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Students with a straight-A history are more likely to succeed than students with history of failure
Most teachers agree that their lives would be much easier if, at the start of the school year, ALL their incoming students had a history of straight-A’s.
In the post “4th Grade Proves to be the Key” we concluded that students that begin a class with a history of high academic success (straight-A students) are likely to succeed in mastering the content of the current class as well and that students that have not been successful in previous classes are more likely to not do well in the current class either.
We concluded we need as close to ALL students as possible to enter each new grade with a history of straight-A’s in previous grades.
Meaning we have to have almost ALL students complete each grade level with close to a straight-A record of achievement.
Most teachers can usually identify students they do not believe will achieve 100% mastery early in the year
We also concluded in another post that one of the biggest challenges for teachers is the wide variance in previous achievement, in motivation and in encouragement/support from family/home environment of students.
As long as the majority of the class does fairly well, most teachers are fairly confident that students with a history of straight-A’s will do well in their class as well. But most classes also include students that the teacher does not believe will be successful. These often include students:
- that start the year far behind the current grade level and therefore have difficulty following the current grade material
- that are not likely to put in as much effort to learn:
- because they are so far behind they cannot follow the current lessons
- because they don’t value education that highly
- because they don’t get as much encouragement/support from home/family
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that often, many of the students that are behind have different situations and needs (different personal/family situations, different learning types, etc.).
So, what should be done when a teacher concludes they do not believe a student will achieve 100% mastery of the current grade level material with the current method?
Most would agree that to simply continue with the method one does not believe will help that student achieve mastery is a waste of time for all concerned.
We have concluded we need have close to 100% of students to be straight-A students when they start a new grade
So, what is to be done with students the teacher does not believe will achieve 100% mastery the current grade level material? We have stated that it has become crucial for our society to have close to 100% of students
One solution has been to offer multiple grades so that students that do not fully master the current material can still be pushed to the next grade.
A clear goal: 100% of 4th grade students to 100% grade level mastery before the end of the school year.
We have shown that the key to improving education overall is to get all 4th graders to 100% grade level mastery before they complete the 4th grade. In other words have all students be 100% grade level ready when they enter the 5th grade (see “4th grade proves to be the key“).
The challenges are the same:
We also said that even while the 4th grade is easier than others, getting ALL the students in a class to 100% grade level mastery is a huge challenge. The main problems are still the same.
- variance in student knowledge/skills from prior grades/life.
- variances in home/family support for learning (for any of many reasons such as inability of parents to help due to own education shortcomings, lack of time due to work needs, lack of interest/willingness to help or encourage learning, etc.)
- variance in attitude toward learning in general (value of education) and therefore willingness to put in effort to learn
Given the above, what will it take to get ALL the students to 100% grade level mastery before the end of the school year?
First and foremost, teachers have to be willing to accept the challenge to get ALL their students to the 100% mastery level – and they have to be willing to do things they have not done in the past to get there (e.g. a teacher that has historically gotten half their students to the 100% mastery goal in previous years will not magically get 100% to that goal if nothing changes). To this end we seek to get close to 100% of applicable 4th grade teachers to pledge to do their best to get 100% of their students to the 100% mastery mark (those students without documented medical reasons for why they cannot achieve the goal) .
What the Pledge means:
The pledge means that teachers have to do something about students they do not believe will achieve the 100% mastery goal with the current approach as soon as they recognize that, because their pledge includes getting those students to the 100% mastery goal. This means they have to either find a way to help those students succeed with their current approach, or they have to find a different approach that they believe will succeed for those students. At the end of the year, the only thing that counts is whether the student achieved the 100% mastery goal or not.
What will it take to get teachers to pledge:
- The belief that they will actually be able to help all their students achieve the 100% mastery goal
- The belief that all the support they will need to be able to get all their students to the 100% mastery goal will be readily available
- knowing they will stand out like a sore thumb and have many people questioning their qualifications as a teacher if they do not pledge (especially if there are assurances of needed support)
How does a 4th grade teacher get ALL their students to 100% mastery before end of the year when some students are already years behind and many don’t have any encouragement or support from home and are not used to putting any effort into learning including doing homework, etc.
Why will they pledge?
Making teachers heroes again – involvement of teachers unions and other teacher associations (e.g. Association of Teachers of Mathematics)
Colored wristbands as symbol and daily reminder of pledge.
They will only pledge if they believe they have support. Teachers have to be provided the resources and support needed to get 100% of their students to the 100% mastery mark (although this does not include having the students have different parents).