Below are the remarks which I posted on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s columnist, Kyle Wingfield’s blog, yesterday, regarding the necessity for a Continuous Progress Instructional Delivery Reform Model in all of Georgia’s public schools, as well as some concrete suggestions as to how to make it happen:
Thank you, in behalf of all of the school-aged children in Georgia, Kyle, for posting my instructional thoughts and experiences. I am very grateful to you for doing that because I know that educational reform was only one type of reform which your article addressed. You care.
Kyle, when most people think of educational reform, they think of charter schools. Please allow me, as an instructional leader in schools from 1st – 12th grades, to post the following to allow readers to understand another type of educational reform.
Some children will never “keep up” with the RATE of learning concepts as their peers, and some children will always grasp the same curriculum concepts as their peers at a more advanced RATE than their age peers. One might as well retain a student who does not master all of the 3rd grade curriculum not only in a 3rd remedial grade, but also in a 4th remedial grade, in a 6th remedial grade, in a 7th remedial grade, etc. through 12 grades. This kind of instructional perception is pure folly in instructional delivery.
My innovative elementary/middle school practiced, very successfully, a continuous progress school model for a decade in which I was an ILT from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s, without retaining students or holding advanced students back in a boring curriculum. As many years as I have tried to point out continuous progress’s advantages and wisdom instructionally on various blogs, some lay readers have never understood it. The Continuous Progress instructional design is an innovative, reform, instructional model which, in the ideal, would ensure the success of every student, continuously, until he/she earns his high school diploma, at grade 10, 11, 12, 13 or 14, depending on his RATE of mastery of curriculum concepts. Moreover, when schools retain students (unlike continuous progress), they force children to go back over 60% or even 40% of the failed grade’s curriculum, which they did master. (My next post will deal with the logistics of launching this type of innovative approach to educational reform within traditional public schools.)
PLEASE NOTE to readers: When one conceives of 13 grades, instead of 12 grades or years-in-school, for some students to graduate from high school, that is theoretical thought which I would like to see implemented ASAP. In terms of my actual firsthand experience, I aided teachers, as an Instructional Lead Teacher working directly under the principal’s model, in practicing a continuous progress instructional design only for grades 1 – 7, for a decade. I did not actually observe high school teachers practice a continuous progress design in every curriculum area, until their students had mastered the criteria for a high school diploma, at 11 or 12 or 13 years. However, having worked in instructional leadership in a south DeKalb County high school for 15 years, I know that that design is more sound than having students drop out of school and become incarcerated often, which costs society as a whole more in the short and long runs than simply addressing a better instructional design through the high school years, such as continuous progress.
Please read my previous post on the necessity for innovative instructional reform within traditional public schools before reading this detailed, logistical one:
In order to work through a school’s design for continuous progress all the teachers in the school must collaborate, coordinate, and cooperate with one another to set up, along with the Assistant Principals for Instruction and Counselors, an instructional design for the school which works for them and all of the students. They have to put in extra hours during the summer break to ascertain, together, where all the students are functioning, disregarding grade level per se. They have to form groups for all of the variations of instructional need with instructional precision, but would not cause any one teacher to have more than 3 groups, herself, alone. Working smarter together is the answer here. And, someone in leadership showing them the way, as I did as an ILT.
If a school has 20 teachers and each teacher as 3 instructional groups for which she is responsible, then that gives 60 varied instructional groupings for the whole school on a continuum of low to high. If the school holds 500 students, divided by 60 instructional groups, that means that each teacher would only have 25 students in her class. That, in turn, would mean that the teacher would only have 8 or 9 students within each of her 3 groups. Easily manageable by good teachers who work together, with instructional insight.
They should continue to have instructional meetings throughout the year, together, in which they discuss each student’s advancement rate or lack thereof. This way no child is falling through the cracks and every child advances at his own rate through the curriculum at a pace in which he can achieve mastery throughout his tenure in school. Few discipline problems and attendance problems, not by being punitive but by being smart and wise.
Yes, I have posted it there, but so many legislators, who are not educators, need to understand how traditional education can be modified, even with the collaboration with some charter schools, to affect instructional delivery throughout Georgia so that every student will learn, continuously, and no child will be left behind to fail.
I hope you will post what I have written, Kyle. Thanks for even considering posting my educational experiences. We cannot throw the baby out with the bath water simply because we are ignorant, as a state, of instructional principles. Where does one start except to try to educate our political representatives?