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Educating All Students Together and Learning Together. How school leaders attack the problems of achievement gaps, over-representation in special education and high qualified staff Presented by Leonard C. Burrello Indiana University March 8, 2006. Our Tasks Today.

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educating all students together and learning together

Educating All Students Together and Learning Together

How school leaders attack the problems of achievement gaps, over-representation in special education and high qualified staff

Presented by

Leonard C. Burrello

Indiana University

March 8, 2006

our tasks today
Our Tasks Today
  • Closing the Achievement Gap review of research on school improvement from high school to elementary school from Education Trust and my work at the Forum on Education
  • Over-representation in special education moving from technical solutions to cultural change by examining equity traps
  • Getting to highly qualified in staff selection and development
high schools performing above expectations
High Schools Performing Above Expectations

From The Education Trust, Gaining Traction, Gaining Ground November, 2005 study of average high schools out performing others with students starting behind and more un-prepared

what research tells us about responsibility and how we should educate all students
What research tells us about responsibility and how we should educate All students

Closing the achievement gap that separates low-income students and students of color from other students:

  • 61% of A-A, 57% of Latinos are below the basic level of reading compared 26% of W’s. At 17, these student perform as an average 13 yr old W students.
  • 68% of 9th graders graduate on time
  • Fewer than 20% graduate from college on time
  • 80% of fastest growing jobs require some post-secondary education.

Central question: What do we know about the characteristics and practices of schools especially effective at improving the academic performance of previously low performing students?

The Trust studied average high schools that performed above expectations as compared to average high schools with similar demographics

(1) showed growth for three years;

(2) at least average in state performance in reading and math;

(3) achievement gaps smaller than state average

(4) graduation rate at or above state average

(5) 60% or more low income students or 50% non-white students in each school

five spheres of influence comparing high impact schools to average impact schools sphere 1 culture
Clearly focused on preparing students for college and careers

Focused on academics

School wide consistent views about achievement related school goals

Embrace external standards and assessments, create them where they don’t exist

More focused on preparing students for graduation

Focused on rules

Less consistency school wide

Teachers simply tolerate these things

Five Spheres of InfluenceComparing High Impact Schools to Average Impact Schools: Sphere #1 Culture
sphere 2 academic core
Consistently higher expectations for all students, regardless of students prior academic record

Principals, teachers, and counselors take responsibility for helping students to succeed

Barriers to taking high-level courses removed

Assessment data is used for future planning - improving curriculum or making teacher assignments

Inconsistent expectations

Responsibility varies across roles

Hurdles to high level course exist

Assessment data primarily measuring past student performance

Sphere #2: Academic Core
sphere 3 support both provide extra support but differently
Extra instructional time in reading and math but help is provided with the goal of keeping students on track to college prep

Extra help is the responsibility of staff to provide

Early warning systems are in place to prevent further slippage

Counselors actively monitor academic and intervene to provide extra-help

Learning partnership directed to support post-secondary preparation

Extra help provided but delays entry into grade level courses making it harder to stay on track

Help is optional

Remedial help provide after failure

Counselors provide help thru referrals

Learning partnerships use them for dropout//drug abuse prevention

Sphere #3 SupportBoth provide extra-support but differently
sphere 4 teachers
Use more than teacher preference, past student performance, and teacher expertise in making assignments

New teacher support focused on curriculum instruction

Class size varies based upon students needs for support

Principals exert more control over staff selection

Teacher assignments made on teacher preference seniority

New teacher support is more personal and social in nature

Class size relatively uniform

Principals less control over staff selection

Sphere #4 Teachers
sphere 5 time and other resources
More deliberate use of instructional time, arranging available time to help “catch up” students who arrive behind

Students entering behind spend more time in courses with substantial reading and/or instruction in reading

Time in academic classes tied to college prep work

Strict protections of academic time

Senior year less rigorous

Less “catch-up time”

Time in academic classes tied to remedial courses

Less strategies to protect academic time

Senior year less rigorous

Sphere #5: Time and Other Resources
creating a unified system
Creating a unified system using elementary examples where general and special education are emerged and use their combined expertise to improve student performanceCreating a Unified System

Creating a Unified Systemfrom Case, Inc. (1992) Unified System Future Agenda, Burrello, Lashley, and Beatty, (2001) Educating All Students Together, Sailor and Roger, (2004) School wide Applications Model, and Forum on Education, (2005) Creating a Unified System

#1 All instruction is guided by general education.

Practices and Resources

  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Understanding by Design
  • Content area expertise
#2 Schools proactively support early intervention and prevention

Practices and Resources

  • Response to Intervention to enhance academic

and social behavior through:

    • Prevention
    • Proactive Instruction
    • Data-based Decision Making
    • Assessment driving Instruction
#3 All school resources are configured to benefit all students.

