Loudoun Valley principal responds to parents outrage over safety and learning issues

Loudoun Valley High School

After three recent parent meetings with administration at Loudoun Valley High School where parents expressed concerns about school safety and teaching methods, Principal Sue Ross responded last week with a letter sent to the school community.

At last week's meeting -- attended by more than 100 parents -- people expressed outrage about the way a new personalized learning approach is being unrolled at Loudoun Valley and how it is affecting their children.

They say Ross' method of implementing the program includes allowing students to leave their classrooms whenever they wish -- going on “wellness walks” -- and they are able to work on class assignments in hallways and other areas of the Purcellville school.

Parents and teachers told the Times-Mirror they believe school safety and security is being compromised because attendance is not being taken and students are able to come and go from classrooms throughout the day. They say students are being disruptive, there's no accountability, the new system has created a difficult learning and teaching environment and their students are failing SOL tests this year.

Ross responded by saying next year will be Loudoun Valley's fifth year working with project-based learning, or PBL, and while she is not concerned about the way it was unrolled in the school, she plans to monitor the situation more closely.

“Most of our staff has been trained and all staff will be trained by 2020. We do not have concerns about the rollout of PBL over the past five years, nor do we have concerns about our first year of personalized learning. We will continue to emphasize deeper learning and the Virginia Profile of a Graduate, rather than specific initiatives such as PBL and personalized learning,” Ross told the Times-Mirror.

In the next school year, Ross said she will monitor classrooms differently than she has been, and she said she will utilize student and parent surveys more frequently “to maintain a finger on the pulse of their experiences with teachers.”

Ross said she will be prioritizing visibility throughout the school day and throughout the building to ensure school safety and security. She said there will be daily reminder announcements providing clarity and guidance to students and teachers about hall traffic. She said hall traffic should be academically purposeful, monitored and verifiable.

On the issue of vaping in bathrooms -- a complaint from numerous parents -- Ross said administration will continue to work with a variety of staff to help monitor the restrooms.

Parents were upset to hear the school offers car passes allowing students to leave the school to go to their cars and that the passes are not monitored. Ross said she is implementing a new car pass system for anyone needing to leave the building.

“In addition, we continue to gather feedback from students, parents and staff as we plan for next year,” Ross said.

Loudoun County Public Schools Information Officer Wayde Byard told the Times-Mirror LCPS has been training teachers in project-based learning for several years.

This year, four Loudoun high schools were part of the countywide “Wave 3” program for unrolling personalized learning. “Wave 1 and Wave 2” included 25 elementary and middle schools, according to LCPS.

Byard said training has been ongoing for several years, and most schools have several staff members trained in PBL, with teachers doing a minimum number of projects each year.

He said communication to parents is handled at the school level, with different approaches based on existing communication structures at each school.

“There are varying levels of implementation of PBL and personalized learning across LCPS, with the goal of all schools providing deeper learning experiences for students. Many schools took a 'dip your toes in' approach, while others 'dove in' with all teachers. The decision to take one approach over the other depends on the school and the staff,” Byard said.

Parents are concerned this type of learning where students are expected to be in charge of the process is too unstructured and provides too much freedom at a young age. 

Loudoun Valley Parent Tracy Robinson said Ross' letter to parents was just a way to calm people down.

“Nothing will change as long as she is in charge. She won't do anything about addressing specific issues,” Robinson said.

Another parent, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution against his children, has two children at the school currently. He said the general sense is that the school is going “downhill fast.”

“We never see Ms. Ross. She doesn't know any names. I don't think she genuinely wants to listen to us," he said. "The only way to change it back to be the best high school in the county is that she is no longer the principal. We need to talk to the School Board to see what needs to happen for that process to take place."

(26) comments

Jack Sauce Dickinson

I SINCERELY BELIVE ROSS IS TRYING HER BEST AND I HOPE THE STUDENTS RECEIVE A GOOD QUALITY EDUCATION - JACK

KCW13

My daughters were students at valley when Mr. Culbert was principal there. He was wonderful. When Ms. Ross became principal, I thought perhaps my dislike for her was because she was following a really good principal. My youngest daughter couldn't stand her and had several terrible stories of what went on at valley then. My daughters are in their 30s now. I can't believe Ross is still the principal at LVHS. She was bad then and bad now. She should she be fired, or at least replaced.

