Friday, June 11, 2010

Evidence Linking Small Schools and Student Achievement

For the past decade there's been a growing movement to create small learning communities and small schools with the belief that they will positively impact student achievement and school climate. Now there is evidence connecting small schools and student achievement! You will be interested in the findings of an Oregon initiative funded by The Gates Foundation and the Meyer Memorial Trust.

The Oregon Small Schools Initiative (OSSI) reported in their initial evaluation that small schools have a positive impact on student success and that "despite high rates of poverty and other barriers to success, . . . small school students generally perform as well as or better than non [small school] students." The report also said that "students enrolled at a small school for multiple grades will, on average, have better outcomes" than those there for fewer years. The complete report is available at

The Oregon Small Schools Initiative provides many resources to support improvement and work with your community to improve student learning. Check our the things that they offer. I'd like to hear from you about your experience with small schools.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Student Use of Technology

Students are far more familiar with how to use technology than most adults. I was reminded of how creative students can be a few days ago when I met with four principals from the L'Anse Creuse Public Schools (MI). They shared three incidents that illustrate how technology continues to impact principals' work. Each of the incidents involved texting.
  • A middle school student failed a math test and sent a text to their mother about the results. Within minutes the child's teacher received an e-mail from the mother demanding extra help for their son and the opportunity to take the test again.
  • The other incidents also involved texting. In one two students were accused of some infraction. Once confronted and while briefly left alone before meeting with the assistant principal, they exchanged texts about the alibi they would use. It's a creative way to "get your story straight."
  • The third incident also involved a parent. In this case a student broke his thumb while participating in a physical education class. He sent a text about the accident to his mother and she arrived in the school office before her son arrived from the locker room.
I'm fascinated by the ways that technology has changed all of our lives and enjoy learning about the ways that schools are using technology to improve their instructional program. It's clear that students and their families are also skilled at using technology to stay in constant communication. These are three great examples. I'd enjoy hearing about your experience with the growing use of technology.