Full-day Kindergarten, Statewide?

The AP is reporting that a state senate panel has voted to recommend legislation that would create statewide all-day kindergarten in Oregon, among other early-childhood programs:

The proposal would expand the Head Start program, reduce class sizes in grades one through three and bring full-day kindergarten to every school district in the state.

Members of the Senate Commission on Educational Excellence said the package would be a cost-effective way to improve education in Oregon.

“We wanted to pick an area where we could make the biggest difference in the life of kids,’’ said Sen. Ryan Deckert, D-Beaverton, the commission co-chair. ...

The commission is comprised of educators, legislators, parents and business representatives appointed by Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem. It will hold hearings on its recommendations in the fall and hope to have the plan ready for action by the 2007 Legislature.

Fifteen percent of Oregon school districts currently offer full-day kindergarten in at least some of their schools. Expanding it to all Oregon schools would cost the state $73 million over the next two years, according to an estimate from the Legislative Revenue Office.

Discuss.

  • David (unverified)
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    As someone who has studied the statistics, this is probably the most cost effective way to improve future performance. Research is clear on this, if kids get off to a good start they are much more likely to succeed. I applaud my State Senator for leading such an effort.

  • marcia (unverified)
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    I have only one thing to say. Show me the money.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Hooray Senator Deckert! Oregon is long overdue for full-day K.

    $73 million is a drop in the bucket when you consider how effective Kindergarten is at improving future performance -- not only academically, but also socially. These are exactly the types of programs Oregon needs to invest in.

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    Marcia says, "Show me the money". I know hers is a politically realistic statement but let me summarize it like this: Short term investment versus long term returns.

    Why is it so difficult for legislators and voters to see the benefits of this?

    I think because political leaders demagogue the intent and the process for political gain and voters mistrust government to properly manage the money.

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    Here's where the money comes from: The savings that come from diverting a bunch of kids from the prison system 15-25 years later.

    Spend a little today, save a lot later.

  • Mo Money (unverified)
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    you want concrete and permanent achievement gains? birth control, tax additional children and license all breeders!!! goodness sakes.. parental planning is the beginning of excellence, and not an afterthought.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    License breeding? Heck, why not license breathing. (Cue George Harrison singing "Taxman.")

    And, yeah, great idea: ship off tiny tots to be babysat all day long and pretend it has something to do with education.

    Why send them to prison 15-25 years later when it costs so much more? Send them now! (Cue William Wordsworth: "Shades of the prison-house begin to close upon the growing boy..."

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    Having had first hand experience with Full-day K, I can share that attending kindergarten 5 days a week rather than 5 half days per week, which are usually 2 1/2 hours long, makes a huge difference in a child's readiness for First Grade. Doubling the time in learning for 5 year olds is an incredibly wise investment. Some of the kindergarterners from Fullday K will be reading before they enter first grade and others will be powerhouse first graders ready to learn to read. Learning how to learn is the key to a great kindergarten experience. School districts will have to have enough classroom space because one classroom that was used for 2 half day classes will only be used by one class because it is a fullday K just like a third graders classroom used all day. School districts will have to add teachers to cover the extra class or two generated in each elementary school.

    In my experience the learning gains, esrly identification of learning difficulties, speech issues, family issues, and identification of additional resources for struggling students cannot start soon enough. Senator Deckert's proposal deserves careful impementation and strong support from the State School Superintendent's office. Had Oregon chosen Fullday K over the CIM and CAM the students would be miles ahead academically and socially by now.

    The good news is Fullday K is not a fad or an educational bandwagon..it comes with serious research and lots of success stories from other states. Many East Coast 5 year olds have been attending fullday K since the early 80's. The reason public school's went to half day K was to save dollars. I do not expect a Republican Governor to support Derkert's recommendation, nor do I expect Westlund, a Republican disguised as a Independent to fight for one of the best and proven educational ideas around. Stick with Blue and do what's right by our 5 year olds.

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    Idler said: "And, yeah, great idea: ship off tiny tots to be babysat all day long and pretend it has something to do with education."

    I felt compelled to respond to this one as a teacher. I am currently teaching English as a Second Language in Korea. For a year, I taught kids who were 5 and 6 years old Korean age (this means they were 4-5 years old).

    There are many diffrent methods to teaching, just because it "looks" like babysitting doesn't mean it is. You would be amazed at how much kids that age can learn. Yes, their attention span is limited, but they can pick up basic concepts including reading, writing and speaking.

  • jrw (unverified)
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    As a special education teacher I am strongly in favor of full day kindergarten programs (and set it up for my kid to do a private full day program). As Paulie said above, it works.

    When working with kids with disabilities, the sooner you can intervene the better for reading, writing, emotional and behavioral disabilities. In middle school I see too darn many kids who've been let slide because of the hope on someone's part that they will "mature out of it."

    It doesn't happen. And trying to turn things around for a middle schooler after six or more years of struggling and failure is more expensive and more of a challenge than doing early, aggressive intervention. Sure, under earlier interventions, more kids will be identified. But...and this is the big but...these kids may well have caught up to their peers by middle school, as well as having compensatory skills in place.

    Another factor, the reducing of class sizes in K-3, is really, really crucial. The elementary teachers I work with who've been at the school for years (I'm at a K-8 school) can pinpoint a lot of poor performing classes based on the class sizes and numbers alone.

    Reducing class sizes and aggressive early intervention for low performers will do a lot more for improving education than anything else. The research is out there to support it. Special ed practitioners will tell you that. Heck, my occupational therapist tells me that identification of handwriting problems in kindergarten is crucial, because waiting until later on is almost too late (such as 2nd or 3rd grade...and we're not just talking illegible scrawls, we're talking handwriting which slows down student performance of classroom assignments). Handwriting is something which can be fixed early on, with appropriate therapy, and then ended.

  • Chris (unverified)
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    This is good. This is real good.

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    I would welcome anyone here to visit one of the four Arthur Academy Charter Schools. We have half-day kindergartens. Many of the kids stay the other half day in a semi-structured day care for the convenience of the parents.

    A half day of kindergarten instruction is more than enough for kids to learn to read and do math at levels far higher than what is commonly taught in Oregon's elementary schools.

    The plain fact is that Oregon's elementary schools use instructional practices during the early ages that simply are not effective at teaching kids to read. Increase their time in class to a full day and the result won't be much better.

    The issue is not time in class - it is effectiveness of instruction. Our results with a half day kindergarten are better than any full day kindergarten in the state.

    Why? Because we use instructional methods that work.

