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Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 1 Future of Education Case Study Nicole Fiorucci Post University Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 2 Education, and teaching techniques, are always growing and developing with one goal in mind; to better prepare students for successful lives once they leave school. In order to continue to create strong curriculums and educated students, educators must consider what the future of education will look like for their specific school and student demographics, and make changes accordingly. Maloney Magnet Elementary School is one example of a school that has already begun offering unique learning opportunities, however; there is still room to grow. Maloney Magnet Elementary School is an inter-district school located in Waterbury, Connecticut. Maloney is considered a public school, and there is no cost to attend. Students from Waterbury, and surrounding towns, are selected for entry on a lottery system that is based on availability. The age group attending ranges from, around three or four to around ten or eleven, serving students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. A distinct multicultural curriculum is offered to students, and this focus is in response to the diverse population of students in attendance. As students are not only attending from the city, but also suburban areas nearby, ethnic and socioeconomic differences are present. Developmental diversity is also present, as there is a significant student population with hearing impairments. Maloney is not a new school in Connecticut, and has been around for some time, however some changes have occurred within this school that make it stand out from the others in the district, despite all being considered public schools. For example, the school has successfully incorporated Japanese into the curriculum. This change occurred twenty-two years ago, and has certainly transformed the school, and continues to make a positive impact on the education students receive. The U.S. Secretary of Education labeled Japanese as critical in education due to the opportunity it presents for the nation’s economic growth (Waterbury Public Schools, 2015). Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 3 From a business perspective, a lot of trade and production are done in Japan, and by learning this language, students are better prepared for diverse career opportunities later in life. Not only do students have the opportunity to learn a unique language from professionals in the culture, but also have access to staff that is prepared to meet any physical and mental disabilities. Several students attend Maloney due to the services that are offered that are not present in surrounding schools. For example, programs are available for the hearing impaired, where small group instruction is given to allow these students to attend a traditional school setting despite their disabilities (Waterbury Public Schools, 2015). Staff for these services includes a speech pathologist, school psychologist, and sign language translator, to ensure that individual needs are being met. In addition to the school offering services for disabled students, other programs are also available for parents and their children who need assistance with child care. For example, full day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten are available as well as before and after school programs for families needing help taking care of their children outside of school hours. Free and reduced lunch programs are also available for families with low income, so that students still receive meals throughout the school day. Serving the students goes beyond covering their basic needs, and goes further to include unique teaching methods to enrich student experiences. One of the most unique teaching methods that is not offered in surrounding schools is a specific program in science and technology, where students have the ability to conduct experiments. This hands on approach helps students retain information better as they are learning by doing. This experimental approach to learning also prepares students for middle and high school and promotes problem solving and critical thinking skills. Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 4 Maloney’s mission is to provide a multicultural education community, and to eliminate the isolation of different racial groups among children. Meeting the emotional needs of all children and promoting linguistic diversity are also priorities. Providing equal opportunities for all students is crucial in order to create an environment where students are passionate about school and education. To build upon the current mission and provide diverse learning opportunities district wide, there are many trends to consider. Currently, Japanese instruction is only offered for students attending Maloney, grades k-5. To create a more multicultural education for students, this component of curriculum must be carried out through all other schools in the district. The first step involved to make this possible begins with considering historical events that have led to the development of multicultural schools. Creating a bicultural environment in schools dates back to 1963 when Coral Way Elementary School originated. Coral Way Elementary school was the first bilingual and bicultural public school in the United States (Sass, 2014). Creating such a multicultural school is imperative in foreign language instruction being successful. Multicultural education is defined as promoting respect between students or individuals of different cultural and racial backgrounds (Sogunro, 2001). Developing a multicultural mindset, and teaching foreign language, benefits both students and teachers. Teachers who are only versed in one culture and one language lack the ability to relate and connect with their students as the classroom setting becomes more diverse (Sogunro, 2001). By incorporating foreign language, and expanding teacher horizons, they are better prepared to relate and teach their students, which ultimately creates mutual relationships and coexistence in diverse communities and schools (Sogunro, 2001). Research shows that curriculum changes have been slow in regards to the growing rate of diversity in society (Sogunro, 