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Discussion: What have we learned so far about teacher enhancement and student learning from our experience running our LSCs?

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posted by: Ruth Von Blum on January 18, 2000 at 12:10PM
subject: School parameters in research
The "parameters" include such things as socio-economic level of the students' families (in Santa Ana is usually, but not always, low); LEP status (usually students are Spanish-speaking, but some come into kindergarten not fluent in any language!); experience level of the instructional staff (in California, we have recently enacted "class size reduction," which means that many K-3 teachers are new and serving on emergency credentials); physical condition of the school (many new classrooms had to be added to accommodate class-size reduction, resulting in classes taking place in "temporary" structures built on the school grounds). I also seriously consider foci of leadership at the school. Is the principal a strong leader? What are his or her main concerns*bilingual education? improving reading? increasing scores on standardized tests? Unless you can get a handle on these issues, you can't really understand the environment in which the school functions.

In California, as in many other states, the rush towards accountability has meant increased emphasis on standardized tests. Two years ago, California switched from the CTBS to the Stanford 9 exam as the main standardized test for grades 2-11. My main concern in looking at the case study schools was not only the extent to which preparing for the exams impacted the curriculum and instruciton as a whole, but the extent to which preparing for the exams (which were given in the Spring) would interfere with what we saw in classrooms during our data collection, which also was in the Spring.

Ruth Von Blum

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