Table of Contents Unit: Meeting the Diverse Needs of a Diverse and Changing Classroom Issue: Are Single-Gender Classes Necessary to Create Equal Opportunities for Boys and Girls? YES: Frances R. Spielhagen, from “How Tweens View Single-Sex Classes,” Educational Leadership (April 2006) NO: Kelley King and Michael Gurian, from “Teaching to the Minds of Boys,” Educational Leadership (September 2006) Frances R. Spielhagen, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary, argues that single-gender classes are viewed as more conducive to learning than are coeducational classes by students, especially younger students. Kelley King and Michael Gurian argue that coeducational classrooms can be made to be more accommodating to the learning profiles of both boys and girls, and they illustrate this approach through the example of classrooms that became more “boy friendly” through the inclusion of experiential and kinesthetic activities around literacy. Issue: Should Struggling Students Be Retained? YES: Jon Lorence and Anthony Gary Dworkin, from “Elementary Grade Retention in Texas and Reading Achievement among Racial Groups: 1994–2002,” Review of Policy Research (September 2006) NO: Nancy Frey, from “Retention, Social Promotion, and Academic Redshirting: What Do We Know and Need to Know?” Remedial and Special Education (November/December 2005) Jon Lorence, an associate professor of sociology, and Anthony G. Dworkin, a professor of sociology, both cofounders of the Sociology of Education Research Group at the University of Houston, argue that although the majority of educational researchers contend that making lowperforming students repeat a grade is ineffective, careful analysis of primary-grades data from school districts in Texas shows persistent positive effects of retention on academic performance over time. Nancy Frey, an associate professor of literacy in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University, argues that the policy of retention and associated procedures such as social promotion and academic “redshirting,” in which there is purposeful delayed entry into kindergarten, are largely flawed with little compelling evidence to support their practice. Issue: Is Full Inclusion Always the Best Option for Children with Disabilities? YES: Michael F. Giangreco, from “Extending Inclusive Opportunities,” Educational Leadership (February 2007) NO: James M. Kauffman, Kathleen McGee, and Michele Brigham, from “Enabling or Disabling? Observation on Changes in Special Education,” Phi Delta Kappan (April 2004) Michael F. Giangreco, who is a professor of education at the University of Vermont, argues that even students with severe disabilities are best served within the “regular” education classroom along with their typically developing peers. He also outlines strategies for achieving inclusion and shows how it creates a classroom that benefits all students, regardless of ability level. James M. Kauffman, who is a professor at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, and Kathleen McGee and Michele Brigham, who are both special education teachers, argue that the goal of education for students with disabilities should be to increase their level of competence and independence. They conclude that full inclusion involves “excessive” accommodations that actually become barriers to achieving this goal. Issue: Are Schools Closing the Achievement Gap between Students from Different Ethnic and Racial Backgrounds? YES: Carol Corbett Burris and Kevin G. Welner, from “Closing the Achievement Gap by Detracking,” Phi Delta Kappan (April 2005) NO: William H. Schmidt, Leland S. Cogan, and Curtis C. McKnight, from “Equality of Educational Opportunity: Myth or Reality in U.S. Schooling?” American Educator (Winter 2010–2011) Carol Corbett Burris and Kevin G. Welner argue that the achievement gap between white students and African American and Hispanic students can be closed by “detracking” and having similarly high expectations and similar curricular demands on all students. Burris and Weiner provide an example of the positive effects on the achievement gap of such changes in one school district, Rockville Centre in New York State. William H. Schmidt, Leland S. Cogan, and Curtis C. McKnight argue that students are exposed to different academic content, with that content depending on the demographics of the neighborhood in which they live. Students in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, which include an overrepresentation of ethnic and racial minorities, are exposed to less demanding content and thus achieve less. Moreover, this economic variation in exposure to learning opportunities is pervasive and persistent in the United States. Issue: Does the Current Generation of Students Require Digital Tools for Learning? YES: Marc Prensky, from “Listen to the Natives,” Educational Leadership (December 2005/January 2006) NO: Sue Bennett, Karl Maton, and Lisa Kervin, from “The ‘Digital Natives’ Debate: A Critical Review of the Evidence” British Journal of Educational Technology (vol. 39, no. 5, September 2008) Marc Prensky, speaker, writer, consultant, and game designer in education and learning areas, argues that there is a generational shift and that today’s students, having spent their lifetimes immersed in technology, learn differently and have unique educational needs reflecting their digital preferences. Sue Bennett, senior lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong; Karl Maton, lecturer, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney; Lisa