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Educational Reform for Individual Students' Success

August 15, 2013 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

Earlier this month, reported The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Brenna R. Kelly, as Leonard Allgeyer was preparing for his first day as an eighth-grader at Tichenor Middle School in northern Kentucky, his mother, Staci, complained to his teacher: “He spells so many words wrong.”

What was Leonard’s mother’s immediate course of action? She explained her concerns to the teacher and a counselor when they came to her home.

This direct educational reform was possible because, according to the Enquirer’s Kelly, “several Northern Kentucky school districts are sending teachers out of the classroom and into homes to get to know their students and their families” (“N.Ky. schools build relationships by making home visits,” Kelly, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug. 8).

These schools are evolving, one student at a time — but deeper.

And dig the result of this commonsense approach to understanding how individual students learn:

“Experts say teacher home visits can result in increased attendance, decreased discipline problems, more parental involvement and — ultimately — higher test scores.”

Another valuable benefit, I would add, is that the individual teachers learn a lot more about how the home lives of each student affect the degree to which they can enjoy the surprises and pleasures of learning.

Before these visits, the at-risk population of the Tichenor School had doubled, according to principal Bryant Gillis, who told Kelly: “Probably a lot of our parents didn’t have a good experience with school.”

In addition, Kelly, citing an interview with Newport (Ky.) Independent Schools Superintendent Kelly E. Middleton, reported that “research shows that students work harder when they believe that teachers care about them.”

Furthermore, Middleton told Kelly that this care manifests itself in “not just the home visits; it’s the relationships.”

By getting to know the students, teachers and counselors are showing parents that schools can reach these students more wholly than tests can.

Meanwhile, amid all the stormy debates about teacher evaluations — and racial learning gaps experienced by black and Hispanic students — most of us hear little, if anything, about education reform among Native American students.

A recent story from southwestern Washington state found that “a new program offering mental health services for young people with Native American and Alaskan Native heritage will be offered in the Kelso School District this fall” (“Kelso schools add counseling program for Native American students,” Leslie Slape, The (Longview, Wash.) Daily News, Aug. 4).

I’ve reported on the need in school districts with diverse student cultures for diagnoses and medical …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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