Education Deform Home
Education Reform Buzzwords: Links and Glossary
By Arthur Hu
Blomstrom's Ed Reform Vocabulary
Your complete guide to Educational Snake Oil.
Community Service Require community service for high
school graduation = forced labor, waste of time for many
Competition is evil, and
it, along with ranking and tracking will no longer be tolerated.
Facilitation A process by which everybody agrees whatever the
promoter is promoting, thereby giving the illusion of local control,
such as approving a 4th grade test that has already been set with
10th grade level problems, they can blame it on the public. You WILL
be facilitated. Resistance is futile.
Context Students aren't capable of learning abstract math
or english concepts, it has to be in a real-life context. For
example, using matrix operations to compute proceeds of a bake sale.
Constructivism The teacher no
longer teaches, the students "construct" their own learning
Context Students are incapable of absorbing abstract
concepts like english and mathematics unless it is grafted onto
"contexts" such as Iroqois history, or carpentry. Also called
"application" or "real life".
Cooperative Learning, Grouping The
smart kids come up with the answers and do the work. Also contrasted with
competition, which is bad
Core Knowledge E.D. Hirsch system that
students actually need to know content, not just "learning skills for
lifelong learning". They should know how to add and divide, and
spell, not have to figure it out when they'll need it. A top enemy of
reform, up there with Saxon.
Correct Answer An archaic concept that is
damaging to self esteem of students who are judged to have
"incorrect" answers. Questions are rated on a "rubric", and often
questions which demonstrate mastery of a concept can be given full
credit even the the answer is not numerically correct.
CPM: College Preparatory Math
Integrated math tailored to kids who don't like math, results in kids
who do poorly on test of algebra and geometry compared to traditional
sequential math courses.
Criterion Referenced Testing A committee sets a cut-off
and decides what constitutes proficient, makes it possible to flunk
80% or more of a sample in order to create an atmosphere of "crisis",
or pass everybody at a low level. Often deliberately omits any rank
order norm referenced score to prevent comparison to average.
Death Education Death is cool, so
shooting classmates is not such a big deal.
Decodable Text Starting
readers are given words which are simple to decode using phonics,
compared to throwing big, irregular words common to whole langauge
Desegregation It used to mean assigning without
regard to race, but now it means enforcing "diversity" and "racial
balance", usually making assignment by race mandatory.
Developmentally Appropriate PracticesLet kids go
at their own pace even if they're not getting anywhere. Don't stuff them
with facts until they've developed to like learning them.
Discovery Based Learning Constructivism
asks why spend 10 min just teaching kids when they can spend a week
"discovering" the pythagorean theorm or that circumf = 2 * Pi r?
Drill "Drill and Kill": Constructivists
believe that practice is bad.
Dumbing Down Conservative treat the new "real
life" curriculum as lowering standards, even though their new tests
are a bear.
Education Reform Start out with a system that teaches math
and reading at average levels. Then use the latest education fads
with the goals of teaching to higher levels. Result, end up with kids
that can't add or read with lower test scores.
Education Training Train teachers
so that they won't teach children how to read or add, but "facilitate
learning" and conform to progressive education fads.
Elementary and Secondary
Education Act (ESEA) Title I program to pour money into
disadvantaged and minority students has proven to be a near-total
failure, now to be used to enforce OBE.
Enemies of reform Parents, Religion, and
those who dare question progressive wducation
Engaged / Meaningful Learning
Essential Skills. We'll only teach the "essential"
skills, even if only the top 20% pass our standards and it means 4th
graders have to know about independent probability, frequency
histograms, and comparing fractions like 3/16 and 1/3 in their heads.
Environmentalism One of the
pillars of political correctness to be instilled as outcome values
along with multiculturalism and group-ism
Experiment Critics charge that new
untested reforms constitute dangerous experimentation where students
will harmed if the results are bad.
Exploration / Guessing Don't just teach
the kids what they want to know, and drill them. Let them waste a week
discovering on their own what you could have told them in 10 minutes.
Fuzzy Math - Opposition name for standards math. Also used in
"fuzzy standards" such as "students shall learn math" without
specifying any skills or content.
