Want a break from sweating the election or knocking on doors?  Interesting NGA brief on alignment at the high school level (pdf), worth checking out.

3 Replies to “Alignment”

  1. The study did not mention socio-economics factors. When nearly 100% of students read at a level that’s five years or so below grade level, alignment schemes are irrelevant. The same applies in schools with an 80% attendance rate, with rampant discipline problems and high mobility.

    Its frustrating, because its actually easier to teach at high levels. Higher levels are more interesting and they demonstrate respect for students. There is no way to do that in a systemic way, however. The only way individual teachers can teach at high levels in dysfunctional schools is by following their own intuition and professional judgement and intuiton.

    The collaboration that accomapies alignment is extremely valuable, however. In best case circumstances, systems may listen to teachers who say that disciplinary backing is necessary if we want to teach everyone well.

    I gave a metaphorical explanation of why curriculum alignment can’t work in high poverty neighborhood schools in This Week in Ed ucation. I don’t recall the date, but you could check category: John Thompson.

    Again, this isn’t a complaint. But it is stating the obvious. Instructional reforms like this can work in high poverty schools, but first we need so much more.

    And our students need to be treated with respect, and teaching at high levels respects their dignity. Bell rang so I got to go.

    hope my computer is fixed soon.

  2. I’ve got my computer back so now I can finish by contradicting myself. I see the efforts described in that study as promising, primarily as a niche reform. Inner city teachers would always have to improvise in implementing such a curriculum. But improvisation requires just as solid of a foundation in the fundamentals. Since high poverty school teachers would need to do a lot more broken field running, they especially would benefit from the professional development, collaboration, reflection, and conversation that goes into curriculum alignment.

    This could represent a bookend of programs. If we started on the front end with aggressive efforts to reduce absenteeism in the early grades, we would see much more benefits on the high school end. But curriculum alignment supporters can not prevent cancer, other deadly illnesses, incarceration, etc. that disrupt the lives of children. If we want a planned and orderly curriculum, we must reduce the huge gaps in the education of children whose lives are punctuated by trauma.

  3. It’s hard to tell what can be learned from this study, other than that if you train people to implement a curriculum that is aligned to an assessment, students tend to do better on the assessment (and I don’t mean just teach to the test). It’s interesting that they used an external set of standards across multiple states for this study. What’s critical is the alignment of both curriculum and assessments to rigorous standards. Until we have some uniformly rigorous standards across states, and develop tools to assess high levels of performance against those standards, schools are not going to make much headway. Hopefully, the NGA will use the results of this study to push for more uniform standards and assessments across states, something the federal government doesn’t seem in a position to do.

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