Kervin, lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong argue that there is little compelling empirical evidence supporting the contention of a “digital divide” in terms of fundamentally different learning styles and educational needs. Unit: Theories of Learning and Their Implications for Educational Practice Issue: Is a Constructivist Approach to Teaching Effective? YES: Kaya Yilmaz, from “Constructivism: Its Theoretical Underpinnings, Variations, and Implications for Classroom Instruction” Educational Horizons (Spring 2008) NO: Richard E. Clark, Paul A. Kirschner, and John Sweller, from “Putting Students on the Path to Learning: The Case for Fully Guided Instruction” American Educator (Spring 2012) Kaya Yilmaz argues in favor of constructivism, a child-centered approach to education that is defined by student participation in hands-on activities and extended projects that are allowed to “evolve” in accordance with the students’ interests and initial beliefs. The student regulates his or her learning and discovers the “facts” or structure of a problem without being explicitly taught those facts or that structure. Richard E. Clark, Paul A. Kirschner, and John Sweller distinguish between the different learning needs of novices and experts. They also argue that constructivist approaches have failed and point to research demonstrating the superiority of teacher-centered fully guided approaches. Issue: Can Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences Transform Educational Practice? YES: Seana Moran, Mindy Kornhaber, and Howard Gardner, from “Orchestrating Multiple Intelligences,” Educational Leadership (September 2006) NO: Lynn Waterhouse, from “Multiple Intelligences, the Mozart Effect, and Emotional Intelligence: A Critical Review,” Educational Psychologist (vol. 41, no. 4, 2006) Seana Moran, Mindy Kornhaber, and Howard Gardner, who originally proposed the theory of multiple intelligences, argue that the theory can transform the ways in which teachers teach and students view themselves. Indeed, the theory should lead to changes in what is assessed, what is valued as educational outcomes, and how teaching should occur. Lynn Waterhouse argues that there are serious inconsistencies in the theory of multiple intelligences, there is a lack of empirical evidence to support the specific intelligences proposed, and that there is compelling psychometric evidence for a general intelligence. Issue: Should Schools Teach Students Self-Control? YES: Daniel T. Willingham, from “Can Teachers Increase Students’ Self-Control?” American Educator (Summer 2011) NO: Alfie Kohn, from “Why Self-Discipline Is Overrated: The (Troubling) Theory and Practice of Control from Within,” Phi Delta Kappan (vol. 90, no. 3, 2008) Daniel T. Willingham argues that individuals with enhanced self-control are more likely to be successful in school and beyond and that healthy self-control arises from genetic factors as well as a warm, structured, and supportive home and school environment. Alfie Kohn argues that teaching self-control creates conformity and potential mental health challenges for students. Kohn also argues that a focus on self-control detracts attention from more legitimate concerns, such as including students as partners in their own learning and creating a curriculum that is inherently engaging to students. Issue: Do Recent Discoveries About the Brain Have Implications for Classroom Practice? YES: Judy Willis, from “Building a Bridge from Neuroscience to the Classroom,” Phi Delta Kappan (February 2008) NO: Dan Willingham, from “When and How Neuroscience Applies to Education,” Phi Delta Kappan (February 2008) Judy Willis argues that current research on brain function does inform educational practice and she provides some examples from recent brain science findings. Willis cautions, however, that we are truly in the infancy of brain science and the “hard facts” are still scarce and that many people misinterpret and misuse the brain science findings. Dan Willingham argues that not every finding about how the brain works can or should lead to an accommodation of educational practice. Moreover, Willingham argues that some of the ways in which brain science is conducted, while sensible for learning about the brain and the scientific questions of interest, actually obscure or mislead about the importance of the findings for the classroom. Issue: Do Video Games Promote Violent Behavior in Students? YES: Brad J. Bushman, Hannah R. Rothstein, and Craig A. Anderson, from “Much Ado about Something: Violent Video Game Effects and a School of Red Herring: Reply to Ferguson and Kilburn (2010)” Psychological Bulleting (vol. 136, no. 2, 2010) NO: Christopher J. Ferguson and John Kilburn, from “Much Ado about Nothing: The Misestimation and Overinterpretation of Violent Video Game Effects in Eastern and Western Nations: Comment on Anderson et al. (2010)” Psychological Bulletin (vol. 136, no. 2, 2010) Brad Bushman, Hannah Rothstein, and Craig Anderson argue that the research-based evidence synthesized statistically across multiple studies—a meta-analysis—is clear and that violent video game exposure is causally related to later aggression. Christopher Ferguson and John Kilburn argue that the meta-analysis of research studies examining the effects of violent video game exposure is flawed and that there is not a compelling collection of evidence supporting a causal link between exposure and later aggression. Unit: Effective Teaching and the Evaluation of Learning Issue: Should Schools Adopt