    School is out right now, but I urge anyone who is interested to see what we do to come by one of our four schools next fall and visit our classrooms to see what good early elementary instruction looks like. Just let us know you are coming and stop by about 10:00 AM to any of our campuses and we will happily let you observe. I guarantee you will be astounded.

    We have schools in Reynolds, NE Portland, Woodburn and David Douglas. All our kindergartners learn to read.

    A full day of ineffective instruction won't be any better than a half day. And I am sorry to say that the norm in Oregon is ineffective instruction.

    Fully funding a full day kindergarten is not going to raise achievement if the people who run our half day kindergartens are the same who will run our full day kindergartens. Sorry.

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    Rob -- Can you help me understand why it is that conservatives have such an obsession with phonics? I mean, besides the obvious retort, "because it works!"

    I don't know much about teaching little kids to read, but it seems to me that every educator I know would use any technique that actually works, holds up under research, etc. If that's phonics, great. If that's jumping on the desks, great too.

    The conservative message/obsession on phonics almost seems to imply that conservatives have discovered a magic teaching method and that they believe the educational establishment is ignoring them, disbelieving them, etc.

    I understand the ideological disagreement on teacher pensions, classroom vs. admin dollars, unionized janitors, you name it. But I don't even see what the ideological disagreement is on a particular method of teaching reading.

    I'm honestly baffled.

  • Madam Hatter (unverified)
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    This is not a bad idea, but I wonder if it's the "area where we could make the biggest difference in the life of kids."

    Poverty is growing and is one of the biggest impediments to educational achievement for children. If you're hungry or your teeth hurt or you've had to move three times in the last year, you don't do as well in school.

    I think addressing poverty will do more, cost effectively, at keeping those kids out of jail in 10 or 20 years, than all day kindergarten would.

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    When working with kids with disabilities, the sooner you can intervene the better for reading, writing, emotional and behavioral disabilities. In middle school I see too darn many kids who've been let slide because of the hope on someone's part that they will "mature out of it."

    It doesn't happen. And trying to turn things around for a middle schooler after six or more years of struggling and failure is more expensive and more of a challenge than doing early, aggressive intervention. Sure, under earlier interventions, more kids will be identified. But...and this is the big but...these kids may well have caught up to their peers by middle school, as well as having compensatory skills in place.

    I agree with this statement as well. As someone who had a learning disability (although minor), I agree the sooner the intervention the better. My disability was caught about half way through the fourth grade.

    Even after my disability was diagnosed, my mother had to fight an uphill battle to get me the help I needed. This was of course years ago, so I don't know how the system is today.

    If disabilities are caught early on, how is that not worth it. What about preparing our kids for the 21st Century?

    The world has become a very competitive place; we need to decide if our children should be up to the challenge.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    I admire educators devoted to their profession and take their mission very seriously.

    What I resist is the notion that very young children need to be in school for a longer time, and what I doubt is that there is as much learning going on as advertised at most venues.

    Obviously, under normal conditions, four- and five-year-olds are little sponges learning at a rapid rate. Some kind of instruction is good and perhaps even necessary for them. My doubts are about how much and whether it should occur in an institutional setting.

    I like what Rob Kremer has to say. Perhaps if I'd had a teacher like him (or those in the schools he describes) I wouldn't be so sour on school.

    In the cases of children with developmental disabilities, there's no doubt that earlier intervention by trained professionals (speech therapists, occupational therapists, etc.) is desirable.

    Why are conservatives obsessed with phonics? Probably a combination of good advertising on the part of peddlers of phonics educational materials and desperation on the part of people who feel that educational practices in schools are failing.

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    To Kari, teaching a child to read is not successful if only one method, such as phonics is the only method used in reading instruction. Good teachers of reading, teach a combination of phonics, whole language, reading recovery methodology, and run primary classrooms bursting with literature. Teaching letter sounds and the combinations of sounds certain letters make are great skills but taught in isolation without the context of meaning is folly. However, phonics is popular because parents and teachers can measure quite precisely the phonics elements a child has learned. One size fits all instructional methods usually don't apply to a percentage of students in any subject area. When we recognize that there are a mulitude of ways children learn, more children succeed.

    In the research regarding Fullday K, the higher the education and income of the parents the more arguments are given to stay 1/2 day for Kindergarten rather than fullday.

  • RUNuts (unverified)
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    Why don't we just turn over all newborns to the state? Isn't that the direction we are going?

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    Kari: I think a better question is why does the teaching profession reject empirically proven teaching methods such as systematic phonics?

    The only reason I support phonics is because it is the most efficient way to teach early elementary children to read. I came to this conclusion after both personal and professional experience supporting the alternative methodologies.

    I wrote an article for Oregon's Future Magazine a couple years ago that recounts my journey from being a supporter of "progessive" methods (I even moved to get my kids into a school district that was based on the methods) to the realization that not only are these methods inferior, but the teaching profession knows it full well and continues to push their favored methods.

    Kari, the question does indeed have a political element that tends to line up on the fault lines of conservative/liberal. But ironically, it is a false dichotomy. My co-founder in Arthur Academy, Chuck Arthur, is a political liberal. The curriculum we use, Direct Instruction out of the U of O, was created by Sigfreid Engelman, a political liberal.

    True liberals such as Bonnie Grossen, another politically liberal educator at the U of O realize that so-called progressive education methods are in reality "radically conservative," because the methods when used with low income children became more entrenched in the social class they inhereted from their parents.

    Read the above link - I think you will find it fascinating.

    This is a policy area that is the subject of vast amounts of literature that has been debated for decades. The book "Why Johnny Can't Read" was one of the first shots fired. Do you know the premise of that book? It was a lament that the falling reading ability of US children was because the schools had abandoned phonics. That was 1947. He wrote a followup in 1987: Why Johnny Still Can't Read.

    The real question, Kari, is why do liberals tend to support teaching methods that long term empirical studies and vast amounts of educational research and literature show to be ineffective at ensuring low income and disadvantaged children acquire the gateway academic skill: reading?

  • Patrick Allen (unverified)
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    I won't opine on the value of full-day kindergarten, but I have to confess to being a little baffled by one element of the discussion:

    Is this really primarily all about kids learning to read in kindergarten (the gateway academic skill, as Rob puts it)?

    Our kids all ARRIVED at kindergarten knowing how to read. And I firmly believe this was due to the basic fact that we read to them ALL THE TIME, and then encouraged them to read as well. I may be kidding myself, but I don't think this is an income driven issue at all.

    I'm not sure if this is a left-right issue at all (and I lean left), but isn't a large majority of getting kids to read early about finding 15 stinkin' minutes a day to read with them?

