Too Simple to Fail: A Case for Educational Change
R. Barker Bausell
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Too Simple to Fail presents a startling dissection of what is wrong with our educational system and a set of simple, common-sense steps for improving it. This simplicity, Bausell argues, characterizes both the schooling process and the science of education, as witnessed by legions of researchers who have discovered precious little that their grandmothers didn't already know. Yet surprisingly, based upon the author's own studies and a review of the past 30+ years of educational research, these discoveries boil down to a simple but powerful theory: The only way schools can increase learning is to increase the amount of relevant instructional time for all students.
Here, Bausell demonstrates that classroom instruction is hopelessly obsolete, as are our current testing practices, both contributing to the widening opportunity gap between socioeconomic and racial groups. But with an understanding of what is wrong with education today comes the revelation that the answer to these deficiencies has been available to us all along in the form of the tutorial model, the most effective instructional paradigm ever developed. Only in recent years has it become feasible to simulate this extremely effective instructional medium as a universal option that, in effect, would allow schools to provide relevant instruction as a rule and not an exception. If implemented, a new world of opportunity and potential will finally be available to children, whose learning is so crucial for our future.
The new model presented in this book has implications for identifying not only what is wrong with the way we educate our young, but also why it is wrong, and how the educational process can be made more efficient, effective, and fair.
of opportunity to learn (which was deﬁned in terms of percentage of students on task and whether what was taught overlapped with what was tested), suggests that the most useful thing to do for children with underdeveloped reading and mathematics skills in the primary grades is to provide more direct instruction in these areas…. It seems clear that what gets taught is a more important consideration than how it’s taught” (p. 22). • “When certain ends are met, such as regular assessment of student
learning trials. Experimental subjects (typically, college undergraduates) were taught, via repeated presentations—often involving a slide projector or its equivalent—to “pair” these syllables (or sometimes conceptually unrelated words) until this arbitrary association was successfully “learned.” To avoid as much error as possible in inferring that learning had occurred (and to measure it as precisely as humanly possible), testing involved exactly the same processes that were used in instruction
instrument or being a member of a band. My view of schooling, however, is extremely narrow and focused exclusively upon efﬁciently producing learning, so I would suggest that opportunities such as these should be provided by other institutions or organizations (which could be allowed to use school facilities after hours). I would similarly suggest that competitive sports be organized and supported by interested community groups completely outside of the school’s jurisdiction (and of course with
standardized tests used to assess student learning. An excellent example of one of the high-quality trials appearing on the IES website is a study entitled The Enhanced Reading Opportunities Study28 in which 34 high schools from ten districts were randomly assigned29 to either receive the program or not. The program basically involved 225 minutes of literacy instruction on top of the students’ regular ninth-grade language art classes (obviously a huge increase in instructional time). The
the control group (because its students received signiﬁcantly less instruction). School and administrative restructuring To a certain extent inspired by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation (which constituted a bizarre attempt to legislate school learning)30, there have been a number of administrative (e.g. district wide reforms based upon corporate accountability models) and school restructuring (e.g., breaking up large urban high schools into smaller ones—primarily championed and funded