex and comprehensive understanding of the term. The discussion identifies two camps of dialogic pedagogy based upon the theories of either Mikhail Bakhtin or Paulo Freire and teases out the differences and commonalties between the two theorists’ understanding of dialog. In particular, the author contrasts Bakhtin’s socio-psychological aspects of dialog with Freire’s socio-political ones. The discussion then moves to a review of practitioner research based in Bakhtin, Freire or a combination of the two in order to show how the theories can work in concert within a dialogic pedagogical stance. The discussion concludes with a consideration that a dialogic pedagogy based in both theorists clarifies the discussion and mutually edifies both educators and student through a more comprehensive understanding of dialogic pedagogy.

Keywords

critical pedagogy; dialogic pedagogy; bakhtin; freire; dialog

Coring the Social Studies within Corporate Education Reform

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled. We invite you to review the Table of Contents here and then visit our web site to review articles and items of interest.

Thanks for the continuing interest in our work,
Stephen Petrina
Sandra Mathison
E. Wayne Ross
Institute for Critical Education Studies
University of British Columbia
wayne.ross@ubc.ca

Critical Education
Vol 4, No 5 (2013)
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/issue/view/182404

Articles
——–

Coring the Social Studies within Corporate Education Reform: The Common Core State Standards, Social Justice, and the Politics of Knowledge in U.S.
Schools
Wayne Au, University of Washington, Bothell

Coring the Social Studies within Corporate Education Reform: The Common Core State Standards, Social Justice, and the Politics of Knowledge in U.S. Schools
Wayne Au

Abstract

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been adopted in 45 U.S. states. Driven by a wide coalition that includes both major U.S. political parties, the business elite, for-profit education corporations, cultural conservatives, and both major U.S. teachers’ unions, the CCSS have mainly garnered glowing praise in mainstream U.S. media and widespread acceptance amongst political figures and public school districts nationwide. This paper undertakes a critical analysis of the origins and political tensions found within the CCSS, arguing that the CCSS will inevitably lead to restrictive high-stakes, standardized testing similar to that associated with No Child Left Behind. Further this paper specifically examines the treatment of the social studies within the context of CCSS and questions the likely outcomes of the recently drafted College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards within the current political and cultural context of the United States.

Keywords

Social Justice; Common Core; Curriculum; Education Reform

Conference: Education Under Siege by Neoliberalism

3rd International Conference on Critical Education
Education Under Siege by Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism
May 15-17
Ankara, Turkey

Call for Papers

Neoliberal and neoconservative educational politics have significantly been damaging education all over the World. Public education is regarded as old fashioned, private schools and a variety of types of education have been presented as an ideal model, schools and the students are now in a more competitive relationship, public education has been losing its status as a social right as a result of relationships with the market, and the state is rapidly losing its social character in the face of these developments. It leads us to rethink education given problems such as the education becoming less democratic, less secular and losing its scientific character; becoming more conservative and capital oriented and becoming less concerned with- in fact- detrimental to- issues of equality and critique. In rethinking education, the critical education movement takes an important role in creating new horizons and strategies against the global attack of the capital.

The International Conference on Critical Education, which was held in Athens for first meetings, provides a base for the academics, teachers and intellectuals who are interested in the subject to come together in order to overcome obstacles for public education. Therefore, in the age where education is under siege by neoliberalism and neoconservatism, we invite you to the IIIrd International Conference on Critical Education to reflect on the theory and practice of critical education and to contribute to the field.

On behalf of the organising committee,
Prof.Dr. Meral UYSAL
University of Ankara, Faculty of Educational Sciences
Department of Life Long Learning and Adult Education

LAUSD Sup’t Deasy, Crenshaw High, and the Battle Over School Reform

See note below about LAUSD superintendent and education de-former, John Deasy—who received what many consider a fake PhD from the University of Louisville, under the tutelage of convicted felon and former UofL Dean Robert Felner and his attacks on the Crenshaw High School Community.

Crenshaw School Community Fights For Real Improvement and Against LAUSD Superintendent’s Scorched-Earth Approach

By:
Christina Lewis, Crenshaw High Special Education Teacher
Irvin Alvarado, Crenshaw High Alumni, Coalition for Educational Justice Organizer
Alex Caputo-Pearl, Crenshaw High Social Justice Lead Teacher, UTLA Board of Directors
Eunice Grigsby, Crenshaw High Parent, Crenshaw High Alumna

On October 23, LAUSD Superintendent Deasy announced he intends to reconstitute Crenshaw High School. This scorched earth “reform” that is destructive for students, communities, and employees has been used at Fremont, Clinton, Manual Arts, and more in LAUSD, despite courageous push-backs at those schools.

