Education Week - June 3, 2015 - (Page 15)
math and engineering concepts
through trial and error efforts
with paper models.
The program, Think3d!, consists
of six units in which students in
grades 3-6 learn to fold origami
and build paper structures, both
from diagrams and by reverseengineering
from models. In the
process, they learn to develop
their own algorithms to ex"
STEM concepts are
difficult to transfer
is because they are
siloed. Although ...
there is change afoot
in this regard."
HOLLY A. TAYLOR
Tufts University psychologist
plore and track how changes in
the angle of a fold, for example,
or in the number of cuts in a
folded paper change the final
While the curriculum at first
differed by grade, Allyson Hutton,
an architect and the president of
Think3d!, the public-benefit corporation
created to develop the
program, said it was changed to
the same sequence for all students
after 6th graders proved no better
than students in lower grades at
understanding the directions in
diagrams and charts.
"The kids wouldn't make the
distinction between a line directing
them to fold paper in half
to make two rectangles and
one showing a fold along the
diagonal to make two triangles,"
she said. "Many did not connect
the 2-D diagram to the piece of
paper they were holding in their
In a pilot study of the curriculum
for grades 3, 4, and 5,
Ms. Taylor found that students
who took part in the curriculum
improved their spatial reasoning
and ability to mentally
fold objects, compared with a demographically
Fourth and 5th graders who
went through the program also
showed significantly better accuracy
on a standardized math
test and more frequent use of
diagrams to solve problems. The
3rd graders did not show such a
benefit-Ms. Taylor said the curriculum
seemed to be difficult for
them-and Ms. Hutton said she is
now overhauling the curriculum
for that grade.
"The sequences are designed
to be catalysts, so students can
just run with it," Ms. Hutton said.
"The more time the kids are sitting
down folding, mentally manipulating,
visualizing, the more
they are developing their spatial
"What we're working to do is
train a skill that can be used across
disciplines," she added.
Coverage of "deeper learning" that
will prepare students with the skills
and knowledge needed to succeed in a
rapidly changing world is supported
in part by a grant from the William
and Flora Hewlett Foundation, at
www.hewlett.org. Education Week
retains sole editorial control over the
content of this coverage.
Scan this tag with your
smartphone for a link
to "Think3d!: Training
Fundamental to stem Education."
The INSIDE SCHOOL RESEARCH blog
tracks news and trends on this issue.
Districts Must Address Effects
Of Trauma on Students, Suit Says
| RULES FOR ENGAGEMENT | Five students and three
teachers have filed a federal lawsuit against the Compton,
Calif., district, alleging that it violates students' federally
protected access to a free and appropriate public education
by failing to provide "reasonable accommodations" to help
them deal with the effects of trauma in the classroom.
"Prolonged exposure to trauma results in injuries to
the developing minds of children," said Mark Rosenbaum,
the directing attorney for Public Counsel's Opportunity
Under Law project, which filed the suit on behalf of the
plaintiffs. "It's the type of roadblock to learning that our
federal anti-discrimination laws were created to address, so
that students in these circumstances are not denied equal
opportunity to public education."
Stories included in the suit detail students' exposure to
domestic violence, murder, sexual assault, homelessness,
and racism. Because of resulting trauma, students were
unable to focus in class, saw an increase in absences, and
exhibited aggressive or disruptive behaviors, the suit says.
The Compton district responded to those behaviors through
exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions, and it failed to
provide necessary mental-health supports to help students
deal with the effects of trauma, the suit says.
Teacher plaintiffs say the district did not adequately
train them to work with students who've faced significant,
often ongoing trauma outside of school. Some complained of
secondhand effects from working with such students.
While researchers have formed a consensus that such
experiences have significant effects on children, there
are few highly evaluated, school-based approaches to
addressing such concerns. The plaintiffs are asking for
trauma-sensitive training for school staff, the use of
restorative practices to reduce exclusionary discipline, and
increased mental-health supports for students.
Will the suit blaze a new trail of rights for traumaexposed
children? No federal laws I am aware of specifically
list these students as a protected class. And many concerns
detailed in the lawsuit could be addressed through civil
rights complaints under other federal laws.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the suit isn't about the
needs of individual students, but about the collective, unmet
needs of the district as a whole.
Are the NCTQ's Standards
Linked to Better Teaching?
| TEACHER BEAT | When the National Council on Teacher
Quality put out its 2013 report savaging the quality of the
nation's teaching programs, critics pounced, claiming the
ratings were flawed, meaningless, and should be ignored.
Two years, two reviews, and countless back-and-forths
later, does that criticism hold up? Well, yes and no,
according to a recent independent study by the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Overall, the council's infamous four-star ratings didn't
have a discernable relationship to teaching quality, raising
questions about whether it makes sense for programs to try
to improve their performance on the standards.
But higher scores on two of the group's 19 standards-
teacher selection and using outcomes data-did seem
to predict which programs produced better teachers, at
least in North Carolina. And higher scores on at least two
other benchmarks, middle school content and classroom
management, bore a negative relationship to principals'
opinions of good teaching.
How's that for "mixed findings"?
The findings are not particularly easy to interpret. That's
in part because, as the authors note, what the nctq was
judging programs on was not always conceptually well
aligned with what principals were looking for on the state's
Jayne Fleener, the dean of North Carolina State's college
of education, said the study points to the challenges of
measuring what really matters in teacher preparation.