Practices and Resources


Instructional Coaching

In class related services support

#4 Schools are democratically organized, data driven, problem-solving systems.

Practices and Resources

Response to Intervention

Collaborative grade level and/or ad hoc team

Frequent use of data for grouping and re-grouping for instruction

#5 Schools proactively address social development and citizenship.

Practices and Resources

Positive Behavior Support Systems

Wraparound Services

#6 Schools have open boundaries in relation to their families and communities.

Practices and Resources

Learning Partnerships

Performance based Learning

Parent Mentoring Project

#7 Schools require district support for undertaking extensive systems change effort.

Practices and Resources

Data and other infrastructure support

State and District Professional Development

Un-equal resources

over representation of students of color in special education
Over-representation of Students of Color in Special Education
  • Over-representation is more than a technical problem
  • It requires a cultural solution
  • It starts with race and ethnicity and staff’s personal history
equity traps how leaders are successful with racially diverse students
Equity Traps: How leaders are successful with racially diverse students
  • McKenzie and Scheurich (2004) University Council for Educational AdministrationEquity Traps: A useful construct for preparing principals to lead schools that are successful with racially diverse students, (pp. 601-631).
equity traps defined
Definition -Equity traps are patterns of thinking and behavior that trap the possibilities for creating equitable schools for children of color

The traps are both individual and collective, often reinforced among administrators and teachers through formal and informal communication, assumptions, and beliefs.

Equity Traps Defined
research setting and themes
Research was conducted in a small elementary school N-291 that was 56% A-A, 40% Latino, 3% white, and 1% N-A.12% SWD. Faculty 30% A-A, 8% Latino, and 64% W.

Teacher experience 3- 20 years

Eight white teacher from K-3 grade study respondents

Six themes emerged:

Priority economics over race

Blaming the students, families, and community for the students in-adequacies;

Employing and avoiding the gaze (Foucault, 1994)

Using anger, power, and control

Norming dissenting voice

Being abusive

Research Setting and Themes
the equity trap 1 a deficit view
The Equity Trap #1: A Deficit View

From Valencia (1997) A deficit thinking model that places the failing child in school due to internal deficits or deficiencies. They include: limited intellectual abilities, linguistic shortcomings, lack of motivation to learn, and immoral behavior. Also parents do not value education, come unprepared to learn and bring behavioral issues with them stemming from the home and community.

First Step: Leaders need to help teachers reframe their thinking about students from deficit to assets-based orientation and see each child as a “funds of knowledge” or having an endearing quality to be identified, validated, shared, and used in the educational process.

strategies for equity trap 1
Strategies for Equity Trap #1

Strategies for Trap #1

#1: NEIGHBORHOOD WALKS - to get to know students and families and communities at a deeper level. Establishes positive rapport, dismantles negative stereotypes, and informs teachers of the positive regard parents have for education, goals for their children, and willingness to listen to the importance of attendance, requesting to see homework, and encourage daily home reading. In the end students and their families were see as competent and caring and a more authentic and equitable relationship was forged between the school and home.

#2: GATHERING ORAL HISTORIES - this strategy is designed to getting teachers to know but also to dignify the culture of their students and communities by learning about the history of their neighbors. Note-taking, audio and video tapes made into homemade books, displays, and plays to exhibit their work brings solidarity and builds community between the school and its neighbors.

#3 THREE WAY CONFERENCING - student, family member, and teacher plan educational goals quarterly, instructional support at school and at home, and each one’s responsibility to ensure the desired end result. Students should and will with support assuming the role of conference leader.

equity trap 2 racial erasure
Equity Trap #2: Racial Erasure

From bell hooks (1992) “the sentimental idea that racism would cease to exist if everyone would just forget about race and see each other as human beings who are the same” (p.12)

By refusing to see color, and by prioritizing other factors like poverty- over race, we can deny our own racism.

McKenzie and Scheurich claim that the teachers in their study by “ignoring race, by erasing race the racial marker of their students, they were able to deny that there was any possibility that they treated their students differently based upon their student’s skin color.

Rather than erase race as an issue, educators need to focus on how schools are and can systematically produce inequities by race and how to dissolve them in a positive way requires collective study by all staff.

strategies for equity trap 2
Strategies for Equity Trap #2

#1 BOOK STUDY GROUPS - using common texts or a variety based upon a common theme to gain a summary and a critical review of the test. Texts such as the Dreamkeepers (1997) and Crossing Over to Canaan (2001) both by Gloria Ladson-Billings, The Evolution of Deficit Thinking (1997) by Richard Valencia; Other People’s Children (1996) Lisa Delpit; and We Can’t Teach What We Do Not Know (1999) BY Gary Howard.