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    patrick: No, not really. The research out of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (This is an accumulated 30 years of research on this specific question of reading skill acquisition. The scale is beyond anything ever done. At any point in time there are about 30,000 individual students involved in clinical trials of different elements of the question of reading acquisition.)shows that about 60% of kids will learn to read in the way you suggest - they pretty much just pick it up because of innate ability.

    It is the other 40% that are too important to write off. Progressive methods are shown by this same research to be wholly ineffective at teaching these kids to read.

    The question of why the 60% learn to read easily is a very interesting one, that the NIHCCD has inquired into in depth. The convergence of the research is that these kids have an innate ability to hear the spoken language in a way that allows them to separate words into their constitutent parts. Ask kids to say "Cat." Nearly all five year olds can say it. Ask them to say "cat" without the "kuh." A lot of kids at that age have a hard time doing that.

    This is a skill called "phonemic awareness" and it is a precurser and a marker for the ability to learn to read. About 40% of kids simply are not born with this innate ability, and it is these kids who struggle to read unless systematically taught.

    The good news is that it is relatively easy to teach the skill of phonemic awareness. The tragedy is that our teaching profession is so wholly bought into the "whole language" methodology that rejects explicit and systematic instruction, that most of the time kids who could easily be remediated if their lack of phonemic awareness skill was identified early are allowed to struggle unnecessarily for years, until usually about the third or fourth grade when the reading vocabulary in the classroom gets extensive and sophisticated beyond the ability to memorize words by sight, which is largely how they are taught.

    So these kids usually get a special education identification, where they sometimes then get what they need in the way of systematic explicit instruction in the skills they need. Not always, but there is a better chance in special ed they will get it.

    But the kid, even if he gets what he needs in grade 4 by a special ed teacher, will struggle mightily to catch up. He's basically hobbled for life in most cases.

    This is tragic because it is totally unnecessary. It has ruined the lives of millions of children. Liberals should be outraged.

    But all we get from people like Kari is puzzlement that conservatives are "obsessed" with phonics.

    I am obsessed with trying to make sure that every single child learns the gateway academic skill, without which he or she will certainly fail in life.

    I am so obsessed with this I have founded four elementary schools whose mission statement is:

    "Every single student, regardless of ethnicity, parental income, learning difference, culture, or native language, will become a fluent reader and master the academic and intellectual skills necessary to succeed at the next level of schooling."

    We hope to open seven more such schools in the years ahead, and will do so as long as the education establishment isn't successful at stopping us. Read my last post on my blog to see the latest way they are attempting to keep us from their gates.

  • Kriste (unverified)
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    Idler - Five year-olds are little sponges, you're right. So what are they absorbing? As a teacher of 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders, most of whom are living in poverty, I'll tell you - video games, adult TV and movies, and some behaviors that probably aren't in their best interest to be seeing. The kids I teach don't go to museums or on bike rides with their families. Nobody (except for me) talks with them about world events or big ideas. Many of my kids go home to empty houses because all of the adults in their families work long hours for little pay, and their parents are exhausted when they get home. Things like after-school care and full-day kindergarten give these kids a little more positive input in their days, which benefits all of us, because the more healthy attachments a child can make in their early years the less likely they are to fall through the cracks.

    I teach in rural Marion county, but this is a statewide issue. In Multnomah County in 04/05, 49.4% of students were eligible for free or reduced lunch. In some counties that number is above 60%. If they're not already, these kids will be the majority in Oregon schools.

    Full-day kindergarten helps kids academically and socially, and giving kids living in poverty the opportunity to extend the amount of time that they're in school will help close the gap. I disagree with Rob Kremer's statement, "A full day of ineffective instruction won't be any better than a half day." It's probably true when applied to middle-class kids, but I'd rather get first graders who'd played with blocks and playdough during those extra hours in kindergarten than kids who stayed home watching Austin Powers and playing Grand Theft Auto.

    Madam Hatter - I agree with you. Poverty is the issue here, and all-day kindergarten is one way to address it.

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    One of my Arthur Academy schools is in Woodburn. It has been operating for two school years. It is majority Hispanic, like the school district, and the free/reduced lunch percentage also mimics the school district's.

    We just got back our test scores for the second year of operation. Not the Oregon statewide assessments - they don't kick in til the third grade, which is far, far too late if you want to identify and remediate any problems. We use the Stanford Achievement Test, which we administer to every child at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year to get a measure of how far they progressed during the year.

    We also give every child another test of reading ability - a test that is individually administered (as opposed to given in groups) called the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test.

    Our Woodburn kindergarten students gained an AVERAGE of 60 percentiles on the Stanford test. That is roughly four standard deviations of gain, on average. On the Woodcock, which gives a result expressed in grade level equivalence, our average kindergartner was reading at 1.9 at the end of kindergarten. That means first grade ninth month - so our average kindergartner was almost a year ahead in reading ability.

    That is with a half day kindergarten. We provide optional day care for the rest of the day, which many parents take advantage of.

    We are proving every day that native language and parental income DO NOT have to be destiny when it comes to learning to read.

    Any educator who tells me that students' home situation is an insurmountable obstacle to academic success is telling me that she does not believe in public education, because the premise of our entire public school system is that no matter your circumstance of birth, every child has access to a school that will enable him to succeed in our society.

    Which is an odd position, I think, for a public school educator to have. But I see it all the time.

  • jrw (unverified)
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    Rob--

    As a special ed teacher I'm more than familiar with Direct Instruction techniques, especially since my teacher training (as is common in special ed) is very heavily biased toward DI.

    But--and this is a HUGE but--

    Not all kids get phonemic awareness, even when explicitly taught using DI methods. They are a distinct minority of that 40%, but they exist. I've worked with them using Anita Archer's curriculum (I'm sure you know who Archer is) and, at least in middle school, they rebel against DI techniques and scripting.

    When you get huge splits in a student IQ between the verbal and perceptual subscores, you are going to have reading problems (I'm talking about the WISC IV IQ test for kids). Throw in any mismatches between the working memory and processing speed subtest scores, and it comes up a possible mess.

    It doesn't matter which way the mismatch runs, if you have that split you've got a reading problem. The kids most receptive to DI are the ones with the lower verbal and higher perceptual reasoning scores, because they can at least make sense of print. You might need to resort to the methods of Ellyn Arwood if they have a low working memory score and a high perceptual score so that they can learn to picture the correct spelling.

    However, DI ain't gonna be all that effective with a kid who has a high verbal score and a low perceptual score, because it will be harder for that kid to simply make sense out of the squiggly black marks on the paper, phonics or not. Those kids--and they can be quite bright--are going to be auditory learners. Coping strategies are most effective with this students, although sometimes it takes more maturity before they can make sense of words on paper (there was one doctoral candidate with learning disabilities/dyslexia who talked to one of my classes--she was not able to read until she was in her twenties, which suggests a brain maturity issue).

