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Not everyone happy with EDI

Original post made on Sep 13, 2012

While the superintendent of Mountain View's elementary and middle schools has touted the success of a new district-wide educational protocol, others are speaking out against it — saying it stifles individual creativity and forces students capable of working at a faster pace to slow down to keep pace with those who are struggling.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 14, 2012, 12:00 AM

Comments (8)

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Posted by divergent
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm

EDI epitomizes the worst of teacher-centered pedagogy. I won't go as far as calling it a "scripted approach" to teaching, but it's pretty darn close. Not only does it removes creativity and divergent thinking from the classroom, there is no room for collaboration, project based learning, and just as important, learning activities that promote social and emotional development among students.

I am surprised Google chose to invest their money in this program. Given that Google's founders were "out of the box" thinkers, they are putting money into a program that does not promote creativity or divergent thinking. Someone at Google messed up big time.

The school district also blew it here. The article is correct in pointing out that the school district lacks a mechanism for teacher feedback. The district's "one size fits all" approach is a serious concern. If EDI were a tool that teachers could use when appropriate, then this wouldn't be much an issue. It's not! Teachers are expected to implement EDI in all their subjects, all the time, without any deviation from the "script." Hence, the term "EDI Police" has now emerged among community. There used to be a time when teachers were hired and expected to make professional and educated decisions about the children in the classroom. EDI's "teacher proof" lessons allow anyone off the street to deliver "learning" to our kids.

The school district also blew it here. While nearby districts are investing in Common Core Standards, STEM, and Next Generation Science Standards, the district office chose to spend what limited resources it has on a system, developed in 1960s and geared towards low-income, disadvantage populations in urban cities (look up Project Follow Through).

The school district also blew it here. There is absolutely no evidence that EDI has contributed to the growth in test scores. To do so, one would have to identify students who received full implementation of EDI in their classrooms, and then measure growth v. students who did not receive EDI. I challenge the district to produce data that shows a causal link. The district also claims to have broad support. Again, there is no evidence to support this claim.

Still not convinced that EDI is not what we need in our schools, check out the following link, Direct Instruction advocates love this:

Web Link

Who knows? Maybe your kindergartener will be solving Algebra problems very soon. Can't wait to see your 6th grader solving Calculus equations.

Bottom line: This is a way to raise test scores and nothing more. I'll leave you with this excerpt from the article link below:

Door #1: If our goal is to accelerate short-term learning of predetermined and easily tested academic knowledge and skills (regardless of broad and long-term effects), then direct instruction would be judged to be clearly more effective.

Door #2: However, what if we want what works best in the long run for the range of goals we value most for children, including real-world competence in subject matter plus creativity, love of learning, initiative, problem-solving, independence, critical thinking, citizenship, good decision-making, communication skills, leadership, and to be caring, happy, and healthy? If we really want this, then education with substantial child-initiated and jointly-planned learning is clearly superior.

Web Link


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Posted by Teacher in support
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Bottom line is that our students who are most at risk aren't doing well with our current pedagogical strategies. I don't think we new robots, but there is a mathematical fluency that is needed. Does a kid really need to problem solve six ways to add 3+4. In the last 10-20 years so much new knowledge has been created that in order to progress, we have to be more efficient learners.

I think about Picasso. He was a divergent and innovative artist, but he also had basic technique and understanding.

I think many who dislike EDI lack an understanding of its purpose. It's a strategy to teach new learning. One can still do projects. The idea is that we want to increase students learnin the first time to be more efficient so we have time to have students work collaboratively I. A meaningful way.

It's the inverse of what many are already doing. If done correctly and thoughtfully, students will be able to correctly apply knowledge they have gained through acquiring mathematical fluency.


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Posted by divergent
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm

@Teacher: You do not know for certain that link between "current pedagogical strategies" and "at-risk children" is the one to blame here. Take a look at Sean Reardon's Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances. In this analysis, "Family income is now nearly as strong as parental education in predicting children's achievement." Unless you know for certain which pedagogical strategy is being used, you cannot say that it is failing. It may very well be that the "at-risk" student is "failing" for other reasons. For example, the authors point out that "increasing parental investment in children's cognitive development" is a huge predictor for academic success. Did you know that "between birth and age six, wealthier children will have spent as many as 1,300 more hours than poor children on child enrichment activities such as music lessons, travel, and summer camp" and "that a child from a poor family is two to four times as likely as a child from an affluent family to have classmates with low skills and behavior problems." The public school system is not designed to close this type of gap: it does not guarantee equality of outcome.

@Teacher: Many feel that our public school system should focus less on efficiency, and more on effectiveness. There is no evidence that we need to be more efficient because of something that has happened in the last 10-20 years. Check out Tony Wagner's Creating Innovators. The key is not efficiency, but rather developing a culture of innovation based on "collaboration, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and intrinsic motivation." EDI does nothing to promote what many leaders now think is critical educational foundation for the next generation.

@Teacher: I agree that EDI's purpose is to "teach new learning." It is not, however, the reason for the "dislike." I encourage you to read How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom, the research based cognitive backbone for how Next Generation Science Standards are being developed (coming soon, 2013-2014).

@Teacher: The real question is choosing Door #1 or Door #2. Are you willing to risk what works best for children in the long run for a higher test score this year?


