Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Using blogs and wikies in the classroom

Check out this thought provoking, it'll sure be a conversation starter between pro-tech teachers and the ones that oppose it.

Literature Review

Abstract:

Many students are retained at the early primary grades because they fail to read on grade level. This is especially true in students going from 2nd to 3rd grade. Students leaving the 2nd grade must be reading at a level 28, this is to ensure that the student would be capable of passing the 3rd grade TAKS reading test. There is not a win-win situation here, they can either fail 2nd grade for not reading on level or fail 3rd grade for not passing the TAKS.

In my first year as a classroom teacher I was faced with a challenge that I was not able to meet. Andrea was a nine-year-old student in my 2nd grade class. She had been retained twice, once in kindergarten and she was currently repeating 2nd grade. Still Andrea was not at the top of the class; it seemed as if her social inadequacy –being that she was older than most her classmates- only made her feel inferior and this reflected in her academic achievement. Many questions where left unanswered, as I remember her today I ask myself, what could I have done differently? Where did I go wrong? In this review of the literature the focus would be in the effects of retention and does it truly improve later school achievement and ability, (i.e. literacy development)? Also as a secondary focus, how social promotion benefits students and how computer technology can assist in the development of early literacy? From reviewing these literature I have found partial answers to some of my questions but most importantly the knowledge to know what to do if faced with a similar situation in the future.

Effects of retention and does it truly improve later school achievement and ability: a brief look at social promotion and computer technology as a means to decrease the number of retainees.

Sugey Villarreal

Retention:
Retention means that a child who has spent a full school year in a particular grade must repeat the entire grade just completed (Westbury, 1994). Is this practice of holding back students the best we can do as educators? Many students would conclude that retention is ineffective for improving achievements and ability (Westbury 1994). In a longitudinal study of the effects of retention/promotion on academic achievement Peterson, DeGracie and Ayabe (1987) explained that: “One of the reasons typically offered as an explanation for the failure of retention to improve academic achievement is that students are often retained in programs that were not beneficial to the student because no specific educational plan has been developed”. I can personally attest to this fact, I was never given a plan of action or intervention to work with Andrea. I found myself piecing together the bits and pieces from the already limited information that was accessible to me. She did not perform well on tests and that was surprising to me but the research gave me an insight -their test scores do not improve as a result of promotion,- “retained children appear to score, at best, no better than comparison groups of continually promoted children” (Westbury 1994). Other studies asserted that it may seem as if the students catch up but that this is only in the short-term; in the long-run this progress diminishes. A study of the students in the Mesa Public School System showed that although, “students who were retained would outperform their promoted counterparts on achievement tests in Reading and Language in the first year following retention…these differences were not found on third grade retainees (Peterson, DeGracie and Ayabe, 1987).

Another study addressed the issue that retention was most beneficial in the earlier grades because it improved literacy development but it failed to address the negative effects of retention no matter how early it is done. The same article agrees that retention after the fourth grade was highly ineffective (Pomplun 1988). A study by Manset-Williamson et al. (2002) reports that: “Fewer students may be failing at reading in these programs that include explicit skills or lower order skills (use of worksheets, basals, etc.) this is confirmed by the passing rates on the language arts test. Conversely, explicit skill instruction is positively associated with retention rates.” On the other hand, the greater the focus on holistic skills (higher order cognitive skills) the lower the rate of student retention. In my experience students benefit more from holistic instruction but more research needs to be done to design a balanced literacy program.

Social Promotion:

New research needs to be developed in relation to social promotion and its benefits. Policymakers are most opposed than ever to this practice, in spite of the fact that there are students that show that there is little harm resulting from this practice (Frey, 2005). Andrea would have benefited from being promoted to the third grade because of her age as one study affirms: “When compared to socially promoted pupils, retained students show both poorer academic results and inferior personal adjustment” (Westbury, 1994). Do we want to cripple our already struggling students by giving them an inferiority complex? I am not suggesting that this be used as an excuse but rather as a means to look deeper into what we can do to better address retention and suggest new alternatives.