Schten

As a parent of a senior Loudoun Valley high school I can appreciate the school being concerned with the student’s mental well-being and developing fortitude yet I’m afraid they’re overlooking my child’s safety. If the school is allowing Children to come and go as they please it would not be very difficult for a child to come to school with a trunk full of weapons, go on a little wellness walk, and come back to the classroom with said weapons. In addition, if children are allowed to get in the car and leave campus to go get lunch or God knows wherever, Lord only knows what they’re doing at lunchtime.... not to mention tooling around in the car and getting into a car accident. If not for safety or anything else they need to consider it a huge liability that they’re opening themselves (as well as Loudoun tax payers) up to! If my child left school during the day got into an accident you best believe I’m coming after school for damages and hospital bills!

Honestly, In the last four years I have been astounded with what my child has been allowed to get away with while at school. She is allowed to bring in water bottles of any kind and whatever outside food she wants. In my day I if that were allowed to happen I can think of about 1 million people who would have taken advantage of that weekend a ton of contraband.

As usual, yet again, Sue Ross is operating in secret. I drove by one day and saw a child laying on the grass underneath the water tower. It was quite evidently the rescue workers and where the child was, that the child had tried to commit suicide by jumping from the water tower and I didn’t hear anything from Sue Ross for hours. That was not the only time in four years or something like that was the case. There is no transparency in Loudoun Valley it’s quite evident. Truth be told, she reminds me of one of those pathetic parents who is trying so hard to be their kid’s best friend and not their disciplinarian, protector, mentor, or teacher.

LVHS21student

As a valley student, I can easily say that there’s an inordinate amount of mismanaging by my school and county’s administration. However, the problem of personalized learning is being taken completely out of context and turned into ad hominem attacks against faculty/teachers (by media and many parents) and students (by misled parents and students) who are completely uninvolved in the terrible process which my school is suffering from.

Firstly, may I say, Karen, that you are operating off of incomplete information and are absolutely cherrypicking your sources. There are plainly people telling you how things are and you are instead choosing the most dramatic and anti-valley anecdotes you can find to stuff into your dramatic, anti-valley articles and editorials. You’re attempting to blindly insert yourself into a problem you have absolutely nothing to do with, and misleading many parents who are very much personally invested in this ordeal. Your news is unwanted and unneeded for a solution to be found.

Let me clarify one thing for those out of the loop: Project-Based Learning, or PBL, has been in effect for several years now and is working fairly well, similar to what we all saw in the early stages of Common Core’s implementation. Obviously there are some chinks in the armor which are being worked out at a slower rate than what we might want, but that’s just bureaucratic error which we should expect. Many teachers are more easily able to do their job through PBL, and many poorly-rated classes have seen improvement with proper instruction on how to use this 21st century teaching style. I know several of these teachers myself, and they have discussed the ways which the system has improved their classes.
PL, or Personalized Learning, is a new way of teaching which several schools in the county have faced issues with, Valley in particular. This is due to the fact that the county administration has very loose leashes on that of the individual schools, so incompetent leadership such as our notorious Sue Ross are improperly instructing teachers, faculty, parents, and students on how to manage the new process. So yes, Valley’s administration is not directly to blame; in fact, you shouldn’t generalize Valley’s administration in the first place, as just as there are in most failing systems, there are some golden stars which can accurately see problems and attempt to solve them, who are being called out as being terrible at their job, or even “authoritarian” as last week’s editorial boasted at the drop of a hat.
Now, the reason that it’s so important that the media gets their nose out of this issue is that some don’t seem to realize that spreading gossip like wildfire impacts more than the failed administration’s futures, but also many hardworking faculty, teachers, and students which are frankly embarrassed by their school after its issue has been escalated across the entire county via the times-mirror’s thirst for a good story being written off as unbiased news from “the only countywide newspaper” as this site tells us.

This article mentions wellness walks, which while I have seen a good deal of exploitation of this privilege amongst my peers, they are the loud minority. I personally know several students, some that are friends of mine, who suffer from pretty impactful anxiety and sometimes could use a breather from classtime—and these students are very well aware that every minute of class that they miss is absolutely valuable. I’ve also seen students who get often their work done in advance or just didn’t have very much due to the nature of the class, and want to go cool down with friends they don’t see very much, particularly in my chemistry and photography classes. The failure in the system is that, under Ross’ management, the words “wellness walk” have been convoluted into “open campus,” which is both a risk of security and a complete lack of learning for students that have trouble being attentive in class. I’ve suggested a mandatory sign out sheet to several teachers, who have implemented it, so that it becomes clear and in record the few which often take advantage of the system a bit *too* much. Along with this, every teacher will be able to account for the whereabouts for every child that they’re directly in charge of supervising. Some more extreme measures were being suggested by concerned parents who had a completely different experience in their school systems, but I can personally attest that there are many brilliant ideas that came with the introduction of PBL and PL.
The recent change in Prime so that it’s no longer completely open is honestly turning out to be a farce, though if it were fully in effect it’d honestly be a huge pain for myself in particular, as I often use prime to see several teachers that I can’t always find passes for due to a bus that regularly comes into school mere minutes before I have to be in my homeroom class. “Free prime” is one thing being overdramatized because of a lack of a communication from the school, and it’s actually a fantastic resource that’s a helpful experience most students in our country don’t have a chance to enjoy.

