Is A 1995 Education Study Harming Low-Income Students In Texas?

Oct 23, 2017

Credit CC0 Creative Commons

Researchers in Texas recently spent a year watching low income Hispanic kids engage with a new kind of classroom environment.

In this new method, kids are given much more freedom to decide who to work with and which projects to initiate, and they’re allowed to ask questions without raising their hands. The result? The kids scored 30 points higher on tests than students in traditional classes.

Seems like cause for change, right? Not so fast.

The new, freer method is receiving strong pushback from many teachers based on their interpretations of the results of a different study from 1995. These teachers believe that impoverished children don’t possess the vocabulary to be challenged in a classroom with looser boundaries.

This weekend, The Washington Post charged that the misinterpretation of the 1995 study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley is “ruining teaching in Texas.”