Hutterite education : teacher perceptions of student performance

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Findlay, Robert M
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1994
The unique experience of being a public school teacher on a Hutterite colony has proven problematic for various reasons in the area of student eval uation. Hut teri te student achievement as undertaken by Alberta Education shows a I ack of understanding of how these chi ldren are performing academically and pays little heed to the perceptions, opinions and experiences of the English teachers in colony schools. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the cultural and educational environment found on a Hutterite colony that makes typical student achievement practices suspect at best. The first part of this project took the form of a survey of English teachers. These teacher perceptions of Hutterite student achievement were of children who were leaving school at the age 15. This survey was completed and anal yzed in January, 1993. The second stage of the project was a test of graduating Hutterite students using the Wide Range Achievement Test, (WRAT-R), which helped to determine basic skills in reading, spelling, and arithmetic for all student groups. The third phase was to give evidence of the validity of the chosen research instrument for children in Alberta by administering the Wide Range Achievement Test to a similar sized group of regular classroom students who acted as a control group. Recognized research methodology was used to compile and analyze the data. The analysis provided an opportunity to compare the achievement levels of Hutterite children at age fifteen with students of the same age in the regular school system. The cuI tural and educational contexts in which the Hut teri te students and their Engl ish teachers work were used to arrive at some understanding of why there was a difference in achievement results. Also, teacher perceptions of how Hutterite children were performing academically were compared with actual student performance. It was found that these teacher perceptions were supported by the data collected in this study. other findings support the contention that Hutterite children in the province of Alberta are technically English-as-a-Second-Language students. Accordingly, they should not be required to write Alberta Education achievement exams because the Hutterite educational context requires a specialized curriculum. However, they should be tested for achievement on such a revised curriculum. Also, this research provides evidence that Hutterite children are unable to achieve at the grade level in which they are registered. Finall y, this study shows that there is a close relationship between Hutterite achievement on the WRAT-R and Hutterite English teachers' informal assessments of Hutterite student performance. The Hutterite people in Alberta and in other parts of the world have a unique culture. The author believes that no one person or group has the right to make changes for another culture unless that culture perceives a need for change. Hutterite people have survived nearly 500 years as a communal culture partially because of their abhorrence of great changes. This paper does provide ideas for providing a quality education children that offers due recognition to sound data and for Hutterite the cultural context and the other conditions that place constraints on teaching and learning within such a system.
ix, 80 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Hutterite brethren -- Education , Academic achievement -- Alberta