30 de maio de 2017

Change and Stability in Classrooms, Schools, and Districts (Part 2) by larrycuban

Organizations are dynamically conservative, that is to say, they fight like mad to remain the same.
Donald Schon, 1970[i]
If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change
Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard [ii]
Based upon my research into exemplars of technology integration in 41 classrooms, 12 schools, and six districts in Silicon Valley in 2016, I concluded that the teachers and administrators I have seen and interviewed have, indeed, implemented software and hardware fully into their daily routines. In these settings, technology use shifted from the foreground to the background. Using devices has become as ordinary as once using pencils and paper. And in many instances, the integration was seamless, no stitches showed. So what?
Putting a reform into classroom practice is no stroll in the park.  Policymakers and researchers must answer four basic questions about any policy aimed at improving how teachers teach and how students learn.
  1. Did policies aimed at improving student performance get fully, moderately, or partially implemented?
  2. When implemented fully, did they change the content and practice of teaching?
  3. Did changed classroom practices account for what students learned?
  4. Did what students learn meet the intended policy goals?
Too often those who make consequential school decisions and those who research such efforts ignore these questions. And that is a mistake.
In answer to the first question, my data show clearly that in the 41 Silicon Valley classrooms I observed--spread across nine schools and five districts—the local policy of making software and devices available to every teacher and student had been implemented fully. For these teachers identified as exemplary in integrating technology into their daily lessons, access to software-loaded tablets and laptops, a district infrastructure of technical assistance, and professional development gave them many opportunities for daily use. All of these teachers had the discretion in deciding to use the technologies and they chose to do so. And I saw that use in all of the classrooms I visited.
That these “best cases” portray complete implementation toward altering routine teaching practices—a necessary prior condition for any instructional reform to reach students--does not yet answer the next crucial question of whether uses of these technologies altered the lesson format and content in these exemplary classrooms.
The assumption reformers carry in their heads is that fully implemented policies aimed at improved teaching will payoff in student learning. For that payoff to occur, however, there is a far less appreciated interim step: usual classroom practices would have to change in the direction reform-minded policymakers sought such as abandoning traditional instructional practices and adopting student-centered ones. Such changes in content and practice, reformers believe, will lead to improved student outcomes and eventually achieving district goals.
So the second question of whether the content and format of teaching in these “best cases” classrooms have actually changed and in what direction is imperative to answer. For little to no change in how and what teachers taught mean that chances of students learning more, faster, and better—as reformers sought--would diminish. Just as important, were there to be no substantial change in how teachers teach then the third and fourth policy questions become moot.
Turn now to these teachers’ views on change as a result of using technology. Most said that their classroom practices had changed, even improved. About a third said that while there were some shifts in how they taught, ones they appreciated a lot, but the basics of teaching their lessons had not changed.
As a researcher who sat in the 41 classrooms I agreed with the two-thirds of the teachers who claimed that their lessons had changed but I reached a different conclusion about basic changes in format and content of their lessons. Determining the truth about changes in content and practice can be dicey insofar as how much weight to give to teachers’ opinions and a researcher’s view of both the direction and substance of classroom change. [iii]
Without denying that 65 percent of the teachers believed their classroom practices had changed, in the previous chapter I offered two points to make sense of their opinions. First, teachers who saw changes in their teaching, for the most part, identified important incremental (not fundamental) changes due to technology use in planning and implementing lessons. These changes added to their productivity as teachers in completing classroom administrative tasks efficiently, providing a broad array of information sources previously unavailable to their students, and being able to help students in real time. Only one of the 37 teachers who responded to my questions on changes in their practices as a result of using technologies in lessons claimed that his practices had departed substantially from how he usually taught. [iv]
Second, I, as an outside researcher, offered a historical view of public schooling evolving as a institution committed to both instilling community values into the next generation and preparing the young to become independent thinkers, fully engaged citizens and workers. This split mission for tax-supported public schools existed for centuries and remains the order of the day in 2017. Based upon this dilemma-ridden goal, I also drew from scholarship about century-old teaching patterns within age-graded school organizations that suggested strongly that both change and stability were systemic and embedded in daily lessons. This historical view of both the institution and classroom was also anchored in thinking about my experiences of nearly four decades teaching high school and graduate students.
In answering the question of whether technology use had shifted teaching practices, given these differing views, it is clear to me that what teachers said, what I observed, and what I know--those perceived changes had occurred. Such technology-induced changes were incremental and useful to teachers but seldom altered the goals, fundamental classroom structures embedded in the age-graded school, teacher/student relationships, basic format of lessons, or the craft of teaching that has evolved in public schools for well over a century. All of these underlying features of teaching persisted among the classroom changes Silicon Valley teachers recognized in their lessons. Change and continuity in teaching practice have been and continue to be entwined.
None of this should surprise readers. As the epigraphs suggest, stability and change are the yin and yang that these exemplary teachers, schools, and districts illustrate and part of a far larger way of seeing how the world works. The explanation for this persistent interaction between stability and change that I offer here is consistent with similar patterns in the larger environment within which we live, the organizations in which we work and play, and our individual lives.
[i] Donald Schon,”Dynamic Conservatism,” Reit Lectures, 1970 at: https://larrycuban.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/1970_reith2-1.pdf
[ii]Giuseppe Lampedusa, The Leopard (London: Fontana, 1963), p. 29.
[iii] As described in the previous chapter, of the 41 teachers I observed, 37 responded to my questions about change in their classrooms. The ratios and percentages detailed in these paragraphs refer to the 37 teachers.
[iv] I attach no greater importance to either incremental or fundamental changes. Both are necessary in any institution serving the community. Each can (or cannot) be significant depending on the direction, say from teacher- to student-centered—and upon available resources and the context. To make either kind of change requires enormous cooperation and heroic action on the part of participants.
larrycuban | May 30, 2017