    Personally, I do favor a mix of techniques, especially with older kids. Scripting does not always work well with middle school kids (the population I work with). Additionally, students at these higher grade levels need to learn to develop higher level thinking skills, which includes the ability to interpret context clues. Now some of the best programs do work on developing these skills in addition to phonics. But, as you'll find from looking at the literature, this goes beyond basic DI techniques to incorporating more constructivist techniques as the student advances (I refer you to the University of Kansas work here).

    Phonics helps with decoding. Phonics does not necessarily translate into comprehension (look at the hyperlexic students, especially hyperlexic students with Asperger Syndrome, who can decode but not necessarily comprehend what they are reading). For effective reading, students need to be able to decode, comprehend, and draw conclusions. Even so-called "ineffective" all-day kindergarten programs will assist in developing these additional skills, especially for young students from restricted home environments who lack the necessarily prior knowledge to comprehend and draw conclusions which they need to survive and function in a school setting.

    Which gets to what Kriste said--while full day kindergarten may not make that much of a difference for middle class kids, it can certainly have a positive effect on kids living in poverty or in households where they receive little stimulation and opportunity to learn about the world around them.

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    jrw:

    I totally agree that decoding does not teach comprehension. As you know, DI is more than just decoding, the program has writing, spelling, vocabulary, and reasoning components that are very well developed and field tested.

    And yes, there are certain conditions such as Aspergers that require different strategies altogether.

    I would imagin you agree, however, that although decoding doesn't ensure comprehension, without decoding there will never be comprehension. Which is to say that if you can't read the word you will never understand what it means.

    So decoding is a necessary, but certainly not sufficient. Any comprehensive language program addresses all aspects of literacy. Certainly DI does.

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    Since when is reading the preeminent goal of kindergarten? There is MUCH more to learn that is more important than reading, like socialization and self-awareness.

    Teaching reading teaches a skill, one that you can pick up at any time in your life if you haven't yet (not that I advocate deliberately refusing to learn how to read). Learning how to interact in group situations, and how to discipline yourself into performing tasks of responsibility--if you don't get that done early in a child's life, it is EXTREMELY hard to correct it later.

    Using the word "efficient" to describe Rob's schools frightens me. Efficiency is the main problem with the public school system that Rob seems to rail against--push the kids through, teach them the specific items in the curriculum for that year, get them to pass the standardized test for their age group, and your school gets considered "successful."

    That's not at all what education should be about. Education should be about EFFECTIVENESS, not efficiency. School is not an assembly line, where you simply add program bolts and fasten them with a matching nut. Phonics places all the focus on the mechanics of reading, which is all well and good--but it does little to teach about LANGUAGE, which has oral, written and social components. Phonics superordinates the first at the expense of the other two.

    As someone with a child who just completed half-day kindergarten, I wish this initiative had blossomed three or four years ago. But for the rest of our state's children, I say Hallelujah!

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    I admire Rob Kremer for putting his sincere desire to help students where his mouth is..unfortunately he's a Ziggy Engelman zealot..couldn't resist the alleration. DISTAR, the forerunner of Direct Instruction was initially developed for special education students. The scipted instruction was developed in part to make it teacher proof..stay on script, do not have spontaneous teaching moments like pointing out the word "friend" has a little word inside it, "end." Or laugh at a word like "lamb" because of it's silent "b" sound , instead saying lam-buuu and giggling together about how silly the word sounds without a silent b.

    Pat Allen makes a great case for parents reading to their children regularly because it will impart reading skills to our children. I recently attended a child's birthday party where the only gifts allowed to be given were books to be read by the parents to their children..a wonderful collection of children's literature was the result. Great idea!

    jrw, you know your stuff when it comes to reading and instructional techniques.Impressive.

    Fullday K benefits all kids from any socio-economic class especially it the day includes, art, music, PE, and maybe a little foreign language instruction. The curriculum can be unbelievably rich and is well received by most five year old sponges. A mix of reading methodolgies requires a skilled teacher..hence the appeal of Direct Instruction..which is mind numbing for most teachers to teach and mindnumbing to some, certainly not all students. Again, beware of magic bullets and one size fits all instructional approaches..we are all hard wired differently...the best parents and teachers take a long hard look at their children discovering the world of reading and adjust accordingly. Just as each of our own children in our families are incredibly different from one another, so too are a class of 20 five year olds.

  • marcia (unverified)
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    OK. I said my only comment was, "Show me the MONEY." However, I have to jump in here. Last year I taught Kindergarten full day. There was another half-day session offered in our building. Funny, but many involved, educated parents opted for half-day. Perhaps they knew something about child development also. I taught half-day for many years, and was quite happy doing so. The kids have a short attention span, we were always on the move, and they left K with most reading and writing, ready for first grade. I also was able to identify those that might be at-risk and need speech services, etc. Full day is desperately tiring to these little folks. The district provided no snack (I did), and we were told we would not need napping mats, because they just wouldn't want to nap because they would be too busy learning and having fun. They would BEG for a rest many days, so I acquired carpet squares and we would rest for about half an hour with soft music on days they were tired. Beginning of the year until January they were a mess in the afternoons. I had one boy pooping his pants every day, another one wetting them regularly. (And of course no AID to help deal with the situation.) In January, they were a little more capable of attending to tasks in the p.m. but we always saved hands on activities like math, art projects or choosing time for the afternoon, because even trying to read aloud to them required superhuman effort. Did they learn to read and write. Yes, but then, so did my half-day sessions. There is also a great danger in full day, because the curriculum keeps getting pushed down into k from first grade. The district said this wouldn't happen, but it is happening. Also, the half-day program did serve as babysitting service for parents who wanted to work full time and not pay a sitter. I'm still skeptical as to how valuable full day is, and so are many parents who know what their children are capable of. And, again, "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"

  • jrw (unverified)
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    To Rob--

    Yes, DI does include other elements besides decoding, but when proponents of DI discuss it, decoding (i.e. phonics) is the "magic button" which dominates the discussion and is used to promote it. The more important element, in my education and experience, is the explicit, direct instruction which breaks down a task into understandable steps (try writing some DI curriculum on your own and creating your own scripts; task analysis becomes a big part of the process) rather than the "magic button" of phonics. When it comes to specific programs, I do have a preference for what I have seen of the University of Kansas programs for reading and writing over Engelmann's work--the UK programs do a lot of work with good graphic organizers which I've found to be effective in the field. Plus one study I was working with summarized that the U of K found that at a certain point you fade the DI and bring up more constructivist-type instruction as students become more competent and able to work independently (Schumaker and Deshler, 2003). The goal is skill generalization. Too many people focus on the early stages of DI methodology and not the later stages--and that's proponents and opponents alike.

