Monday, August 19, 2013

The decline of remediation, II

Rivaling the decline in advanced programming for advanced students is that of remediation for those below grade level. The biggest force behind this is the Common Core, whose standards are keyed to grade level, which in turn (in this age of "social promotion") is keyed to calendar age.  Everyone is expected to be capable of achieving, through one "entry point" or another, the learning goals decreed for their grade level, and, as far as I can tell, the word "remediation" doesn't appear anywhere in the Common Core standards. Remediation, in short, is something to be avoided.

We see this in special ed, where remediation has been upstaged by "accommodation." We see this in programs for disadvantaged students, where "boring drills" have been upstaged by college prep pipe dreams. And we see this, most recently, in summer school programs, as discussed in a recent article in Edweek:

Summer school, once thought of as a place for failing students, is being overhauled.  
Districts and communities are shifting from offering duplicative Algebra 2 and U.S. history classes to using the summertime as an opportunity to experiment with innovative teaching and learning methods.  
This summer, students are learning the science involved in crime-scene investigations in Florida, the math involved in constructing infrastructure for a community center in Michigan, and how the themes of one novel can apply to various academic disciplines in California.
The article cites 25 districts "that are shifting from traditional remedial offerings to a new type of summer school" that includes "blended academics and enrichment," and "enhanced features" like field trips and projects. Specific examples?
In Sacramento, Calif ...middle and high school students are improving their academics through hands-on service-learning projects they select and design.

Working with several partners, the 48,000-student district has students create community projects rooted in a social-justice, youth-development framework, and then has teachers integrate academic lessons into them.

Past summer projects have included designing a disaster-preparedness robot, creating AIDS- and homeless-awareness campaigns, building a community garden, and writing books for elementary students on bullying, said Zenae Scott, the district's youth-development coordinator.
What about students who aren't reading fluently and can't change fractions to decimals? Apparently, they are better off than they were before:
Many traditional summer school programs have been shown to have minimal impact on student performance.  
...Research indicates that today's new models are showing early positive results for students' academic and developmental needs.
I'm looking forward to the follow-up article that discusses the long term positive results--in particular growing rates of basic literacy and arithmetic skills--as Project Based Learning takes over summer remediation.


Auntie Ann said...

A double win! Both failing the failing students and failing the advanced students. Yep, this will work out splendedly!

Niels Henrik Abel said...

Note the "community projects" (rooted in "social justice") have academic lessons "integrated" into them - not the other way around.

Shows you where their true interests lie ~

Anonymous said...

Harrison Bergeron, anyone?