Gay / Lesbian / Bi / Transsexual
Issues Another big PC issue to be integrated at all levels from
preschool and up.
Global Economy - threat used to force adoption of education
reform even though USA is the world's most competitive and dominant
Glossary See some more terms
defined on the net
Goals 2000 Federal initiative
to improve educational standards, it supposedly started under Bush,
but critics now say it's another Bill/Hillary Clinton Ira Magaziner /
Marc Tucker monstrosity that driving every other nutty reform
movement that threatens to destroy education as we know it, OBE, STW,
whole language, fuzzy math, authentic assessment and the whole works.
Grading: Portfolios Who needs grades,
just keep a file of stuff that shows they "mastered" some
work, teachers sometimes tamper with the work, or give them inflated
Graduation Standards Change HS
diploma from did 12 years barely to a school to work "mastery
cerficate" with college-level skills, C average, minimum test
scores, senior thesis and presentation, community service etc. This
is supposed to make kids smarter, but it also makes it a lot easier
for anyone who isn't in the top 25% to simply flunk out.
Grouping Heterogenous, Multi-age is
usually a recipe disaster unless groups are tailored by ability
(which is tracking!)
Group Study Kids learn to work together in
groups, but justifies wacky seating arrangements, and loses
individual accountablility when the smart kids do all the work, and
grades and given to groups.
Organization Marc Tuckers' term for the "new organization" where
every worker performs management functions in the 21st century, but
Ford of Mexico does will with 9th grade level workers!
Higher Order Thinking If you don't get high scores with
basic skills, then maybe you should work on higher order thinking
instead. If you can figure things out, then you don't actually have
to learn or know anything.
Higher Standards movementStandards
not based on fact-based knowledge, promoting whole language and new new
math, throwing out norm-based references for new standards with
arbitrary cutoff "proficiency" points based on what people think kids
can do, not what real kids can do.
High Standards High standards has different
meanings for each student, and it definitely doesn't mean high levels
of basic skills, vocabulary or memorization of facts and formulas.
That's why they don't want rankings, competition, comparisions, or
Homogeneous Grouping Goes with peer tutoring,
keep advanced kids in normal kids to help them out.
Instruction Teach about 1/4 normal amount of academic material
around a theme, like Indians or the environment. Based on "Brain
Invented Math Now math encourages learners to invent their
own methods of computatoin.
Invented Spelling. Don't burden
kids with having to correct minor stuff like spelling, they'll learn
more if they come up with their own ways to spell. Endorsed by the
National Research Council. Despised by parents everywhere.
Indoctrination Teachers should free
children of the "mental illness" of allegience to parents, government
and god (Chester Pierce, Harvard Dept of Ed)
Integrated Math. They say that
the Asian nations add geometry to 8th grade, why don't we? But US
teachers aren't used to this yet, and it may not fit with college
entrance requirements which require distinct courses. Use $120
calculators to add 200 college level math topics on top of algebra
and geometry. Like going from single shot to full-automatic, and hope
the kids know how to solve a simple algebra problem by the time
they're done. WASL expects 4th graders to be able to solve algebra
story problems, yet many integrated math texts don't even teach how
to do this in high school!
Don't even try to point out incorrect spelling, they will eventually
get it right, in fact, encourage them to make up their own spelling.
Teachers can now spot classes that are taught whole language when
none of them can spell.
Job ShadowSpend class time
hanging around employees at a real job site instead of spending time
learning academic skills.
Learning Education and Teaching are Out. Learning is "in".
Learning Styles There are "many"
ways of learning, not "right" or "wrong". Yeah, right.
Legislation Legislators are now
outlawing practices such as Whole Language. Is this Totaltarianism,
or the will of the people exercising control over education?
Life-Long Learning (we won't teach you what
you need to know now, you can always pick it up later)
Looping Teacher stays with children
in elementary school for more than one year
Mastery, Mastery Learning One of the
first names for Outcome Based Education
Math Reform: New-New or Performance
Based Math Math as social studies, green science
Memorization In this new age of
computers and the internet, no one will have to memorize anything
(unless you're Asian...)
