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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Ten Common Principles

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4.4 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 02, 2003 by Teacher Education
Overview: Rather than presenting a cookie cutter model for education, the Coalition of
Essential Schools (CES) is guided by Ten Common Principles that seem
straightforward, and yet are rarely implemented in schools. The Principles are
designed to empower teachers who, from the perspective of the coalition, are
committed and qualified, but unable to do the work of teaching due to conditions
in school systems that make that work difficult. The Ten Common Principles are
located on this website. CES offers a vision of education that sees students and
teachers as active partners in creating meaningful learning. The website
provides resources to aid in the reform. Perhaps the information on the website
most valuable to students of education would be the resources on school design,
classroom practices, and community involvement. Also noteworthy are history of
CES, the common principles, and comparative data on students from CES schools
and national averages.
Learning Goals: The user can explore and learn about a variety of important educational issues.
These resources will help teachers convert schools that are places for kids to
mmet their friends and play around into institutions that challenge their minds
and teach children to use their minds well using the Coalition for Essential
School?s approach.
Target Student Population: Teacher candidates and education professionals
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Users with experience in primary or secondary education would probably benefit
most from the site.
Type of Material: Reference and collection of materials designed to support the CES network of
schools.
Recommended Uses: This web site should be used in teacher leadership education for prospective
teachers to consider their role in establishing the school learning environment
and to reflect on how to be proactive in solving problems they encounter.
Students can explore the specifics involved in school reform and the process of
change necessary to effective reform. Students could use the resources for
research purposes or specific articles could be assigned to provide a basis for
discussion on a specific issue.
Technical Requirements: Basic browser

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.4 stars
Strengths: CES provides a good balance of teacher voice and research base, with reference
to the published literature. The focus on Common Principles makes it clear what
consitute appropriate voice and what kinds of teacher talk might be
inappropriate for CES schools. Sadly, teachers are not often encouraged to talk
about the student life and learning issues addressed by CES. All teachers could
benefit from knowing about the CES approach to thinking about teaching and
learning. Given the current emphasis on accountability for schools this site
provides resources helpful for anyone interested in the topic of improving the
educational process. One will find extensive information about the topics of
school structure, classroom practices, school governance, and family and
community involvement. The material referred to as the Cycle of Inquiry
describes the process of planning, implementing, evaluating and revising
instruction. Good visuals are used to illustrate the relationship among these
steps and how each step feeds into the other.
While CES is based on their 10 Common Principles they also offer 4 essential
design principles for effective school: depth as opposed to breadth in the
curriculum to engage students in serious intellectual work, relatively small
student loads (80:1 for secondary; 20:1 for elementary) so that teachers can
know students well, teachers must have authority over their work, and family and
community must be involved in the school. Such attempts to distill the
essentials for effective schools into a short list encourage thinking about what
is most important and critical about effective education and is a good exercise
for professional and lay person alike.
Concerns: A minor concern that may depend upon the voice is that some CES talk about
learning seems to lose sight of the substantive content of the learning. While
most of the examples among the resources are outstanding, a few leave one
wondering about substantive learning goals.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The Ten Common Principles make sense. Teachers are often asked to do things -
budget their time, manage financial resources, and handle students - in ways
that don't make sense. The simplicity of the Principles and the graphics
(Schools and Centers; Four Focus Areas) are major strengths. The site has
resources on numerous topics with most being brief and informative.
Perhaps its greatest value is in giving users an awareness of major issues to
be considered in educational improvement. Active involvement of the user is
encouraged by discussion forums in the My Homebase section of the website. A
user can join discussion forums about various issues or even create a discussion
about a specific issue.
Concerns: As stated earlier, the website presents the approach of CES to educational
improvement and for many of the issues the resources are written by the
same person.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Well organized and professional-designed website with a tab-based navigational
menu. This menu is easy to follow and each tabbed region has informative
submenus. Getting lost in the website should not be an issue as tabbed
navigational menu remains as a header for every page. Access is provided to an
Online version of the CES publication, Horace, with a good search function and
outstanding references to quality resources.

Concerns: None

Other Issues and Comments: