Homeschooling in the United States

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Home-schooling can be a challenging topic to research because it exists outside of most governmental education data-collection systems. What are current estimates of the number (and percentage) of children who are home-schooled in the US, and has this rate grown over time? Describe your search strategy to find reliable estimates, and if sources disagree, briefly explain how and offer some reasons why.

The practice of homeschooling students has, in fact, become more and more popular over the past decade. In 1999 the National Household Education Surveys Program found that across the United States, about 1.7 percent of students, approximately 850,000 individuals, were homeschooled. By 2003, the percentage of students studying at home rose to 2.2 percent. In the 2005-2006 school year, between 1.9 and 2.4 million students were homeschooled. The number of youth educated at home continues to rise. However, current, up-to-date data was difficult to locate despite my best search efforts, most likely due to the difficulty posed to researchers by the collecting of this information.

To start, I searched the terms “homeschooling in the united states” on Google Scholar, which led me to a number of studies by the National Household Education Surveys Program that involved collecting data about homeschooling in the United States. These sources provided some statistical data concerning the number of students in the United States being homeschooled in a given year, and the percentage of all U.S. students that they constitute. My next search, “current homeschooling rates,” was not quite as successful. It proved far more difficult for me to find information about current rates of homeschooling in the United States. In fact, many of the sources I found with data about home schooling did not discuss information that was current at the time they were published: for example, one work was published in 2001 and referred to 1999 statistics.

Next, I moved to WorldCat and began my search with various terms, “current homeschooling rates,” “homeschooling in the US,” and “2012 home education.” Most of the information I found included information on tried and true homeschooling practices, books discussing specific groups within the homeschooling community (for example, Write these laws on your children : inside the world of conservative Christian homeschooling, a book by Robert Kunzman), and when I searched “2012 home education,” I was led to a series of sources that equated to high level ‘how-to’ guides and self-help books. Unfortunately, none of these sources were geared toward statistical analysis or data collection about the rates of homeschooling. In desperation, I turned to Wikipedia – which, perhaps, I should have done at the start. According to the “Homeschooling in the United States” page, approximately 2.9 percent, or 2 million, United States students are currently being homeschooled. I used some of the cited references from the Wikipedia page to find out a bit more about current rates.

A Wikipedia reference led me to a brief issued by the National Center for Education Statistics from December 2008. According to the Parent and Family Involvement in Education survey conducted by the NHES, 1.5 million United States students were engaged in home education in 2007. This brief led me to search for the National Center for Education Statistics on Google where I found the most recent version of Projections of Education Statistics to 2012. Unfortunately, “Neither the actual numbers nor the projections of public and private elementary and secondary school enrollment include homeschooled students because more data are required to develop reliable projections” (Projections 1).

It seems to me that the most current information available on homeschooling statistics is lagging by a few years. The sources that I found did not discuss the homeschooling rate at the times they were published, but instead, the data from approximately three years prior. Nevertheless, I was able to uncover the fact that the practice of homeschooling has become more prevalent over the past decade and the number and percentage of students being educated at home has increased.

Works Cited

Bielick, Stacey, Kathryn Chandler, and Stephen P. Broughman. “Homeschooling in the United States: 1999.” (2001). Education Resources Information Center.

Princiotta, Daniel, Stacey Bielick, and Chris Chapman. “1.1 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2003. Issue Brief. NCES 2004-115.” National Center for Education Statistics (2004).

“Projections of Education Statistics to 2021 – About This Report.” Projections of Education Statistics to 2021 – About This Report. National Center for Education Statistics, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2013. <>.

Ray, Brian D. “Research Facts on Homeschooling. General Facts and Trends.” National Home Education Research Institute (2006). Education Resources Information Center.


How do you locate Connecticut State Department of Education statistics about teachers?

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How do you locate Connecticut State Department of Education statistics about teachers, such as the percentage of racial minorities and average years of experience by district? Describe your search strategy and results for Hartford versus any suburb.

Statistics about teachers are very important because they give researchers and reformers certain clues about the classroom dynamic. I was very weary doing my search as I didn’t know where to start. I searched a few terms in google and quickly realized that my method was ill conceived. I decided that the best way for me to find this information would be to start at the source. I searched “Connecticut State Department of Education statistics” and got to this page.

Once on the main page it seemed as if it would be easy to find the information. I clicked on a link titled “Data Tables”. It’s description said “View export and drill into education data tables”. I knew that this was a good lead. On the left hand side of the data table page there is a tab that says “Select Report”. Under it there are choices such as CMT, Dropout and Graduation. I selected “Staff” because of my interest in data about teachers. This link brought me to a main list of staff reports. I clicked on “General Education” which lead me to this page which was exactly what I needed.

This is what the page looks like.

As you can see it has information about Race, Ethnicity and numbers of years of experience.

I chose to find information about the year 2010-2011. In the Hartford School District there were 1,313 teachers. 7 were American Indian, 17 were Asian, 156 were African American, 148 were Latino and 985 were White. This information can be compared to the West Hartford School District which had 666 teachers. 1 was American Indian, 10 were Asian, 10 were African American, 14 were Latino and 631 were White. These statistics aren’t that surprising but they reflect the need for more teachers of color in both the city and the suburbs.