    Then again, perhaps because I've worked with grads of the UK program, I'm more familiar with it, and I did more work with the UK research for my master's project in writing, so I'm biased that way.

    I think the most critical part of good Direct Instruction is the ability to break down any task into its essential components, then teach it. Part of my PSU training involved creating my own DI project, with supporting materials. For those of you who aren't that favorable toward DI, using these techniques to teach life skills math to high school age students is very useful. More modification is needed for higher cognitive level students, and DI done poorly (despite the claims) crashes and burns no matter what the level. What is not brought out, especially with older students, is the need to develop a good working relationship with the kids before you trot out DI.

    And DI at 7:30 am for middle school students ain't always the best choice <grin>.

    Torridjoe raises a good point about education being more than the formal reading process. Students need to learn how to line up, how to draw a straight line, how to use scissors, how to cooperate with other people and not get into playground fights...a lot of little daily life mechanics which folks who don't work with the kindergarten crowd don't always get. I've worked with middle schoolers who've had a lot of home school background, and some of those kids really don't grasp the social aspect of cooperative life in school.

    Paulie, even with direct instruction a flexible teacher can slip those teaching moments into a session. I'm not a pure DI person because I'll take those moments and run with them if they pop up in a scripted session. Then again, I'm working with middle school, not elementary, and you need to have that flexibility to help middle school students make the developmental transition from concrete to abstract thinking.

    And oh yeah--thanks for the compliment on my knowledge! I like to think I'm a typical product of Portland State's special ed department. I recently did my master's project (a group project) on a direct instruction writing technique which I've subsequently found useful in classroom work. Additionally, as a member of the Council for Exceptional Children, I subscribe to a number of their research publications and have them on my shelf for my summer reading (a whole year's worth to get through, somehow I can't get it done during the school year), so I try to keep up. But my knowledge is nothing compared to the reading specialists I know. It's tempting for me to go out and pick up a reading endorsement, although I'm holding onto hopes that Wisdom will require that we need more focus on writing and a writing endorsement.

    Marcia, I see your point, but....a good, all-day K program should include a rest time and down time for the kiddos. As well as snacks. Shoot, my school provides snacks up through middle school. As for pushing down the curriculum, we see that already in math. Algebraic concepts are more common in the higher elementary grades than they used to be, especially in systems moving into Connected Math in the middle school years. I would much rather see many of these kids in a secure school setting than what they get into at home.

  • Marvin McConoughey (unverified)
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    At least one study has shown that many high school students consider their final year to be of limited use. At the same time, many students go on to college following high school. Perhaps one way to pay for full day kindergarten, which I do not support by the way, is to reduce the K-12 experience by one year, adding kindergarten as a universal precursor.

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    jrw, would you mind contacting me offline? I wanted to ask you a question about the Reggio Emilia approach to beginning education...

    [email protected]

    thanks!

  • marcia (unverified)
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    I'm back. I also have to address this issue. "Fullday K benefits all kids from any socio-economic class especially it the day includes, art, music, PE, and maybe a little foreign language instruction. The curriculum can be unbelievably rich and is well received by most five year old sponges." Well, the curriculum could be unbelievably rich if we could pay for it. Not only does the district not provide snacks and mats or nap time, I have to admit that our school has not had an art teacher, a music teacher, a PE teacher, a child development specialist, a librarian. etc. etc. for many years. And yes, we are part of Portland Public Schools, and we are an "Exceptional" school, but what does that really mean if we do not have enrichments such as those listed above? As for Foreign Language?? Well, now. That's a luxury even my daughter's Spanish Immersion class at Roosevelt couldn't afford last year. As a senior in a Spanish Immersion school, she could not take fourth year Spanish because there was no teacher to teach the class. So, I guess it comes back to "SHOW ME THE $$$$$$$$$," once again.

  • Patrick Allen (unverified)
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    Rob Kremer wrote:

    "The tragedy is that our teaching profession is so wholly bought into the "whole language" methodology that rejects explicit and systematic instruction, that most of the time kids who could easily be remediated if their lack of phonemic awareness skill was identified early are allowed to struggle unnecessarily for years, until usually about the third or fourth grade when the reading vocabulary in the classroom gets extensive and sophisticated beyond the ability to memorize words by sight, which is largely how they are taught."

    Rob, thanks most of what you wrote was helpful. A question, however about the above passage: if it's true, how come my public school kindergartner this past year (and her brother and sister ahead of her) came home with the "sounds of the week" for practice, had report cards that included letter and letter combination sounds and whether they had been learned yet, had work sheets that consistent use of sounds in a variety of words (i.e., 'cat,' 'hat,' 'bat,' etc.), and work that involved combinations of sounded words and sight words? Is this what you mean by "wholly bought into the whole language methodology," or am I missing something.

    Pedagogically Challenged,

    Pat.

    P.S., Paulie, are you the Paulie I know?

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    Paulie and Torrid Joe:

    Again, I invite you to come to an Arthur Academy and dispel your misconceptions about Direct Instruction.

    First, it was NOT developed for special education kids. It is a general population curriculum. The fact that it is used in a lot of special education settings attests to its effectiveness.

    Second, it is not "teacher proof" in the way you patronizingly suggest. It is very demanding on the teacher and teachers must be hightly trained and VERY attuned to the student's spoken and unspoken feedback. It is a canard that the anti-DI teaching professoriate loves to repeat.

    Further, anybody who thinks that DI instruction is mind numbing for the kids simply has never seen it being done. That is laughable on its face. I challenge anyone to come to one of our Arthur Academy classrooms, watch the 45 minute reading instruction periods, and then tell me with a straight face that the kids are mind numbed.

    Torrid Joe you inadvertantly expose a fault line in the public education debate when you write:

    "There is MUCH more to learn that is more important than reading, like socialization and self-awareness."

    I beleive that schools are primarily for academic goals. Reading is job 1 of school. Fail at that and you have ruined a child's chance of academic success. You apparently beleive that academics are secondary, and whatever you mean by "socialization" and "self awareness" is primary.

    Your complacency about not teaching kids to read is shocking and sad. No it is not true that it is a skill that is easy to learn at any stage in life. That is demonstrably false. It is far harder to learn in fourth grade and beyond than in the early elementary grades. Kids who are not proficient readers by third grade are something like 80% likely to never be proficient readers.

