Turnaround Arts

posted in: Arts, Reform | 0

The arts play a special role in the lives of citizens. They can engage, challenge and satisfy a vast array of people and they can provide a lasting mark for a society when they are embedded in public works, buildings and museums. In the last ten years interest in the arts has soared, especially around the use of the arts in education. Many educators think the arts stand shoulder to shoulder in importance with other subjects but since testing in English and Math has become the norm in the last twenty years of this “standards-driven” era of reform, educating students about the arts has been steadily reduced. So these last ten years of interest in the arts has some educators arguing for arts for arts sake, i.e., just put the arts back in the curriculum. Other educators have been arguing that the arts do things for students beyond art for art’s sake, i.e., that they help students become more creative, better learners or even that the arts help students with core curriculum such as English and Math.

So these two polarized positions, arts for art’s sake and arts for something else are understood in the field of research as intrinsic and extrinsic positions. However, in my own work, instead of an either/or, intrinsic or extrinsic reason for the arts in education, I have found a range of good reasons for the presence of the arts in schools: from intrinsic reasons such as arts for art’s sake to extrinsic reasons such as arts for better teaching and learning and including arts for student achievement. Most recently, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, 2014 has just released a report on the use of the arts to helps schools with high-poverty students turn around their performance.

2011 President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities (PCAH)

posted in: Arts, Assessment, Reform | 0

In 2011, President Obama formed a committee on the arts and asked Michele Obama to chair, the President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The summary of their report is re-published here as an aid to students, teachers, parents … Continued

Positive Impact of Arts Integration

posted in: Arts, Assessment, Reform | 0

Today’s post is really a shout out to the research team of Kylie Peppler, Christy Powell, Naomi Thompson and James Catterall. Mr. Catterall is at the Center for Research On Creativity at UCLA and the others are working at Indiana University’s School of Education. Their article (Peppler, K., Powell, C., Thompson, N., Catterall, J. (2014). Positive Impact of Arts Integration on Student Academic Achievement in English Language Arts. The Educational Forum, 78(4), 364-377. doi: 10. 1080/ 00131725. 2014.941124) has this to say about their arts research:

Amid the high-stakes testing environments in today’s schools, we argue that high quality arts integration positively influences student academic achievement. Drawing on a longitudinal study of an intensive multi-art integration model implemented in public elementary schools in the Los Angeles area, we found consistent and significant gains in student proficiency on standardized tests of English Language Arts when compared to matched comparison school sites with standalone arts programming (Peppler et. al., 2014, abstract).

Catterall has been leading the charge in researching the effects of the arts on student achievement. This line of research has suffered from methodological design flaws but this current research and my own work in Rochester, NY are helping to uncover these effects through more rigorous designs. Peppler et. al. (2014) found significant results with an arts-integration treatment in 3 treatment schools and 3 matched pair control schools. Average percentage gain for students in the whole school were 11%, while for English Language Learners it was 15%. Researchers cite possible impacts for practice, policy and research.

2014’s Most Popular AERA Research Articles

posted in: Reform, Resources | 0

Most-Read AERA Journal Articles of 2014
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Research on value-added models, community colleges, instructional practices, MOOCs, and more appeared in the 10 most popular journal articles published by American Educational Research Association in 2014. Based on the number of times they were accessed online, the following were the most popular AERA research articles published in 2014.

(Full articles can be accessed at no cost through the links below. All files are PDF.)

A New Paradigm for Assessing “Readiness for College”

posted in: Assessment, Reform, Resources | 0

A new paradigm for college and career readiness has been reported by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the National Center for Innovation in Education by the University of Kentucky. Among other gems in this report are ways in which assessment could be better aligned with accountability resulting in greater learning for more children.

As schools across the country prepare for new standards under the Common Core, states are moving toward creating more aligned systems of assessment and accountability. This report recommends an accountability approach that focuses on meaningful learning, enabled by professionally skilled and committed educators, and supported by adequate and appropriate resources, so that all students regardless of background are prepared for both college and career when they graduate from high school. Drawing on practices already established in other states and on the views of policymakers and school experts, this report proposes principles for effective accountability systems and imagines what a new accountability system could look like in an imagined “51st state” in the United States. While considerable discussion and debate will be needed before a new approach can take shape, this report’s objective is to get the conversation started so the nation can meet its aspirations for preparing college- and career-ready students. (Darling-Hammond, L., Wilhoit, G., & Pittenger, L. (2014). Accountability for college and career readiness: Developing a new paradigm. Stanford, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Abstract.)

It is no coincidence that better alignment of assessments so that testing does more than sort and rank students would help prepare students for college readiness. But most important in this report is the push for higher-quality assessments that dig deeper on student learning and reveal what meaning students are making of their experience. It is at this deeper level that many pathways become closed, students falter, and teachers are unable to correct.

Call to Boycott Flawed NY State Tests

posted in: Assessment, Reform | 0

Liz Hallmark writes in the Democrat and Chronicle recently (Feb. 5, 2015) about, Gov. Cuomo’s call to increase the use of student tests in teacher evaluations. I commend her article to you. In “Passing the Tests” she writes about the over use of tests, the proper use of tests, and the need to join networks that support a better conversation about tests.

Bill Cala, interim Superintendent of Fairport, recently challenged Governor Cuomo’s call to increase the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations.

The use of tests to measure student learning has been fluctuating for many years in New York State. This is a result of the Common Core curriculum implementation without proper professional development for teachers and without proper pilot testing of state tests associated with the Common Core.

Tests should be useful. The best ones are those that can diagnose what students have or have not learned from class. Results from well-designed tests allow teachers to customize and target their teaching rather than constrict it toward further uniformity (Democrat and Chronicle).