How can technology help students in acquiring literacy skills to prevent possible retention:

The use of technology alone does not guarantee the improvement in acquiring literacy skills but the integration of computer base programs as well as other kind of literacies into the classroom can probe to be an effective match. The use of a software program in a study suggests that: “This general concept of using computer technology as scaffolding to assist the process of learning can be traced to Vygotsky’s notions (1986, 1978) ‘zone of proximal development’ and ‘social reconstruction of knowledge’ (Fasting and Halaas Lyster, 2005). A student from the preceding study was quoted stating that: “I could do my ordinary school work/homework in the MultiFunk sessions.” This assertion by the student proves that students are willing to/and want to learn if given the proper tools. Students such as Andrea would have benefited from this technology and from the scaffolding that it offers in addition to that provided by the classroom teacher.

Conclusion:

The available research that supports retention is not conclusive by any means, it rather lends itself to provide more questions that are left unanswered. There is no one single research that concludes that it is more beneficial to retain students than to socially promote them. On the other hand there is very little proof that social promotion can harm students, research kind of suggests that it may indeed be beneficial, especially for those students of lower economic status areas. It has also been suggested that: “social promotion with remediation may be more effective than retention with remediation” (Peterson, DeGracie and Ayabe, 1987). However, social promotion is not an answer in itself; it needs to be paired with other successful plans and/or strategies. Just passing a student does not guarantee that their literacy skills would improve as retaining them does not guarantee that their deficiencies would be corrected. If we want to keep implementing retention as a means to remediate deficient literacy skills we must ensure the success of our students. As Westbury (1994) stated in her study: “Educators must seek alternatives to grade repetition that correct learning problems early…Some recent remediation programs that focus on individual tutoring for lower achievers while keeping students with their grade peers have proven successful” (D. Armstrong, personal communication, 17 March 1992).

References:

Fasting, Rolf B., & Halaas Lyster, Solveig-Alma (2005). The effects of computer
technology in assisting the development of literacy in young struggling readers
and spellers. European Journal of Special Needs Education, Vol. 20, No. 1, 21-
40. Retrieved from JSTOR database 31 July 2007.

Frey, Nancy (2005). Retention, Social Promotion, and Academic Redshirting: What Do
We Know and Need to Know? Remedial and Special Education, Vol. 26, No. 6, 332-
46. Retrieved from JSTOR database 31 July 2007.

Jackson, Gregg B. (1975). The Research Evidence on the Effects of Grade Retention.
Review of Educational Research, Vol. 45, No. 4, 613-635. Retrieved from JSTOR
database 31 July 2007.

Manset-Williamson, Genevieve, St. John, Edward, Hu, Shouping & Gordon, David
(2002). Early Literacy Practices as Predictors of Reading Related Outcomes:
Test Scores, Test Passing Rates, Retention, and Special Education Referral.
Exceptionality 10(1), 11-28. Retrieved from JSTOR database 31 July 2007.

Peterson, Sarah E., DeGracie, James S., & Ayabe, Carol R. (1987). A longitudinal
Study of the Effects of Retention/Promotion on Academic Achievement. American
Educational Research Journal, Vol 24, No. 1, 107-18. Retrieved from JSTOR
database 31 July 2007.

Pomplun, Mark (1988). Retention: The Earlier, the Better? Journal of Educational
Research, Vol. 81, No. 5, 281-87. Retrieved from JSTOR database 31 July 2007.

Westbury, Marilyn (1994). The Effect of Elementary Grade Retention and Subsequent
School Achievement and Ability. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue canadienne
de l’√©ducation, Vol. 19, No. 3, 241-50. Retrieved from JSTOR database 31 July
2007.

Lit. Review Article 7

Literature Review

Article 7

APA Citation: Fasting, Rolf B., & Halaas Lyster, Solveig-Alma (2005). The effects of computer technology in assisting the development of literacy in young struggling readers and spellers. European Journal of Special Needs Education, Vol. 20, No. 1, 21-40. Retrieved from JSTOR database 31 July 2007.

I. Title: The effects of computer technology in assisting the development of literacy in young struggling readers and spellers.

II. Authors: Rolf B. Fasting and Solveig-Alma Halaas Lyster

III. Author’s Purpose for Writing: To evaluate the effect of MultiFunk, a computer program designed to assist reading, on the reading and spelling proficiency of struggling readers.

IV. What are the points made in the review of the literature? Do they support the need for the study?

V. Author’s Inquiry Question: Does the MultiFunk computer software show effects on reading and spelling development in a group of struggling readers and spellers?