Se as escolas querem apenas ensinar matéria, a sociedade não precisa delas,Rosely Sayão

Danilo Verpa - 19.fev.2009/Folhapress
Alunos durante aula em escola estadual de São Paulo
Alunos durante aula em escola estadual de São Paulo
Na semana passada recebi a foto de um comunicado colocado na frente de uma escola e, simultaneamente, a reportagem sobre uma escola que oferece serviço de "faz-tudo" para pais. As escolas se localizam em Estados diferentes e, mesmo sendo exemplos radicais, nos permitem refletir a respeito da tal parceria família/escola.
A primeira escola colocou um "lembrete aos pais". Nele, ela estabelece que cabe aos pais ensinar aos filhos a dizer "Bom dia, boa tarde, por favor, com licença, desculpe e muito obrigado". E continua: é em casa que o filho deve aprender a "ser honesto, ser pontual, não xingar, ser solidário, respeitar os amigos, respeitar os mais velhos, e RESPEITAR OS PROFESSORES PRINCIPALMENTE!". As letras maiúsculas e a exclamação estão no texto da escola.
"É em casa que se aprende a não falar de boca cheia, a ser limpo e a não jogar lixo no chão", diz o cartaz. Não terminou, caro leitor: "Ainda em casa é que se aprende a ser organizado, a cuidar das suas coisas e a não mexer nas coisas dos outros." O que cabe à escola, nesse comunicado? "Na escola os professores ensinam matemática, português, história, geografia, inglês, ciências e educação física", e "reforçam o que o aluno aprendeu em casa!!!", com as três exclamações.
Já a segunda escola, segundo a reportagem, oferece "serviços técnicos" aos pais para que eles tenham mais tempo com os filhos. Professores para prestar serviço de babá, papinhas congeladas, lavanderia e corte de cabelo são alguns dos serviços oferecidos.
São os pais que deveriam realizar o que chamamos de socialização primária: ensinar aos filhos a se comunicar, a se cuidar, a se alimentar, a conviver, a entender e a apreender os valores e costumes daquela sociedade, por exemplo. Esse processo ocorre durante toda a infância e esses ensinamentos se dão no ambiente familiar e com os que são próximos da família, o que significa que a criança pode entender –e irá testar isso– que em locais públicos ela pode se comportar de modo diferente.
Como as crianças vão para a escola bem cedo, cabe também à instituição escolar esse papel. Além disso, tem também a tão falada "educação para a cidadania", que deve contemplar o ensino da convivência respeitosa entre pessoas que não são amigas, próximas, ou conhecidas. A essas pessoas damos o nome de colega, que não é sinônimo de amigo.
Só na escola uma criança pode aprender isso! Se ela quer apenas ensinar conteúdos escolares, pode fechar suas portas: a sociedade não precisará mais dela já que esses conteúdos podem ser aprendidos –e, em geral, de um jeito bem mais interessante para os mais novos– em muitos outros locais. Na internet, por exemplo.
E os serviços que ter um filho exige dos pais? Lavar roupa, levar para cortar o cabelo, alimentar, por exemplo. Cabe à escola esse papel? Melhor abrir uma lavanderia, uma fábrica de comida congelada, um salão de cabeleireiro, não é? Ah! Mas assim demandará mais trabalho aos pais. Isso é cuidar dos filhos que eles desejaram ter.
Resumo da ópera: parceria família/escola é entendida como determinar o papel do outro e/ou atender as demandas do outro. E os alunos? E a educação deles? Precisamos deixar de ver apenas o que queremos e olhar para o que os filhos e alunos precisam e devem aprender, não é? 