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Posted by Teacher in suppor
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 10:01 pm

The current problem is the system. I do think we have to improve public education on a very fundamental level, but we have a very real problem both district and nationwide. Students who are at-risk have a difficult time achieving. This is completely obvious to most. Given that, my job as an educator, is to give my students the tools they will need to be successful regardless of their home life. What I do from 8-3 MUST work for these students. If my students do not achieve, what I am doing is NOT WORKING. Again we have outliers, but an astonishing number of our ELL's and low SES are leaving middle school not proficient. We MUST change what we are doing. It's not EDI versus project based collaborative learning. Its EDI plus project based collaborative learning that will create the best system.

I'm not saying we must do EDI, but it is a strategy that has been shown to improve student test scores. Again, test scores aren't the only thing that matter, but the opportunities our low SES and ELL population miss out on for not being proficient are many. The tests are designed to show minimal proficiency. Frankly if students cannot demonstrate minimal proficiency in reading and basic arithmetic on a multiple choice question , how do we expect to see innovation and collaboration around content when students cannot access the material in a significant way.

Although the common core is due to be adopted for 2013-2014, it is very possible that we this will not come to fruition because our state lacks the money to assess in meaningful ways. This will be a travesty if we aren't able to adopt the new core.

Just as a clarification, the efficiency comment was geared towards effective teaching the first time around, rather than teaching the same thing twice, or three times. Many of the techniques in EDI allow for the teacher to make assessments as students are learning. Rather than completing a lesson and then finding out at the end of your teaching segment that students were confused. If done correctly, a teacher could pinpoint when in a process students are falling behind. Plainly put, it better to teach effectively the first time around rather than teaching the same thing 3 different ways after the fact.


To answer your question about which door... Ideally, I want a third option that raises test scores in the short run and if beneficial in the long run. I think both option 1 and 2 aren't useful for our most at-risk students. Because of the way our school system is set up, students who are not proficient/advanced on a standardized test won't be able to have access to opportunities that are life changing to them.


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Posted by divergent
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 10:47 pm

@Teacher: I agree with this completely. The system is at fault. I also agree with you that a balance of both EDI and PBL would be best. It seems, however, based on this article and others about EDI at this district, that teachers have not been given the choice to use the best of both worlds. It's my understanding that it's "EDI or else." I do not agree, however, that if students do not achieve, what you're doing is not working. How are you supposed to do in one year, what would normally take 3-5 years? If an at-risk student enters Kinder 3-5 years behind, educators simply cannot throw EDI at them and expect accelerate cognitive experiences necessary for meaningful understanding.

@Teacher: I agree. EDI will eventually lead to gains in test scores. I am just not convinced about the long-term benefits. Will they fail in trig, geometry, calculus, because they only learned the material at a superficial level? Are we hoping that deep conceptual understanding will "kick in" later in life?

@Teacher: Does EDI even align with common core? Won't it use performance assessments?

@Teacher: Okay. Got it. I agree. Seems to me, however, that good 'ole teacher collaboration should take care of the ineffective teaching. Right?

@Teacher: Good point. Again, it's a systematic issue. It's a travesty, however, that the at-risk students not only need to deal with whatever is going on outside of school, but school, in and of itself, is an obstacle to, like you say, opportunities.


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Posted by Teacher in support
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Maybe I am just given the district too much credit, but I feel like teachers have been told that EDI is for teaching new content only. It is 1 tool in our toolkit. It is not the only tool.

Again, a student coming in 2-3 years behind isn't just about cognitive ability. Many students honestly have not had enough practice with certain skills. Many students who come from affluent or even middle-class have many more opportunities to practice skills through family game time. As teacher working with these students, our time is valuable, we have to be knowledgeable and use things that make our time efficient and effective. Realistically, those students need more.


EDI is not a curriculum. It's really about organizing lessons so that it is not confusing for student learning. It's about teaching in a way in which we ask questions that given them an opportunity to express their conceptualization of knowledge so that you as a teacher can make an informed decision about where to go next. So, it can be used with common core or any curriculum for that matter. Students should have conceptual understanding to where they can successful complete a performance assessment.

I found many collaborations aren't discussing how do we teach, but what we are teaching and what materials to copy. We, as Elementary teachers, have WAY to many subjects to effectively discuss conceptual development in an meaningful way without spending 20 extra hours planning.

I think your question about deep understanding can be understood by really thinking about what we actually teach. How many students ever truly understand our number system. To really grasp the concept of base 10, one must also understand that there are other systems like binary or base 5. Is that the type of deep understanding we are looking for? If so, I have yet to see any teacher help students develop a true deep understanding. I have seen the the way that many other teachers are instructing student, and they are also not developing deep understanding. ( I know a red-herring), and according to data, they are aren't doing well on test. All the later in life talk really becomes irrelevant when students get to 8th grade and can't pass pre-algebra. If students lack the basic skills to be successful/ achieve proficiency in pre-algebra, they will fail in the upper division math anyway.

Our discussion has been centered around math, but i truly am more concerned with reading/language arts. How are student to debate the pros and cons of arguments, when they are functionally illiterate?




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Posted by Jack Smith
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 17, 2012 at 6:27 am

[Post removed due to promoting a website]


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Posted by Teachers Make the Difference
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Sep 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Goldman announced at the beginning of the year all-hands staff meeting that the "EDI Police" would be out and about making sure EDI is implemented.

The teacher of the year last year, with only five years experience, was named solely for her support of EDI.

There is no proof the EDI has led to slightly higher test scores. Th


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