Having trouble keeping track of the latest trends in education? It’s not going to get any easier in 2012. If there is one thing that’s true about education, change is the status quo.
OUT: No Child Left Behind. Well, maybe not ‘out’, but it does expire next year. Lawmakers are faced with the option of letting it expire (never gonna happen), renewing it (also a non-starter), or tweaking it in some way to try and make everyone happy. Again.
IN: Waivers. The Obama administration is putting the writing on the wall for the changes it would like to see in the NCLB waivers that have already been granted to 11 states this year. They are the guinea pigs for what might be a better model of school improvement. As reported in the Huffington Post these waivers approved so far require school systems to, among other things, prove that graduates are carreer- or college-ready, that teachers are being evaluated on a model that includes some form of student progress, and schools are being evaluated on more than just test scores.
OUT: Direct classroom instruction. While this model of education was excellent at producing factory workers in the 1950s, most educators agree that it is not effective in today’s environment. We can continue to watch class sizes rise to 30+ due to economic constraints, and our standards erode, or we can come up with a better way.
IN: On-line classes and ‘flipped’ model of learning. The use of the internet for learning has been in use by many colleges and universities for most of the last decade. This use of technology allows educators to more effectively use their class time, and lets students work at a their own pace. Pennsylvania has an entire school that is an on-line charter school. Many students making use of this school are high-school drop-outs who want to continue their education. While many take longer than four years to complete their degree, the availability of this type of option will ensure that many can further their careers, and even attend college.
OUT: Zero tolerance for personal electronic devices. Long gone are the days when the only people who had pagers were drug dealers and they had no place in our schools. Upper St. Clair School District in Pittsburgh has created a policy outlined in their student handbook allowing students to use personal electronic devices in certain areas, for educational purposes and with specific guidelines. Kudos to a school system that understands that these devices can be used for educational purposes, and keeps teachers from being the cell-phone police.
IN: Facebook, Twitter, and other social media in the classroom. Last week my son had a math project due that required him to complete a survey of 100 people and analyze the data. Then he got sick. Sure, he had plenty of time to complete the project before he got sick, but what 12-year-old plans on being sick? We posted the question on my Facebook page and 5 hours later we had all the responses he needed. It wasn’t very random, but neither was going around the lunch room asking his buddies, which is what he planned to do. The project was more about the analysis for math class anyway. The point is that these media outlets can be used for educational purposes, and under the correct supervision, students can learn to use them responsibly.
Technology, technology and accountability are the watchwords for 2012. America’s teachers will use their creativity and ingenuity to make use of technology to ride out the current economic crisis while maintaining learning standards. NCLB introduced the idea of accountability in our schools and there is no putting that genie back in the bottle.