Easier promotion

Chicago schools are easing their ban on social promotion of students in key grades. But a study shows generally positive effects, says Education Gadfly.

In brief, they found that the advent of high-stakes testing led to low-performing students receiving more support from teachers and parents and to teachers focusing their instruction more on reading and math. However, they also found that a key concern of testing opponents has merit: teachers spent more time teaching test prep skills — simply explaining techniques for successfully taking a test. (One teacher claimed to have devoted 240 hours to such tasks in 1999.) In addition, the researchers worry that added training may be needed for teachers to actually improve their instruction (rather than just refocusing it), and they note that the long-term effects of grade retention are unclear. Still, most teachers supported the policy . . .

Chicago schools will focus on teaching reading; students won’t be held back if they fall far behind in math and other subjects.

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  1. One teacher claimed to have devoted 240 hours to such tasks in 1999.

    That’s somewhere between 30 and 40 days, depending on the length of the school day… I think one teacher is full of crap…

  2. Steve LaBonne says:

    “Students won’t be held back if they fall far behind in math…” Big mistake, given the necessarily cumulative nature of math instruction.

  3. Tammy in Texas says:

    Depending on when the testing occurred, the teacher could have had almost the entire year to complete that number of hours. If he/she spent 30 minutes a day teaching test-taking techniques, it’s certainly possible that he spent that much time on the subject.

  4. Kids in suburban schools get the same kind of test-taking teaching, it’s just been apart of the curriculum for so long that no one even realizes it anymore.

  5. Tammy, schools are in session about 180 days a year. That’s an hour and twenty minutes every day the teacher is in a classroom with a student. The successful strategies for test taking are pretty simple; the only way I can see spending an hour and twenty minutes on them is if I had to repeat everything three times because the kids weren’t paying attention. If he/she’s repeating it every day, either he/she’s teaching people with a neurological defect that prevents forming any long-term memories so one can just teach the same one-day curriculum 180 times, he/she has totally lost control of the classroom, or he/she is utterly unable to teach anything.