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Welcome to the School Matters Foundation

CHAOS in our schools...our flagship exposé

Today's excerpt:

New Zealand professor John Hatie developed a theory he calls Visible Learning, and published his first book on the subject in 2009.

Based on how this book was received by school districts across America, you would have thought the skies had opened and rained down the panacea to all student achievement woes.  Our supervisors used it to shape their philosophies and requirements.

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FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

Also available in hard cover and paperback.

What makes a great school?

A great school is an effective school.

This happens when the student is the focus of the school.

Currently, schools are planned around what is acceptable and desired by the adults who work in those schools.

This  must change.

Read Chaos in Our Schools 

for the whole story.

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Our Model School

  • Curriculum that promotes reading, writing, and math skills, plus history, civics, geography, and science.   

  • Transparency in hiring and evaluation practices.
    - Teachers hired for a demonstrated ability to teach.

  • Cameras to monitor teacher and student performance.
    -  Everyone behaves better when they know they're being filmed.  Just walk into any government office or bank.

  • Student placements that recognize ability and motivational levels.

  • ​​ - Social/emotional development fostered with   

   different  groupings for non-core classes, meal   times, and recess.

  • Testing that makes sense.
    - Current testing is more about a student's ability to navigate the online system and the convoluted way questions are asked than about basic curriculum.


Nationally low test scores have more to do with kids pushing back than kids not being able to perform.

Our article shares more:
The Spin Behind Common Core

Common Core tests mislead the public.

The test question you see is for 4th grade.

  • All work must be shown using a computer keyboard and the textbox with buttons.

  • Clarifying questions to the test proctor are not allowed.

So just what are we testing?

  • What if you're pretty good at math thinking but have a delay in reading comprehension?


You're 10 years old when you take this test.

  • How long are you going to try solving this problem, let alone making sure you type everything correctly in the box to get maximum points?


Do kids really care about our test that supposedly measures their ability to examine a topic deeply? 


Common Core kills curiosity.

It makes children feel inadequate and even...stupid.

Pushing oneself is a good thing.

Feeling like you're being pushed to serve someone else's agenda feels...invasive and manipulative.


Common Core is just one aspect of our failed education protocols; read our book for the full story.

Watch our video Common Core Vs. Kids, Part 2 for the details:

Our flagship book:

Chaos in Our Schools

The provocative expose of how mismanaged our education system is. Available now on Amazon.

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We can fix the problem, but we need an overhaul in how we view and manage public education.

Reading this book is a good start.

The paradigm of education has shifted over the last decade. Documentation and data collection have eclipsed teaching as the mainstay in a teacher's career.

Sunday journal

Click on our pages to find articles and guest posts about public education in America. 

Feature Article:
What Can Fix Our Broken Schools?

Misson Statement

This is a question that haunts most of us, at least those who are not fooling themselves into believing ALL IS OKAY...Or that all will be okay with more money and mandates.

The (elementary) public school system can be fixed when these things happen:

  • Class sizes are adjusted to reflect differentiated instruction. Years ago, the only thing that mattered was that a teacher delivered the necessary information and provided feedback in the form of grades. The students were responsible for absorbing that information. There was no expectation that teachers would develop individual learning plans for every student. Today, every elementary teacher is expected to do just that. Do you think it’s possible, in a classroom with a ratio of even 20:1, let alone the usual ratio of 30 or more to one?

  • Students are placed in classrooms according to aptitude and achievement, and their placements are fluid. 

That is a non-starter with both the education elites and the teachers’ unions. Students are purposely placed in mixed groups of high, medium, and low intellects, as well as high, medium, and low behaviors.    This is to make teaching equitable for the teachers, a brain child of the unions. How does this help students?

Additionally, education researchers have been claiming for years that mixed-ability groups work for all students. The gifted can help the non-gifted, and everyone wins. The trouble is that the research this comes from is conducted in controlled settings. That’s not how real classrooms work. In my experience, the gifted students languish in mixed-ability classrooms because their teacher is not trained to work especially with them. In a purposely-mixed sixth grade classroom, the levels of ability could range from first grade to eighth grade. Who could effectively teach 30 children in that scenario?

Read More


Common Core v. kids, pt 2

Intro to

The Bottom Line

From the 2022 book Chaos in Our Schools:

The Bottom Line
    There’s an insidious element in education that is unnoticed by most people. Schools are not set up for the children; they are set up for the convenience of the adults who run them. If children were the top priority in a school, they would not be assigned to static class groupings without the opportunity to advance to a different group when they are ready.
   If children were the top priority, the people who work with them would be seen as more important than the bureaucrats who direct those people. Class groups would not be divided into “fair” sets of upper, middle, and low aptitudes. The behavior problems would not be dispersed throughout the school so that every other child has his education seriously diminished by the outlandishness of a few.
   If children were truly the reason schools exist, the ratio of adult to child would be a reasonable and realistic one.