    Iowa is one state that estimates the need for jail beds 20 years hence based on a formula that includes 3rd grade reading scores. To be so cavalier about the schools teaching reading is outrageous.

    However, the notion that the primary job of schools is non-academic actually puts you in company with the John Dewey progressives, who wanted to use the institution of public schooling as a tool to reshape society into their own vision of what society should be.

    Pardon me, but leave my kid alone. I don't want your "socialization" applied to my kid. I can only imagine the things you would deem necessary to teach kids instead of academics. All sorts of "approved" attitudes, I would expect, would fall under your notion of "socialization." God only knows what you mean by "self-awareness." I hope I never find out.

    I'm puzzled also why you would object to the word "efficient" when applied to teaching methods. If reading is a skill (it is) then why not teach it in the most efficient way possible? Piano playing is a skill. If I wanted to learn to play the piano, I could, I imagine, have someone play to me for hours on end, then sit down at the piano and try to figure it out myself. That is roughly the equivalent of today's whole language method of reading.

    Would you pay for that kind of piano lessons? I'll bet you would fire the instructor, and demand one who broke the skill of piano playing into its most basic sub-skills, and then systematically taught each of these skills with a commensurate amount of practice between lessons.

    Oh, but that treats every child like they are all the same. No, they have different learning styles, and nobody can say what the best way to teach the piano is. Hogwash. There are efficient ways to teach and less efficient ways to teach. I'll take the efficient way.

    Finally - another canard is that Direct Instruction teaches decoding, but not language skills. Anyone who says this is talking out his ass. You know nothing about it, and the assertion is completely false. DI is a rich and comprehensive langauge arts program that starts with the language's most fundamental building blocks - the phonemes -- and progresses through grade five in a sequence that gradually moves from "learn to read" into "read to learn."

    Direct Instruction should be the liberal's preferred curriculum. It was PROVEN to be the most effective at increasing the academic achievement of disadvantaged children. ALL the so-called "progressive" curricula were complete failures at doing so. It is one of the biggest ironies of the day that political liberals shun it out of ignorance and out of believing what is said about it rather than checking into it for themselves.

    And what do I read on this board, but every ignorant canard against DI trotted out by people who have almost certainly never even once seen a DI instructional session.

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    Patrick:

    Very good question, and an important one. What you have given an example of is "embedded phonics." A lot of schools or teachers will say "sure we do phonics," and point to precisely what you have given an example of.

    Is that phonics? Yes. Is an empirically valid phonics curriculum? No.

    An effective phonics program, according the the NICHHD research must have five elements:

    1) Directly taught (rather than indirect through discovery activities) 2) Intensive (meaning focused attention is given to its instruction in specific instructional periods.) 3) Systematic (meaning the individual phonemes are taught in a sequence and at a pace that is predetermined after having been field tested to prove that it is effective. This is not at all a trivial question. Which phonemes should be taught first? How is mastery determined before moving on to the next? How fast can new phonemes be introduced and connected to the previous?) 4) Explicit (meaning the phonics should not be embedded and learned as a by-product of other activities.) 5) Comprehensive (meaning the program should cover not just all the phonemes, but all the rules, rule breakers, dipthongs, blends, etc that are required to decode words.

    What your teacher has given your kids fails on all these fronts. Is it phonics? Yes. Is it a phonics program? Nope.

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    jrw:

    Also totally agree on the difficulty of using DI with middle schoolers. Can be done, but is not easy. It is so much more attuned to the early elementary brain that has an innate desire for repetition.

    Not sure what is better, however. I am not very familiar with the UK program, but it sounds as if it is more effective with older kids.

    Chuck Arthur has used DI with middle school special ed kids and he says that it is very hard to bring them up to speed, but if he has the kid long enough he can get him to grade level at about a pace of 2 years improvement per year of instruction.

    He says it is very hard. Which is why he moved to early elementary, and then to running his own schools - he figured it was easier to prevent reading failure altogether rather than try to remediate it on the back end.

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    OK, 'Ziggy Zealot Kremer" I confess to taking classes from Ziggy. I have also observed upward to 30 sessions of DI. Hell, I even taught using DI as the major instructional program. In my dark past I even acquired a Master's degree in Reading of all things. And yes, Pat Allen ,I am the Paulie you know..LOL!

    Whole Language isn't the magic bullet anymore than DI is the magic bullet...a competent teacher 'mixes" approaches for students. Frankly, I don't know a teacher who utilizes some of the whole language approach without a strong dose of phonics thrown in..as Pat Allen mentioned, his kids bring home phonics work from the Sherwood Public Schools regularly.

    Marcia, you are correct to remind me that a rich Fullday K program with art, music, PE, included in the curriculum costs money. I happen to think its a crying shame that the Saxton, Minnis, Westlund, McIntire mindset, coupled with No Child Left Behind, CIM/CAM thinking gutted the rich curriculum learners sorely need. I applaud you teaching to the neediest children. We need more just like you. At least we know the schools might get more money with Kulongoski in office because he supports K-12 education. Yeah, I know he made a correction in PERS that ticked off many PERS members..frankly he saved money for kids by doing so.

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    Rob wrote... The real question, Kari, is why do liberals tend to support teaching methods that long term empirical studies and vast amounts of educational research and literature show to be ineffective at ensuring low income and disadvantaged children acquire the gateway academic skill: reading?

    I don't know. I'm honestly puzzled. (Unlike my sometimes-strategic puzzlement.)

    If there really is long-term empirical data that supports a particular teaching method, why wouldn't anyone support it? Liberal, conservative, etc.?

    Rob - you ask a rhetorical question: Why do liberals ignore this particular teaching method? I'll ask you right back: Why do you think that is?

    I've read a lot of liberal philosophy, and involved in a lot of politics, and I can't figure out a reason why a particular teaching method would get cross-wise with our folks.

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    Rob in italics, me in regular: I beleive that schools are primarily for academic goals. Reading is job 1 of school. Fail at that and you have ruined a child's chance of academic success. You apparently beleive that academics are secondary, and whatever you mean by "socialization" and "self awareness" is primary.

    Your complacency about not teaching kids to read is shocking and sad. No it is not true that it is a skill that is easy to learn at any stage in life. That is demonstrably false. It is far harder to learn in fourth grade and beyond than in the early elementary grades. Kids who are not proficient readers by third grade are something like 80% likely to never be proficient readers.

