Research and Reports
A high-quality elementary school should have a maximum student-teacher ratio of 20 to 1, a full-time principal who can "convey high expectations for students, staff, and self," a written curriculum that meets the students' needs, and a cli-mate that "emphasizes the worth of all individuals."
These are among 21 recommendations made by the National Association of Elementary School Principals in a recently released report, "Standards for Quality Elementary Schools: Kindergarten Through Eighth Grade."
The 60-page report, produced by a 14-member committee of principals, grew out of a September 1983 conference organized by naesp, the Johnson Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the U.S. Education Department. The committee was chaired by James L. Doud, principal of the Malcolm Price Laboratory School at the University of Northern Iowa.
The 21 "standards for excellence" are divided into seven categories: school organization, leadership, curriculum, instruction, training and development, school climate, and evaluation and assessment. The report's appendices include a "checklist" for administrators and their schools and a guide for implement-Continued on Following Page Continued from Preceding
ing the recommendations.
The report is being mailed this month to naesp's 22,000 members. Additional copies are available for $8.50 each from naesp, 1920 Association Dr., Reston, Va. 22091.
Teen-agers swing from high to low moods much more rapidly than adults, according to a somewhat unusual study conducted by the University of Chicago and the Laboratory for the Study of Adolescence at the city's Michael Reese Hospital.
For the research, about 75 local high-school students were wired with electronic devices through which the researchers could signal them. When the researchers "beeped" their subjects at random times during the day, the students were required to immediately write down in a notebook what they were doing and thinking. The study was completed in 1977 but became available this year in a book entitled Being Adolescent: Conflict and Growth in the Teenage Years.
"The most striking thing the study showed was how extreme kids' emotions are," said Reed Larson, di-rector of the Laboratory for the Study of Adolescence, and co-author of the book. "Compared to adults, they have much higher highs and much lower lows."
Research conducted at Michigan State University supports the widely held suspicion that high-school teachers avoid assigning rigorous and demanding classwork in an attempt to make schools more comfortable for students.
"An implicit bargain exists to sacrifice academic content for comfortable classroom social relations," the researchers contend in the report, which is based on an extensive review of 20 years of research on Michigan high schools. Sponsored by the National Institute of Education, the report was prepared at the university's Institute for Research on Teaching.
Teachers tolerate and sometimes encourage diversions from academic pursuits, often adapting their curriculum and teaching methods to student preferences to make schools more pleasant to students, the researchers maintain.
"Because personal relations are3critical to teaching satisfaction and classroom management, many students are permitted to pass through the grades by aging rather than achieving," the researchers argue.
And because teachers are expected to keep students quiet, interest-ed, and in class, the report states, they accept unacceptable work and tolerate confusion.
Under the current education system, a diploma and a job--not learning--are the goals of schooling, the report concludes. And in an effort to obtain a diploma, students sidestep knowledge, sometimes avoiding challenging classes to maintain a high grade-point average. Most students do what is necessary to get the diploma, and no more, the report says.