Merit In affirmative action terms, grade points don't
matter, test scores don't matter, but gender and ethnicity matters.
Methods: Collaborative and Cooperative
Discovery-based Engaged Problem-based Whole language learner-centered
Mission :( : Multiculturalism, OBE, STW.
Mixed Grade / Multiage / Split
Grouping Mix or split two years together, so 1st graders get
assigned sentence writing their 2nd week of homework. Who needs
sequencing or expectations that all will master the same skills at
the same age?
Multiculturalism :( Spend
time teaching children about important scientists of color and Mayan
counting systems, and avoid stuff writtten by dead white males. Spend
more time teaching blacks and Hispanics their culture and less about
math and english.
Multi-Age Grouping :( An
essential lever to "continuous progress"
Multiple Intelligences :( The
response to low test scores is that students must be good at
something else, instead of working towards high scores for everyone.
Music Man In the musical, a scam artist
comes to town, fabricates a crisis, and sells the town a boys band
even though he can't read a note of music. Marc
Tucker of the NCEE is the real music man promoting education
Natural Learning Style :( Studying hard and memorizing
lots of facts isn't natural, so we want to discourage underperformers from
emulating the nerds who get high grades and test scores "unnaturally".
New New Math - Opposition name to reform math, refers to failed
60's attempt to overhaul math based on set theory.
Neuroscience:( Brain research "proves" that
child-centered and "natural" learning is best
Outcomes - See Outcome Based Education
Outcomes AccreditationOBE accreditation system
Outcome-Based Education (AKA Performance Based Education) All
children will learn to high standards if we dumb down the tests, and
emphasize process over content, or confuse feelings with knowledge,
and pretend that everybody is going to perform as well as the college
bound. Some say its a socialistic / marxist education model, it tends
to bind together all of the education reforms.
Problem Solving Who needs to know basics, problem solving is
Proficiency All students will learn, and everybody will be
"proficient". No need for letter grades or test scores
once everybody passes the bar, right?
Real Life See "authentic", "application", "context", there
is no meaning to the abstract 2+2, or pythagorean theorem unless it
can be applied to something entirely different from math like the
Russian revolution or saving the earth. Real life mathematics means
spending 90% of class time on life and only 10% on basic math.
ReconstitutionIf students don't
study, fire the teachers.
Research Shows...Anything said
by a professor is called research, regardless of data. More
recently, research-based means a program that actually proves
that it worked better than the alternative, as in phonics
works better than whole language.
Peer Tutoring Why use teachers, let kids
teach each other, and have the advanced students teach the slower kids
instead of offering accelerated classes.
Performance-Based Education A variant of
Outcome Based Education, which gives very hard as opposed to very
easy value-based tests, but still believes that "all will succeed".
Tends to replace standards that everybody can pass with standards
that flunk everybody, especially minorities.
Portfolio (Grade Replacement)
Don't assign grades that might hurt feelings, just keep track of work
and suggestions, and keep it from going home to parents.
Process How you learn is more important than what you
learn, so you don't have to learn or know anything as long as you can
punch out the answer on a calculator, or find it on the internet. The
process of reform is more important than being able to prove better
Progressive Education The
underlying model for most new reforms. Critics say they are based
on Marxism and Socialism in setting equality for all at a very
Restructuring Our education system is
in crisis, and it's not ready for the high-tech 21st century, so
lets' toss everything we know about an education system that works,
and completely change it with every new fad we can think of.
Retention Retention is bad
(repeating grades), but grade promotion is bad too. In theory, by
forcing all students to achieve, no students will fail.
Rubric - Instructions on how to
figure what score to give a student since there is no such thing as a
correct or incorrect answer. General rubrics may not even tell the
scorer what the correct answer is or might look like.
Scheduling Four day weeks, 90 min
periods, year-round etc.
ScienceWe need practical applications, not
details for top 5% PhD's (what's a practical application for nuclear
SCANS Skills Elizabeth Dole
headed the commision about "creating a workforce development system
that properly prepares workers to compete in the international
economy of the 21st century", includes value and attitude outcomes,
now the 10 commandments of the reform movement.