    You misapprehend. I never said academics are secondary. I said there are things more important IN KINDERGARTEN than teaching reading. I also have no complacency about "not teaching kids to read." What I said was that there is time to teach reading down the road beyond kindergarten, and in fact some research that delayed instruction in actual reading (using the interim period for oral storytelling and learning about language rather than the mechanics of creating words) creates more competent and well-rounded readers. If you're going to challenge what I say, please stick to what I actually said.

    However, the notion that the primary job of schools is non-academic actually puts you in company with the John Dewey progressives, who wanted to use the institution of public schooling as a tool to reshape society into their own vision of what society should be.

    Pardon me, but leave my kid alone. I don't want your "socialization" applied to my kid. I can only imagine the things you would deem necessary to teach kids instead of academics. All sorts of "approved" attitudes, I would expect, would fall under your notion of "socialization." God only knows what you mean by "self-awareness." I hope I never find out.

    More rambling based on false pretense. We were talking about kindergarten, remember? Not "schools." I never said I favored a non-academic approach to public education. I said that strictly defined academics are best left to wait until the child has developed himself into a reservoir capable of receiving academic instruction. I have to laugh at your charge that I want to use education as a tool to reshape society according to a particular vision--as if you don't? ALL schools do that.

    What do I mean by self-awareness? I had thought that was fairly transparent, but OK: self-awareness is learning to self-calm, to realize when you are getting frustrated and how to express that frustration in a way that is socially appropriate. Self-awareness is learning that, even in a controlled setting where you are one of many, the power to achieve, excel and succeed are largely in your own hands. Self-awareness is learning that your actions and words DO have an impact on the world around you, for good or ill. Self-awareness is learning how to gauge your strengths and weaknesses, focusing on honing and applying strengths while shoring up weaknesses (and learning to accept that you will have some of each your whole life).

    I'm puzzled also why you would object to the word "efficient" when applied to teaching methods. If reading is a skill (it is) then why not teach it in the most efficient way possible? Piano playing is a skill. If I wanted to learn to play the piano, I could, I imagine, have someone play to me for hours on end, then sit down at the piano and try to figure it out myself. That is roughly the equivalent of today's whole language method of reading.

    Would you pay for that kind of piano lessons? I'll bet you would fire the instructor, and demand one who broke the skill of piano playing into its most basic sub-skills, and then systematically taught each of these skills with a commensurate amount of practice between lessons.

    Oh, but that treats every child like they are all the same. No, they have different learning styles, and nobody can say what the best way to teach the piano is. Hogwash. There are efficient ways to teach and less efficient ways to teach. I'll take the efficient way.

    Efficiency is for cars. It is not for people. Efficient instruction fulfills the basic requirement for the largest group of children in the smallest amount of time. All phases must proceed in exactly the same way in all cases, or efficiency is lost. EFFECTIVE teaching recognizes that all children do not come equipped with a "reading USB port" in their brains that allows the teacher to methodically place the reading memory stick in every child's theoretically equivalent brain. Is it efficient to have 100 keys for 100 locks? No, but I guarantee if you show up with 10, some number of locks will remain unopened.

    Let me give you two examples of the difference between efficient instruction and effective instruction. In the US, generally speaking if you wanted to learn a trade you showed up at work and immediately jumped into the mechanics of performing that trade, starting with basic techniques and moving on to advanced concepts as you mastered them. In Europe, particularly Germany, if you wanted to be a carpenter it'd be literally MONTHS before you got your hands on a piece of wood and a saw. What did you do instead? Learn about the nature of wood--it's makeup, its different forms, how it can be manipulated, etc. Only THEN would you get the opportunity to implement that knowledge on a practical basis. Is that the most efficient method of getting product out to market? No. But there are few rivals in this world for German craftsmanship and quality in their products.

    Let's use another example that's based in education, to stick with our topic. When I was in 7th grade back in the late 70s, the computer revolution had progressed far enough that "learning how to use computers" became part of the curriculum in my school. There were three classes of "Intro to Computing" going on during the period I had it: mine, and two others. In the other two classes, the teachers were math instructors who had learned how to program in BASIC. From day one, they put the kids on workstations and got them started on "10 Print Hi! 20 Goto 10" commands--the phonetics of programming, if you will.

    Our class didn't get that. At first I thought I had been given the great misfortune of being taught by someone who was an actual degree holder in computer science, and who literally kept every single one of the student computers turned off for the first six weeks of the term. What did we do instead? We learned how computers work: input, processing, output. We learned the core elements of a PC, and we learned the absolute fundamentals of their function: 1s and 0s. I still can't believe it; that guy had the nerve to teach a bunch of 12 year olds Base 2 mathematics, machine language and assembly.

    Was that efficient? Hell no; it seemed like forever, and we were way behind the other two classes when we finally got to use the computers. But I'll tell you, it didn't take long before we had caught up and moved right past them, performing fairly complex programming tasks in PASCAL while the other classes were still grasping BASIC commands piece by piece. To this day I credit my technical ability with computers to that man, whose name I have long forgotten. He understood the difference between efficient instruction and effective instruction, and I thank him for it.

  • Marvin McConoughey (unverified)
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    At least one study has shown that many high school students consider their final year to be of limited value to them. At the same time, many students go on to college following high school and spend a sizeable percentage of their lives sitting in classrooms. One way to free up existing school funding to pay for full day kindergarten is to reduce the 1-12 school length by one year, adding full year kindergarten as a universal precursor. I do not support full year kindergarten by the way. It may be true that certified experts can do better than parents at nearly any age of children. Yet, society must draw some line betweeen the years of parental responsibility and the point at which the state assumes greater involvement. I think the present situation is marginally acceptable and less unsatisfactory in total than full-year kindergarten.

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    Kari: It is a compelling question. I have discussed it at length with Chuck Arthur (remember - he is a political liberal.)

    I think Torrid Joe gave you your answer. often, liberals see reading and math and academic achievment as secondary to other more pressing concerns that run in what would be called the "affective" domain: self esteem, sensitivity, diversity, etc.

    "Instructivist" approaches offend the sensibilities of this kind of liberal, because they are inherently more authoritarian than the "constructivist" methods.

    Torrid is a classic example. Did you see how he just dismissed academics as a central function of schooling?

    Incredible. I am glad he is a city worker and not a teacher. We already have enough of his kind polluting our public schools.

  • jrw (unverified)
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    Wow. A batch of folks to respond to.

    Let's see.

    Rob: When doing DI with older kids, it's best to create your own scripts or else modify existing scripts for your specific situation. Special ed folks are taught to do this. Using other DI methods besides Engelmann's helps, such as the University of Kansas methodology or the methodology developed by Harris and Graham, Self-Regulated Strategy Development. Many studies support the use of SRSD techniques (I believe I counted up to 14 recent ones) and SRSD techniques can be integrated with constructivist/process writing methods, especially in inclusion settings (Bartos, Guiley, Luebbert and Reynolds-Ward, 2005, unpublished masters thesis). The key is to hold to the framework of direct instruction--the model, prompt, check methodology, with explicit and direct methods in early stages of instruction while fading to more implicit methods as students gain mastery. Or, in other words, scaffolding instruction.