The nctq largely welcomed the findings, saying it will
make revisions to its review.
NAEP to Gather Data on Grit, Mindset
By Sarah D. Sparks
The nation's premiere federal testing program is poised
to provide a critical window into how students' motivation,
mindset, and grit can affect their learning.
Evidence has been building for years that these socalled
noncognitive factors play a role in whether children
succeed both academically and socially. Now, the National
Assessment of Educational Progress, often dubbed the
"nation's report card," is working to include measures of
these factors in the background information collected with
the tests beginning in 2017.
"Teachers self-report spending 10 percent of their teaching
time on noncognitive skills. That's more time than
students spend on any subject other than English and
math-more than they spend on arts, for example," said
Chris Gabrieli, an adjunct lecturer with the Transforming
Education project at Harvard Graduate School of
Education and a co-founder of the National Center on
Time & Learning in Boston. He is helping to develop the
"It's not a question of whether schools are going to do
more working on noncognitive factors," he said, "it's of
whether we are going to have any instrumentation at all
that lets us know which things are working and which
things are not."
Researchers from the Educational Testing Service described
the project at a symposium here last month at the
annual conference of the Association for Psychological Science.
The background survey will include five core areas-
grit, desire for learning, school climate, technology use,
and socioeconomic status-of which the first two focus on
a student's noncognitive skills, and the third looks at noncognitive
factors in the school. These core areas would be
part of the background survey for all naep test-takers. In
addition, questions about other noncognitive factors, such
as self-efficacy and personal achievement goals, may be
included on questionnaires for specific subjects to create
content-area measures, according to Jonas P. Bertling, ets
director for naep survey questionnaires.
Researchers tested different variations of the questions
with 140 students in grades 4, 8, and 12 from a representative
sample of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds in
a three-state area around the District of Columbia. Students
were led through a 90-minute interview, in which
they answered the survey questions and then discussed
their individual thought process in responding.
For example, students across all grades showed no difference
in how they rated themselves on questions that
asked them about their mindset in different contexts, and
they reported preferring general questions rather than
those specifically about school, said Debby Almonte, a
naep manager for ets.
"A majority of students preferred questions that went
beyond a simple yes or no, whether they did something
or not," she said.
Small changes in phrasing make a difference in how
well students respond to the questions. For example, "4th
graders didn't know what 'thinking abstractly' meant.
... Students had difficulty describing what experiencing
failure meant and what it meant to be committed," Ms.
Almonte said. As a result, the researchers changed survey
questions asking whether students had "experienced
failure" to "making mistakes" and changed "committed to
goals" to "continue to work toward my goals."
The background questions will go through a third and
final round of review in spring 2016, before the questions
are administered beginning with tests in 2017.
Not for Accountability
Schools will not be judged based on the naep noncognitive
measures of their students, but other such tests for
accountability purposes may be on the horizon.
A coalition of seven California districts that have received
waivers from some federal accountability requirements
are developing a new accountability system, in
which 40 percent of a school's evaluation will take into
account school culture and students' social and emotional
learning. Within the latter section, researchers are completing
the field testing of growth mindset, self-efficacy
and self-management, and social awareness measures
with 9,000 students and 1,000 teachers. Mr. Gabrieli said
the new measures are expected to be in place next year.
However, while poor performance on academic accountability
measures can lead to sanctions in many districts,
coalition schools with poor ratings for noncognitive skills
will simply be paired with a higher-scoring mentor school.
As measures of noncognitive skills become more ubiquitous,
Mr. Gabrieli said, it will be important to track disparities
between students' reports of their mindset and
tenacity, and teachers' observations of them.
"I have often seen in data collected in smaller samples
this tendency for teachers to rate students on separate
[questions] basically the same, as if they have one view
of Johnny as a good kid or less-good kid," Mr. Gabrieli
said. "It's hard to get teachers to follow the rules of 'this
construct is about self-regulation and that one is about
interpersonal skills.' "
The INSIDE SCHOOL RESEARCH blog tracks news and trends on this issue.
EDUCATION WEEK | June 3, 2015 | www.edweek.org | 15
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 3, 2015
Education Week - June 3, 2015
New S.C. Standards Ease Political Pushback
Summer-Job Demand Outstrips Opportunities
Districts Use Student Insights To Guide Policy, Practice
Charters Look Anew At Teacher Retention
With Common Core, Algebra Course Undergoes a Face-Lift
News in Brief
PARCC Shortens Testing Time, Shifts to Later in the School Year
Ties Deepening Between Schools, After-School Providers
Parent Engagement on Rise As Priority for Schools, Districts
Charter Sector Challenged by Caliber of School Boards
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: The E-Rate Overhaul in 4 Easy Charts
Studies Probe How Students Can Apply Math More Widely
NAEP to Gather Data on Grit, Mindset
Blogs of the Week
Teacher-Retention Data For Charters Still Murky
Stakes High for Bureau of Indian Education’s Overhaul
California Seeks Waiver on Use of Federal Title I Tutoring Money
Blogs of the Week
FRANCESCA STERNFELD: Necessary Lessons, Schools’ Critical Role in Reducing Family Violence
BENJAMIN RILEY: Can Teacher-Educators Learn From Medical-School Reform?
RANDI WEINGARTEN: States Should Ditch ‘Cut Scores’ on New Tests
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
TERRY B. GRIER: Creating a College-Bound Culture in an Urban School District
Education Week - June 3, 2015