An Illinois district has boosted the percentage of its students meeting state standards by requiring reading classes throughout high school.
Education leaders are always looking for examples of successful programs they might be able to replicate within their own districts. But it can be challenging to find a program or policy that could work for hundreds, or even thousands, of diverse schools, districts, and states.
That’s why, in a follow-up question to our story, “Readers: These 10 education policies need to go,” we recently asked readers: “If you could name only one, what school or district practice would you like to see replicated or implemented nationally, and why?” Here are our readers’ best responses.
What do you think of these policies and practices? Could they be implemented on a national scale? And, do you have any ideas of your own for policies or practices that should be spread more widely? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
5. Monitoring networks to gauge application usage
“We developed a system called VIC (Virtual Information Center) that monitors all computers in the district to determine which applications are being used. This is not used in a punitive fashion, rather it is used to monitor if software or hardware is being used and when. We have learned a lot about what [software] teachers will and will not use. It’s all about accountability. We measure what we treasure—technology.” —Andrew Berning Ph.D., chief information and technology officer, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, Carrollton, Texas
4. An extra day for teachers to plan and collaborate
“I would like to see school districts across the country practice a four-day week for students and a five-day week with teachers—one day out of the week, without students, that we could use to plan, prep our classrooms, and prepare students’ work with viable feedback. In my opinion, this practice will help teachers not take work home with them and become exhausted. Students do not know we are always thinking about them, and if they knew how much effort we put into their lessons, maybe they would think how valuable we think their education is to their livelihood. I think this practice already takes place in some of the school districts in Texas. I read about it a long time ago, but I have not kept up with the research on this topic.” —Gail M. Owens, Class Size Reduction teacher, Woodward School, St. Louis, Mo.
3. SEED Math program: Project SEED (Special Elementary Education for the Disadvantaged)
“Started in Chicago in the early 1970s [and] spread to Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, and Sacramento, the program invites college students who are math majors to be trained to teach students (in schools where students are poor) discovery algebra from grades 1 to 6. The regular teacher must stay in the room to watch, and he/she will still teach math by normal methods at other times. College students were paid gas mileage to drive in carpools to SEED sites. When this was implemented in the 70s, it was funded by Title III. When enough students in the school had taken it, math scores improved to the point that the school no longer qualified for Title III. So, SEED math would be discontinued at that school. Scores would fall for the next set of entering students, and [the school] would qualify to get Title III funds again. This was a total waste of time and money. Any school that needs SEED math will continue to need it for others who enter the school. We need to find a better way to fund it. And we need to find a way to deliver it to many schools in the U.S. at this critical point in time.” —Prof. Sandy Feder, Sacramento City College Computer Science Department
2. Reading as a high school graduation requirement
“During the past 10-15 years, research has shown that there is still more to learn about the skill of reading as a student progresses through high school, just as there is more to learn about mathematics. The process of learning more about the skills of reading changes as a student’s academic knowledge changes and increases. A reading course at the secondary level should not be considered remedial. In 2004, Lincoln-Way Community High School District No. 210 made reading a graduation requirement for all students. The program is organized around seven essential reading skills: Comprehension Monitoring, Cooperative Learning, Graphic and Semantic Organizers, Question Answering/Question Recognition, Question Generation, Structure: Narrative and Expository Text, and Summarization Skills. From 2004–2009, students in the Lincoln-Way High School District went from 66 percent meeting and exceeding state standards to 77 percent meeting and exceeding state standards.” —Sharon Michalak, Ed.D., assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction, and staff development, Lincoln-Way Community High School District No. 210, Illinois
1. Tablet computers and electronic, interactive textbooks for all students
“The single most economic and productive action which could be taken to improve K-12 education is to provide each student with an interactive 8″ x 11” tablet PC, together with subject material in digital interactive, color, and animated form instead of paper, books, and similar learning materials. A tablet PC soon will cost less than $100—making it less expensive than present learning tools. We’re in an electronic world that is rapidly expanding—[and] K-12 school systems must get with it to keep up with others.” —Stan Doore, former adjunct lecturer (Information Systems), American University