The information on the number of years of experience may be more intriguing. In Hartford the average experience was 12.9 years. In West Hartford the average experience was 13.7 years. This information can tell researchers about job security and accountability of teachers.

This assignment was actually fun and interesting and I will use this newfound research skill to learn more about the differences in city and suburban education.

How do you locate a database of teachers’ contracts for all school districts in Connecticut?

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How do you locate a database of teachers’ contracts for all school districts in Connecticut? Describe your search strategy and summarize differences between Hartford versus any suburb.


Locating a database of teacher’s contracts for all school districts in Connecticut is not as difficult to do as one might think.  I simply inputted “teacher contracts Hartford” into Google’s search engine and the fourth link down was entitled, “Find & Compare Districts – ConnCAN Teacher Contract Database.”  The website,, had information on every school district in Connecticut, from teacher salaries to workday length to the number of sick days that teachers are given.  While the average salaries of teachers in Hartford is comparable to that of the statewide averages, there were some disparities between Hartford teacher salaries and the salaries of teachers in Connecticut’s suburbs.  For example, on the website, you can find out a town’s average teacher salary by checking off the box to the left of the town’s name.  For the search I conducted, I checked off the box to urban Hartford while I also checked off the box to Westport, a more affluent Connecticut suburb.  What I found is that the average Hartford teacher salary is substantially smaller than that of their suburban counterpart.  In Westport, for example, a first-year teacher with a BA makes about $47,000 a year.  A fifth-year teacher brings in around $55,000 a year.  Meanwhile, in Hartford, a first-year teacher with a BA makes slightly less than $43,000 a year while a fifth-year teacher makes just over $50,000 a year.  Even more troubling, the max amount of money a teacher can make in Hartford with a BA is $ 66,000 a year while the max amount of money for a teacher in Westport is $77,000, a whopping $11,000 disparity. So, while you may think that the teacher willing to work in the states most struggling schools would be valued over other teachers, it’s actually just the opposite in Connecticut.  Go figure!

Traveling Back in Time: Using the Internet Archive Resource to Properly Cite Information

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#15 In Taylor Godfrey’s 2012 web essay, she bases her claims on content that appeared on the Teach for America website over six years ago, yet does not mention how she found this source. Describe how she did it, and offer a better citation. (Hint: See an amazing tool provided by the Internet Archive.)

My source detection assignment for this week allowed me to do some interesting digging around the Internet.  I began my search by referring to Taylor Godfrey’s essay, which can be found under our assigned reading for April 7th. That was the easy part. After opening up the web essay, I immediately saw the “content” that the question was asking me to expand on. At the top of the page she prefaces her essay with the quote, “Teach for America Welcomes and seeks out rigorous independent evaluations as a means of measuring our impact and continuously improving our program.” She goes on to explain that this was taken from the Teach For America website six years ago, on October 5th, 2006. Interesting, but where was her citation?  Taylor wrote a compelling and well-researched essay on how Teach For America (TFA) has evolved over the past six years, yet she left out how she found this source. Without a proper citation, how will future readers know where she got her information, and whether it is valid or trustworthy? In order to properly address my detection question, I had to start from the beginning and retrace Taylor’s steps when she referred to the TFA website, only this time I would be sure to properly cite the source used.

To tackle this somewhat daunting task, I decided to turn to the page of search strategies for sources that we reviewed last week in class, with my eyes peeled for one database in particular—the Internet Archive. With one quick click (thanks Jack!) I was directed to the Internet Archive’s page, an amazing Internet resource that is a nonprofit, free, and open for public use.  I focused in on the WayBackMachine, and entered TFA’s url,

This is the page I saw after entering the TFA url into the WayBackMachine from the Internet Archive.

I was brought to a page that featured years going all the way back to 1996, but didn’t stay long out of fear of becoming too overwhelmed. I clicked on the year 2006, and scrolled down to the month of October, and then found what day I was looking for, the 5th. With one more simple click, I was transported back in time to the TFA website looked like seven years ago.

This is how TFA's webpage looked on October 6, 2006.

Now, however, things were getting a little more complicated. Where had Taylor found this specific quote?  I had to do some searching of my own, and was impressed with how much of the TFA website had been archived. I browsed around the site, clicking on various links hoping to find out where Taylor had found her information.  I finally found a resource directed at “researchers” in the bottom part of the homepage, and struck gold. The first paragraph had the exact information I had been looking for.

The paragraph that contained the quote Taylor used in her web essay.

I’d found the quote, but now what? I directed myself back to what my source detection question was asking, and have to admit that I was a little bit confused and felt myself approaching a stopping point. I decided to close my computer for the time being, and made an appointment with Jack for the following day just to check-in and make sure I was on the right track.

