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Friday, November 19, 2004



Enough with the build-up already. I gotta read parts II through VII by the end of the year, so I can get some decent lessons designed for my bonehead stats^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H class in statistical literacy next spring. We want our free ice cream, and we want it NOW!

Ah, that's better.

Your first installment on course design was very useful, and got me off to a good start. I look forward to your next article; I trust it will help me flesh out many of the lessons I have begun to outline.


I get the feeling that Professor Plum and Mark Twain would have had a rollicking good ol' time if they were able to get together. And a transcript would be even more gut-bustingly funny than these most excellent rants!

Never off-target, never dull... great work (says this self-confessed pedant).

meOH my

I'm turning blue, and can't wait to read the next installment in your design for instruction. Currently, I'm suffering through the edu-blather of teacher training. Many a day I'm afraid I'm going to do a Peter Finch in the middle of said "training" ( You know, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!"). I'm also whining my way throught the required portfolio (God help me). The nonsense I have to endure is more than a little grating to this 44-year-old, non-traditional student. I can honestly say I would have been better prepared to teach before imbibing of their propaganda. How I wish I would have encountered even one ed prof. such as yourself. Thanks for the dose of sanity.


I'm with Mr. I-want-my-ice-cream-now. I want to teach this to my 'girls' - student teachers for whom I T.A. They'll eat it up...are discovering ed school is not all it's cracked up to be...;)


Professor, do you know anything about the High/scope preschool project? They've just come out with a new release of the kids at 40 years old. Something tells this data is too good to be true. Take a look.

Your friend, JennyD


Well, JennyD,

The series of papers put out by High/Scope on the alleged long term effects of the High/Scope preschool curriculum are exemplars of shoddy research.

1. Small numbers.

2. Large % of the orginal groups are gone.

3. Perry and nonPerry groups were not comparable at the start and probably not thereafter, either.

4. Results presented in a way that NO differences appear to be differences.

You may recall the graph of results from Follow Through, here...

The bar on the right--Cognitive Curriculum--is High/Scope. Do those findings look like they'd have a nice effect on kids? Kids who got High/Scope moved DOWNWARDS.

For at least 40 years, the High/Scope directors, Weikart and Schweinhart, have been trying to discredit DI, which came out the best. So, every 5 years or so, W and S roll out another so-called longtitudinal study trying to prove that High/Scope IS good for kids and DI is bad. They even published a few papers that made the absurd claim that DI caused criminality in kids who had had DI for an hour or so in preschool. This was about 20 years after the kids had been in preschool and only a handful were left from the original sample. Gee, where were the ones they couldn't find? Upwardly mobile and GONE. So who WAS available for the follow-up? The handful that had criminal records.

Naturally, since few teachers or ed perfessers know anything about the logic of research, all they have to do is read some "authority" say that there was x times more crime among the DI sample (yeah, three acts, but they used PERCENTAGES, and that made trivial differences look like something big) and naive readers fall for it.

I got sick and tired of their drivel and wrote this awhile back....

There are about half a dozen articles in the series written by Schweinhart and Weikart, in which they claim to compare (and apparently believe that they demonstrate the superiority of) their High/Scope pre-school curriculum with (1) a preschool that used Direct Instruction in reading and language for about an hour a day for one year, and (2) a traditional nursery school. It does not take a heavy background in research methodology to see what is wrong with the Schweinhart and Weikart studies. All it takes is reading their articles and applying a bit of commonsense. (See Weikart, D. [1988]. A perspective in High/Scope's early education research. Early Child Development and Care, 33, 29-44; Schweinhart, L. & Weikart, D. [1997]. The High/Scope curriculum comparison study. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12, 117-143.)

In a nutshell, they claim that:
1. approximately 20 years after the children went to the three preschools;

2. with only about one-third of the original children (now adults) available for further study;

3. with little idea where the other two-thirds were; and

4. with important differences in the remaining samples (notably, far more of the adults who had been in the Direct Instruction preschool had been reared by single, working mothers whose income was about half that of households in the High/Scope group (socializing conditions [e.g., economic disadvantage, inadequate supervision and discipline] that sociological research—e.g., of Marvin Wolfgang and Gerald Patterson—has shown to be predisposing factors to juvenile delinquency); even so,

5. an hour a day of Direct Instruction in reading, language, and math is said by Schweinhart and Weikart to have caused anti-social behavior in the DI kids one and two decades later.

Let us ignore the fact that instead of reporting the actual rates of antisocial behavior, Schweinhart and Weikart generally report percentages; e.g., that there was allegedly twice as much antisocial behavior among prior DI kids twenty years later.

Let us also ignore the fact that these percentage differences actually amount to differences in the activities of only one or two persons.

What is most telling, and just plain bizarre, is that these two writers barely entertain the possibility that: (1) a dozen years of school experience; (2) area of residence; (3) family background; (4) the influence of gangs; and (5) differential economic opportunity, had anything to do with adolescent development and adult behavior. But, Weikart and Schweinhart are experts in early childhood. Therefore, they may not know that experiences after preschool affect adolescent development and adult behavior.

If one wanted to use an ad hominem argument, the Schweinhart and Weikart studies certainly provide the opportunity. First, they assert—again and again--that their curriculum is the superior one. Indeed, the number of times they make this claim gives their articles the ring of an advertising campaign for hair care products. Second, the early results of project Follow Through (with, I believe, 9000 children assigned to nine early childhood curricula) showed that disadvantaged children who received Direct Instruction went from the 20th to about the 50th percentile on the Metropolitan Achievement Test. Children who received the High/Scope curriculum did not do as well. They fell from the 20th percentile to the 11th. Maybe that is the animus for Schweinhart and Weikart's claim. But we won't speculate.

Finally, the supposed advantage of High/Scope in the latest study, that you report, is nothing to write home about. These persons STILL live in poverty.

In summary, the High/Scope research is an example of how the progressive ed establishment sustains control--hooey served up as truth.

So, if you smelled a rat (actually, DO rats smell? I mean to us. I don't know. Maybe a better simile, if that's what it is, would be, if you thought something fishy was going on... But what's THAT mean? Fishy. Is that bad? Something fishy. Frankly, I'm baffled.) there probably was one.


There's a positively gushy article in the NY Times magazine today about High Scope. FYI..

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