Essays in Education


Challenged is the presumed value of standardization in public education, especially the notion that student achievement is synonymous with performance on summative criteria insensitive to the unique characteristics of every child. This research was initially conducted during the 2010-11 regular academic year. It has since been replicated with similar results.

The overarching question driving the study: “How do educators effectively meet the individual needs of highly diverse students in this era of standardization?” In other words, how do we maintain the human element of teaching, which is so critical for positive child and adolescent development?

Examined are two team-taught 10th grade social studies classes. Both groups of students were highly diverse. Many had low reading levels, were credit-deficient, and had a high rate of truancy and disciplinary referrals as freshmen. Utilizing curricular standards simply as a framework, the classroom teachers individualized instruction based on student strengths, backgrounds, interests, and needs. They employed content literacy, constructivism and project-based learning strategies.

Student data was collected throughout the school year, which included: attendance, discipline, and academic performance. In addition, student feedback was solicited near the end of the second semester. Summary of the results:

  • Both classes completed the 10th grade U.S. History curriculum in March, approximately three months early. Every standard (and benchmark) was achieved.
  • The composite grade average for both classes at the end of the second semester was 92%.
  • From the first semester to the end of the school year, truancy decreased by 27%. Unexcused absences were rare by the start of the second semester.
  • NO student received a disciplinary referral. In-class behavior interventions decreased by 50%. Class was rarely interrupted due to a behavior issue.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.