Vaping is obviously a major problem at our school, as evident from the billows of students and parents complaining about the issue, but it should be kept completely separate from anything PL-related, as it’s just a side effect of the wound in the school that is Principal Ross. On the subject of things that should be kept away from PL are car passes: I and many of my friends have used car passes on several occasions throughout the year, because as anybody above the age of three can relate to, we all inevitably leave things in the car when we get out on those days that you’re not feeling too hot. If you really think about it, the car passes might possibly be the best and most secure system that the school’s implemented. You sign out on a sheet stating what time you left to go to your car and receive your pass, get your stuff, return the pass, and sign right back in telling the school exactly when you returned to the desk. I don’t know about you guys, but it takes me a bit more than three minutes tops to drive over to Tropica Smoothie, order, wait, and drive back to Valley. Students can’t just “drive away” as you may think at first glance, because the system protects from this with the timestamps, and it helps everyone learn properly in their classes. Obviously this wasn’t communicated to the parents by the school at all, or there wouldn’t be this much complaints, but I can assure you that “car passes” aren’t just freebies to go get a happy meal.

Reading through the articles, it states that only eight members of Valley’s faculty has received PL training (it actually says PBL but that’s very obviously not true), which is another half-truth. Only eight reps from each school were able to fit into the County’s training session, and those eight individuals were in charge of showing every teacher how to teach their classes with this newfangled personalized method by dividing them into groups each managed by one of the eight directly taught people. Now, as we know, roadkill is more competent than some of these people, so there’s a pretty significant number of teachers that don’t know jack about how they’re supposed to instruct their students “personalizedly,” and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a comical drop in the numbers when the statistics of grade and SOL scores are released this summer. For those who were wondering, this was all explained in Ross’ second meeting for PL, although it was fairly hard to grasp without any resources or transcripts to tell us how the new system works.

Ironically, no parents are being taught about personalized learning *with* personalized learning, seeing as every meeting Ross has arranged has been heavily scripted lectures about how their children are lying to them—but that’s just my take on the thing. After all, I’m just a student, what do I know? Jokes aside, I’d love to see some sign that our principal desires student and parent input, something even as absurd as a tissue box with “suggestions” plastered on it in 24pt rainbow comic sans ms that’s opened every six f***ing years.


Tl;dr: The Times is only making problems worse with the school by reporting incomplete information waaaaay too early to get a proper PSA about. Level-headed parents are clearly seeking a level-headed solution which doesn’t involve character assassinations on people that can self-assassinate their own characters to one-up Principal Ross. PL and PBL are two very different things with very different processes having been taken for each, and things such as car passes and free prime are being misrepresented to parents, and nobody wants a good system to be taken out as another casualty of the school’s problems.
Any and all of what I’ve addressed could be solved so easily with just a simple handbook or even newsletter released by Ross on what kind of 21st century changes are in the school we’ve learned to call our own. People claiming that my school is “going downhill” is disgraceful for me and my fellow students that aim to hold their bright futures with them.

Virginia SGP

You certainly get to give your opinion but it is lacking in any evidence as to the overall styles. Let's review a couple of statements:

1. You state some students "just didn’t have very much due to the nature of the class". In other words, some classes are jokes. Yet you defend the teachers and administrators who don't have rigorous classes. This points to your bias. You are a student who is not paying taxes to fund the $15K/student/year bill. This school and LCPS has problems.

2. You state that PBL is a "21st century teaching style" and is working well. Project-based learning has been around for decades. It is only because of your ignorance that you don't know this. There is virtually no research that shows it is effective at providing students a wide knowledge base. When changing approaches, ALL parents and taxpayers have an interest in that. It is inappropriate for you to tell readers this is none of their concern and we should just accept whatever fad LCPS decides to take up next.

3. You state the problems are "similar to what we all saw in the early stages of Common Core’s implementation". Yet Common Core was not a methodology at all. It was an increase in the rigor of standards. Teachers and schools could achieve those standards in any way they wanted (any method). And CC only applied to reading and math.

Your ignorance of educational policy is vast but not shocking. It is shared by all LCPS officials. You are certainly invited to read research on these topics (any research) and participate in the conversation regardless of age. But when you open your mouth without even understanding the basics, your comments will be appropriately dismissed as the musings of an LCPS apologist.

Schten

This is a very well thought out and very well written response to the situation! Thank you for that. I am not exaggerating when I say that you have partially restored my faith in valley’s writing or communications courses. Thank you for your considerate and insightful comment.

You have provided more information regarding the current situation in one comment then this “newspaper” has been able to do in several articles. I just have one point of contention, you stated “but I can assure you that “car passes” aren’t just freebies to go get a happy meal.” Yes you are right they are not, however it IS a freebie to go retrieve a gun or other weapons. Since there are no metal detectors or security measures taken when students arrive on campus it’s probably just as easy for non-driving students to sneak in a weapon anyhow.

Virginia SGP

This article was very accurate. I don't see even a hint of inaccuracy.

PBL was started when Williams came in. He began a slow training program (given it's mostly smoke and mirrors anyway, most teachers just roll their eyes) so not every teacher has received training from the central office even 5 years into the program. And rather than measure the effectiveness of PBL, Williams and the admin cronies just measure how many teachers are participating and how many PBL projects they conduct each year in their classes. If you listened to school board meetings regularly, you would know this.

Personalized learning has been being rolled out over the last couple of years. Schools interpret it differently. Williams was on record (radio interviews) adamantly opposing allowing students to advance at a faster pace or learn from the computer. He sees PL as allowing students to focus on their topic of interest (environmental protection of frogs for example). Obviously, he hasn't thought about the fact that reading and math are not well-equipped for PL like this. But in the education industry, there is a big push to use computer-aided instruction to allow kids to advance at their own pace (see Khan Academy and Bill Gates' initiatives). Some LCPS schools did this over the last few years even some math classes having kids first take their lessons on the computer and receiving teacher assistance if they had questions in the latter half of class. This can work well for mature students who learn quickly. Several students quickly raced over a year ahead in their curriculum using this methode. But teachers in the same school teach using very different methods.

The core problem here is there is no accountability. Teachers should be allowed to experiment. But teachers should also be accountable. If there students don't learn (can't pass SOL or show MAP growth), there should be consequences. And likewise, the district office shouldn't push this across all schools until the data shows it works. No data is being collected at all on whether these are effective for student learning. They are not even collecting data on whether students can "communicate" or "collaborate" more effectively. It is just taken as a given.

This district is in chaos. It has no coherent leadership. Nothing is measured appropriately. There is a lot of work for the new school board and most candidates don't appear to be knowledgeable on these issues. There is not a lot of hope at this point.

Concerned Parent

So everyone else can post a comment about removing the principal and my comment is removed and I didn't even mention the principal? Let's try again- my son was assaulted at school in between classes and the only thing the school said was " your son and the person who assaulted him would sit down and talk about their feelings". WTF is that! As far as I know that student had zero consequences for the assault on my son. What's happened to our school systems...and parents ignore the suicidal presentations, I was the only parent with a student that attended Valley, at last year's meeting...very sad....

Concerned Parent

My son was assaulted at school in between classes. When I found out I went to the school for a meeting and they told me that they were handling it by having my son and the asaultee sit down and talk about their feelings. I was appalled to hear this and filed an official report with the SOo. Unfortunately I heard nothing and don't know if the student had any consequences for their assault on my son. What happened to the days of kids going to school for an education, making friends, having fun, and being safe. I have one more child to get through school and I will be very happy when she's done. Our kids are suffering and you wonder why there is so many suicides and suicidal cases open in the school districts. Parents need to pay attention to their kids. Parents need to know where their kids are. Parents need to know their kids friend's. Parents need to be involved. We cannot rely on the Public Schools to tell us about our kids. Last year I attended Suicidal Awareness presentation on conference night. I was the only parent there that had a child attending Valley. I couldn't believe it....

Virginia SGP

Can't you file a police report for the assault? You could file a civil claim as well I believe.

If the schools won't protect kids, looks like parents will have to do it themselves.

Chris McHale

If wellness walks were permissible when I was in school I would have been in terrific shape for walking 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Ok maybe only 7 hours because I would have made it to lunch period.

Federalist

ROSS is the problem!! Always has been, and always will be.

Virginia SGP

Have you asked the new SB candidates whether they will force Williams to fire these bad apple principals or be fired himself? Clearly, he won't protect kids, only the adults he employs in the system. But nobody is forcing candidates asking for our votes to commit. If we don't force that question, we will just get more of the same.

romano

This whole thing is a disgrace. From these silly wellness walks (poor little snowflakes are being taught to be victims) to parking lot visits. Many times over the past few months I've been sitting in Starbucks mid morning and seeing high school kids come in there. I couldn't understand how that was possible...didn't they have school? Now I understand. They are leaving school whenever they feel they need the safe space only a latte can provide. Any wonder our kids are growing up helpless and falling behind the rest of the world?

Kstolc

I respectfully disagree. If students can't handle managing getting their own work done without a teacher babysittin them, then they have no hope of succeeding in college or the workplace. Highschool is where you legally become an adult, and I think autonomy should be encouraged.

Mgolf

Autonomy in learning comes with a person's ability to apply mastered skills and knowledge. It has to do with the person's efficacy in the skill they are performing. If the students are not being taught (ie going for walks or breaking into groups without a teacher-- leaving kids to "figure it out") they unfortunately will not have the foundation to truely be autonomous in that subject. Teachers are never babysitting (even in nursery school) and they should be allowed to share their subject knowledge without students leaving their class.

Locojrt

No one wants to upset their precious babies! Good grief! They Do not need to walk around or "commune with nature"! You are in school to learn, deal with that part of growing up.. I suffered when bored, it took an act of Congress to get out of the school building! They don't need to visit their cars and if they do they need an escort. Doors are locked and you were scrutinized to get in, same with going out. These kids are not orepared for life or college, I realky don't know how they survive...oh, they Google it on their phones IN SCHOOL! I have heard they are required to have phones so they can do research! How ludicrous is this. These parents are right to get involved, STAY involved. The squeaky wheels get what their kids need. Parents also need to set expectations and adhere to them and demand that the teachers do their job to have these expectations met. You usually don't get input until it's too late. I drove teachers nuts because I wanted unput and had expectations of ny kid and those expectations included the teachers keeping me in the loop and having accountability. Back in the good old days the principal at Valley was on the phone to my parents at the slightest misstep. Accountability ! Our society is such that there are no ramifications for bad behavior...in school, on the job, on the roads or in public. Parents need to step up and make their kids and teachers accountable.

DrDoctor

Flush PBL and flush Miss Ross. Both are proven losers. Miss Ross should resign immediately, but we all know she will not. Meanwhile, our kids will continue to suffer. Wellness checks? Really? Miss Ross is preparing our kids for failure in the real world with that garbage. Maybe she will even win an Administrator of the Year award with her unacceptable conduct.....

Mgolf

Problem based learning requires more teachers and/or adult tutors who are well versed in the subject to guide small groups when they reach a point where they may not have mastered the concept or lack the knowledge base. This implementation of PBL by LCPS is akin to throwing a kid in the deep end without teaching them how to swim. They may be able to tread water or get to the edge, but they are just surviving and not thriving. This is not the way to implement this program.
Also, wellness walks? Part of life is learning to deal with adversity, which includes sitting through a lesson that may not be very interesting, or learning how to have proper social discourse with peers and adults alike. Can't be achieved if you're allowed to walk as soon as you feel bored or annoyed. Now, if you are walking away because you are being bullied or are witnessing drug use, 1. Report to teachers, principal, and resource immediately. It sounds like things like drug use in bathrooms are not being handled so 2. Call 911. It sounds extreme, but the law is being broken and you are allowed to use the police as a resource for protection. Your 911 call will be recorded and become part of public record (if you are afraid of retribution, let them know you don't want to reveal your name because you fear retribution) and the principal and resource officer alike will need to answer to why they did not take action on the drug use in the school.

