SHORT READS: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23

D.C. considers new graduation requirements (Washington Post)
Council mulls punishing parents of truant public school students (Washington Examiner)
I’ve got 99 problems, but a test ain’t one (SmartBlog on Education)
Popular study strategies called ineffective — report (Washington Post)
Grades as measurements (SmartBlog on Education)
Response: ‘How on Earth Will I Implement’ Common Core for Language Arts? (Education Week)
New Study Suggests Autism Can be ‘Outgrown’ (Time)

D.C. considers new graduation requirements

D.C. high school students would have to study more art and music, get more physical exercise and complete a thesis project under proposed changes to city graduation requirements.

The proposal by the D.C. State Board of Education would raise the total number of required high school course credits in the District from 24 to 26 — more than students need to earn diplomas in Maryland, Virginia and many other states.

Council mulls punishing parents of truant public school students 

Five D.C. lawmakers introduced a measure to punish parents of public school students who skip school 10 or more times a year.

Fewer than half of DC Public Schools students were rated proficient in either math or reading on their DC Comprehensive Assessment System standardized test last year, and 56 percent graduated high school within four years. The first step to solving these problems is getting students to go to school, said at-large D.C. Councilman David Catania, the lead sponsor of the bill introduced Tuesday.
I’ve got 99 problems, but a test ain’t one 

As the semester draws to a close, I look back at my grade book and I see all of the assignments, essays and projects I have given and a smile appears on my face. I have not given a test the entire first semester. Not a single quiz or unit exam shows up in a column. My students smile just as wide when they look at their grades as well. It’s been an amazing year so far, why ruin it with an ugly bubble test?

A few years ago, I wanted to see what it would be like if I spent one marking period not giving my traditional multiple choice exams at the end of units and see what would happen if I gave my students options to demonstrate their knowledge. At the end of those ten weeks I saw higher engagement and a much stronger demonstration of skill and knowledge than any multiple choice exam had ever shown me. I think there are a couple of reasons for that that I want to share.
Popular study strategies called ineffective — report 

Researchers who evaluated 10 learning techniques believed to improve student achievement found that five of them — including highlighting or underlining, are not very effective.

The report, called “Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques,” says that one reason that ineffective study habits form is because there is too much research for educators to evaluate to figure out how to advise their students.
Grades as measurements 

I have gone to great lengths in my classroom over the past few years to teach my students everything I know about grading and assessment. Why? Because I am trying to dispel the notion that a grade (all by itself) is an accomplishment. I want them to understand that learning is the goal. Grades exist simply to communicate the amount of learning.

Convincing my students, however, is easier than convincing their parents, other teachers, administrators and community members. It seems that everyone has bought into the idea that a good grade is an achievement that should be rewarded. It’s common sense, right? To earn an “A”, students must have worked hard and sacrificed, and we want to encourage that kind of character. We compensate students with sports eligibility, scholarships and plaques for academic excellence. In some families, there is even a financial reward.
Response: ‘How on Earth Will I Implement’ Common Core for Language Arts? 

“How can we best prepare our students for the common core in language arts?”

As I mentioned in the last post, I have been no fan of the Common Core standards (see The Best Articles Sharing Concerns About Common Core Standards). However, one of the key lessons I learned in my nineteen year community organizing career was that, though we should always recognize the tension inherent in “the world as we’d like it to be” and “the world as it is,” living in the former seldom leads to success in the latter. The Common Core is the reality for most of us, and I’ve begun collecting the most useful resources for implementing them.
New Study Suggests Autism Can be ‘Outgrown’ 

There is more evidence that a minority of autistic children may eventually overcome their developmental issues, but experts caution that such recovery is rare.

It’s long been the hope of parents of autistic children that the right care and support can reduce or even reverse some of the developmental problems associated with the condition. But while a recent study found that behavioral intervention programs are linked with normalization of some brain activity, the question of whether children can outgrow autism remains difficult to answer.

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