"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Research Debunks Mischel's Conclusions from "The Marshmallow Test"

50 KIPPsters, 1 teacher, in NYC 8th Grade classroom 2015.  Source PBS Newshour story on self-control
KIPP Model schools have long used Walter Mischel's research on delayed gratification among children to justify an indoctrination program aimed to manipulate economically-oppressed children to behave as corporate ed reformers would like: work hard, be nice, use self-control, and wait until your just rewards come to you, even if that happens to be NEVER.  As I wrote in my 2016 book,
[t]he philanthrocapitalists and their think tank scholars quote liberally from the work of Walter Mischel (1989, 2014), whose experiments with delayed gratification among preschoolers provide the dominant metaphor for another generation of paternalist endeavors.  In Mischel’s experiments, children were offered a single marshmallow immediately or two marshmallows later if they could delay their reward.  The test, which came to be labeled “The Marshmallow Test,” represents the potential to delay gratification in order to gain a larger reward later on.
        At many of the KIPP, Aspire, Achievement First, and Yes Prep schools, children wear t-shirts emblazoned with “Don’t Eat the Marshmallow.” Mischel’s (2014) latest work, The marshmallow test: Mastering self-control acknowledges KIPP’s prominent role and places it within the context of recent research on improving self-control.  David Levin has made Mischel’s book a central component in his Coursera massive open online course (MOOC), Teaching character and creating positive classrooms, which was first offered with co-instructor, Angela Duckworth, in 2014. 
The Atlantic reported last June on new research showing that Mischel's conclusions were flawed.
. . . .Ultimately, the new study finds limited support for the idea that being able to delay gratification leads to better outcomes. Instead, it suggests that the capacity to hold out for a second marshmallow is shaped in large part by a child’s social and economic background—and, in turn, that that background, not the ability to delay gratification, is what’s behind kids’ long-term success. . . .

. . . .This new paper found that among kids whose mothers had a college degree, those who waited for a second marshmallow did no better in the long run—in terms of standardized test scores and mothers’ reports of their children’s behavior—than those who dug right in. Similarly, among kids whose mothers did not have college degrees, those who waited did no better than those who gave in to temptation, once other factors like household income and the child’s home environment at age 3 (evaluated according to a standard research measure that notes, for instance, the number of books that researchers observed in the home and how responsive mothers were to their children in the researchers’ presence) were taken into account. For those kids, self-control alone couldn’t overcome economic and social disadvantages. 
The failed replication of the marshmallow test does more than just debunk the earlier notion; it suggests other possible explanations for why poorer kids would be less motivated to wait for that second marshmallow. For them, daily life holds fewer guarantees: There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity. 
Meanwhile, for kids who come from households headed by parents who are better educated and earn more money, it’s typically easier to delay gratification: Experience tends to tell them that adults have the resources and financial stability to keep the pantry well stocked. And even if these children don’t delay gratification, they can trust that things will all work out in the end—that even if they don’t get the second marshmallow, they can probably count on their parents to take them out for ice cream instead.

After Months of School Neglect, Bullied KIPP Student Attempts Suicide

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Continuing Comments on "A Former KIPP Teacher Shares Her Story"

Published in 2012, "A Former KIPP Teacher Shares Her Story" has been viewed over 111,000 times.  Here are the two most recent comments, especially worth noting now 7 years after the piece was posted…

As the wife of a current KIPP teacher I am pleased, yet saddened to read this as I've watched my husband, a 10 year social studies teacher who previously taught at a school ranked as one of the top in the country by US News & World Report, struggle mightily in his first year. He came to KIPP with such optimism and a strong desire to make a difference in urban ed. All he's been met with is constant criticism, but zero resources and actual lies from his admin. He teaches two grade levels, 7th and 8th, and even though the school has been open 8 years, there was no curriculum. Literally no materials to work with. He has created everything from lesson plans to assessments to state test questions on his own. His 8th graders only have text books, because he secured a donation from his prior school district. Even after all this, he has been told he doesn't seem vested and that his teaching style isn't a fit for succeeding on the rubric. We now completely understand why they've never had a social studies teacher last longer than a year and the last 2 were gone in the middle of the year. I definitely believe there are students benefiting greatly from KIPP's work, but there must be some way to actually support teachers and build a work place suitable for a career. Currently it seems they only want to deal with fresh grads who are easily manipulated. They can suck the life out of them for a couple of years and start over again.
Anonymous1:11 PM
I was a long-term sub at a KIPP school in California. Although they had positions open and I was encouraged to apply, I never did. The school could be best described as a shabbily run prison. The principal was far too young and inexperienced to be running anything of such vital importance, and this was reflected in how he dealt with the students. He was condescending, hyper-critical, insulting, and just plain mean. It was apparent that his interest in the position ended with his own administrative ambitions and that the students were merely obstacles on that path. To address your comment that some students seem to be benefiting from the KIPP model, I can tell you that the few students I observed who seemed to be doing well with the endless crush of meaningless busy-work that defines the KIPP curriculum and the constant beratement and humiliation dished-out by administrators and some teachers would likely do well under any conditions. These kids obviously came to KIPP with strong executive function skills and cognitive ability... they certainly didn't learn them after arriving. It was heartbreaking to watch... simply because these hard-working, intelligent kids were blinded to the bigger picture by their own poverty, I doubt they realized that they would do well in a school that uncovered, then nurtured and developed their aptitudes and abilities to their fullest potential. Instead, with each day at KIPP, they became more and more institutionalized; incapable of novel or creative thought, out-of-touch with their own emotional lives, and utterly convinced that this was the best opportunity available to someone of their socioeconomic class. KIPP is the complete antithesis of everything education should be, and it in no way works in concert with how human beings learn (through relationships).

Friday, June 07, 2019

If Vouchers Don't Measure Up, Just Change the Measure

I have thought for some time that the biggest threat to the hegemony of the testing accountability complex will come from the school privatization movement, whose own researchers know in dark center of their whoring hearts that charter schools and voucher schools more often than not produce lower test scores than the public schools they are replacing.

We have evidence that this now could be happening, as Trump's feds and states like Florida and Tennessee are beating the bushes to find any and all positive correlations between clean living, hard work, and voucher school attendance. 

An interesting piece from the Conversation, with good links, too:
For the past couple of decades, proponents of vouchers for private schools have been pushing the idea that vouchers work.

They assert there is a consensus among researchers that voucher programs lead to learning gains for students – in some cases bigger gains than with other reforms and approaches, such as class-size reduction.

They have highlighted studies that show the positive impact of vouchers on various populations. At the very least, they argue, vouchers do no harm.

As researchers who study school choice and education policy, we see a new consensus emerging — including in pro-voucher advocates’ own studies — that vouchers are having mostly no effects or negative effects on student learning. As a result, we see a shift in how voucher proponents are redefining what voucher success represents. They are using a new set of non-academic gains that were not the primary argument to promote vouchers.

How success is defined is particularly important now in light of the fact that Florida and Tennessee – which are both controlled by Republicans – have created new publicly funded voucher programs in May 2019.

In April, a large-scale study — conducted by voucher advocates — found substantial negative impacts for students using vouchers to attend private schools. . . .
Read on.