Education Week - February 18, 2015 - (Page 26)

LETTERS to the EDITOR level -roughly 20 percent higher than those in schools not using our curriculum. We need to invest more in high-quality research on the impact of arts education. But let's not overlook the research that already exists. Yes, the Arts Do Improve Reading, Math Outcomes To the Editor: I couldn't agree more with the authors of "Art Matters: We Know, We Measured It" (Commentary, Dec. 3, 2014) that there is great value in teaching arts and culture to children. However, I respectfully disagree with the authors' assertion that the value of the arts does not include improving outcomes in reading and math, and that there are no rigorous studies of the arts' effects on these subjects. In fact, there is a substantial research base on the relationship of the arts to other academic skills. Check out "Critical Links," a 2002 compilation from the National Endowment for the Arts of hundreds of studies showing links between learning in the arts and student academic and social development. The Commentary authors cite one 2004 meta-analysis by Lois Hetland and Ellen Winner that "found little credible evidence that the benefits of the arts transfer to other academic subjects." Yet, the abstract of that very study says: "Three analyses demonstrate generalizable, causal relationships: classroom drama and verbal achievement, music listening and spatial reasoning, and music learning and spatial reasoning." Verbal achievement relates to reading development, and spatial reasoning relates to math skills. The nonprofit organization I lead, Reading In Motion, has been raising the reading scores of Chicago public school students for 31 years with our music- and drama-based curriculum. And we have the research to back it up. Ten outside studies prove our work's effects on reading skills, many using randomized control groups and pre- and post- designs. (See In the 2013-14 school year, our internal measurements show that our program got 81 percent of students reading at or above grade " On Differentiation In a Jan. 28, 2015, Commentary, "Differentiation Does, in Fact, Work," Carol Ann Tomlinson defends the instructional practice, specifically in response to an essay by James R. Delisle titled "Differentiation Doesn't Work" that was published on Jan. 7. Ms. Tomlinson argues that, while differentiation isn't a silver bullet for academic success, students can flourish in diverse classrooms if the instructional approach is properly implemented. Many readers admitted that implementation is not easy, while also agreeing with Ms. Tomlinson's assertion: "When we teach as though students are smart, they become smarter." Commenters' edited responses appear below. To read the full Commentary and all reader responses, please visit Based on the progress my son made once I got him out of the special education class, I can confirm Dr. Tomlinson is 100 percent correct: Placing a kid among high achievers and giving him access to what those high achievers get to access, as well as the positive messaging that comes with it, makes all the difference in the world. We have the hurdle of figuring out how one adult can provide each of 20 or more students with learning 'Grit' Helps Everyone Gain Real-World Success To the Editor: A recent blog post ("Is 'Grit' Racist?," Digital Education blog,, Jan. 24, 2015) presented a cynical perspective on an important life skill. Believe it or not, some folks think fostering grit is lowering expectations for students or failing to appreciate the obstacles they face. While there are some who may misunderstand or misapply the teaching of grit, it's wrong to assume that these misapplications are representative of grit's true purpose: to help all students learn to succeed in the real world. As a school leader who has sought to engender grit in my students-and even written a book on the topic-I'm surprised this logical and powerful idea has become a lightning rod. I believe fully that each student, regardless of background, must develop grit and perseverance to grow into a successful adult. Few important goals in life are achieved on the first try. Every student will need to productively and creatively confront roadblocks. In fact, the kids who go from success to success need grit just as much as students who are always challenged because students who are typically successful are so unaccustomed to responding to failure. In his classic book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman said, "One of psychology's open secrets is the relative inability of grades, IQ, or sat scores, despite their popular mystique, to predict unerringly who will succeed in life." He continues, "At best, IQ contributes about 20 percent of the factors that determine life success, which leaves 80 percent to other forces." Grit is an important Missouri Pre-K Funding Should Be Public Only To the Editor: So, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is recommending an $11 million appropriation for public and private pre-K schools (State of the States, Jan. 28, 2015). Why not confine that aid to just public school programs? Doesn't Mr. Nixon remember that Missouri voters rejected tax aid for private schools in a 1976 referendum by 60 percent to 40 percent? And doesn't the Missouri Constitution prohibit tax aid to sectarian schools under Article I, Sections 6 and 7, and Article IX, Section 8? Missouri public schools can use all the help they can get, with 45 percent of the state's kids in low-income households, according to an article in the same issue of Education Week ("Poverty Data Signal Urgency for Schools," Jan. 28, 2015). Edd Doerr