Friday, January 04, 2013

Boy, six, suspended from school after pointing his finger in gun gesture at classmate and saying 'pow'

A six-year-old boy has been suspended from school after pointing his finger like a gun and saying 'pow' at a classmate.  The student reportedly made the gesture at another student and was suspended for one day in December.

The matter is being discussed today at a conference at Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland after pupils returned from holiday.

The child made the gesture one week after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut where 20 students and six teaching staff died.

Roscoe R. Nix school's assistant principal Renee Garraway wrote to the boy's parents and told them that it was not the first time the boy had threatened another student.

Robin Ficker, the boy's attorney, told the Washington Examiner: 'What they're doing is looking at the worst possible interpretation of a young, naive six-year-old.  'This is a little child who can't form the intent to do anything like that.'

The lawyer said the child's parents were not aware of previous behavioral issues and were concerned that the incident would remain on his record indefinitely.

The ruling can be appealed within ten days. MailOnline was awaiting a response from the elementary school.

There have been heightened tensions at schools across the U.S. since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14.

Sandy Hook students attended a neighboring school in the town of Monroe today for an open house ahead of classes beginning tomorrow.


New research helps explain why girls do better in school

Put bluntly, they benefit from favoritism

Why do girls get better grades in elementary school than boys—even when they perform worse on standardized tests?

New research from the University of Georgia and Columbia University published in the current issue of Journal of Human Resources suggests that it's because of their classroom behavior, which may lead teachers to assign girls higher grades than their male counterparts.

"The skill that matters the most in regards to how teachers graded their students is what we refer to as 'approaches toward learning,'" said Christopher Cornwell, head of economics in the UGA Terry College of Business and one of the study's authors. "You can think of 'approaches to learning' as a rough measure of what a child's attitude toward school is: It includes six items that rate the child's attentiveness, task persistence, eagerness to learn, learning independence, flexibility and organization. I think that anybody who's a parent of boys and girls can tell you that girls are more of all of that."

The study, co-authored by Cornwell and David Mustard at UGA and Jessica Van Parys at Columbia, analyzed data on more than 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It examined students' performance on standardized tests in three categories—reading, math and science—linking test scores to teachers' assessments of their students' progress, both academically and more broadly.

The data show, for the first time, that gender disparities in teacher grades start early and uniformly favor girls. In every subject area, boys are represented in grade distributions below where their test scores would predict. The authors attribute this misalignment to what they called non-cognitive skills, or "how well each child was engaged in the classroom, how often the child externalized or internalized problems, how often the child lost control and how well the child developed interpersonal skills."

They even report evidence of a grade bonus for boys with test scores and behavior like their girl counterparts.

This difference can have long-reaching effects, Cornwell said. "The trajectory at which kids move through school is often influenced by a teacher's assessment of their performance, their grades. This affects their ability to enter into advanced classes and other kinds of academic opportunities, even post-secondary opportunities," he said. "It's also typically the grades you earn in school that are weighted the most heavily in college admissions. So if grade disparities emerge this early on, it's not surprising that by the time these children are ready to go to college, girls will be better positioned."

Research about gender differences in the classroom and beyond has grabbed headlines recently. Titles like Hannah Rosin's "The End of Men and the Rise of Women" and Kay Hymowitz's "Manning Up" have spent months on best-seller lists and inspired countless discussions in the media. We seem to have gotten to a point in the popular consciousness where people are recognizing the story in these data: Men are falling behind relative to women. Economists have looked at this from a number of different angles, but it's in educational assessments that you make your mark for the labor market," Cornwell said. "Men's rate of college going has slowed in recent years whereas women's has not, but if you roll the story back far enough, to the 60s and 70s, women were going to college in much fewer numbers. It's at a point now where you've got women earning upward of 60 percent of the bachelors' degrees awarded every year."

But despite changing college demographics, the new data may not be reflecting anything fundamentally new. "My argument is that this has always been true about boys and girls. Girls didn't all of a sudden become more engaged and boys didn't suddenly become more rambunctious," Cornwell said. "Their attitudes toward learning were always this way. But it didn't show up in educational attainment like it does today because of all the factors that previously discouraged women's participation in the labor force, such as a lack of access to reliable birth control."