28 de maio de 2017

The Assault on Colleges — and the American Dream

Some of the biggest declines in grants promoting economic diversity in public colleges have been in the University of California system. CreditEric Risberg/Associated Press
The country’s most powerful engine of upward mobility is under assault.
Public colleges have an unmatched record of lofting their students into the middle class and beyond. For decades, they have enrolled teenagers and adults from modest backgrounds, people who are often the first member of their family to attend college, and changed their trajectories.
Over the last several years, however, most states have cut their spending on higher education, some drastically. Many public universities have responded by enrolling fewer poor and middle-class students — and replacing them with affluent students who can afford the tuition.
The situation is particularly demoralizing because it’s happening even as politicians from both parties spend more time trumpeting their supposedly deep concern for the American dream. Yet government policy is hurting, not fostering, many people’s chance to earn the most reliable ticket to a good job and a better life.
The decline of economic diversity at top public colleges is the clearest pattern in The Times’s third annual ranking of leading colleges — the roughly 170 nationwide with a five-year graduation rate of at least 75 percent. (Yes, you can be disappointed that so few colleges clear that bar.)
Continue reading the main story
The ranking, called the College Access Index, is based on how many low- and middle-income students colleges graduate and how much those students must pay. The index is a measure of which top institutions are doing the most to promote the American dream.


Top Colleges Doing the Most for the American Dream

Welcome to the third annual College Access Index, a ranking of colleges based on their commitment to economic diversity.
Many are doing less than they once did. At the public colleges in the index, the average share of last year’s freshman class receiving Pell grants — which means they typically come from the bottom half of the income distribution — fell to 21.8 percent, from 24.3 percent in 2011-12. Campuses with declining economic diversity include the Universities of Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin, as well as Binghamton, Ohio State and Rutgers.
By comparison, the Pell share has recently held roughly constant at top private colleges, around 16 percent.

Declining Diversity at Top Public Colleges

Percentage of freshman class receiving Pell grants, which generally go to students from the bottom half of the income distribution
U.C. San Diego
U.C. Irvine
U.C. Davis
U.C. Santa Barbara
U.C. Berkeley
Texas A&M
Ohio St.
U.N.C. Chapel Hill
Virginia Tech
Some of the biggest declines have been in the University of California system, which has long been the most economically diverse place in elite higher education. On the San Diego campus five years ago, 46 percent of freshmen received Pell grants. Last year, the share had dropped to 26 percent. When I first saw that number in The Times database, I figured it was a typo.
It wasn’t. The United States is investing less in college education, at the same time that the globalized, digital economy has made that education more important than ever. Gaps between college graduates and everyone else are growing in one realm of society after another, including unemployment, wealth and health.
Given these trends, the declines in state funding are stunning. It’s as if our society were deliberately trying to restrict opportunities and worsen income inequality.
Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

