Blog Result4 Blogs Found

  • By Don J. Fessenden

    Why does the achievement gap continue to grow?  The answer to this question is simple, unfortunately the solution is anything but simple.  It continues to grow because those in educational leadership positions at the state and federal levels fail to identify the real problems.  Why?  Because to identify the real problems in closing the achievement gap, they would need to make statements that are far from politically correct.


    Let me say, this is a problem that needs to be addressed at all levels, however today, we will take a closer look at our high schools.    


    At the high school level, the problem of closing the achievement gap is one of motivation and accountability.  We have students who are not motivated to learn and stakeholders who don’t, or won’t hold these students accountable for their actions. 


    Throughout my twenty years in education, I have witnessed dedicated teachers and administrators do everything they possibly could to get students on the right track.  Only to have other stakeholders step in to deflect accountability for poor academic performance from the student to the teacher.  This is not only unacceptable but it’s extremely counterproductive.


    Let’s look closer at stakeholder responsibility…in closing the achievement gap.


    Politicians…need to stop treating education as a business, it’s not!  While it may make sense for a retailer like Walmart to look at same store sales annually to determine their success.  In education each year the cohort changes, so to try and compare one cohort to another, would be like comparing one Walmart store to a totally different store.  Of course Walmart would never do this because it doesn’t make sense, so why are politicians trying to do it in education.    


    Educational Leadership…need to stop focusing on teacher effectiveness as the problem in education.  While we understand it’s the only stakeholder under their control, they’re effectiveness is not the primary reason for the growing achievement gap.  Until, leaders look at the tough factors and move away from the easy ones they will never solve the achievement gap problem. 


    Teachers…need to continue to find new ways of motivating their students as well as hold those students not meeting expectations accountable.  They need to also do a better job of making lessons more relevant to their student’s interests.  Another area needing attention is differentiation of lessons and student expectations.  We must also do a better job in communicating with parents.     


    Parents…need to support teachers and collaborate with educators to develop their children.  In the sixties if a student wasn’t performing parents held their children accountable.  Today, most parents hold teachers and schools responsible for all failures. 


    Students…need to understand that the key to their future lays in their hands and in the end they will only have themselves to blame for their successes or failures.  It takes intrinsic motivation to succeed in life and a lack of this motivation is likely to guarantee a lifetime of struggle. 


    Community/Society…needs to hold those in blue collar careers with the same esteem given to college graduates.  If this was done, those students aspiring to join the trades would not feel like failures.  Only when society changes its definition of success will we be able to move toward closing the achievement gap. 


    Leave a comment, tell us what you think.


    Next up…Motivation is the key to closing the achievement gap!       

    #Achievement# Achievement Gap# Educational Achievement Gap# Teachers# Parents# Students# Leaders# #closingtheachievementgap# #allstudentsmatter   0Comments

  • By Don J. Fessenden

    Over my last eleven years in public education, I have had the distinct pleasure of proctoring our schools annual state driven mandatory student standardized assessment test.  In Connecticut during my tenure we have had the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT), Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC), and now the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) & Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).  All of these standardized tests are only relevant until the next big idea is discovered. 


    The problem with standardized tests is students lack the motivation to excel, last year while administering the SBAC, most students showed their true colors and put little effort into this assessment.  When asked after the first day of SBAC testing why they had finished the test in just five minutes, several students shared…why try, the results don’t matter.  Wow!  So you believe putting your name to a test which the results will be in your records forever, doesn’t count.  As you can imagine this was disheartening to me, it also provided a teachable moment. 


    After, providing all the reason why do your best is always worth the effort, I realized that it wasn’t their fault.  Until we give an assessment that matter’s we should expect much, much more of the same little too no effort.  This year we will be administering the PSAT and SAT to grade appropriate students and while it may take a few years for everyone to become comfortable with its administration, our students we will finally have an assessment that MATTERS! 


    It was a 180 degree change in attitude and behavior as students listened for instructions to the SAT.  The sound of concentration was accelerating as their level of effort on this test was off the charts.  We need to motivate our students, and by judging this year’s PSAT/SAT mission accomplished.  Now all we need to worry about is whether the PSAT/SAT will have lasting power with educational stakeholders.  There is one key take-away for leaders, make tests matter!