What remains unclear, however, is how to combat this discrepancy. "The most common question we've gotten is whether or not the gender of the teacher matters in regards to grading students," Cornwell said. "But that's a question we can't answer because there's just not enough data available. As you can probably guess, the great majority of elementary school teachers are women."


The failing British primary school that asks pupils to stay till 6pm: Headmaster introduces longer hours in bid to transform results

One of the worst-performing primary schools in the country has introduced a 45-hour week for pupils in a bid to transform results.  Pupils at Great Yarmouth Primary Academy stay at school from 7.45am until 6pm - longer than the standard working week.

Under the radical timetable, they enjoy a free programme of after-school activities ranging from horse-riding to cookery, followed by supervised time in which to complete their homework and read.

In its former incarnation as Greenacre Primary, the Norfolk school was among the bottom 200 performers out of 15,000 primaries nationally and was condemned by inspectors as failing in 2010.

The new programme was introduced last September as the school became a semi-independent academy sponsored by millionaire businessman Theodore Agnew.

At first parents were horrified by the idea, with 100 signing a petition to block the changes.

But headmaster Bill Holledge says the extended school day is already leading to ‘real improvement’ in children’s results just a term after it was introduced.

School starts at 8.55am, although pupils are able to attend a free breakfast club from 7.45am.

The standard school day finishes at 3.30pm but those aged seven to 11 are able to stay on for a free programme of extra-curricular activities in sport, drama or music.

Classes include horse-riding, cookery, cello lessons, first aid, street dance and trips to Cambridge University to study rocket engineering.

At 5pm, youngsters in the final two years of the school - nine to 11-year-olds in years five and six - spend a further hour completing homework or practising reading under supervision from teaching assistants.

The extended timetable was introduced with the aim of giving pupils the same opportunities as youngsters from more advantaged backgrounds and those in private schools.

It was also intended to help working parents by allowing them to collect their children at 6pm instead of 3.30pm.

The experiment initially proved controversial with parents who were concerned it would rob children of family time and leave them exhausted.

A petition opposing the scheme attracted more than 100 signatures and 13 pupils were withdrawn from the school before it became an academy, with some parents openly blaming the shift to a longer school day.

But Mr Holledge said pupils had embraced the scheme.  ‘It’s been really positive. The vast majority of the pupils are staying and benefiting from the activities,’ he said.

‘The study time part has been tremendously successful and we’re seeing real improvement in the pupils’ attainment.  ‘It’s very settled and calm like it’s been in place forever.

‘To start with it felt like a scary adventure, but now it’s what we do and parents have been very supportive.  ‘I would say the confidence change has been almost more marked than the academic.

‘The drama and dance has been very productive and given them confidence. They’re more conversational and sociable now.’

The extended timetable is being championed by Mr Agnew, an insurance industry executive, who has personally funded the enrichment programme to the tune of £50,000 this year, rising to £100,000 next.

Explaining the rationale for the scheme, the Tory party donor lamented a widespread ‘apartheid’ between the educational haves and have-nots.  ‘Our vision is to show that no matter how deprived a child’s background, given a good, broad and structured education there is no reason why they cannot emerge from their primary schooling as every bit as capable and alive to the opportunities that life will present to them as those from more privileged backgrounds,’ he said.  ‘I am determined to end the apartheid in education that is so commonplace in this country.’

Greenacre Primary had been under-performing for several years with a succession of head teachers quickly moving on.

The school, where significant numbers of pupils qualify for free meals due to low household income, was finally taken off the failing list in November 2011 under the leadership of Mr Holledge. It became a sponsored academy nearly a year later with a brief to rapidly improve pupil results.

The school is among growing numbers moving to an extended day after Education Secretary Michael Gove backed the idea last year, to the fury of teaching unions.  ‘We are all in favour of longer school days, and potentially shorter summer holidays,’ he said.

At Great Yarmouth Primary Academy, there is no compulsion on teachers to take part. Study time at the end of day is staffed by classroom assistants, who are paid extra.

Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust which runs the academy, said the scheme was helping children to ‘grow in confidence’ and ‘stand taller’.

Initial monitoring of pupils’ results suggested it was already reaping benefits, she said.  'In the independent sector it costs £22,000-a-year to get this kind of quality education,’ she added.


No comments: