These days everyone seems to have a plan to save education. Calls are made to reform schools. Reform teacher training. Reform accountability. Reform testing. Reform, reform, reform.
And the way these things are being reformed is to standardize everything. We’ve standardized standards across nearly all states. We’ve standardized the way we evaluate teachers. We’ve standardized testing for kids. We’ve standardized expectations.
And all of this reform is costing millions and millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars as we revamp curriculum, tests, technology, and more. Quite frankly, many of us are operating on Race to the Top dollars that will soon run out. We’ve got to find a way to keep up the frenetic pace of change on our own dime.
I think I have a plan to help.
Let’s take one example. In a district, oh let’s say with around 10,000 students, there are 7 to 8 Sixth Grade English classes. Let’s take the high side and round it to 8. That’s 8 English teachers. Professionally trained and paid. Duplicating efforts every day.
And let’s say the average salary of these teachers is, oh, around $50,000 plus 40% for benefits. That begins to add up to a large chunk of change for these 8 people to do the same job all day.
I believe we can do better.
Instead of 8 professional English teachers, we really only need ONE. She can work from home if she likes. For school districts that really want to save money, she can teach those 8 classes all at once using Google Hangouts for free. Of course, future Race to the Top dollars could help all school districts by Polycom units (provided they have the enough clout to convince Congress every school needs it – or they get bought out by Pearson).
That means we only need a para-professional in the classroom to make sure the technology is working and to provide classroom management for the students who still actually come to school. Some may choose to participate in the chat window from home.
Given the fact that every standardized test is made up of multiple choice questions easily graded electronically, testing is not a problem. We can train the para-professionals to quickly scan the 3 or 4 constructed response questions and compare answers to a rubric. Students can answer questions in Socrative or Edmodo or another online format. The teacher of records can verify their answers and post grades.
And of those schools who choose to use their savings to continue to beef up their iPad inventories, the teacher of record can use an app like NearPod to “push” out video clips, questions for students to answer, PowerPoint style notes, and more.
Using apps like Ask3, new material can be streamed out via flipped online videos and students can ask and answer questions right within the app.
I know its still just a nugget of a thought process. But you can see in the chart below the money that can be saved on teacher salaries alone by changing to this paradigm. It is based on a district that has 100 classrooms. So, if you have more than that, the savings start to multiply quickly! As it begins to take hold, we could do the same thing with administrators, district office staff, professional development, special education, and more!
What do you think?