    I hold to a more centrist/integrationist model and I've found this to be true for reading and math as well as writing. Many current DI folks in special ed tend to trend in this direction. General education folks should pay attention to this, as we're working with the toughest kids.

    Also, Rob, as someone who's had to deal with inadequately socialized kids as a professional, let me tell you this: kids do need to learn certain basic social rules on how to function with other people. Parents, some of whom are not skilled socially themselves, cannot always do this. Social learning disabilities disable a person's functioning in society as much as a reading disability disables a person's functioning in society. Simple things such as learning to take turns, how to stand in line, putting up a hand and waiting to be called upon, learning what is and isn't appropriate to say in a setting of one's peers, what you do and don't say to an authority figure, problem solving which doesn't involve resorting to physical force, and other really basic stuff kids learn in kindergarten are all areas that I have seen middle school students who've spent most of their time in home school settings functioning at a lower level than their peers.

    Not all at once, thank God, though...

    And Chuck Arthur is right, it's easier to get 'em young than to remediate. I pound my head against the wall when I get a kid who's been left to struggle until 4th or 5th grade because that kid might just mature out of it...sadly, some of my older special ed colleagues support those notions. I may get an opportunity to work with a praised remedial curriculum, Read 180 from Scholastic. It does show results--but is very much a scripted curriculum which doesn't fit in with my school's scheduling quirks. At my point in time, I work on remediation techniques, which include Ellyn Arwood methods.

    As for learning styles--well, after spending too much time seeing how the WISC IV scores interface with the Woodcock Johnson III scores (WISC IV, again, is IQ, WJ III is academic achievement) and how those scores interface with actual kid performance--I'm a believer in how brain wiring affects whether a person learns in a visual, kinesthetic, or auditory manner. One size does not fit all. Incorporating visuals and graphic organizers helps all students in a classroom, for one thing. Hands-on learning also helps when the thing to be learned involves processes.

    Marcia--not every district is as limited or as short-sighted as Portland Public (the music instruction issue is a particularly sensitive area for me with PPS). I'm glad you're keeping up the fight, but you must be working at a Title I school--aren't snacks pretty much funded at Title I schools? My school is Title I in the elementary section, and so all kids in the lower grades get snacks, while the middle school kids on free/reduced lunch also get snacks.

    Kari--when it comes to educational philosophy and curriculum developement, concepts of liberal vs conservative pretty much don't make sense. Some studies do support whole language and extreme constructivist points of view. Many others--at least the ones I've been exposed to in special ed--support more direct methods of instruction. I think, in this case, that the messenger may be as much a part of the issue as the message. My mother was in teaching about the time that Englemann first came out with DISTAR, in the Springfield school district. I remember she wasn't that favorable, although her own methods were closer to Direct Instruction than constructivist.

    Additionally, a lot of concern was expressed in the 60s and 70s about teaching higher order thought processes. It was perceived that DI was not necessarily favorable to such teaching. Add to the mix the unfortunate reality that DI methods are not necessarily correctly taught to folks, and that inservice days are inadequate for cramming in the teaching of DI methodologies, and you get a lot of resentment toward DI by teachers who only see the scripts and don't understand the entire process (Model, Prompt, Check--that's the root of DI).

    I'm a moderate in this debate. Teaching secondary level students means that sometimes the script needs to be more sketchy than DI purists would like it to be. Additionally, for pure DI to be effective, the teacher needs to be taught how to implement it effectively. For those whose only experience of DI is an inservice training, judging from the inservices I've received, they ain't getting the most effective training in these methods.

  • fervid ro (unverified)
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    I'd like to add that full day kindergarten is great, as long as the curriculum is develomentally appropriate. The idea of kids sitting in desks pressured to do "first grade work," forcing kids to read, read, read all day is not necessarily what is best for a kindergarten program, IMO as a preschool teacher. I agree with Torrid that much of what should be happening in kindergarten needs to include social and emotional development. In this counrty, most people who attend school can and do learn to read. But when it comes to possessing adequate social skills? Not as simple. Our ability to have successful relationships with our families, friends and coworkers is a greater measure of happiness than income level or educational achievement. Perhaps learning how to get along with others is more important having decent scores on standardized testing. To equate kindergarten, or preschool that matter, with babysitting is simply ludicrous.

  • marcia (unverified)
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    To fervid ro: " you must be working at a Title I school--aren't snacks pretty much funded at Title I schools? My school is Title I in the elementary section, and so all kids in the lower grades get snacks, while the middle school kids on free/reduced lunch also get snacks." Yes, it is a Title I school, and no, they do not get snacks. Snacks are served at the high school, though. Go figure.

  • zelanie (unverified)
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    Rob,

    First of all, I want to congratulate you on the success of your schools! Successful kids and schools are a goal that I hope we can all agree upon. :)

    However, the singular of "evidence" is not "anecdote". When looking to set public policy, it is critical that we look at what the research tells us about a statistically significant segment of the population, even if that evidence contradicts what we might expect given the current set of kids we are working with.

    I'm also not sure that it's a good idea to combine the discussion on teaching methods with one about all-day kindergarten(although both are important topics).

    The question is, would all-day Kindergarten provide a tangible benefit for students and/or society? To choose to do so now (and I support kriste's assertion that it would be a significant benefit for most of Oregon's kids) would be to support moving to all-day kindergarten with the assumption that curriculum change would be a separate process.

    It doesn't make sense to not send kids to all-day K because the schools are bad. If that's the case, then why send them to school at all?

  • dickey45 (unverified)
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    Doh, I missed this thread :(

    I'm a serious liberal but I have to agree with Rob. Education completely ignores research such as Project Follow Through - which showed Direct Instruction (DI) is highly, highly effective with low socio-economic status (SES) children in early grade levels. Research also indicated it is effective with kids with an IQ up to 137.

    My belief is that because Head Start doesn't use effective curriculum, that time is now having to be made up in Kindergarten. Anyone that thinks low SES kids are ready for Kinder needs a reality check. It is the job of the schools to catch them up.

    With effective curriculum (such as DI) in early grades (k-3 and higher) behavior issues go away and teachers can concentrate more on social issues. Plus with kids busy getting a good start on reading by first grade, students have a more enriched classroom experience - now they can start reading!

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