ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Applying What You Know for Student Success

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Tymeesa Rutledge

Thirty faces of 5-year-old kindergarteners of multiple ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, gender and religious background flashed across the screen. Instantly, one third of the kids vanished from the screen because they failed to graduate high school. Another third vanished from the screen because, despite graduating from high school on time, these kids were unprepared for employment or college.

In the session "Changing the Odds for Student Success: What Matters Most," Bryan Goodwin focused on five key areas that educators know and can use to improve student success in life: setting high expectations and delivering challenging instruction; fostering engaging learning environments and meaningful relationships with students; matching teaching strategies to learning goals; providing all students with high expectations; and personalizing learning opportunities.

"This is not new information. We have been researching this for 40 years at McREL," explained Goodwin. "We just need to apply what we know."

An audience member agreed with Goodwin's statement and felt the lecture was a reminder for her.

"[The information] was an organized, timely reminder of what instruction should be," said Margaret Messina.

Another audience member had recently attended a similar education conference and felt that this session was an affirmation that much of the education research is going in the right direction.

"The research is becoming more complimentary. It's reaffirming practical application [and] is in the right direction," said James Espinosa of Del Vallejo Middle School in San Bernadino, Calif.

During the presentation, Goodwin cited several practical applications for the classroom and beyond. For example, McREL surveyed schools and asked about their school culture and found five key traits of high-performance culture schools: structure, press for achievement, teacher influence in school decisions, shared mission, and goals and orderly climate. Goodwin cited the cofounder and codirector of Big Learning Think, Dennis Littky, as an example of accomplishing this high-performance culture. At Big Learning Think, low-achieving students are given student projects to perform at local businesses that fulfill core curriculum requirements like math or fine arts. The experience that these students gain shows that research can translate into practical application.

Thirty faces of 5-year-old kindergarteners of multiple ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, gender and religious backgrounds appeared on the screen for the last time. The children's faces morphed into college graduates and became adults. Goodwin emphasized that using the key areas for successful students would make it possible to keep all of the kids from vanishing out of the education system.

But, how can you improve your students' success? According to Goodwin, we apply what we know.


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