VI.
A. Author’s methodology: A pre-test-intervention-post-test, control-group design was used to evaluate the effects of the software, using texts to suit the pupil’s own choices and interests.

B. Who is being studied? Fifty-two below average readers and spellers, in grades 5, 6 and 7. In addition, 114 classmates, who read normally, were included.

C. Over what length of time? Not specified.

D. What data is being collected? Results from the use of MultiFunk

VII. How the author collected information: From the log file that recorded pupils’ use of MultiFunk, two reading tests and a spelling test
VIII. What the author discovered: The findings indicate that computerized assistive reading has the potential to aid and support the development of basic literacy skills in a broad group of struggling readers and spellers.

Lit. Review Article 6

Literature Review

Article 6

APA Citation: Frey, Nancy (2005). Retention, Social Promotion, and Academic Redshirting: What Do We Know and Need to Know? Remedial and Special Education, Vol. 26, No. 6, 332-46. Retrieved from JSTOR database 31 July 2007.

I. Title: Retention, Social Promotion, and Academic Redshirting: What Do We Know and Need to Know?

II. Author: Nancy Frey

III. Author’s Purpose for Writing: To examine the research on the effectiveness of retention and other responses, including social promotion, and the growing parental practice of “academic redshirting” of children by delaying their entry into kindergarten.

IV. What are the points made in the review of the literature? Do they support the need for the study? Social promotion has grown less acceptable to policymakers, even as the few studies conducted have shown little harm resulting from the practice. What is clear is that students that have been retained…are more likely to drop out of school…Despite these dire outcomes, the rates of retention have continued to rise the past decade.

V. Author’s Inquiry Question: What do we know and need to know about retention, social promotion, and academic redshirting?

VI.
A. Author’s methodology: None this is a literature review of current research on retention, social promotion, and academic redshirting.

B. Who is being studied? Students across the nation from Kindergarten through High School.

C. Over what length of time? Not specified.


VII. How the author collected information: By compiling the data provided by all the different studies that are being researched.

VIII. What the author discovered: That retention, social promotion, and academic redshirting have, at one time or another, been called “the gift of time.” Perhaps it is time to redefine this clich√©. Perhaps the true “gift of time” is in the work of the educational researches who can answer the questions of teachers, administrators, and parents.

Lit. Review Article 5

Literature Review

Article 5

APA Citation: Manset-Williamson, Genevieve, St. John, Edward, Hu, Shouping & Gordon, David (2002). Early Literacy Practices as Predictors of Reading Related Outcomes: Test Scores, Test Passing Rates, Retention, and Special Education Referral. Exceptionality 10(1), 11-28. Retrieved from JSTOR database 31 July 2007.

I. Title: Early Literacy Practices as Predictors of Reading Related Outcomes: Test Scores, Test Passing Rates, Retention, and Special Education Referral.

II. Author: Genevieve Manset-Williamson, Edward St. John, Shouping Hu and David Gordon.

III. Author’s Purpose for Writing:

IV. What are the points made in the review of the literature? Do they support the need for the study? Rather than emphasizing explicit versus holistic skill instruction, perhaps early literacy programs should increase the frequency of activities in each of these areas, particularly in high-poverty schools.

V. Author’s Inquiry Question: Which features of model early literacy programs are associated with improvement in school-level indicators of language arts outcome?

VI.
A. Author’s methodology: The Early Literacy Survey (St. John, Manset, & Michael, 1999) was developed specifically for the research project.

B. Who is being studied? Early literacy programs for Grades K through 3 in the state of Indiana and their impact on student achievement.

C. Over what length of time? Not specified

D. What data is being collected? Results from The Early Literacy Survey

VII. How the author collected information? By compiling principal’s reports on general practice across a school program as specified by the program features described in the surveys.


