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November 22, 2005

Amazing Learning Alternative

In the most unlikely of places, the Chugach School District in Alaska won the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige award, one of three districts to ever win it. The award created by Congress recognizes extreme examples of quality. The tiny Chugach district, consisting of three remote villages, each with fewer than 30 students K-12 plus homeschooling, over a period of eight years changed its graduation rate from zero to 70%, reduced annual teacher turnover from 50% to 5%, raised achievement scores from the mid-20s to the mid-70s, and restored hope among parents for their children.

Report card grades were abolished in favor of competency achievement. They work smart and are enormously dedicated to performance. They spend 30 days per year on staff development, use progressive methods of instruction and involve students in community-based learning. Much can be learned from their example and their amazing story.
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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2005

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning (also called hands on learning, learning by doing) is found in all levels of schooling seeking better ways of engaging students. Many alternative programs use the philosophy of experiential learning as a foundation. A considerable body of research supports experiential approaches for achieving the broad aims of education as well as basic skill acquisition.

Several sources of information provide definitions, research, practices, examples and other useful data. The Association for Experiential Education and the National Society for Experiential Education are fine sites for further information.
Experiential cartoon.jpg

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2005

Radical Changes Proposed

The Education Forum, a publication from New Zealand, frequently covers changes in Great Britian, Australia and other Commonwealth nations. The most recent issue Hot topics.gif reviewed "radical reforms" promoted by the British Government that would reverse central control for local autonomy of curriculum and policies. Parents would be given choices and other organizations (such as colleges and businesses) could operate elementary and secondary schools.

Another article, "Reform Ideal for All Classes" cites the slow pace of change and lack of educational choices in Australia. It calls for the government to note options given parents in other nations and the good results of providing choices.

The Education Forum can be subscribed to (free) for news on educational change issues.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

No Child Left Behind

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There will likely be changes in the No Child Left Behind law in the next few years. To keep up-to-date on proposals, subscribe to the NCLB Insights, a free publication of Washington Partners, LLC, a government affairs and public relations firm specializing in education policy. This monthly notification provides insights as the law moves toward reauthorization.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2005

Black Alliance for Educational Options

The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) strives to ensure that quality educational alternatives are available to Black families. Their web site contains definitions and other information on the many types of parental choices now present in schools including the following:

-Charter Schools
-Home Schooling
-Innovations in Traditional Public Schools
-Privately Financed Scholarships
-Public School Contracts with Private Organizations
-Supplementary Education Programs
-Tax-Supported Scholarships (Vouchers)
-Tuition Tax Credits and Deductions
-School Choice Glossary

BAEO leads the fight to empower parents, particularly low income parents, to choose educational programs that help their children succeed.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2005

Diversity of Charter Schools

What does the phrase “charter school” convey? Besides some basic information about structure, governance, and Playing to Type.jpg
accountability, what does the charter heading tell us about the curriculum, pedagogy, and theory of learning of the roughly 3,500 schools that fall under it? To fill the void of information, the Fordham Institute has fashioned a typology of charter schools—one that distinguishes between one, a giant lump of “charters” and 3,500 completely unique institutions. The 24 page 2005 publication Playing to Type maps the charter school landscape into:

-Traditional: teacher centered, back to basics, etc. 23%
-Progressive: student centered, hands on, etc. 29%
-Vocational: career, internships, etc. 12%
-General: conversions, district operated, etc. 30%
-Alternative delivery: online, home based, etc. 6%

Charts show examples of each of these types. The average age of charter schools is 3 years, still a very young movement. For each of the types, percent of free and reduced lunch and minority enrollments are shown. A very useful and important student that sheds light on the diversity of schools under the charter banner.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)