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Monday, October 26, 2009

DC SCORES staff featured in The Washington Post

DC SCORES has been well-represented in The Washington Post's Sunday edition the past few weeks.

Three Sundays ago, Marie Reed girls soccer coach Eric Bethel was quoted in an article about a new form of professional development for teachers being employed at DC SCORES' flagship elementary school.

And in Sunday's Metro section, DC SCORES executive director Amy Nakamoto was quoted in an article  about cuts in funding for school-based sports and physical education and the effect they're having on youth, which were detailed in a recent report.
The report was released by Up2Us, which is a coalition of groups led by America SCORES president Paul Caccamo lobbying to save sports programming for kids.

It stated that $2 billion in cuts to physical education programs in schools, "extrapolated from 23 school district budgets," is negatively affecting the nation's youth, particularly in Washington, D.C. The article said that only about half of the city's middle and high schools teach required physical education classes for all grades compared to three-quarters of the schools in Maryland.

Such statistics help to demonstrate why DC SCORES serves such an important function.

"A lot of stuff happening during the school day is strict test-prep and all that's needed to get kids up to the standards," Nakamoto said in the article. "We provide a service that the school district's not able to provide right now."

At one of our schools, teachers are taking an alternative approach to education that's showing positive results. In the Education section of Oct. 11's Post, Bethel was featured prominently in a lengthy piece about a model of teacher development called "lesson study," which was developed in Japan

Two years ago, five Marie Reed teachers began using the method, which is described as a "collaborative examination of the mechanics of teaching." Through lesson study, teachers work to come up with a "research lesson." They come up with a teaching objective, decide how they're going to teach it, then gauge how their students will react and how they, in turn, will deal with students' problems and misunderstandings.

Sometimes a teacher has an observer attend class to observe lesson study so that they can provide feedback about what worked and didn't work.

It, clearly, is very feedback-oriented and always open to change, although there are no huge overhauls.

"Lesson study is a way for teachers to get better. It provides a vehicle to grow," said Bethel, who is in his eighth year teaching and coaching for DC SCORES at Marie Reed. "I've never, ever been involved in any professional development that's been as enriching."

Not only that, but test results indicate that lesson study is having a positive impact on Marie Reed's student body, with math scores on D.C.'s Comprehensive Assessment System standardized test having increased by a good amount in the past two years.

Check out the full versions of both articles; they're interesting looks into the major problems facing the District's youth and how they're being battled by DC SCORES and other educators and programs.

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