Four Lessons from This Week: February 17th

Tests Aren't Always Designed for the Right Purpose...
Or used in the way they were designed. Often tests that are meant to diagnose student strengths and needs are being used for accountability. Some claim that their standardized tests can do both - assess students and teachers - but it's a lot more difficult than it sounds.

Shopping at the Mall Can Be a Lot Tougher Than the Corner Store
Class has a big impact on a family's economic, human, social and cultural capital which are instrumental in school selection and therefore school selection. It is not enough to give parents choice, when not all families have the same resources to inform their choices. Thomas Stewart and Patrick Wolf liken the skills needed in the setting of school choice to shopping at a mall instead of a convenience store. There are a lot more options, but it takes a lot of information to best take advantage of them: "Our central argument is a play on the biblical adage that from those to whom much is given, much is expected. In the field of parental school choice, to those from whom much is expected, much needs to be given."

There's a Delicate Balance Between Choice and Structure
In Building a Democratic School we were asked to design a sample student schedule. This was a good way to think about our priorities for teachers and students, and how to establish a schedule that supports those priorities. A lot of us talked about the desire to give students as much freedom and choice in their learning as possible. But a conversation with students from Boston Arts Academy also brought up students' need for a certain level of structure that in fact enables freedom at the same time.

It's Time to Think About Disability in Terms of Variability
Advances in neuroscience are changing our understanding of the way different students learn. This has exciting implications for students we previously thought were out of reach for conventional classrooms, like students with autism. We still have a long ways to go toward understanding these differences and how to capitalize them for learning, but for now it's a step towards shifting our ideas of these students from disabled to differently abled.


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