Approaches to Student’s Learning

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Please review the Case Student on Shadylawn Elementary found below. In a 7-8 page narrative, answer the following questions. You much include references from three sources. 

Case Study: Shadylawn Elementary

   John Spinoza is the
quintessential administrator. He always goes the extra mile, is more of a
leader than a manager, and almost never fails to file necessary paperwork
required by the district office. In essence, Shadylawn Elementary is, on the
surface, fortunate to have a strong, focused principal. And, since he is so
purposeful, most certainly Shadylawn is operationally effective. The student
population is relatively affluent and the state’s accountability system (which
uses a status model of accountability—see description in this chapter) suggests
that the school is a strong performer, with almost all students demonstrating

   He wants his school,
however, to be even more effective. Indeed, the school he leads is within a
large suburban district and is consistently cited as a “school of excellence,”
but he wants to document and reward that excellence. As a result, he 239240decides to more fully embrace value-added
modeling (VAM) to assess the degree of influence (amount of learning) each
teacher creates for each child. With VAM he believes that he has a method
(perhaps the method) for more fully rewarding (and perhaps even dismissing)
those teachers who create (or cannot engender) the student academic growth that
he and the central administration want for Shadylawn Elementary.

   John was convinced that
value-added modeling was “the answer” after reading an article in the American
Association of School Administrators’ monthly magazine. In that article (see
Hershberg, Simon, & Lea-Kruger, 2004), the authors
describe how “value-added assessment [could]… serve as the foundation for an
accountability system at the level of individual administrators” (p. 14).
Finally, a sure method to hold his teachers and himself accountable!

   John’s teachers are less enthused. They
contend that the standardized tests being used by the school and school
district are not sufficient to assess the critical thinking and advanced
reasoning skills of students. In essence, they argue that the mandated testing
procedures are simply not of sufficient quality to make reliable judgments
about the efficacy of their teaching. Indeed, one of the teachers, while doing
some personal research for the union on VAM, identified studies (Kane &
Staiger,2001) that highlighted statistical sampling problems.
The teacher noted that Kane and Staiger even question whether VAM should be
used at all for high-stakes decisions by school administrators.

   The tension between
Shadylawn teachers and John is increasing. Interestingly, all have the same
goal: academic excellence. John sees VAM as the path to this goal. The teachers
question the model and doubt whether it should be implemented for anyhigh-stakes purposes.

Questions to be answered:

1. Review the description of the different accountability models (e.g., status, improvement, growth and value-added) and identify potential problems with using just one of these methods to ascertain a school’s effectiveness and student performance.

2. Has the change process in schools been more think or blink oriented? What factors contribute to the approach you have experienced? Why is it imperative that educators should be more think oriented when they confront problems such as those at Shadylawn?

3. What school, teacher, or student level factors (See Figure 11.4 below) would you find most often are not considered when doing comprehensive data analysis in schools?

4. Which methods of monitoring student growth would you use as a classroom teacher? What can you do to ensure that they are both sufficient and appropriate?

Figure 11.4 – Level Factors

School-level Factors:

Guaranteed and viable curriculum

Challenging goals and effective feedback

Parent and community feedback

Safe and orderly environment

Staff collegiality and professionalism

Teacher-Level Factors:

Instructional strategies

Classroom management

Classroom curriculum

Student-Level Factors:

Home atmosphere

Learned intelligence and background knowledge

–  Student motivation

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