Right now, people who have never taught students or been the principal of a school are in charge of education. Designers of standardized tests and analyzers of standardized test data wrote the Common Core Standards. Those standards will neither motivate student learning nor close the achievement gap. We must look, instead, to educators for answers about how to do both.
The answers will always focus on active learning in which students are taught to ask their own questions, collaborate with one another, think critically, and communicate clearly orally and in writing about the personal meaning they create from their learning experiences. None of these skills are taught through the Common Core Standards.
At the school level, however, educators are creating their own answers to the learning problems that students are having in their schools. At Clintondale High School in Michigan, the principal, Greg Green, and the faculty decided upon a delivery of instruction model, called “the flip”, to improve student learning for their predominately high-risk student population. They fostered active learning by “flipping” class time and homework time. The students receive the information about the academic subject at home via technology and spend class time in active learning as they ask their own questions, collaborate with their peers, write and speak about their new knowledge, and apply what they have learned in new ways.
Graduation rates have increased; college acceptances have increased; attendance is up. Before “the flip”, 52% of the students failed English; 44% failed math; 41% failed science; 28% failed social studies. With”the flip”, 19% failed English; 13% failed math; 19% failed science, and 9% failed social studies. The students are motivated to learn, and the teachers feel the satisfaction of meeting students’ needs better.
The accompanying video describes “the flip”. Whether it is “the flip” or another innovation, the two absolutely necessary steps to improve education are:
- Put aside the mind-numbing, anti-learning Common Core Standards
- Empower educators to find ways to engage their students in the real learning of questioning, collaborating. thinking critically, and communicating about the knowledge they have created.
Then and only then will learning for all students improve and the achievement gap narrow.
If you cannot view the video, please click on the link below: