kitchen table math, the sequel: support this

Friday, July 6, 2012

support this

In the Times:
In just five months, the Obama administration has freed schools in more than half the nation from central provisions of the No Child Left Behind education law, raising the question of whether the decade-old federal program has been essentially nullified.

On Friday, the Department of Education plans to announce that it has granted waivers releasing two more states, Washington and Wisconsin, from some of the most onerous conditions of the signature Bush-era legislation. With this latest round, 26 states are now relieved from meeting the lofty — and controversial — goal of making all students proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014. Additional waivers are pending in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

“The more waivers there are, the less there really is a law, right?” said Andy Porter, dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.


In exchange for the education waivers, schools and districts must promise to set new targets aimed at preparing students for colleges and careers. They must also tether evaluations of teachers and schools in part to student achievement on standardized tests. The use of tests to judge teacher effectiveness is a departure from No Child Left Behind, which used test scores to rate schools and districts.


Instead of labeling all struggling schools as failing, the waivers direct states to focus most attention on the bottom 5 percent of low-performing schools. “With the waiver we can focus on those schools that really need a lot of help,” said June Atkinson, North Carolina’s state superintendent of public schools.


The waivers also free up about $2 billion in annual federal funding that No Child Left Behind required low-performing schools to use either to transfer students to other schools or for tutoring services.

Maria Campanario, interim principal at Rafael Hernández School, a dual-language kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school in Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood, that has missed its federal targets four years running, said parents were often confused by the offer to transfer to another school.

“I have parents who come in who are English-language learners, and they would say: ‘What does this mean, we can go to another school? You don’t want us to be here?’ ” she said. “They would say, ‘But we like the school and think it’s fine.’ ”

Ms. Campanario said she welcomed the discretion to use the funding for “professional development that is going to support the whole school.”

“If you give me that money,” she said, “ I will put it to excellent use.”

‘No Child’ Law Whittled Down by White House By MOTOKO RICH
Published: July 6, 2012
More professional development.

I'm sure that will work.

By the way, when did 'support' become the all-purpose word for what schools do. I hear 'support' constantly in the edu-world these days. Hear it and read it. Struggling students need support, struggling teachers need support, struggling schools need support. Everyone needs support, and everyone else seems to be getting and/or providing support. It's all about support!


palisadesk said...

Now that you mention it, I've seen that word used a lot, too. I wonder if it's part of the movement towards fuzzification rather than focused and research-based initiatives.

Where I've noticed the term used a lot is in referring to academic intervention. This or that Fountas and Pinnell kit or math activity lab will provide "support" for students (classified or not) who are struggling with the classwork. The teachers providing this "support" may have no expertise in the subject -- may be gym teachers or Spanish teachers with an extra period in their timetable -- but this is seen as "addressing student needs" and therefore good, kind of like "extra help."

It's not focused, targeted, data-based or empirically validated, but we can all pat ourselves on the back because we are doing something;-(

In my area this is almost certainly related to the cutbacks in other services, such as speech therapy, programs for kids with LD and language impairment, empirically validated reading intervention (we used to have a lot of this), and so on. Most of our younger staff have no training in effective reading or math intervention methods, but they can provide "support," and do this with a lot of energy and good will -- but that masks the fact that we are not being efficient with our resources at all. It sounds good to most parents, who rarely ask about effectiveness (I wish they WOULD ask!!).

One year the only way I could do an effective reading intervention was to do it as an after-school project -- which, ironically, did not count as "support."

I had a discussion about this use of the word "support", coincidentally, a couple of weeks ago, with some co-workers. Our administrator had remarked that we "provide a lot of support" to our students, and this is of course true -- in a way. But I asked if any of my colleagues remembered when we provided reading-disabled kids with a minimum of an hour daily of focused, research-based intervention in a small group (2-3 kids) and often remediated them completely. A light dawned in some faces -- they did remember, but all the new initiatives over the last decade had clouded that memory over, and of course newer staff never knew those days (not really "good old days" but better at least in that respect for LD kids).

Catherine Johnson said...

Now that you mention it, I've seen that word used a lot, too.


It's everywhere!

Support seems to mean 'intervention' these days.

Any minute now, I expect to hear people talking about "Response to Support."

lgm said...

"Support" is used here in high school to describe the difference between the level of classes. A reg ed, Regent's level single period class has support b/c the teacher assigns homework and usually a packet which the student can't complete without reading the assigned passages or taking notes. An included class would have further support in that notes would be provided and time would be spent on going over the packet answers. An honors or college prep class would have no support- child is to work independently and study without guidance. Syllabus may list assigned reading, but class won't be conducted such that one could wait to do the reading until the lecturer reached that point in the syllabus.