School To WorkChanges 4 years of high
school to 2 years plus 2 years job training, changes 4 years of
college to last 2 years of high school plus 2 in college, changes a
bachelors degree to a vocational certificate according to Marc Tucker's blueprint.
Science is just a social construct
Who needs objective facts?
Science Integrated Curriculums
Whoopee This Stinks! Mix up all kinds of science instead of distinct
"real" Biology, Physics or Chem.
Site Council Elaborate
scam to make it look like your school is making its own decisions,
but really a fancy way to insure district policy is rubber stamped at
the school level.
Social Promotion New policy is to ban
social promotion, but the alternative is retention, or pretend that
everyone performs or can be made to perform at an acceptable level.
Spiral Instead of sequentially studying things
until they are mastered, hit them a little each year, and it might
sink in "naturally".
Standards Based Reform
Movement Latest mutation of Outcome Based Education. Led by Marc
Tucker's NCEE, a witches brew of OBE, STW, progressivism,
constructivism, performance base assessment, and other reforms backed
up by blue ribbon commision findings and the best PR money can buy.
It covered up to half of children educated in US by mid 1990s.
Student Learning The goal of school is not to have
teachers teach, but to have students LEARN, and "increase student
learning". Yeah right.
Systemic Standards Based Reform
Another fancy name for transforming all schools to radical outcome
Teacher Accreditation /
Credentials Performance based Teacher training and credentials is
OBE for teachers to insure that they conform to progressive outcome
based teaching and learning standards.
approve textbooks with explore, not diretly instruct skills. Or
better yet, don't even have a textbook. Make sure that no more than
10% of an Algebra text actually talks about algebra.
Theories All the wacky theories that
underly progressive education
Tracking: Evil concept which holds that some
students will go on to calculus and 4 year colleges, but others don't
need to take as much math or english, and might just work after high
school. End social promotion, end retention. Replace with "high
standards for all" single track for all students, but let students
take different amount of time to get there (confused yet?). America
has the "worst tracking system in the industrialized world" according
to Marc Tucker.
VocationalWhy waste time learning
literature and college level math instead of how to drill rivets or
some other useful skill?
What Students Should Know/Learn and Be
Able to Do (TM) WSSKABATD Outcome Based Standards. Those who
control the standards control the system.
Whole Class Teaching Dreaded "Chalk and
Talk" lecture to whole class method. Problem is, it appears to get
better results than breaking everybody into tiny little independent
Reading: Whole Language We
don't need any stinking spelling or grammar, or easy to read texts.
Generally give blame for mass failure in California and in other
places, now pushed in combination with phonetics.
Work Skills "Real Students" need skills for
entry level work, not useless stuff like college. Learn how to read
McDonalds Technical manuals, not Shakespeare.
World Class Standards Emulate nations like Japan and
Germany that send 70% of their 11th and 12th graders tightening bolts
in apprenticeships instead of academic learning for jobs nation or
worldwide, and send only 1/2 as many of their children to college as
the USA. Claim that a problem or skill is world class even though
nothing like it exists in any other nation.
Year-Round Schooling Another goofy scheduling variation,
either to give kids more days of education, or economic reasons.
- Accountability - set
quotas for performance. Reward / give bonuses to the schools that
have the rich white kids. Punish / fire the ones that get poor
minorities. Punishes 99th percentile schools because there's nowhere
to improve. Punish the schools that need the most help because they
get the kids that don't, won't or can't study. Dandy way to give
control to a state education bureauacracy that otherwise doesn't have
much to do.
- Affirmative Action / Diversity"Diversity
IS excellence" Never mind grades and test scores or any measure of
merit. The only true measure of excellence is whether or not we have x%
blacks, and we don't care how few whites we get.
