One Classroom at a Time
The Post-Dispatch ran a human interest piece this morning on Eric Johnson, an elementary math teacher in the St. Louis Public Schools who spent three years developing what his students have dubbed "the program." From its description in the piece, "the program" sounds like an innovative mix of motivation and reward that could do a great deal to improve both math skills and test scores for students in St. Louis city.
So why is it being met with such a lukewarm response from administrators (emphasis added)?
Though district officials subscribe to the theory that the achievement
gap needs to be erased one classroom at a time, they say educational
practices must first undergo rigorous research and academic review.
"He knows what works for him. That’s not to say he doesn’t have a
program that works well for his students. But he doesn’t have the
research base yet to implement what he is doing on a larger scale,"
said William Parker, an assistant superintendent for elementary
I understand the value of researching educational methods in order to ascertain their efficiency and develop a method for rolling them out, but attitudes such as this one are part of the reason that the St. Louis Public Schools face the crisis they do today.
Innovative classroom ideas need to be met with equally innovative support by school officials, or their benefits will never move past the 30 children that a teacher like Eric Johnson has in his class at any given time.
With all the work that is being done to try wholesale approaches to fix the crisis of public education in this country, it’d be interesting to see what would happen if individual results were fostered, bit by bit.