Kaplan Publishes White Paper with Dr. Witherspoon on Improving Teacher-Student Communications for Higher Achievement

New white paper gives practical tips and best practices for transforming teachers’ expectations of students and fostering a collaborative classroom where every individual feels supported

NEW YORK (Sept. 24, 2012) – Teachers have long been challenged in affording underperforming students the opportunity to achieve academically. One explanation for this challenge centers on the Teacher Expectancy Model. Kaplan K12 Learning Services’ new white paper, “Positively Impacting the Student-Teacher Relationship through Differentiated Instruction,” written by Erick E. Witherspoon, Ed. D., an adjunct professor at the University of Redlands and principal of W.J.C. Trapp Elementary School in Rialto, Calif., outlines how to overcome this challenge.

Under the Teacher Expectancy model, educators communicate high expectations to those deemed to be potential high achievers, and low expectations to those they see as potential low achievers. Being assigned to the latter category can be particularly damaging for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, but may have a negative impact on any child. Students who are treated consistently as "low achievers" often don’t form strong relationships with teachers and other school staff, may experience reinforcement of a negative academic self image, and can feel alienated and disengaged—conditions that often lead a student to drop out.

In the white paper, Dr. Witherspoon addresses best practices for remedying this situation. Teachers can:

  • Avoid the natural tendency to pre-sort students based on clothing, speech or posture.
  • Build relationships with every student; do not project favoritism.
  • Involve all students in instruction and classroom activities so that those with learning disabilities feel engaged in their school community.

Witherspoon also encourages the use of the Democratic Classroom model, which fosters a classroom culture that encourages students to learn and use critical problem-solving techniques, allows each child to contribute their best, and helps teachers to build relationships with students and earn their trust. This model is designed to lessen teacher communication of low expectations and engage all students, not just a select few.

“Because we are committed to helping every teacher and student succeed, our state assessment and college test readiness programs are grounded in this approach,” said Mark Freidberg, vice president and general manager of Kaplan K12 Learning Services. “We’ve developed Kaplan K12 Teach!® Strategies and Resources to provide effective differentiated instruction to students at varying levels. Our online teacher toolkit is equipped with more than 3,000 lessons, assessments and videos that educators can filter by grade, subject-area, state-specific or Common Core standards. Each lesson comes in three levels, ensuring that all students can feel capable and engaged.”

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO)

About Kaplan K12 Learning Services
Kaplan K12 Learning Services, LLC (http://www.kaplank12.com), a unit of Kaplan Test Prep (http://www.kaptest.com), partners with schools to measurably propel student achievement. Kaplan K12 offers state test readiness programs to help students meet and exceed state standards, and college preparation solutions that support students as they prepare for college entrance exams and the admissions process. Its solutions also provide teachers with robust teaching resources and professional development support to impact achievement in their classrooms. Kaplan was recently recognized by ComputED Gazette’s 2012 Best Educational Awards (BESSIEs) for its ACT On Demand course as the “Top High School Test Preparation Website” and for its Teach! Strategies and Resources as the top Curriculum Development program in the "Teacher Tools" category. Kaplan Test Prep is a division of Kaplan Inc. (http://www.kaplan.com), a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO).

Media Contacts
• Russell Schaffer, Kaplan K12 Learning Services, 212.453.7538, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com
• Kristen Plemon, C. Blohm & Associates, 608-216-7300 x18, kristen@cblohm.com

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