#2 EQUITY AUDITS - involving auding the school district’s data on race. The staff audits the number of students in gifted programs, honors classes, and special education and disaggregates the data by race.

#3 TEACHER AUDITS - who is teaching whom. Are the most experienced and/or most highly educated teachers only teaching the gifted and the newest the most struggling academically, a group that is often composed exclusively of children of color?

#4 STATE FOCUSED MONITORING - placing high over-representative districts on a watch list - use 1:50 ratio as a target

equity trap 3 avoidance and employment of the gaze
Equity Trap #3: Avoidance and Employment of the Gaze
  • Defining the GAZE - from Foucault (1977) - surveillance for the purpose of controlling behavior - He posits: “ there is not a need for arms, physical violence, material constraints {to gain control of people, their thoughts, and their behavior} Just a gaze. An inspecting gaze, a gaze that each individual under its will end by interiorizing to the point that he is his own overseer, each individual thus exercising this surveillance over, and against, himself. (p.155).
  • Experienced teachers in the study avoided the gaze of administrators and parents in low income schools and were more in control than they were in middle income schools.
  • Norming the gaze or employing it over teachers that spoke out in positive ways about students and parents that would disrupt the deficit discourse of the teachers.
strategies for equity trap 3
Strategies for Equity Trap #3
  • HIRING NEW TEACHERS - with an attitude and disposition that embraces all students and their ability to learn and the teacher ability to make a difference in their lives.
  • ESTABLISH GROUP NORMS - invite all voices to speak and dignify all perspectives through democratic discussion.
  • MAKING TEACHING A PUBLIC PRACTICE - create school where collaboration flourishes so no one can hide destructive or deficit teaching beliefs or practices.
  • PEER OR INSTRUCTIONAL COACHING - support embedded classroom professional development to determine if the classroom is equitable in terms of which students are called upon in class, how often, and how the teacher responds to students requests and questions.
equity trap 4 paralogical beliefs and behaviors
Equity Trap #4: Paralogical Beliefs and Behaviors
  • Defining Paralogism - from medical literature - exists when a conclusion is drawn from premises that logically do not warrant that conclusion. Or simply false reasoning that involves self-deception.
  • For example, teachers reasoning that they yelled at and treated students disrespectfully because the students treated them and each other. These teacher false concluded that their own negative treatment of students was caused bu their behaviors of their students (their erroneous premise).
strategies for equity trap 4
Strategies for Equity Trap #4
  • Changing teacher and administrator attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors starts with university pre-service programs
  • Changing in-service teacher behavior starts with the principals who with district support begins with some practical ways to interrupt and remove equity traps so that equity can be achieved.
  • Creating a transcendental moral purpose that ensures that each child has an endearing quality to be recognized, validate, and used to further their own learning.
  • Our obligation as educators is to provide a curriculum that is relevant and challenging but teaching begins with authentic relationships founded on mutual respect and trust for children and their families.
the rule of law and special education practices
The Rule of Law and Special Education Practices
  • What have we learned from educational reform to date?
  • Do we have an agenda and what is it?
  • What is the unique role special education can play in school reform?
  • What are the system issues that we must get our hands around?
  • What are the moral imperatives that guide us?
lessons learned about special education reform
Lessons Learned about Special Education Reform
  • Special education reform must occur within general education reform
  • Focus of reform must be on teaching and learning…..curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • District and school capacity factors must be a part of systems change effort
implications of nclb ayp continuous improvement plan
Implications of NCLB-AYP-Continuous Improvement Plan
  • Need to assume responsibility for ALL learners through collaborative planning
  • Need to create school structures and implement practices that are effective to meet the diverse needs of ALL learners
  • Need for special educators to develop knowledge and skills in the content areas
  • Need to involve families in meaningful ways
  • Need for leadership to create the conditions for this change to occur
district capacity building for continuous improvement plan
District Capacity Building for Continuous Improvement Plan

District School Leadership

  • Clarity of purpose and principles
  • Leadership commitments
  • Infrastructure
  • Community development and education
  • Allocation of resources
  • Assessment mechanisms
school capacity building for continuous improvement plan
School Capacity Building for Continuous Improvement Plan

School Level Leaders (principals, teachers, students, and parents, etc)

  • Knowledge, skills, and dispositions
  • Professional community
  • Instructional program coherence
  • Resources
  • Leadership commitment
grand conclusions
Grand Conclusions
  • Local Leadership Matters
  • Leadership has to be distributed across roles at every level in the system
  • Special educators have to know students very well and know how to teach the literacies that count - reading - math - social
  • Special educators have to know how to coach others to serve all student effectively in the general education curriculum