   Our schools, particularly at the elementary level, are operated with the guiding principles that
    1) Procedures and standards, copiously outlined, meet the

        education needs of students,
    2) Children should be arranged in groupings that are

        acceptable to the adults in charge.

   This is nonsense, but at present, there is little that can be done to thwart these ideals because the teachers’ unions won’t allow for a sensible approach to education.

Opinions on Education

Why We Need to Teach Civics in our schools:

Teaching civics

Visit our Quora Space

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  Our Feature Post:
     When do you think 
e school system will             be fixed?  

Image of the Week


John F. Kennedy,

35th President of the United States.
Credit: Shared via Mark Cohen

on LinkedIn

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"Regardless of whether it's indigenous issues, economic failures, shortages of fuel, food, or freedom of rights. It is time to learn from the past, let the negative emotions go, and make better decisions for the future."
-Michael Zeidenberg

Today's Exerpt

Today's Exerpt...continued

So what is Visible Learning?

According to an independent website that purports to evaluate Hattie's work, "Visible Learning means an enhanced role for teachers as they become evaluators of their own teaching." (  In a perfect educational world, according to Hattie, teachers are not only training their students how to become metacognitive learners, they are also training themselves to become metacognitive teachers.  

It seemed clear, from the lectures delivered by our principal, that successful teaching should involve a two-fold approach: first, we must teach in a way the makes it abundantly clear to students why they are learning what they are learning.  And second, teachers should be using only the strategies that appear in the top ten or twenty in effectiveness, according to Hattie's research.

Hattie's original top ten list looked like this:

  1. Student self-reporting grades

  2. Formative evaluation

  3. Teacher clarity

  4. Reciprocal teaching

  5. Feedback

  6. Teacher-student relationships

  7. Metacognitive strategies

  8. Self-verbalization/questioning

  9. Prior ability

  10. Strategy to integrate with prior knowledge

Way down on the list of effective learning is class size, at 186th.  In fact, Reducing Class Size has less of an effect than Exercise/Relaxation, Problem-based Learning, or Using Powerpoint, according to Hattie.  Incredibly, Decreasing Disruptive Behaviors ranks at 138th in affecting student outcomes.

When Visible Learning was introduced to our faculty in 2012, it was apparent our principal was pretty foggy on what the effect sizes meant.  Still, she presented Hattie's research as if it was 'cutting edge' and 'a game changer'. Education elites insisted Dr. Hattie had approached learning from a mathematical angle and had years of data to support his theories.  However, if you look at a blog posted by a mathematician who calls himself Ollie Orange 2, you find this reference:

Some of the statistical methods used by Hattie have been criticized.  Hattie himself admitted that of every two statistics in Visible Learning, one was calculated incorrectly through the book.

John Hattie knows about this mistake but has chosen not to publicize it.  This could mean that many teachers are still relying on it to instruct their teaching.

Yet Hattie's preachings were presented to teachers as sacrosanct;  the idea that class size might be a significant influencer on learning was a non-starter.  However, throughout our indoctrination, we were shown videos of teachers using Hattie's techniques, and it dawned on me that what we were watching was not even close to an authentic classroom.

A few glaring improbabilities emerged:

  • There were fewer than 15 students in the videotaped classroom.

  • Cameras were everywhere, much like a television studio.  What kid is going to be off-task with cameras present? (And even more interesting, how were these kids chosen in the first place?  It seemed improbable that school-haters were recruited to be the actors.)

  • The students shared exactly the ideas the teacher was trying to elicit.  How realistic is that?

This is why people should regard research and reported data with a healthy amount of skepticism.  Just because someone reports "facts" gathered in their laboratory-controlled research facility does not mean these ideas have much, if any, merit in the real world.

- CHAOS in our schools, p. 25        

Notable Viewpoints

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Why Differentiation
Doesn't Work

"Differentiation is a failure, a farce, and the ultimate educational joke played on countless educators and students. By having dismantled many of the provisions we used to offer kids on the edges of learning, ... we have sacrificed the learning of virtually every student."
                -    Dr. James Delisle, in Education Week

Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.

                                   Albert Einstein

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”                     – Aristotle

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The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.

                                                      B.B. King

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

                                  Nelson Mandela

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