Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lost in Translation

by Guest Blogger Candice DePrang

Yesterday, the Department issued draft guidance regarding waiver requests under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Guidance. This topic may not spark celebration and the document may not find itself on your bedside table. Often guidance is described as confusing, sometimes not helpful at all, like a different language…But, teachers, schools, and the research community can get excited about this:

If [State] is granted the requested waiver, [State] will implement the waiver only with respect to an LEA that provides assurances that:
(1) It will comply with all of the statutory and regulatory requirements regarding the provision of SES with respect to its regular FY 2009 Title I, Part A allocation; and
(2) It will comply with all other Title I, Part A statutory and regulatory requirements (to the extent they are not waived), including the requirements in sections 1114 and 1115 of the ESEA to have schoolwide and targeted assistance programs that “use effective methods and instructional strategies that are based on scientifically based research.”

Translation? LEAS must use strategies that work.

It’s a breath of fresh air for teachers, usually coerced into using a new frame work for this or an instructional fad to address that.

It’s encouraging for administrations, weary of consultants that present, like salespeople, the silver bullet that will strengthen their scores.

It’s support for education labs that identify issues in schools preventing students from making the greatest possible academic gains. After conducting in-depth studies, researchers then disseminate the information back to the schools with strategies proven to work. Or, they discover that some approaches are not effective, and can shift their focus.

Regardless, the meaning of the guidance is this: effective methods of teaching and learning proven by research will make their ways into classrooms that need it the most.

Now you don’t need to drag out your dictionary.

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