Zero Tolerance?

Posted on November 11, 2011

Pretesting Students and the KWL Strategy

In 1986, order Donna Ogle created KWL, a reading strategy that engages the students in the text or textbook and helps students analyze what they are reading. Students are asked to describe what they already know about the reading topic. Then they are asked to look at the title, the introduction and the pictures and determine what they want to know more of, in essence to determine why they should continue reading the literature. After reading, then they describe what they learned from the reading selection. In KWL this was done verbally. In KWL+ this included a worksheet. In either form, the purpose was to stimulate discussion, questions, and curiosity in the topic being studied.

For too many teachers, KWL has become the preferred method for pretesting any student knowledge before beginning a lesson. Ogle never intended KWL to be used as a pretest. It is a discussion tool designed to stimulate questions.


In this era of questioning the value of American public education, it is critical that teachers are able to show that students are learning in their classrooms. Many have used the term “value-added” borrowed from business, to indicate student progress in the classroom content. In order to establish what value a teacher has added to the student, a pretest must be given to find out what they know or do not know. Then, after the lesson, a test is given to determine what the students actually learned. The difference between the two scores is the “value” that has been added by the teacher.

For many years, teachers have believed in this basic principle, but for the most part, they have deemed it superfluous because students are not expected to know anything prior to the teaching. This could not be further from the truth. Each state has scaffolded and spiraled the educational content to such a degree that almost nothing the students are expected to learn each year is brand new. Additionally, it is possible, and probable, that students have learned knowledge and skills independent from the school system (isn’t that what we want?) It therefore, becomes not only prudent, but vital for teachers to determine what students know before instruction begins in order to customize the instruction to student needs, and not waste time on teaching things the students already know.

Read more HERE>

Author: Ben Johnson, Edutopia


Photo by: Rough & Ready Media

More schools rethinking zero-tolerance discipline stand

Nearly two decades after a zero-tolerance culture took hold in American schools, buy information pills a growing number of educators and elected leaders are scaling back discipline policies that led to lengthy suspensions and ousters for such mistakes as carrying toy guns or Advil.

This rethinking has come in North Carolina and Denver, mind in Baltimore and Los Angeles—part of a phenomenon driven by high suspension rates, community pressure, legal action, and research findings. In the Washington region, Fairfax County is considering policy changes after a wave of community concern; school leaders in the District and Prince George’s, Arlington and Montgomery counties have pursued new ideas, too.

The shift is a quiet counterpoint to a long string of high-profile cases about severe punishments for childhood misjudgments. In recent months, a high school lacrosse player was suspended in Easton, MD., and led away in handcuffs for having a pocketknife in his gear bag that he said was for fixing lacrosse sticks. Earlier, a teenager in the Virginia community of Spotsylvania was expelled for blowing plastic pellets through a tube at classmates.

Now, in many areas, efforts are underway to find a more calibrated approach to school discipline. Educators are increasingly focused on the fallout of suspensions, which are linked to lower academic achievement and students dropping out.

Read more HERE>

Author: Donna St. George, The Washington Post

Photo by: Rough & Ready Media (Link)