Comparing Educational Practices – Weeks 6 and 7

Hi all!  I’m done with my project (mostly)!  I should really say I’m done observing and I’ve completed the official 7 weeks of the project – I haven’t written my final paper or finished researching, so I’m going to keep working when I have time.  This blog post will be about the last 2 weeks of observing only, but I will write about all my final thoughts in another blog post later in the summer.

Anyway, the last 2 weeks were great!  I loved observing and getting to know the students – it just made me even more excited to be a teacher one day!  Since I volunteered at two different schools in Fairfax County, I was able to make some comparisons between those schools, as well as with Italian schools.  The two schools I went to were very different, even though they are in the same county.  Most noticeably, they had different average incomes of parents, levels of diversity, and SOL scores.  These are all differences that are statistics that Fairfax County makes available.  However, from talking to the teachers, I noticed one other large difference – the level of parental involvement.  I remember in the lower grades of my own experience in elementary school, parents would come in everyday to help with reading.  Similarly, at school, College Partnership for Kids sends many tutors to those lower grades to help.  Kindergarten and 1st graders are all at different reading levels, so the more volunteers to listen to different groups of students read, the better.  In the first elementary school, which was located in a slightly wealthier area, several parents came in to volunteer, whereas none came in while I was at the second elementary school.  The teacher told me that it depends on the year, but sometimes she doesn’t have any parent help for the whole year.  Other years, she will have 2 or 3 parents who are very involved, but its only those 2 or 3 parents.  On the one hand, of course that first teacher has the ability to accomplish more with her class because she has help – more children can receive attention.  However, many parents have to work and just don’t have time during the day.  I think it would be really interesting to do research on any correlations between wealth and test scores in Fairfax County.

I learned about many other things during my last 2 weeks that I want to research more.  Related to wealth discrepancy in the U.S. and its effect on education, I’m planning on researching Title VIII schools and free and reduced lunch.  In terms of comparing U.S. schools to Italian schools, I want to research the ESOL program and extra-curricular activities.  So, it seems like I have a lot more work to do, even though my observation is done.  I will write about all the topics I still want to learn more about when I write my final blog post!  Thanks for reading!



  1. Tanner Russo says:

    Kristin, I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and learning a bit about your research. As a Government major, I’m interested in education policy / practices and think it’s such an important topic for research–and it’s even better, of course, when you get to spend some time in Italy! I especially appreciated your comments in this post about the relationship between familial income and a child’s test scores. Are you planning to incorporate research about Title VIII schools and free and reduced lunch into your current Monroe research or will that be a topic for later research? How do you think you’ll tackle the topic?