Change to Higher Education Funding

Percent change to per-student funding compared to 2008, adjusted for inflation
Increased funding
compared to 2008
New Hampshire
Decreased funding
New York
North Dakota
South Dakota
New Jersey
Rhode Island
West Virginia
New Mexico
North Carolina
South Carolina
Since 2008, states’ per-student spending on higher education has fallen 18 percent nationwide, according to inflation-adjusted numbers from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The cuts have occurred in both blue and red states, with somewhat larger ones in Republican-run states. States made deep cuts after the financial crisis and have since failed to restore funding, choosing instead to cut taxes or spend money on health care, prisons or other areas.
“States are making it much more difficult for their residents to get high-quality higher education,” Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute said. “They are causing their institutions to charge more, to take more out of state students, to cut quality. It’s very shortsighted.” That’s exactly the right word, because spending on education often more than pays for itself in the long run.
The budget cuts affect every realm of higher education, with some of the biggest damage happening at community colleges and less selective four-year institutions. These campuses enroll the great majority of lower-income college students. Yet flagship public campuses — like those in Ann Arbor, Mich., Boulder, Colo., and Gainesville, Fla. — are important to upward mobility too, given the success of their graduates.
In the last few years, many flagships have begun to recruit more upper-income students from outside their state, including from overseas. Those students don’t qualify for in-state tuition or for much financial aid — and thus help bolster the colleges’ budgets.
Often, college officials describe the strategy in different terms. They say that they are trying to lift their campus’s national profile, not to mention its U.S. News ranking. To do so, they must recruit a larger pool of students with high test scores than exists in their own state.
But the net result, to put it bluntly, is bad for the country. Top state universities are displacing impressive low-income students, who have often overcome troubled neighborhoods and high schools. Many of those students then enroll instead in colleges with fewer resources and higher dropout rates. In the process, the higher-education system becomes a bit less meritocratic.
The story in California is a bit more nuanced, but still disappointing, particularly given the state university’s history. Since its founding, during a burst of national investment during and just after Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, no other university in the world has combined academic excellence and broad access so well.
John Aubrey Douglass, an education scholar, describes that combination as “the California idea.” The top five colleges in this year’s College Access Index ranking are still University of California campuses: Irvine, Santa Barbara, Davis, San Diego and Los Angeles. Berkeley ranks ninth, while the private colleges in the top 10 are Amherst, Pomona and Harvard. .
Yet even as California remains a leader, it is also inching away from its legacy.
With state support down, university leaders have decided that their least bad option is to enroll more high-income students. In only four years, undergraduate enrollment in the University of California system has risen 15 percent, or by 27,000 students. The expansion has allowed the colleges to continue enrolling similar numbers of lower-income students, rather than displacing those students, but it has created severe crowding.
“It’s pretty bad,” Gabriel Schneider, an editor of The Triton student newspaper on the San Diego campus, told me. Single dormitory rooms have been turned into doubles and even triples. Libraries and other common spaces are packed. The university tried to convert an art gallery into a classroom, only to back down after an uproar.
On the Davis campus, near Sacramento, the crowding has particularly harmed less affluent students, because apartment rents have jumped. “The housing shortage in Davis is just horrible,” said Scott Dresser, a fourth-year student. Some students are now commuting from Woodland, 10 miles away, said Eli Flesch, another fourth-year student.
What would be a better solution?
For one thing, universities should be scouring their budgets, looking for spending that’s less important to their mission than economic diversity and meritocracy are. There is no shortage of suspects: struggling academic programs, spiffy recreation centers, expensive sports teams, bureaucratic bloat.
But such cuts are not the only answer, even if some governors and state legislators claim otherwise. This country should also be investing more of its resources in education.
A century ago, it did precisely that, making high school universal and making possible the so-called American century. Today’s economy demands many more college graduates than the country currently has. Producing them won’t be free. But it will be worth it.
The alternative — which is the path we’re now on — is just about the worst economic-development strategy imaginable.
In a follow-up column next week, I’ll focus on the private colleges in the College Access Index.