The 2018 PISA results are out, as are the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and they re-affirm that the education reforms we put in place some twenty years ago through No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race to the Top simply have not worked.
The scores of US students remain stubbornly low on PISA compared to other nations. On NAEP, Peggy G. Carr, associate commissioner of NAEP, said “there has been no progress nationally in either math or reading over the past decade and the lowest performing students are doing worse. “ While our CT students overall do well compared to other states, there is still so much to do particularly for our least wealthy students in the state.
Many will argue that these tests do not fully reflect the state of education. Indeed, the knowledge and skills these items assess are necessary, but not sufficient to reflect a fully robust educational system. But if we believe that some sort of assessment of skills is important, we have got to ask ourselves why the so-called reforms we put in place have not appeared to raise the level of our students’ performance on the skills NAEP and PISA assess over the last 20 years.
Two nations whose students DO stand out on PISA are Canada and Finland.
Through the Teacher Leader Fellowship Program at Central Connecticut State University in partnership with ARAMFO, these past two years we have been leading groups of teachers, teacher leaders, K-12 administrators and professors of educational leadership to these two countries to get a sense of what they are doing – and it is starkly different from what we have instituted these past years.
I invite you to take part in these programs to look at what they are doing and think through what elements of their approach we might re-instate in our schools. See how they train and treat their teachers, see how they allow kids to be kids and give them the time and space to learn through play, see how they instill in their children a sense of responsibility and ownership of their work, see how they allow their teachers the time and space to thoughtfully and meaningfully develop curriculum and plan instruction --- and see how they have NOT embraced the oppressive test, test and more testing rendering school an oppressive place devoid of joy, creativity and a love of learning. Below is an overview:
WHERE: Ottawa, Canada
WHEN: April 13 – April 18, 2020
WHAT: Itinerary includes visits to pre-K, Elementary, Middle and High Schools across the Renfrew County Public Schools in Ontario (just North of Ottawa) and opportunities for discussion and reflection with students, teachers, teacher leaders, principals, central office staff and board members. Our delegation is led by Dr. Peter Gamwell, author of The Wonder Wall, international consultant and speaker, who focuses on ways to support creativity and innovation in classrooms -- and by Dr. Pino Buffone, Director of the Renfrew County Public School Board.
WHERE: Helsinki, Finland
WHEN: April 13 – April 18, 2020
WHAT: Itinerary includes visits to the Finnish National Agency for Education; the Education and Culture Committee of the Parliament of Finland; The Vanttila School and Day Care Center, Espoo to focus on principles of basic and early learning; the Vukki Teacher Training School, K-12, part of the University of Helsinki to focus on student centered learning at this teacher training school; Rikhardinkatu Library and its children’s department; local schools administration in Porvoo, Finland including the Kevatkumpu Educaton Center to focus on management and collaboration; the Suomenlinna Camp School to see and understand Finnish camp school pedagogy; lecture and in-depth conversation with Tim Walker, US and Finnish teacher, author of numerous articles in The Atlantic, author of Teach like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for a Joyful Classroom, and collaborator with Pasi Sahlberg.
For more information including the specific itineraries, deadlines for participation and costs, please contact betty.sternberg@CCSU.edu or at 860-463-5871 no later than December 13, 2019.