An excerpt from ‘What Lies Ahead for America’s Children and Their Schools’
American adventurers have fanned out across the globe to bring back to the United States the lessons of other school systems. It might produce good journalism, but it also tends to produce very bad social science.
The belief that a particular approach to mathematics instruction—referred to over the past half-century as “progressive,” “constructivist,” “discovery,” or “inquiry-based”—is the answer to improving mathematics learning in the U.S. is not supported by evidence.
A look at key curricular decisions that will be encountered as CCSS makes its way through the school system and the potential political controversies that this process may provoke.
Recent stories in the popular press have featured children burdened with an enormous amount of homework, three hours or more per night. Are these students’ experiences typical or rare?
Teachers who seek to improve their own practice are primarily guided by common sense, intuition, word of mouth, personal experience, ideologically laden ideas about progressive or traditional instruction, the guidance of mentors, and folk wisdom—not a body of knowledge and practice that has been rigorously tested for its efficacy.
Shanghai has a school system that excludes most migrant students, the children of families that have moved to the city from rural areas of China. And now for three years running, the OECD and PISA continue to promote a distorted picture of Shanghai’s school system by remaining silent on the plight of Chinese migrant children.
It’s heartening to note that as the use of ability grouping is increasing a new generation of researchers is bringing sophisticated statistical techniques (and open minds) to bear on questions involving both ability grouping and tracking.
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