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 16, 2005

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)

May 03, 2005

Measuring Student Autonomy and Motivation

Many educators support educational alternatives as a way of increasing such vital outcomes as self-efficacy, autonomy, responsibility, motivation, engagement and initiative. Sophisticated measures of these dispositions have been developed. One is at EdVisions, a teacher Edvisions.jpg
cooperative, with the Synder's Dispositional Hope Scale or Hope Scale for short. The instrument is used in a number of schools to show growth in these "soft" outcomes. Ron Newell ( at EdVisions and other researchers will help schools use and interpret the Hope instrument which is amazingly brief and quick to administer (less than 5 minutes). Ron has a wealth of experience and information for helping schools achieve higher engagement and achievement. Contact him!

Another source of 100s of instruments to measure a huge variety of outcomes is the Compendium of Assessment and Research Tools (CART), a valuable compository.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:54 AM

March 07, 2005

Comprehensive School Reform Report

Congress gave $145 million for school reform in 1998 and more in subsequent years. The Longitudinal Assessment of Comprehensive School Reform Program Implementation and Outcomes reports on year one of the grants. Schools which received funding exercised more staff decision making authority, adopted national reform models and followed a written plan more than other schools engaged in reform. Also the funding targeted low income schools, a goal of the legislation. It will be interesting to learn if substantive lasting reform emerges in the coming yearly reports. The report says the schools had a positive start.

Sadly, the past lengthy history of school reform efforts, even when well funded, demonstrates that not much happens and little endures.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:09 PM

January 28, 2005

Charter Schools: Good or Bad Alternative?

Numerous studies have tried to assess the charter school movement. This is like trying to say public schools in general are successful or are unsuccessful. Charter schools vary enormously from highly experimental to ultra traditional, from serving affluent suburban students to rescuing high-need students, and from tiny to huge. Judgments about charter schools usually focus on test score comparisions lumping all these diverse schools together--hardly good research. In addition, there is usually no attempt in studies to tease out beginning schools vs. experienced schools in existence, say, 8-10 years or more (few schools in the nation qualify with the 13 year history of charter schools). Likewise, little mention is made of the considerable financial handicap almost all charter schools operate under. Paul Hill at the University of Washington addressed this topic thoughtfully and comprehensively in an article, "Assessing Student Performance in Charter Schools."


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:22 AM

November 01, 2004

Comprehensive School Reform

Comprehensive school reform efforts say different forms of schooling are necessary. There have been many such attempts over the past 15 years often with gigantic sums of money attached. A new report, From Whole School to Whole System Reform, describes two major approches: the work of the New American Schools in 4,000 schools and the federal Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration program in 5,000 schools with over $1,000,000,000 of funding. They define comprehensive reform as including: "instruction, assessment, classroom management, professional development, parental involvement, school management, aligning the school’s curriculum, technology, and professional development into a schoolwide reform plan. Wow, that should really change the operation of the nation's schools! Unfortunately, as with many other such efforts, after the dust clears, precious little has changed. Still, the report describes these considerable efforts and the small achievement gains made in some schools.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 06:47 AM

April 13, 2003

Assessment of Attitudes Etc.

The Compendium of Assessment and Research Tools (CART) is a database that provides information on 1000s of instruments that measure attributes associated with youth development programs. This is a very useful resource in an era where so much rides on standardized tests of achievement.

CART includes descriptions of research instruments, tools, rubrics, and guides and is intended to assist those who have an interest in studying the effectiveness of service-learning, experiential approaches, and other school-based youth development activities. You will find a brief description of the instruments, the target population for the instrument, contact information for acquiring the instrument, other parameters that should guide its use.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:08 PM