- Alignment Jumping on the
bandwagon to whatever "standards" are cool that day. This insures
that everyone will learn all of the new "higher standards". Example:
Washington State defines Essential Learning Requirements roughly
equal to traditional grade levels. Set the 4th grade WASL assessment
to the 10th grade by the EALRs. Then encourage adoption of National
Science Foundation / SSI Science Systemic Initiative textbooks like
Mathland or Investigations which don't even cover half of the grade
- All Students Will Learn. Same Rate, at the Highest level of proficiency.
Regardless of background. And if you believe that....
- Application of Knowledge: Instead of just learning facts, using
it. (same as "in context"). Problem is it might mean spending a week
doing a project about African civilizations when the topic was
- Assessment Not to be confused with
testing. First step in reform. We don't need no stinking Bell Curve.
Free response, multicultural, any answer can be a correct answer, no
credit for correct answer w/o explanation or final draft, partial or
full credit for wrong answers, scoring depends on which human scored
it at $30 to $300 per student. Converts acceptible 50th percentile
average to only 20% met standard crisis. Just as bad or worse than IQ
tests, with respect to minority performance, but liberals love them.
- Authentic - based on "real-life", natural, etc. vs. purely academic
- Authentic Assessment A term for "new"
styles of tests with "alternative" skills etc.
- Back to Basics Viewed as dumbed down return to mindless
drill and kill rote learning as opposed to "deep mathematical
understanding". Except "deep" understanding usually means low basic
- Bilingual Education Keeps kids
from learning english by teaching almost entirely in their native
- Block Scheduling Switch to fewer 90
min sessions with math for only half the year. Disasterous for AP
math scores, music, students lose interest.
- Break the Mold Term used by Marc Tucker and NCEE to mean
- Certificate of Mastery It's
suppposed to force all to "master" high school level skills, inspired
by School To Work. Since it's driven by OBE, it either means you got
the radical new know-nothing curriculum and only 10th grade skills,
or takes away diploma from massive number of people who won't pass
- Child-Centered Education The teacher doesn't teach, and
isn't at a higher level than the student, and isn't the one who can
be assumed to know the right answer. The kid has to discover it on his
- Christian Right has been identified
as an evil threat to education reform
Opposition Issues and Glossary
- ContentIn order to be educated, you need
to know both content and process, those who memorize lots of facts
will end up on top, in contrast to those who say that memorization is
- Core Knowledge Hirsch concept that you
should be taught facts and actual skills, not just "strategies for
- Direct Instruction Actually teach
students how to read and do math instead of forcing them to discover
or guess it.
- Grading Some students
perform better than others, and some flunk, but lets not reflect this
in A-D grades.
- Norm-Referenced Tests Compare students on a curve against
other students, and ranks them from worst to best.
- Phonics Opposite of Whole
Language, explictly teach how to decode words phonetically instead of
- Ranking Deemed harmful as
opposed to using an criterion referenced absolute standard that
flunks everybody, not just the bottom 5%
- Rote Learning Just regurgitating
information like what 2 x 2, the meaning of hypotenuse, or what
century the civil war was.
- Russia Uses direct instruction
- Saxon, John Late developer of
textbooks which defy the movement towards fuzzy math, with striking
success. Generally hated by reformers.
- SCANS Study inspired by Marc
Tucker proposal to indentify non-academic skills needed for the
workplace and School-to-Work initiatives.
- Sequential Instruction Teach the basics
first until mastered, then move up to the next topic. The opposite of
"integrated" and "real-life" based problems that mix a great variety
of knowledge often unrelatd to the basic skills that would
traditionally be taught.
- Testing: Cost effective, time effective, accurate, machine scored
multiple choice tests where questions have just one right answer, and
difficulty covers the range of ability, scores are ranked rather than
compared to a politically based cut-score.
- Textbooks Textbooks should be short and to the point, not
huge and filled with anything but academic content
- Tracking. Not all students can
move on at the same rate, so group students by ability. America's
tracking system is much less severe than Japan or Germany which put
kids into separate high schools.
- Train Wreck What
happens with ambitious reforms result in massive failure rather than
the promise of massive success. Usually the only thing that brings
about public opposition since the public generally believes the
promise that "all will succeed".
- Uniforms :) In environments
where students have trouble learning, uniforms seem to help