    As always, if you agree or disagree please leave us a comment.  Have an idea for a future BLOG post, let us know.    


    Next up…Time is an asset we can never recover, so why do schools still use study halls?


    #Connecticut Mastery Test# CMT# Connecticut Academic Performance Test# CAPT# Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium# SBAC# Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test# PSAT# Scholastic Aptitude Test# SAT# #Closingtheachievementgap# #allstudentsmatter   0Comments

  • By Don J. Fessenden


    How could such a great idea go so wrong?  The inefficiency seen in most study halls has caused teachers to search for answers.  In searching for solutions to the challenges of study hall, we need to first question the reason why there are so many study halls.  The simple answer is money and a lack of course offerings.  While most students assigned to study halls see it as a break in their school day, others see it as a chance to ketchup on school-work and yet others see it as a place to just hang-out.   


    However, the perspective of most teachers is that study halls are just an additional duty with little instructional benefit or return on investment!  We teach because we love sharing our knowledge of the subjects we love with our students but when leading a study hall we try to do the best job we can at managing students who usually don’t know us as teachers or even worse don't feel accountable to us their teachers.  How do teachers ensure students utilize study hall time more wisely?  The short answer is we don’t…the long answer is that schools need to offer more courses and reduce the number of study halls or create one mass group study hall.  This could be done in the school’s cafeteria.  Unfortunately, this solution is not easy and comes with its own problems because you would not be able to schedule study halls before, during, or after lunch.  The lack of feasible solutions to changing study halls, brings us to one halls should be history.  


    Of course schools may never be able to totally eliminate study halls from their schedules they should be used as a last resort and whenever possible offered during the first or last time-block.  Also, they should be held in the school’s cafeteria and managed by paraprofessionals.  It does not require a teaching certification to manage a study hall.  With this new found time teachers would be able to do more peer observations, collaborate with colleagues or even provide tutoring to students needing extra subject-matter help.  All of these suggestions would provide the schools stakeholders with a real return on investment.  


    As always, whether you agree or disagree with our post, please leave a comment.  Have an idea for a future BLOG post, let us know and maybe we will use it!    


    Next up…Terror in our schools and the pressure to evaluate each and every threat.    


    #Study Hall# Education# Time# Time Management# Inefficiency of Study Halls# #allstudentsmatter   0Comments

  • By Don J. Fessenden

    In the past, educators looked at school threats with a different perspective than they do today.  Unfortunately we have all witnessed school shootings in quite communities creating the domestic terror vivid in our memories, usually being carried out by teenagers.  Most of which have been diagnosed with some type of mental illness.  However in recent months we’re seeing a rise in the number of schools closing and sending student’s home because of threats called into the school or district.


    These incidences are reported spawning other copy-cat type of threats.  All becoming more disruptive than the last.  So what are school districts and administrators to do in the face of these elevated threat occurrences?  When should they decide to close a school based on a creditable threat?  What’s a creditable threat?  Who decides and who should make that call, the school principal or the school district?  All questions needing answered.       


    As educators our primary objective is to keep our students safe while providing the highest level of education possible in an environment free from threat of personal harm.  This is a responsibility that all educators take very seriously.  However is becoming more and more difficult.  We understand the challenges of money, disruption, and mass fear that face our district and building leadership.  Our district leadership and communities need to provide more money for real mass casualty exercises, as well as allow the disruption in a school day to run an exercise scenario that would help better prepare us for the unthinkable. 


    And before the unthinkable occurs our legislators need to write tougher terror laws and after the unthinkable our prosecutors must prosecute every offender and our judges need to hand down sentences that will ensure these types of crimes are no longer committed.  We will never be able to stop those who don’t value on life from committing terror crimes but we can stop the number of copy-cat perpetrators.    


    The best way of dealing with terror threats is to ensure they never occur. This will only occur with tougher terror laws and elevated public awareness of the punishments these offenders receive for carrying-out any type of mass terror crimes.        


    As always, whether you agree or disagree with our post, please leave a comment.  Have an idea for a future BLOG post, let us know and maybe we will use it!     


    Next up…Apathy in the classroom, what’s the solution?         


    #Terror# Terror in Schools# Terror Threats# Punishing Terror# #AllKidsMatter# #TeachersMeet#   0Comments

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