Mgolf

Yikes! This sounds like an absolute unresearched mess LCPS has gotten themselves into. Problem based learning is really an awesome way to learn, BUT, it requires more teaching staff to implement properly because youth and adolescents have not mastered all the skill sets and/or knowledge base to be completely autonomous in this type of learning. Heck even many first and second year college students couldn't do this without a teacher or tutor attending to the group. That means instead of one teacher and aide teaching a class of 30, the class will break into three groups of ten to work on solutions to three different problems and each group needs at least one adult tutor or teacher to guide if they stray. Yes, experiential learning is all about "straying" but for example, if it's a physics problem and the group is incorrectly applying ballistics without a knowledgeable teacher supervising, yes, they would learn from their mistake... but what would they have accidentally blown up in the process?
Also, letting kids leave class? Or groups leaving the classroom setting without having fully learned the subject? Whhhaaatt???? Could totally understand if the group left to work outside on a nice day WITH their teacher or adult tutor, but just leaving to work on their own on the teacher's time? Red flag red flag red flag.
This is disrespectful of the teachers as well as the students. The way the program is being implemented tells teachers that their lessons aren't important enough for students to engage in and it tells our kids they're not worthy enough to engage in a subject that may be a little hard, so go take a walk.
High schoolers need to understand, part of that diploma is learning coping skills, social skills, and finishing skills which are needed real world skills. You don't learn those online or walking out of class. If you know more than the teacher, then sit in class and engage in discussion with the teacher and see how much you know. Maybe those kids could be identified as tutors and a somewhat realistic form of PBL could begin.
My kids are far off from attending Valley so I'm not currently connected to this situation, but reading everything and hearing from current Valley parents, it does sound like admin is not working for the teachers or the students. Failure is success in progress but when a program is implemented with kids, it better be leaps and bounds ahead of failure.
The wellness walks and car pass thing is really troublesome! I'm so thankful for Mr. Culbert, Mrs. Dorsey, and Mr. Black for making Valley a wonderful environment to learn when I attended. They worked as a team with teachers and I never saw a student who's name they didn't know. Some kids did need space or nowadays "wellness walks" but you better believe Mr. Culbert was on it like white on rice asking "What's wrong?" and the students would engage in a discussion with him or any other adult who was concerned. It wasn't perfect always, but for the most part the student body really respected the administration. I wonder what they would say today? 😢🤔
Sad to see Valley in the headlines like this.

Waterfordresident

What a joke. Liberals and their policies are ruining everything. This is why our kids are behind kids from other developed countries. While kids in other countries are being pushed and challenged, our kids are majoring in worthless subjects. The leaders of this school and all other schools and administration should be forced out.

GimmeSomeTruth

If Ross can survive being caught forcing teachers to change grades, she can survive anything. The school board will not do a thing. She's never going to be fired. She's been corrupt, awful and incompetent for years, yet she's still there.

Virginia SGP

Why is that? Because she always has the administration's back. If they need any cheerleaders, there is Ross. If they need to retaliate against critics, Ross steps up.

When you don't measure teachers and principals by objective metrics (are kids actually learning anything) but by their enthusiasm for the latest (ill-advised) fad in education, this is what you get.

This PBL stuff is nonsense. There is no research supporting its effectiveness. In fact, much research shows that having a broad background of knowledge allows kids to evaluate new ideas. PBL forces kids to take a myopic view of the world by looking at specific issues only. They simply don't have the broad knowledge to put it in context. And PBL's desire to teach specific skills is often unsuccessful too. But the school board and Williams have no (read none, nada, nil, zero) metrics to determine if PBL or their PL methods are actually effective.

We are being led by the know-nothings.

David Dickinson

Why is it that ecucational "progress" in government schools always involves teachers working less and less?

magikkal

I actually agree with this comment. I'm a student at Valley, and one of the smarter ones. I feel like I haven't learned anything new in my physics class this year (my teacher is just completely incompetent, it's all basic algebra and stuff that we covered in eighth grade). History is the only class where I am continuously learning new information and because of that it's become the only class I actually enjoy being in. Every time one of these new "learning methods" is implemented, teachers have to completely change the way they teach to comply with it, and most of them can't do this without completely removing some material. What you end up with is the bare bones of the class and a simple but time consuming project. For those of us who already know the bare bones, it feels like a waste of effort.

Virginia SGP

A very insightful comment.

Anybody who has conducted research knows that it takes 3-10x as long to conduct all the experiments required for research than just to study the results. It took Newton years to develop algebra but kids can learn about it in a year. The same goes for projects in other subjects.

Direct instruction (where teachers assign reading or practice problems, discuss in class, and test for knowledge/skills) is critical for base knowledge. Only THEN can students try to apply that knowledge to novel problems. Such projects will take a long time and allow the kids to get hands-on experience ("capstone" project). They are not as efficient for learning but do teach some new skills. But they are useless if the kids do not know all the underlying material.

This notion that a project is the best way to learn a large amount of material is fantasy. And the fact that some teachers are on here defending LCPS' fad in teacher is disgusting.

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