Ocean City School Achieves 100% Proficiency

May 29, 2008

In Alexander Russo’s “This Week in Education,” he briefly discusses a Washington Post story about an elementary school in Ocean City, MD. The headline states, “School In Ocean City Nails Its Target,” referring to the No Child Left Behind goal of a 100% passing rates on academic proficiency tests.

What made this school different? How did it achieve such astounding success? Disregarding the flaws of the NCLB Act, let’s look at a few items:

  • According to parents and school administrators, the teaching is “relentless and consistent.” Huzzah for that!
  • The student population is 89% white, of course, but almost a quarter of the students qualified for low income meal subsidies. So how did this school do better than the quasi-elitist public schools of Montgomery County to my North? It inched it out by a few points, and I’m guessing it’s because of the “focus on getting children to speak” Class participation, discussion, and peer-to-peer learning (all of which of stressed at Ocean City Elementary) are exceptional learning tools.
  • One of the teachers said, “There isn’t anything magical about what we do.” They’re obviously doing something right, though.

Ocean City Elementary School, keep up the good work! One down, and only 1,454 public schools left in Maryland!

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The Perks of Our Insanity

May 28, 2008

My friend Norman recently asked why I was crazy. Norm is a guy who likes summer, the beach, and surfing through life. He can’t fathom why I wake up at 4:15 every morning and go to sleep at midnight. So, for Norman, here are my reasons why it’s better to combine work and school:

1. Money!

    • According to MSN Money, the average college student is approximately $20,000 in debt when they graduate. Those who can find jobs start out at about $30,000. On the other hand, we working students can pay our tuition (if work doesn’t pay it for us, which some people are lucky enough to wrangle) and graduate debt-free. With savings, even.

2. Some well-earned respect.

    • I’ve taken an equal mix of day classes and night classes. By and large, the day classes are composed primarily of young, full-time students. The night classes are filled with working students. Professors recognize this and almost always treat the night classes more professionally. In my day classes, I listened to lectures. In my night classes, I had discussions. I learned more in the latter, and everyone (students and professors) seemed to enjoy themselves more. Long-term professors are very good at recognizing the professional working student – we are not necessarily better than the regular student, but we’re definitely treated better.

3. Speaking with authority.

    • I never guessed how cool it was to be an expert. It’s an awesome experience to jump into a class discussion and say, “I do this for a living, and…” Let me tell you, there is no greater feeling than to school your professor in a debate.

4. Stop Wasting Time

    • TrashYourTv.com cites a recent Nielsen poll that the average American watches 4 hours and 35 minutes of television per day. Annually, we average 69 straight days in front of the boob tube. Additionally, the typical American household has the TV on for over 8 aggregate hours every day. Seriously, are The Hills and American Idol that good? I spend over 8 hours a day in the office, over 2 1/2 on my commute (thank God that’s going to end when I move to a new place next month!), and about 4 in class. And I still get bored. If you’re concerned about missing the latest episode of House, they have magic TiVo boxes for $99.99. That’s not even as much as filling up an SUV on $4 per gallon gas.

5. Look fly.

    • I am blessed with a job that let’s me wear some spiffy duds to work. I go to the college straight from the office, so I’m usually dressed to the nines next to a kid who just rolled out of bed. My environmental lab partner this semester had a habit of rocking the ganj in his car before lab. There’s nothing like washing your jacket after every lab because it smells like cannabis and your work is hyper-sensitive about drug use.

Graduation? I’m past that.

May 28, 2008
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.
~Carl Sandberg


I’m getting my Associate Degree tomorrow, but I’m missing the ceremony for a meeting. The college wanted to deck me out in
ostentatious cords and lanyards, so I don’t regret my absence. I’ll get my diploma in the mail by Friday.

I don’t understand their obsession with ceremony. I have the credit hours and the GPA; I’ll have the piece of paper, so why should I be concerned with walking on stage? I’ve been on that stage before. I’ve met and interviewed my college president. I haven’t done the two combined, but it doesn’t seem too incredible.

The next stage of college starts in five weeks. I’ll be attending a decent university in the D.C. area, studying international economics under some fantastic professors. People keep asking me if I’m going to miss my old college. It’s a silly question.

To quote the last movie I watched (Iron Man): “I’ve been called many things. Nostalgic is not one of them.”