By Debra Ladestro & Jeffrey Porro — September 01, 1990 5 min read

A Bow To Tradition

Teachers who get their licenses through alternative-certification programs have a harder time in the classroom than their traditionally trained colleagues, according to a study of 231 Houston elementary school teachers. The study, by three University of Houston researchers, found that the alternatively certified teachers rated their own on-the-job performance much worse than their regularly certified peers. They also reported having difficulty motivating students, managing their time, and coping with paperwork.

A Vote For Change

A report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science recommends that all would-be teachers who plan to teach science take a liberal arts program with a strong emphasis on the natural sciences. Those who plan to specialize in science teaching should major in natural science. The report was released as a response to two earlier reports—one by the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, the other by the Holmes Group—that called for abolishing the undergraduate education major in favor of a liberal arts education but did not discuss the training of science teachers.

Having It Their Way

Thanks to an agreement between school-district and teacher-union officials in Fairfax County, Va., teachers elected by their peers are now the majority on an advisory board for continuing-education programs for teachers in the district. The board’s duties include identifying continuing-education needs, recommending the design of programs, and overseeing changes in the training timetables for the district’s 9,000 teachers.

Community For Learning

Schools in which there is a “sense of community"—a common purpose, shared values, and an understanding of rights and obligations—are more effective than their non-communal counterparts, according to a study by University of Chicago researchers, who found that teachers in these schools felt more satisfied with their work than other teachers. Students tended to be better disciplined, showed greater interest in school, and had lower dropout rates. Smaller schools and private and parochial schools were more likely to be communal, while schools with ethnically diverse student populations were slightly less likely.

Not For Lack Of Concern

Secretary of Education Lauro Cavazos outraged members of the Hispanic community when he argued that Hispanic parents didn’t care enough about their children’s schooling. Some recent research seems to indicate he was wrong. Misunderstandings and cultural differences—not lack of concern—cause some Hispanic parents to be uninvolved in their children’s education, concludes a three-year study by the Hispanic Policy Development Project. According to the report, low-income Hispanic parents care about their children’s education but are unfamiliar with the roles expected of them in the U.S. school system. In addition, many Hispanic parents look upon school officials as experts whom they have no right to question.

Two Parents Are Better

Delinquent teenagers who grow up to become stable adults are far more likely to have come from two-parent homes than teens who went on to commit crimes as adults, according to findings of a long-running study of human development. The study, by a University of CaliforniaDavis researcher, began more than 30 years ago; it traces the passage into adulthood of more than 200 high-risk children born in 1955 in Kauai, Hawaii. Of the 77 men and 26 women who were delinquent as teenagers, only 18 men and three women had criminal records as adults. Of these, five out of six adult criminals came from families in which one parent was absent; only one in four non-offenders grew up in single-parent homes.

Career Ladders

Teacher career-incentive programs do not appear to increase the level of commitment to the profession or the level of morale or job satisfaction, according to a study of 800 teachers by University of Wisconsin and University of Missouri researchers. The study of two groups of teachers—one in the first year of various career-ladder programs, the other in the second stage—found no significant difference in morale or job satisfaction between the two groups. But those in the second year of a career ladder had a lower level of commitment to teaching than those in the first year.

Stressed Out In Kindergarten

Researchers at Louisiana State University studied the behavior of 204 kindergarten students in a medium-sized Southern city. Half the students were in academically oriented, highly structured programs, and half were in “developmentally appropriate” programs that emphasized activities such as pointing, constructing, sorting, telling, naming, and drawing. The researchers found that kindergartners in the academically oriented programs exhibited “significantly more” stress behaviors than the children in the developmentally appropriate classrooms. In addition, black children of lower socioeconomic status exhibited more stress behaviors than white children of similar status.

Touch-Tone Teachers

Better Homes and Gardens reports that 25 schools in eight states are experimenting with computerized phone-message systems that let parents and teachers communicate 24 hours a day. The typical system works like this: When a parent calls the school, a recorded voice runs through a list of all the teachers and their two-digit codes. The parent then presses the desired code on his or her phone, perhaps followed by another single digit identifying the child’s class section. The parent then gets a recorded message such as: “Science was a knockout today! We studied the periodic table. Be sure to ask your child about it at home.” Many of the systems allow parents to leave their own message for the teacher.

A Videodisc First

“Windows on Science,” an instructional media program produced by Optical Data Corporation, is the first videodisc-based program to compete directly with textbooks for state adoption; it was submitted in Texas for adoption as an elementary science text. A preliminary decision was scheduled for late summer. Final selection will be made this fall.

Satellites Vs. Dropouts

The Hughes Aircraft Company plans to beam educational programming via satellite into public schools to encourage at-risk students to continue their educations. A pilot project, involving 30 schools from low-income and rural areas, will begin in the fall of 1991. It is expected to mix existing and new English and science programs targeted at students from kindergarten through grade 5. Hughes, a division of GM Hughes Electronics, will underwrite the entire cost of the program.

A version of this article appeared in the September 01, 1990 edition of Teacher as Notebook