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"Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day..." - 6 new articles

  1. Merit Pay Studies
  2. Avoiding Goal-Setting Problems — In The Classroom &In Education Policy
  3. The History Makers Digital Archive Is Pretty Impressive
  4. “Moving English Language Learners to College- and Career-Readiness”
  5. Today’s Oil Spill Links
  6. Only A Few More Days To Answer “What Will You Do Differently Next School Year?”
  7. More Recent Articles
  8. Search Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day...

Merit Pay Studies

Regular readers know I’m not a supporter of merit pay for teachers. The best piece I’ve seen outlining the reasons why it isn’t a good idea is a short piece titled What’s Wrong With Merit Pay by Diana Ravitch.

A new, short, report has just been published by the Education Commission of the States examining several studies on merit pay. How do they analyze them?

Each of the studies of the four pay-for-performance systems found no conclusive
evidence to link the new merit pay system with higher student achievement.

Thanks to the HechingerEd report for the tip.

Avoiding Goal-Setting Problems — In The Classroom &In Education Policy

Goal Setting – Pitfalls and Benefits is a useful post about goal-setting issues. It has a couple of good links within the article itself, as well.

The article, and its links, are primarily focused on goal-setting in a business environment, but a number of the points raised can be useful to educators — both in the classroom and in thinking about broader education policy.

As regular readers know, I use goal-setting a lot with my students, and you can read more about how I do so in My Best Posts On Students Setting Goals.

Here are a few items that stood out for me:

* It can be very dangerous when you set goals for others . It can result in:

a narrow focus that neglects non-goal areas, a rise in unethical behavior, distorted risk preferences, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation. (I wonder if Education Secretary Duncan has read this study?)

I don’t set goals for my students, but neither am I a “potted plant” when we discuss them. When I work with students on helping them develop their goals, I certainly share what the “average” academic assessments are (in cloze, fluency, and state test assessments). They then make their own determination of what they want to achieve in relation to their existing scores. I also share with students what research says are the qualities of a good learner and good leader, and then they decide which — if any — they want to improve on. In goal-setting decisions — which all occur weekly, quarterly, semester, and yearly — they make their other two or three goals based on what they think they want to focus on. I also ask them to write why they picked those goals — what do they see as the pay-off for them?

To adapt an old community organizing saying, if I set their goals I’m sending the message that their meeting the goals are more important to me than to them. If that’s the case, their investment in meeting them is reduced considerably.

* Another study reinforced what I do in my classroom — having students primarily focus on setting “learning goals” (learning how to categorize information better, to work better in groups, be more disciplined about reading a book for a half-hour each night or to read a more challenging book), with a lesser priority (though we definitely include them) on “performance goals” (increased assessment scores). The study says that M.B.A. students who focused more on learning goals ultimately ended-up with a higher G.P.A. than those students who had only set a G.P.A. goal.

It’s similar to my community organizing experience. Our organizations were often more effective in building affordable housing than groups that just focused on affordable housing development and in getting people into jobs that paid a living wage with benefits than job training agencies. The primary reason for that success was that we were focused on helping people learn to become leaders, and then used housing and jobs campaigns as tools to help people develop leadership skills.

The idea is to help people become life-long learners, and then the performance outcomes will come. In our organizing campaigns, though we were more effective in the long-run, our ultimately very successful efforts did take what some might consider too long of a time to bear fruition. Our school emphasizes building life-long learners and not teaching to the test. We are making slow, but very steady, improvement. Nevertheless, we are in Program Improvement Status as defined by No Child Left Behind.

* The study found that performance often drops when goals are seen as a threat instead of a challenge. In the classroom, I deal with that by making sure students set their own goals and making it clear that there will be no negative consequences coming from me if they don’t meet them. However, I ask students to regularly review their goals and their progress towards making them. If they are not moving towards them, they need to think about the reasons behind that lack of progress and develop a new plan of action, and I’m available to help if they want.

Perhaps Education Secretary Duncan should this study, too….

The History Makers Digital Archive Is Pretty Impressive

The History Makers Digital Archive is a collection of video interviews with 400 African Americans, including Barack Obama and other well-known figures.

That’s nice, but how their presented is what makes this site extraordinarily impressive. Here’s how they describe it:

As a registered user of the new web-based archive, you will be able to:

* Search the spoken text of over 900 hours of video divided into
18,254 story segments.
* Filter searches by geography, time period, and the gender,
occupation and birth year of the interviewee.
* View your search results as 3-5 minute video story segments,
each aligned with a running transcript below a Flash video player
(compatible with most browsers).
* Save video story segments of interest and return to them through
web site bookmarking.
* Search dozens of historical topics, biographical themes and
interview qualities, newly coded to interview segments through thousands
of hours of human indexing.

It’s pretty neat.

Registration is free, though it’s a bit more cumbersome than most other sites. I still was able to finish it in a couple of minutes.

I’m definitely adding it to The Best Websites To Teach & Learn About African-American History.

“Moving English Language Learners to College- and Career-Readiness”

Moving English Language Learners to College- and Career-Readiness is an “issue brief” from The American Youth Policy Forum.

Besides having some up-to-date statistics on ELL’s, it “explores effective educational models for serving ELLs in ways that prepare them for college and careers. The brief provides background information on federal legislation affecting ELL students and an overview of the models being used in a region of Texas.” (via TESOL Connections)

Today’s Oil Spill Links

Here are the latest additions to The Best Sites To Learn About The Gulf Oil Spill:

Oil in the Gulf, two months later is a series of photos from The Big Picture.

The McClatchy Newspapers have created a special page on The Oil Spill that’s filled with multimedia features.

Only A Few More Days To Answer “What Will You Do Differently Next School Year?”

July 1st is the deadline to share your response to the question “What Will You Do Differently Next School Year?”

Forty-one educators have already left their answers at my blog post “What Will You Do Differently Next School Year?”

I’ll be combining them all into a post here, and including some in an article I’m writing for Teacher Magazine.

So, please, as briefly as you can, share in the comments section of that original post one or two things you want to do differently next school year — along with sharing what is prompting you to want to make that change and why.

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