President Americans for Religious Liberty Silver Spring, Md. Can Competition Boost Study Habits and Learning? To the Editor: Competition has always defined our schools as well as our society. But many school systems have decided to eliminate letter grades, thus also eliminating competition between students. Instead, these Karl Androes Co-Founder and Executive Director Reading in Motion Chicago, Ill. part of those other forces. I believe grit is one necessary part of a well-rounded education-one that supports each child's physical and emotional well-being, in addition to academics. I hope many other educators like myself will continue to grow a generation of resilient students who develop into creative and successful adults. Thomas R. Hoerr Head of School New City School St. Louis, Mo. schools say that they will focus on students' comprehension of the subject matter in their courses. It is commonly believed that this differs from the traditional education model. As an educator, I would disagree. Technical schools have been focused on comprehension of subject matter for years. Their students' proof of success is judged after graduation. I've read that the state of Maine passed legislation in 2012 suggesting that proficiencybased education should be a model toward which all schools in the state strive. We've been there before. The No Child Left Behind Act promised to change our public education system for the better. We all know how that worked out. This new program in Maine has a bite to it because it requires schools to offer "multiple pathways" to learning for all students. Like the nclb model, the proficiency-based system sounds great, but offers little promise of enhancing our children's prospects for success. Schools that boast of leading the way with the newest gimmicks in public education-the elimination of grades being one-are moving with the wind. Many schools nationwide are fighting this particular change, arguing that competition brings out the best in students: Those who want to comprehend the most study the hardest, and get the best grades they can. They know that their future success will be brighter when they do. If children simply want to satisfy the norm, become vanilla, why would they bother trying to study and work harder? Jim Fabiano York, Maine The author has taught at Newmarket Jr./Sr. High School in Newmarket, N.H. for 25 years. COMMENTARY POLICY Education Week takes no editorial positions, but publishes opinion essays and letters from outside contributors in its Commentary section. For information about submitting an essay or letter for review, visit | READERS REACT ON EDWEEK.ORG | experiences that best meet that student's needs. If schools could be configured as a learning community with a variety of spaces for largegroup, small-group, and individual instruction, then a team of teachers could differentiate for a team of students. When differentiation works, it is either smoke and mirrors or a truly gifted teacher with deep concept knowledge. structure. If students were placed in instructional groups based on mastery of curriculum, we would have an instructional system that is responsive to the strengths and weaknesses of individual students. BRIANNA PRAKASH NAIR EBASCO I'm not against the concept of differentiation so much as how we expect teachers to implement it in today's classrooms. The impact that adherence to the common core is having on the classroom needs to be considered. CA DEB The reason we are stuck on differentiation is because we are stuck on an age-grade structure instead of mastery-based Elementary and secondary teachers are preparing students for the role of living in the real world. And that world is not made up of "one size fits all" settings. I often found the naysayers of differentiation practices to be those who thought it too much work and too difficult to accomplish. IRENE M. Ability tracking, either by segregating low-performing students or segregating highperforming students, is a tool of convenience for schools and nothing more. The idea of moving forward is huge. In my classroom, everybody moves forward. MNTNGAL100 Chris Whetzel for Education Week When we have had teachers who have provided good to great differentiation, it has been because they are experienced. The first few years, many teachers are just trying to stay afloat and get one lesson plan together. BLOOLIGHT -COMPILED BY LUKE TOWLER ROCHESTER SAGE 26 | EDUCATION WEEK | February 18, 2015 | http://www.EDWEEK.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - February 18, 2015

Schools Weighing Access To Social Media Passwords
Education Week - February 18, 2015
Measles Outbreak Cues Action On Vaccine Rules
States Shedding Power To Adopt Class Materials
Those Opposing Restraint and Seclusion Gain New Traction With State Legislatures
New Venture to Evaluate Technology
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Global Skills Study Finds U.S. Millennials Trailing
Broad Foundation Puts Urban Schools Prize On Hold Indefinitely
Blogs of the Week
FCC Plan for ‘Net Neutrality’ Addresses Schools’ Needs
Calif. Districts Seeking $1 Billion To Fund Testing Mandate
Obama, Congress Set to Clash On FY16 Budget
GOP in Driver’s Seat as Congress Tackles NCLB Rewrite
NCLB-Waiver Renewal Gears Up; Duncan Holds Weakened Hand
Blogs of the Week
State of the States
FRANK D. LoMONTE: Don’t Silence Young (Female) Journalists
KAREN HAWLEY MILES: Why Annual State Testing Makes Cents
JANE HIRSCHI: ‘Hands in the Dirt’ Learning
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
GILLIAN McGOLDRICK: When Morality and Law Trump School Tradition

Education Week - February 18, 2015