VIII. What the author discovered:
•Students who attend school with higher percentage of students living in poverty score lower on state achievement tests (Linn, 2000). As a result this students are more likely to be retained, which is in itself not considered an effective intervention (Jimerson, 1999; McCoy & Reynolds, 1999).
•Explicit skill instruction is positively associated with higher retention rates(i.e., theirs is greater retention in those programs where there is a reported greater use of basal readers, worksheets and books, reading drills and phonics instruction). The structure imposed by the features of the explicit skills instruction, although associated with test score gains, may create a less adaptable environment.
•The greater the focus on holistic skills (i.e., there is less retention in those programs where there is a reported greater focus on whole texts and higher order cognitive skills, such as supporting early writing through emergent spelling activities or comprehension and reading fluency with paired reading, and teachers reading aloud to students) the lower the rate of retention. The lower retention rate suggests that less structured activities that make up the holistic skills focus may again be associated with a more adaptable environment.
•Opportunity for collaboration was also found related to lower rates of retention because it contributes to the adaptability in a classroom.
•Practices that will lead to an increase in test scores may also create an environment that encourages more grade retention.

Lit. Review Article 4

Literature Review

Article 4

APA Citation: Pomplun, Mark (1988). Retention: The Earlier, the Better? Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 81, No. 5, 281-87. Retrieved from JSTOR database 31 July 2007.

I. Title: Retention: The Earlier, the Better? Journal

II. Author: Mark Pomplun

III. Author’s Purpose for Writing: To show that retention is more beneficial at the primary grades.

IV. What are the points made in the review of the literature? Do they support the need for the study? Research from higher grade levels suggested, that retention does not increase academic achievement for most students. Beginning at the fourth-grade level studies have found either no significant difference between retention and promotion or differences favoring promotion.

V. Author’s Inquiry Question: Is retention most effective at the primary level especially in comparison to the secondary level?

VI.
A. Author’s methodology: He used measures of self-concept, motivation, teacher, student, and parent attitudes; and reading, language and mathematics achievement.

B. Who is being studied? Students from first, second, third, fourth, seventh, and eight grades from a semirural area of west central Florida.

C. Over what length of time? 2 years

D. What data is being collected? Results from the Self-Concept and Motivation Inventory (SCAMIN) and the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS).

VII. How the author collected information: by analyzing results from the Self-Concept and Motivation Inventory (SCAMIN) and the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS).

VIII. What the author discovered:
•Retention as an educationally effective alternative decreases in utility as grade level increases.
•Parents, teachers and students agree on these findings that are also supported by student achievement test scores.
•The results of his study certainly suggest that further research is needed to ensure that student achievement is helped by retention and that we as educators are not wasting our tax dollars on retention at the higher grade levels.

Lit. Review Article 3

Literature Review

Article 3

APA Citation: Jackson, Gregg B. (1975). The Research Evidence on the Effects of Grade Retention. Review of Educational Research, Vol. 45, No. 4, 613-635. Retrieved from JSTOR database 31 July 2007.

I. Title: The Research Evidence on the Effects of Grade Retention.

II. Author: Gregg B. Jackson

III. Author’s Purpose for Writing: To examine the practice of grade retention and its effects on students.

IV. What are the points made in the review of the literature? Do they support the need for the study? There is little doubt that a pupil who is having serious academic difficulties in one grade is likely to continue having difficulties if merely promoted to the next grade. What is not clear is how the mere repetition of a grade of schooling is likely to reduce these difficulties (p.614).

V. Author’s Inquiry Question: Do students who are doing poor academic work or who manifest emotional or social maladjustment in school are generally likely to benefit more from being retained in a grade than from being promoted to the next one?

VI.
A. Author’s methodology: A systematic review of the research literature on the effects of grade retention was completed.

B. Who is being studied? Other research on grade retention

C. Over what length of time? Fall of 1973

D. What data is being collected? Data collected from appropriate journal articles and books.

VII. How the author collected information: By analyzing the information found in articles and books and making cross references to other articles and books.

VIII. What the author discovered:
Three general types of analytical design prevailed in these studies:
•The most commonly used type of design compared the outcomes of students retained under normal school policies with the outcomes of students promoted under normal policies.
•The second type of design compared the outcomes of retained students before and after their retention.
•The third design was the experimental one, where each pupil in a group of potential retainees was randomly assigned to repeat a grade or to be promoted to the next one, and then a semester or more later the retained students were compared with their promoted counterparts.
One general conclusion about the effects of grade retention relative to grade promotion is clearly warranted by all the results taken as whole: There is no reliable body of evidence to indicate that grade retention is more beneficial than grade promotion for students with serious academic or adjustments difficulties.