a Common Core Curriculum? YES: E. D. Hirsch, Jr., from “Beyond Comprehension,” American Educator (Winter 2010– 2011) NO: Tom Loveless, from “The Common Core Initiative: What Are the Chances of Success?” Educational Leadership (December 2012/January 2013) E. D. Hirsch, Jr., argues in favor of a common core curriculum, one in which language arts is infused with a requirement to gain a broad base of domain-specific knowledge about the world that is assumed by writers of newspapers, magazine articles, and other everyday texts. Hirsch contrasts this approach to language arts with one that teaches general literacy skills devoid of content knowledge about the world. He also argues that adoption of a common curriculum better meets the needs of an increasingly mobile student body than does a curriculum that is variable and idiosyncratic across schools. Tom Loveless argues that a common core curriculum is unlikely to lead to the promised improvements in educational outcomes. In part, this argument is based on the failure of past large-scale efforts to adopt a common set of educational targets at each grade, but with little impact on outcomes. He also points out that the common core entails adoption of common set of target skills but not a single approach to teaching those skills and thus individual variation is likely to continue to characterize education in the United States. Issue: Should Character Education Define the Values We Teach Students? YES: Merle J. Schwartz, Alexandra Beatty, and Eileen Dachnowicz, from “Character Education: Frill or Foundation?” Principal Leadership (December 2006) NO: Pamela Bolotin Joseph and Sara Efron, from “Seven Worlds of Moral Education,” Phi Delta Kappan (March 2005) Merle J. Schwartz, Alexandra Beatty, and Eileen Dachnowicz argue that identifying and teaching core values such as civic engagement and virtue can improve academic performance, school climate, and individual character. Pamela Bolotin Joseph and Sara Efron argue for a broader moral curriculum, one that goes beyond character education to include cultural competence and a commitment to peace, justice, and social action. Issue: Does Homework Lead to Improved Student Achievement? YES: Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey, from “Homework and the Gradual Release of Responsibility: Making ‘Responsibility’ Possible,” The English Journal (vol. 98, no. 2, November 2008) NO: Dorothy Suskind, from “What Students Would Do if They Did Not Do Their Homework,” Phi Delta Kappan (September 2012) Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey argue that there are positive outcomes between homework and achievement, but that it is important to recognize the nuanced nature of the relationship with instruction and be clear about what the goal and specific objectives are. Dorothy Suskind argues that the “homework default” (automatically assigning homework) is poorly informed practice and that the time spent completing homework is counterproductive with the potential to interfere with family relationships, and, in the long run, reduce student creativity. Issue: Does Grading Help Students Learn? YES: Kyle Spencer, from “Standards-Based Grading” The Education Digest (vol. 78, September/October 2012) NO: Alfie Kohn, from “The Case Against Grades” Educational Leadership (November 2011) Kyle Spencer argues that grades provide useful information if they are linked to standards, or targeted competences to be acquired, indicating what competencies the student has mastered and which need more work. In fact, Spencer argues for more and more frequent grades than in the traditional approach to grading. Alfie Kohn argues that grades interfere with learning because they subvert the student’s enjoyment of learning, or intrinsic motivation, instead leading the student to work for the grades rather than to learn. In addition, the focus on grades leads students to avoid intellectually challenging tasks. Issue: Should Schools Decrease Class Size to Improve Student Outcomes? YES: Bruce J. Biddle and David C. Berliner, from “Small Class Size and Its Effects,” Educational Leadership (February 2002) NO: Kirk A. Johnson, from “The Downside to Small Class Policies,” Educational Leadership (February 2002) Bruce J. Biddle and David C. Berliner argue that the gains from smaller classes in the primary grades benefit all types of students, and, importantly, that the gains are greatest for students traditionally disadvantaged in educational access and opportunity. Kirk A. Johnson argues that although the notion of reducing class size is popular among politicians, it is a costly initiative. The research suggests that in terms of raising achievement, reducing class size does not guarantee success. Issue: Should Student Time in School Be Changed? YES: Elena Rocha, from “Choosing More Time for Students: The What, Why, and How of Expanded Learning,” Center for American Progress (August 2007) NO: Larry Cuban, from “The Perennial Reform: Fixing School Time,” Phi Delta Kappan (December 2008) Elena Rocha, a scholar at the Center for American Progress and education consultant, uses multiple case examples and argues that the expansion of school learning time is necessary for meaningful school reform and improving student outcomes. Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, provides a brief history of school reform efforts related to school time and argues that the call for expanding learning time in the form of lengthening the school day or year is not new and has little evidence supporting its effectiveness.