2001). Incorporating foreign language instruction Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 5 in schools district wide provides the necessary curriculum changes necessary to speed up this process, which addresses the growing diversity seen across the nation. In order to make Japanese language instruction district wide, educators must also take into account technological advancements and how they will positively influence the program. Learning a foreign language can be challenging, and different levels of ability and understanding amongst students is to be expected. As a result, technology can be used to assist learning. Adaptive learning technologies are one example of technology assisted learning. Adaptive learning technologies include computer and software programs that adapt to student’s individual needs as they learn (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2015). By adapting to specific needs and abilities, students would receive more assistance in problem areas rather than falling behind when the teacher moves on to a new lesson. Adaptive learning technologies are designed to create a more personalized learning experience by presenting material in a way that makes sense to a particular student (Tzu-Chi, Gwo-Jen, & Jen-Hwa Yang, 2013). Such software is beneficial to both students that may be struggling with material and those who understand the material faster than their peers (Johnson, et. al., 2015). Students advancing with material can move onto more involved applications of the material, so they do not become bored and lose interest in class. This technology benefits both students and teachers. Instructors may not be able to provide one on one help to all of their students in a timely manner, so this technology assists instructors in providing further explanation on the subject (Tzu-Chi, Gwo-Jen, & Jen-Hwa Yang, 2013). Adaptive learning technologies greatly impact foreign language instruction as it provides students with an outlet to practice both in and out of the classroom, in a way that works for them, which will boost their motivation to learn. Such technologies also benefit schools as they Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 6 evaluate student performance and progress which helps administrations evaluate how effective the curriculum is (Johnson, et. al., 2015). In order to add technology into the classroom, budget certainly becomes a top priority both for the school and families of those attending. Educators must make smart decisions for their budget, and must take into account demographic and socioeconomic differences between their students in order to decide if changes would be feasible or not. Currently, the main source of school funding is local property taxes (Griffith, 2013). Due to inconsistent property values in different communities, not all school districts receive the same amount of funding. Students living in poverty often receive less educational resources than their wealthier student counterparts (Griffith, 2013). This discrepancy creates issues for adding foreign language instruction into curriculum, and providing the technologies necessary to do so. Rose v. Council for Better Education (1989) is one political reform that specifically addresses this discrepancy, and provides insight for closing the gap and making improvements possible. This court case claims that relying on property taxes so heavily only creates unequal opportunities for students and inadequate quality in education as a whole (Kent & Sowards, 2009). Differences in funding make implementing new programs difficult, and also neglect student needs. Low income families or students with special education needs may not get the assistance they need to succeed academically without adequate school funding (Kent & Sowards, 2013). This ultimately affects the quality of education in these underfunded schools. In order to implement foreign language instruction and adaptive learning technologies, budget discrepancies must be addressed. In order to provide students across the nation with the same curriculum and the same tools to be successful in learning this curriculum, all schools nation-wide must achieve the same amount of funding. Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 7 In addition to budgetary concerns, demographic trends also impact how successful incorporating foreign language instruction will be. Demographic trends are directly linked to budgetary concerns as socioeconomic status varies across cultures. Research shows that demographic trends directly relate to language acquisition. For example, socioeconomic inequalities shape the relationships between home learning and school outcomes (Alic & Turkyilmaz, 2014). Students from lower income families might not have the parental support and resources to practice what they learn at school at home. Foreign language instruction directly addresses these differences, and closes the gap between cultures. For example, introducing cultural programs into curriculum enhances student learning because it provides a link between the classroom and student backgrounds (Alic & Turkyilmaz, 2014). By introducing foreign language instruction, there becomes a greater alignment between home and school especially in diverse and multicultural schools (Alic & Turkyilmaz, 2014). By addressing demographic trends in a specific area, educators can capitalize on those trends, and incorporate instruction of a language that directly relates to their student population. By recognizing the culture of students in schools, learning becomes more enjoyable, and students are more likely to succeed. Taking the trends mentioned above into account, educators must also develop a vision for the future of their school in order to add this program successfully. Futuring is defined as a decisionmaking process that anticipates emerging trends, and allows for planning and program development (Sobrero, 2004). Futuring moves from reactive to proactive thinking methods, to anticipate change (Sobrero, 2004). Futuring is important in education, because the future of students is unknown. There is no way to know what will happen as they grow older, so proactive thinking is necessary in preparing students for life outside of school. Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 8 One technique used by educators to use futuristic thinking would be through scenarios. Scenarios create pictures of possible futures, and explore the impacts that decisions might have on an organization moving forward (Mietzner & Reger, 2005). Using scenarios to create a better vision for the school and curriculum can be beneficial in many ways. For example, scenarios are flexible, as there are many different techniques to accommodate specific tasks or situations (Mietzner & Reger, 2005). Scenarios also improve communication within an organization, as members must work together and plan ahead (Mietzner & Reger, 2005). Since there is no way to determine if a scenario will occur educators must also consider the disadvantages as well when using this approach. One disadvantage associated with scenarios is that they require professionals with a deep understanding of the field in order to make well educated predictions (Mietzner & Reger, 2005). When creating scenarios, it is easy to think of the most predictable scenario rather than think outside the box (Mietzner & Reger, 2005). Scenarios can be applied to developing language instruction district wide by creating a vision of how students would greatly benefit from this curriculum change as compared to schools that do not offer it. For example, how the program can influence better test scores and cognitive abilities. Scenarios could also be applied to this vision by determining how far behind students would be if they were to not receive this diverse instruction. Another futuring technique used by educators, especially in the context of implementing Japanese instruction district wide, would be scanning. Scanning is described as an ongoing effort to identify changes in the world beyond the organization (World Future Society, n.d.). The main goal of scanning is to focus on trends occurring in a given field, for example, education. Educational organizations can conduct scanning by surveying any current newspapers, magazines, websites, or other media outlets for any indications of changes that will likely impact Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 9 the future of their school (World Future Society, n.d.). Along with using media and articles to observe changes, educational organizations can also scan the environment. Scanning the environment includes both observational and research based data (Sobrero, 2004). By using research on political, technological, and social information on a state and national level; organizations have the ability to analyze trends and issues occurring at each level (Sobrero, 2004). Scanning is useful to researchers because it highlights growth and change that has already occurred for a given area or population, which can provide insight for future changes and trends. Scanning can also be difficult for researchers because with so many factors to include, it can be difficult to balance all the information in order to make a relevant prediction of what is to come. There may also not be enough data collected in order for researchers to make an educated plan. Scanning also serves as a map or method of brainstorming ideas surrounding a given topic. An example of a scanning tool can be seen in the Appendix. Scanning can be used within the context of foreign language instruction in that educators can map out and brainstorm ways that they would make this program possible. This brainstorm of ideas would give educators a clear vision of what resources and assistance they would need in order to make the change possible. In order to take Japanese instruction beyond just one school, and make this a successful vision for the future of k-12 education as a whole, a plan must be put in place. Certainly the success of the current program provides educators with insight that this subject is beneficial to the curriculum, there just needs to be a plan put into action in order to allow all grades the same benefits students at Maloney receive. In order to see how the district will look five years from now with Japanese completely incorporated into the curriculum, it is essential to first take a look into the classrooms in which it is taught. Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 10 The district will have to adjust the set-up of their school, and can certainly build off of Maloney’s current set-up to make the transition possible five years from now. One adjustment would be to incorporate new technologies and resources to the rest of the schools in the district. All classrooms within the district will include smart boards, to assist teachers in presenting the material. Schools adding Japanese to their curriculum will also have computer access in their classrooms, where students can access software that allows them to both listen to the language being spoken, and practice their acquisition of the language. Additionally, each school will include native speakers of the language, so the staff of the schools will become more diverse which will meet the already diverse student population. Learning a second language needs to be implemented to all schools due to the major benefits associated with learning a second language. The students in the district would be receiving a disservice if they were not given such an opportunity in their classroom. Research shows that foreign language study improves cognitive abilities, influences achievements in other subjects, and can also result in better test scores especially when the study of a foreign language begins in elementary years (Steweart, 2005). Learning a second language can be used to improve achievements in other areas, such as reading, as students are given the opportunity to practice these skills in another language. Children are also more receptive to learning a second language and develop a more native-like pronunciation when language learning begins before adolescence (Stewart, 2005). In order for students to take their knowledge of Japanese and take it with them into life outside of school, whether that be work or college, students need to have as authentic of a learning experience as possible. Creating more successful students in all subjects, and setting students up for success long term are just a few reasons why classrooms need to implement these changes within the upcoming years. Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 11 Along with these changes, certain challenges and opportunities arise in making this possible. To start, the opportunities schools will experience include:  more job opportunities within the community, as more teachers would be needed to staff  these positions less cuts in departments that typically face cuts (languages and the arts), so these  programs would receive the funding they need and have not been receiving more up to date schools in the district, including technologies and teaching methods that   will result in better prepared students more qualified teachers, as native speakers will be necessary to implement this change positive publicity for the school, as other towns and states will see the advancements and growth taking place, and might wish to adopt these policies in their school as well. Along with the immense opportunities foreign language provides, there are certainly challenges as well. Some of these include:  students in mid-level grades will be at a disadvantage, since the program has not been   offered from the start of their education reconfiguring the current class schedule to accommodate adding in Japanese instruction increased spending/budgetary needs in order to fit this program in, including teacher  salaries for added positions and the classroom supplies needed for instruction Educating parents on the benefits/reasons for implementing this program into their child’s  education Finding native speakers to teach the material If schools do not transform their curriculum to include this new subject, it will only result in greater downfalls for American Students. American students will continue to fall behind, especially on standardized test scores. Countries with higher test scores, are those where a second language is taught beginning with early school aged children (Stewart, 2005). Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 12 In order to make this change cover the whole district five years from now, educators must work together on how to prepare for these changes. One example of preparation would be to encourage peer tutoring between the schools. For example, students already learning Japanese can be paired up with students who are not to help them practice while the program is implemented. Another method of preparation would be to hold an information session for parents before the program begins, highlighting the benefits and preparing them for the changes to come so that they are accepting and excited for the program to begin. Administrators should also work on fundraising to make the transition more feasible moving forward. Current Japanese instructors can also reach out to anyone in Japan who might be interested in becoming an instructor in the program. Additionally, schools can run a pilot program after school for students not currently taking Japanese to immerse them in the culture before it becomes a full component in their studies. After considering all of the challenges, benefits, and preparations to incorporate Japanese into the district as a whole, educators must present their findings to the Board of Education. Research must be presented to highlight the benefits and cognitive abilities of the students currently in the program, and prove how these abilities could be replicated district wide through this program. With sufficient research on the benefits of learning a second language, and how test scores can be improved because of it, the Board of Education would be more likely to approve the program. Budget will certainly be an issue, and this is why educators must create a concise and thorough presentation. The presentation would include plans for fundraising and other efforts to make this change more affordable. Additionally, proactive measures must be taken to start the whole process. Finding partnerships in Japan would be the best place to start. By finding potential candidates who are interested and qualified to teach the program, it would be that much Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 13 easier to implement. Schools can work out an exchange program with these partners where American teachers can assist in teaching English, while Japanese teachers enter American schools to teach Japanese. Once staff has been established, creating a truly multicultural learning environment in all k-12 schools in Waterbury Connecticut can be possible. Although starting a new program would take time to roll out, the time and effort is worthwhile when students would be receiving such great cognitive abilities to prepare them for their lives ahead. References: Alic, A., & Turkyilmaz, U. (2014). Inequalities, By All Means, Exist In Education, But Do We See Them All? A Study about the Impact of Background Factors on Education. Culture & Religion Review Journal, 2014(4), 111-121. Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 14 Griffith, M. (2013). Who Pays the Tab for K-12 Education?: The Progress of Education Reform 14(4). Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Consortium. Kent, C.A., & Sowards, K.N. (2009). Property Taxation and Equity in Public School Finance. Journal of Property Tax Assessment & Administration, 6(1), 25-42. Mietzner, D. & Reger, G. (2005). Advantages and disadvantages of scenario approaches for strategic foresight. Sass, E. (2014). American Educational History: A Hypertext Timeline. Retrieved Feb. 13 from: http://www.eds-resources.com/educationhistorytimeline.html Sobrero, P.M. (2004). Futuring: The implementation of anticipatory excellence. Journal of Extension, 42 (2). Sogunro, O.A. (2001). Toward Multiculturalism: Implications of Multicultural Education for Schools. Multicultural Perspectives, 3(3), 19-33. Stewart, J.H. (2005). Foreign Language Study in Elementary Schools: Benefits and Implications for Achievement in Reading and Math. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(1), 11- 16. doi: 10.1007/s10643-005-0015-5. Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 15 Tzu-Chi, Y., Gwo-Jen, H., & Jen-Hwa Yang, S. (2013). Development of an Adaptive Learning System with Multiple Perspectives based on Students’ Learning Styles and Cognitive Styles. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 16(4), 185-200. Waterbury Public Schools: Maloney Magnet Elementary School (2015). Retrieved Jan 23 from: http://www.waterbury.k12.ct.us/21/Home Appendix: Running head: FUTURE OF EDUCATION CASE STUDY 16