The Crenshaw school community is determined to fight back. The slogan that permeated the emergency 150-person Crenshaw Town Hall Meeting at the African-American Cultural Center on October 4 crystallizes the struggle — “Keep Crenshaw: Our School, Our Children, Our Community.”

In an attempt to disarm the push back and win public support, Deasy is combining the reconstitution with a full-school magnet conversion. Crenshaw stakeholders are, of course, open to conversations about changes that will improve conditions and outcomes for our students — but those must be collaborative, well-resourced, and must serve all students. That said, it is clear that Deasy’s main objective is not magnet conversion – it is to take top-down control of the school and reconstitute (which means removing all faculty and staff from the school, with an “opportunity to re-apply”).

The school community says NO to any form of reconstitution, and YES to school improvement that includes stakeholders and holds LAUSD accountable for its years of neglect and mismanagement.

In this spirit, teacher, parent, and administrator leaders of Crenshaw’s nationally-recognized Extended Learning Cultural model have been reaching out to Deasy to work in collaboration for over a year and a half. He has not responded. It’s clear that Deasy has cynically set Crenshaw up – persistently ignoring calls to meet when it is about something locally-developed and progressive; later, acting as if nothing is happening at the school, and dropping the reconstitution bomb.

The Extended Learning Cultural model has been developed over the last few years at Crenshaw – a school of approximately 65% African-American students and 35% Latino students, with approximately 80% with free and reduced lunch. The Extended Learning approach is to teach students standards-based material wedded with cognitive skills used in real life efforts to address issues at school, in the community, and with local businesses. Cultural relevance, Positive Behavior Support, parent/community engagement, and collaborative teacher training and excellence are foundations of the program. Students engage in rigorous classroom work, as well as internships, job shadows, leadership experiences, school improvement efforts, and work experiences.

The Extended Learning Cultural model is fundamentally about extending the meaning, space, and time of learning, and extending the school into the community and vice versa. This rooting of learning into a context is essential for students who have been constantly uprooted and destabilized by economic injustice and by a school system that focuses on narrow test-taking rather than cultural relevance. Extended Learning could be enhanced dramatically for our students with LAUSD support. Instead, by threatening it, Deasy is jeopardizing Crenshaw’s progress, outside partnerships, and outside funding.

Moreover, the Extended Learning Cultural model is supported by research – it draws from the Ford Foundation and various progressive academics’ national More and Better Learning Time Initiative, and it has been developed at Crenshaw with USC, the Bradley Foundation, and other nationally-recognized research partners.

In contrast, the research shows that reconstitutions are not good for students. Reconstitutions cut students off from faculty and staff they know, from programs they are involved in, and from the communities surrounding their schools. Districts reconstitute schools in working class communities of color, creating more instability and uprootedness for students who are often our most vulnerable. Reconstitutions are educational racism. For more details, see a brand new study from UC Berkeley and the Annenberg Institute at Brown University at http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/pb-turnaroundequity_0.pdf.

Extended Learning showed results at Crenshaw in its first year of partial implementation, 2011-2012, after 2 years of planning. Crenshaw dipped on some indicators between 2009 and 2011 when the school had a principal who wasn’t the first choice of the selection committee, who was imposed by LAUSD, and who did not work collaboratively. However, when the school regained focus around Extended Learning in 2011-2012, the data show growth, including:

·Meeting all State of California API growth targets except for one, often far exceeding the targets (for example, a 92 point API gain among special education students);
·Reducing suspensions and expulsions;
·Achieving substantial growth among African-American students on the API, reaching API levels significantly higher than African-American students at many other South LA high schools;
·Achieving an explosive increase in math proficiency levels among Limited English Proficient students on the California High School Exit Exam;
·Achieving a huge jump in proficiency levels in math on the California Standards Test among all 10th graders;
·Including many more students in internships and work experiences;
·Organizing more partnerships for wrap-around services for students;
·Increasing parental involvement.

Yet, Superintendent Deasy wants to disrupt this trajectory of growth and reconstitute Crenshaw. Worse yet, he wants to do this without any consultation with the community, parents, students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Part of his agenda is to curry favor with the national scorched earth “reform” movement. Another part is straight union-busting. He has said many times he doesn’t like the teacher union leaders at Crenshaw – many of the very leaders who have been at the forefront of building the Extended Learning Cultural model, its national connections, and the growth that has come from it.

