Term Paper: Educate Our Children. As Increasing

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[. . .] For this purpose, a study will be conducted in the City of New York public schools that will consist of two groups of thirty children each The first group - we can call it Group A - will consist of students enrolled in a traditional half-day kindergarten program. The other group - Group B - will be made up of students enrolled in a full-time kindergarten class. Each of these groups of students will constitute a single class, and will spend all of their class time together; all students in a given class thus having access to the same teachers and teaching assistants, etc., and also to the same teaching styles and techniques. As well, care will be taken to insure that the teachers and teaching assistants, etc., and teaching styles and techniques will be as closely matched as possible between the two classroom groups.

As for the participating students themselves, they will be the City of New York in miniature. This will rule out any differences based on race or class. A workable system will be developed that applies to each student individually and without prejudice. Next, the teachers and staff selected for Groups A and B. should be chosen based on faculty and parent recommendations, and even, if possible, on the recommendations of older students who were formerly taught by these same individuals. A choice based on multiple recommendations is essential in order to ensure that the experiment reflects "typical" conditions. A well-liked teacher might motivate her students more than an unpopular teacher. An unusually intelligent or able teacher might skew the outcome. By the same token, a biased or narrow-minded educator might thwart an objective outcome.

Also, it is equally vital that the two different sets of teachers and their staff employ teaching styles and techniques that are as nearly identical as possible. Their teaching methods will be those held by parents and faculty to represent those of the "typical" teacher and classroom in the New York public school system. The particular school too, will represent the "typical" New York school in terms of the composition of its faculty, staff, and student body, and in the general environmental conditions of the school building, the availability, condition, and up-to-dateness of textbooks, supplies, and teaching aids, and of all other things that might in one way or another impact the learning process. The students too should be screened for any unusual problems: emotional difficulties, learning disabilities, and other handicaps that might seriously interfere with the outcome. The study cannot be tainted from the start by participants who are too far out of the norm and with whom success would either be impossible or to difficult to achieve within the time span of the experiment.

Finally, the criteria for obtaining and evaluating results should be worked out before the commencement of the study. In this case, the instrument used to evaluate the students in Groups A and B. will be the Early Childhood Literacy Assessment System or ECLAS. In keeping with the practices of the New York City Public School System, the Researcher will use the latest version of this testing series: ECLAS-2. ECLAS is a standardized testing system used by the New York City Public Schools (and other districts as well) to evaluate a student's ability to read. (Frequently Asked Questions [Re: ECLAS], NYC Dept. Of Ed., 2003) The testing system, which is used from Kindergarten through Third Grade, is conducted twice at each grade level, once in the middle of the school year, and again at the end - there are eight levels of ECLAS - and measures not only a child's ability to read words and passages, but actually evaluates his or her ability to become a good reader. Thus, ECLAS identifies the linguistic and cognitive difficulties from which a given child might suffer. As such, ECLAS is an extremely useful diagnostic tool. The following series of questions and answers provide a more detailed look at ECLAS-2, what it measures, and how the evaluations are performed:

What are the Group Activities and how are they administered?

There are four Group Activities in ECLAS-2: Alphabet Writing, Spelling, Vocabulary, and Listening and Writing. Group Activities are the same for all students in a particular grade and semester. They can be administered to the whole class or to smaller groups as appropriate for the grade level.

What if a student does not master a Group Activity?

He/she takes the next semester's Group Activity when it is administered. All Group Activities are specific to the grade and time of year. Group Activities are not re-administered even if a student does not master them.

If a student masters a Group Activity, can he/she be given the one for the next semester?

No. A child should not be assessed beyond the specific Group Activity for his/her grade level and semester. The activity is given to the entire class one time only. Students are not assessed on the next level until it is time for the next assessment.

What are the Individual Activities?

The Individual Activities include Phonemic Awareness, Alphabet Recognition, Decoding, Sight Words, Reading (Accuracy, Comprehension and Oral Expression), and Reading Fluency (Rate and Expression). Please remember that the classroom teacher should administer all of the Individual Activities.

Do the Individual Activities correspond to a specific grade and semester?

No, they do not correspond to a specific grade and semester, but they do list the benchmarks for each level/grade. Results of the Individual Activities indicate a student's level of literacy development. For example, a student in end-of-year Grade 1 may have mastered Reading Level 6, which is the end-of-year Grade 2 benchmark. This student read a Level 6 book with a 90% or higher accuracy and scored a Medium or High on the Comprehension components.

Does a teacher stop assessing a student in the Individual Activities when the child has mastered his/her class level?

No, the student goes as far as possible on an individually administered activity. The mastery level may reflect a level above or below the student's actual grade.

If a child does not master an Individual Activity are they reassessed?

Yes, a child who does not master an Individual Activity must be reassessed during the next assessment period on the same level until mastery is achieved. (NYC ECLAS-2, NYC Dept. Of Ed., 2003)

ECLAS evaluates students based on particular aptitude "Strands." These consist of the following:

PHONEMIC AWARENESS STRAND:

Rhyme Recognition, Rhyme Generation, Syllable Clapping, Initial Consonants, Final Consonants, Blending, and Segmenting

PHONICS STRAND:

Alphabet Recognition, Alphabet Writing, Spelling, and Decoding.

READING AND ORAL EXPRESSION STRAND:

Vocabulary (Group Activity), Sight Words, Reading (including Accuracy, Comprehension, and Oral Expression), and Fluency.

LISTENING AND WRITING STRAND

Note: Listening and Writing is a GROUP activity. Every student in the class takes the same assessment one time only.

So, if the assumption of this study is correct - that children enrolled in full-time kindergartens perform better than those enrolled in part-time programs - it should be reflected in and substantiated by the ECLAS scores of the participating children.

Works Cited

Frequently Asked Questions [Re: ECLAS]." (2003). The New York City Department of Education. URL: http://www.nycenet.edu/daa/InterimAssessments/eclas-2/ECLAS_FAQ_W.pdf

King, Patricia M. And Kitchener, Karen S. (1994). Developing Reflective Judgment: Understanding and Promoting Intellectual Growth and Critical Thinking in Adolescents and Adults. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

NYC ECLAS-2." (2003). The New York City Department of Education. URL: http://www.nycenet.edu/daa/InterimAssessments/eclas-2/default.asp#2.

Tittnich, Ethel Marie, M.S. (September 1995). "Quality Issues in Day Care." Pittsburgh, PA: Office of Child Development, University of Pittsburgh. URL: http://www.pitt.edu/~ocdweb/pdfdnlds/quality.pdf.

Yetter, Cathleen Langley. (1994). Resource-Based Learning in the Information Age School: The Intersection of Roles and Relationships of the School Library Media Specialist, Teachers, and Principal. Seattle University. [END OF PREVIEW]

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