[IAEP] What is a Lesson Plan?

Carol Lerche cafl at msbit.com
Thu Jul 17 13:54:00 EDT 2008

Your first reference to Project Follow Through summarizes as followsi:
> One large study that parents really should know about is Project Follow Through, completed in the 1970s. This was the largest educational study ever done, costing over $600 million, and covering 79,000 children in 180 communities. This project examined a variety of programs and educational philosophies to learn how to improve education of disadvantaged children in grades K-3. (It was launched in response to the observation that Head Start children were losing the advantages from Head Start by third grade.) Desired positive outcomes included basic skills, cognitive skills ("higher order thinking") and affective gains (self-esteem). Multiple programs were implemented over a 5-year period and the results were analyzed by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and Abt Associates (Cambridge, MA). The various programs studied could be grouped into the three classes described above (Basic Skills, Cognitive-Conceptual, Affective-Cognitive).

I haven't yet obtained any of the original papers because like much
educational research it is necessary to pay/go to an academic library
to obtain it, but I plan to do so.  I see some problems from the
references you provide however.

1.  The study is very old, and thus is not comparing modern curriculum

2.  The study focuses on K-3.  The relevance of its results to older
kids is thus not apparent.  Certainly much of the work in Alan Kay's
group has been with kids older than this.

3.  It is not apparent from the references what outcomes the study was
measuring.  However I found this statement from the same reference
telling: "Students receiving Direct Instruction did better than those
in all other programs when tested in reading, arithmetic, spelling,
and language. But what about 'higher-order thinking' and self-esteem?
Contrary to common assumptions, Direct Instruction improved cognitive
skills dramatically relative to the control groups .." This states
that the main target of the instruction was basic skills, and doesn't
clarify what higher order thinking might be included.  Somehow I think
the likely metric here as it relates to mathematics might be "word

4.  The article has the smell of burning straw men.  The much-hated
"whole language" reading program is cited.  This hasn't been used for
at least a decade, and current studies show the efficacy of phonics
combined with using authentic texts as the preferred approach to
teaching reading.

I look forward to finding the SRI review of the actual study and reading it.

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