Not surprisingly, other schools that have been reconstituted in LAUSD have undergone “re-application” and “re-hiring” processes that have been highly suspect – unrepresentative hiring bodies, discrimination against older staff and teachers of color, and discrimination against staff based on political issues.

The Crenshaw school community has a strategy to win the push back against Deasy’s reconstitution and to win support for the Extended Learning Cultural model and other enhancements:

·Amidst Deasy’s intense destabilization efforts that affect the school daily, educators, staff, and parents are working with site administration to tighten up school operations as much as possible;
·The school community is deepening, refining, and broadening engagement around the Extended Learning Cultural model;
·Faculty and staff have strongly solidified against reconstitution internally;
·School stakeholders are building on years of work with a unique coalition of community partners to organize parents, students, alumni, and community. This coalition includes Ma’at Institute for Community Change; African-American Cultural Center; Black Clergy, Community, and Labor Alliance; Labor/Community Strategy Center; Coalition for Black Student Equity; Coalition for Educational Justice; Sierra Club; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Park Mesa Heights Community Council; and more.
·The coalition is working closely with United Teachers – Los Angeles. The House of Representatives voted unanimously to support the Crenshaw struggle. UTLA West Area and Progressive Educators for Action (PEAC) are critical supports for the ongoing organizing.

At the moment, the organizing will focus on the two places Deasy needs to go with his destructive plan for approval – the LAUSD School Board and the California Department of Education.

On the latter, Deasy cannot undermine Crenshaw’s plan for its federal School Improvement Grant, SIG, without communicating with Crenshaw’s School Site Council (SSC) and communicating with Sacramento, because the grant is administered by the State. Yet, the Superintendent is moving forward with undermining Crenshaw’s plan for this federal grant – that would bring close to $6 million to resource-starved Crenshaw High – without consulting with the SSC or with school stakeholders, and without a discussion of other monies that could be jeopardized through his destabilizing of the SIG plan. Further, Deasy’s undermining of the federal grant is occurring after only 3 months have passed in Crenshaw’s implementation of its SIG plan – an implementation that has, thus far, met its immediate goals, and has supported some of the Extended Learning Cultural model’s main foundations.

The Crenshaw school community knows that the eyes of the city, state, and nation are watching Crenshaw. If Deasy gets his way at Crenshaw, it further opens the door to these kinds of moves everywhere – including places he’s already attacking locally with similar reconstitution efforts, like LAUSD’s King Middle School, and far more. On the other hand, if Crenshaw is able to organize with school and community to push back on Deasy and to further advance a deep and hopeful educational and racial justice-based reform, its reverberations will be felt incredibly widely. Keep connected to the struggle and “like” us through the Facebook page – Crenshaw Cougars Fighting Reconstitution – and be in contact with us through email at caputoprl@aol.com.

Links to Recent Articles of Interest from Historians Against the War

Links to Recent Articles of Interest

 

“‘Our (New) Terrorists’ the MEK: Have We Seen This Movie Before?”

By Coleen Rowley, Huffington Post, posted September 27

 

“Boykinism: Joe McCarthy Would Understand” 

By Andrew J. Bacevich, TomDispatch.com, posted September 25

The author teaches history and international relations at Boston University

 

“New Stanford/NYU Study Documents the Civilian Terror from Obama’s Drones”

By Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, posted September 24

 

“The Siren Song of American Imperialism”

By William Astore, History News Network, posted September 24

The author is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who teaches history at the Pennsylvania College of Technology

 

“How Hawkish Are Americans?”

By Lawrence S. Wittner, History News Network, posted September 24

The author is a professor of history emeritus at SUNY Albany

 

“Who Is the Client State?”

By Stanley Kutler, History News Network, posted September 24

The author is an emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin

 

“The Persecution of John Kiriakou: Torture and the Myth of Never Again”

By Peter Van Buren, TomDispatch.com, posted September 11

 

“How We Became Israel”

By Andrew J. Bacevich, The American Conservative, posted September 10

The author teaches history and international relations at Boston University

 

“The Case Against War: Ten Years Later”

By Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, posted September 11

 

“US Love Affair with Israel Masks a Real History of Mistrust”

By Jonathan Cook, The National, posted September 10