• 49

    To Cross the Rubicon

    The Rubicon is the ancient name of a stream in central Italy that flowed into the Adriatic Sea. In the 1st century BC, the Rubicon River formed the boundary between Italy and the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul. In 49 BC Julius Caesar made his famous crossing. As the Roman Senate had forbidden him to enter Italy with an army, this action initiated civil war between his forces and those of Pompey the Great. The phrase "to cross the Rubicon" has come to mean the taking of a step to which one is definitely committed.

  • June

    The Big Ten Y’s of Private Schools

    (Why should families choose a private school?)
    By: Dr. Franci Roberts

    1. Give Personal attention: The primary reason many parents begin to consider a private school is because the classes are small. Teacher to student ratios are typically 1:8. Class sizes are around 8-12 students. Why are small class sizes and low student to teacher ratios important? Because they mean that your child will not get lost in the shuffle. Your child will get the personal attention she needs and craves. It's very difficult to be invisible or just be a number in a private school.

    2. Teach With Academic Freedom: Rulings in several court cases over the years have defined the scope and limits of what can be taught and how it is presented in public school. By contrast a private school can teach whatever it chooses and present it in any way it desires. That's because parents choose to send their children to a specific school which has a determined curriculum and educational philosophy with which they are comfortable. Also private schools are not bound by law to accept any child within its demographic boundaries. Consequently, only students who fit are accepted into the school.

    3. Fewer Discipline Problems: Discipline in public schools is rather complex because student policies are governed by due process and constitutional rights. This has the practical effect of making it troublesome to discipline students for minor and major infractions of the school's code of conduct. Private school students are governed by the contract which they and their parents sign with the school. It distinctly delineates consequences for what the school considers unacceptable behavior. Private school teachers rarely have to worry about discipline. Teachers are free to teach.

    4. Less Violence: Violence in public schools is an enormous issue for administrators and teachers. Shootings and other acts of violence which have taken place in public schools have culminated in the application of stringent rules and security measures to help create and maintain a safe learning environment. Private schools are generally safe places. Since private schools generally have fewer students than a public school, it is easier to supervise the school population. 5. Better, More Educated Teachers: Private high school teachers usually have a first degree in their subject. A high percentage - 70-80% - will also have a masters degree and/or a doctoral degree. When a private school hires teachers, they look for exceptional teaching skills and passion for the subject a candidate will teach.

    6. Challenging Coursework: Demanding coursework and high expectations are good for students. As a report states, "Applying high academic standards--both requiring students to complete high-level, challenging courses and pushing students to strive and excel in their work--is a central schooling component that many experts recommend." This is why parents should and do choose private school for their children.

    7. Higher National Test Scores: “The National Center for Education Statistics periodically administers the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to test the knowledge and skills of the nation's students in grades 4, 8, and 12. Students in private schools consistently score well above the national average. At all three grades a significantly higher percentage of private school students score at or above the Basic, Proficient, and Advanced levels than public school students. To see results from NAEP report cards in other subjects see the NAEP website.”

    8. Higher Acceptance to College: The rate of public school students entering college after graduation has varied between 62-67% in recent years. In private schools the entry rate is normally in the 90-95% range. Minority students who attend a private school are more likely to attend college than minority students who attend public school according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data.

    9. Double the College Graduation Rate: “Private school students scored well above the national average in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP scores provide an immediate measure of student achievement, but the report also presents a long-term measure: attainment of a college degree. "Students who had attended private school in 8th grade were twice as likely as those who had attended public school to have completed a bachelor's or higher degree by their mid-20s (52 versus 26 percent)."

    10. Higher Levels of Student Success: Why should families choose a private school? Private schools are well known for the high standards they expect. They motivate students and ignite the desire to learn. Teachers and administrators require and expect excellence from students, and students tend to live up to those expectations. The high expectations coupled with academic rigor help account for the distinctively higher levels of student success, including higher college attendance and graduation rates. If you're looking to help your child reach his/her potential in a school committed to excellence, consider a private school


  • July

    Homework Part II - Are there positive effects of homework?

    Does homework help fuel achievement? Is it a myth or a reality?

    Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines homework as: an assignment given to a student to be completed outside the regular class period. Harris Cooper, a psychologist from the University of Missouri, and one of the most in depth researchers of homework and its effects on students’ academic achievement and social/moral development, defines homework as “tasks assigned to students by school teachers that are meant to be carried out during non-school hours.”

    From his research, Cooper suggests the following on the positive effects of homework on achievement and learning: (a) better retention of factual knowledge, (b) increased understanding, (c) better critical thinking, concept formation, and information processing, and (d) better curriculum enrichment. Long term academic effects are: (a) learning encouraged during leisure time improved attitude toward school, and (b) better study habits and skills. Nonacademic benefits include: (a) greater self-direction, (b) greater self-discipline, (c) better time organization, (d) more inquisitiveness, (e) more independent problem solving, and (f) greater parental appreciation and involvement in schooling.

    In the article “How Important Is Homework,” a summary of the U.S. Department of Education’s stance on the issue, summarizes the subjective benefits of homework:

    It serves as an intellectual discipline, establishes study habits, eases time constraints on the amount of curricular material that can be covered in class, and supplements and reinforces work done in school. In addition, it fosters student initiative, independence, and responsibility, and brings home and school closer together.

    Children who were interviewed felt that homework helped them learn more and consequently they get better grades. Homework can be more elaborate and in depth for the more academically gifted child and reinforcement for the slower child. All research showed that when homework was graded and teachers’ comments were included, there was higher achievement and a rise in the overall learning average, as much as from the 50th to the 79th percentile. When parents are involved, academic achievement goes up. Parents who stimulate their child’s learning can raise achievement from the 50th to the 84th percentile.

    North Carolina students who took statewide achievement tests in grades six and nine were asked two questions about their homework practices: how much time do you spend doing assigned homework, and how much time do you spend doing work that was not assigned or required by the teacher? The results were compared with their scores on the California Achievement Tests. The results indicated that: (1) doing assigned homework is positively related to higher test scores; (2) girls do more assigned and unassigned homework than do boys; (3) doing assigned homework ranks behind socioeconomic variables in its power to predict student achievement scores in reading, mathematics, and total battery, and ahead of the predictable variable of days absent from school and sex of student; (4) the amount of unassigned homework is less effective than the amount of assigned homework in predicting student achievement; (5) boys in grades 6 and 9 who do equivalent amounts of homework as girls obtain substantially higher scores than do boys generally.

    The number of research documents related to homework indicates that researchers are more interested in homework now than ever before. As parents and educators, it is our responsibility to use any legitimate means at our disposal to help promote student achievement and success. Homework seems to be an economical avenue to be pursued. Homework can be tailored to meet the needs of all students’ abilities and can be a significant part of all subject areas. Out of class assignments can reflect both the emphasis of learning in the affective area of thinking as well as in cognitive development.

    Parents will need to begin viewing homework as a method that helps enable their children to be successful in school and in life. Children have to perceive from the important adults around them that time and effort spent on academic pursuits will enhance their quality of life in the future. The reality is – homework has lasting positive effects on student learning and academic achievement.

Homework Part I