The meeting was exactly what I needed. With the help of Jack and Zotero, I was able to provide the final part of the answer my source detection question was asking for. I’d found the webpage, and now just had to provide a better citation for the quote that Taylor based her web essay on.  I’d never used Zotero to cite a webpage before, but found it easy and efficient. Zotero automatically had the item type, title, date, date added, and date modified sections filled out, so all I had to do was input the website title and URL link.

Zotero helped me make sure that Taylor's quote was properly cited.

So, after all of this work and digging through the Internet archives, I have concluded that the better citation Taylor should have used in her web page is:

“Teach For America – Resources for Researchers.” Internet Archive WayBackMachine, October 5, 2006.  


Replicating a Search

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Source Detective Question

In Kate McEachern’s 2005 essay, she wanted to know when major newspapers began using the phrase “teach to the test,” and found a creative way to answer this question. Describe her approach and replicate how she did it.


In Kate McEachern’s 2005 essay she set out to find out when the phrase “teach to the test” was first used in major newspapers. In her essay she describes going to the New York Times Historical Archive Database, which led her to the answer of 1966. In order to replicate her search eight years later I went to the ED300 page of search strategies for sources. Towards the bottom of the page I found a link to search additional national newspapers such as the New York Times. The link took me to the ProQuest advanced search for News and Newspaper where I typed in “teach to the test” or “teaching to the test”. I then specified “Newspapers” and “Historical Newspapers” as my source type as well as all dates.

I then chose my sort results to be by oldest publication date first. Although illegible the first relevant search result was a New York Times article from February 16th 1969 by Fred M. Hechinger called “Why an ‘A’ by Any Other Name Smells Bad”. Surprisingly after searching both ProQuest and the New York Times Historical Archive Database the 1966 article was not found. The New York Times Article Archive gives two options when searching the archives. The first is from 1981 to present and the second is 1851 to 1980. Yet certain articles are only available to subscribers. Therefore when I searched for Leonard Buder’s specific article called “Report Card for Schools?” from May 29th 1966 I was unable to view the document.

A Strategic Search for Scholarly Reviews: Doug Harris’s Value-Added Measures in Education

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#13 How do you locate a scholarly reviews of Doug Harris’ book, Value-Added Measures in Education? Describe your search strategy and summarize criticisms of his book.

A Strategic Search for Scholarly Reviews: Doug Harris’s Value-Added Measures in Education

To say the least, I was not entirely sure on where to begin my search for scholarly reviews of Doug Harris’s book, Value-Added Measures in Education. In part, my confusion was attributed to the ambiguity of the term “scholarly.” What exactly determines what would make a review “scholarly?” Is it a review written by a professor and/or a person with some higher level education affiliation? Regardless, I knew I had to start somewhere.

That said my motto has always been “when in doubt, use Google,” so I simply typed in “Scholarly reviews of Doug Harris’s book Value-Added Measures in Education.” Unfortunately (yet admittedly, unsurprisingly) my Google search did not provide me with much other than some blogs and articles citing the book. None of which seemed “scholarly” or at least appeared “scholarly” based upon my interpretation and understanding of the word.

I then decided to turn my attention to the “Search Strategies Resource Page” (compliments of Jack) and checked out Unfortunately, my attempt was yet again unsuccessful, as no results matched my search of “Value-Added Measures in Education au: Doug Harris.” I decided to make my search less specific and took out the “Doug Harris.” To my delight, I did get results, however, there were far too many “matches” and only one of which actually applied to Doug Harris’s book. Yet again, no “scholarly” reviews were found and it was back to the drawing board. 

With an escalating frustration, I decided to make an appointment with Jack the following day. Together we went through and discussed various alternative search strategies. I began by searching EBSCOhost for “Value-Added Measures in Education” in the “title field.” I was relatively successful with two matches—one written by Stephen Sawchuk called “‘Value Added’ Use at Secondary Level Questioned” and another review written by Lane B. Mills, featured in School Administrator. Two matches was a good start, but I knew it was not enough and my search resumed. 

More hopeful, I decided to try my luck again and check out the “Google Scholar” search engine. I used the “advanced search” and typed in “Value-Added Measures in Education” in the “with exact phrase” box and clicked on the “Since 2012” link to the left.

To my delight, about 36 searches appeared in approximately 0.06 seconds. One of the results I found was a rebuttal to a rebuttal, as you will.  The authors had written a review of Harris and his book, which was later greeted by a response from Harris and low and behold, here I was reading the reply to Harris’ rebuttal. It was written by Clarin Collins and Audrey Amrein-Beardsley of Arizona State University where they were essentially defending and standing by their original interpretation of Harris’ belief that “value-added is good enough to be used for educational accountability” (Collins 2012 pg.3). After quoting various sections of Harris’s book, they conclude by asserting that they are standing by their original review of Harris’s book and furthering that “value-added is not good enough to be attaching any sort of consequences much less any such decisions to its output. Value-added may not even be good enough even at the most basic, pragmatic level” (Collins 2012 pg. 4).

In summarization, the book was incredibly controversial. Generally speaking, the criticisms of Harris’s book did not vary greatly. Many of the reviews praised Harris in his ability to express the pros and cons of value-added most comprehensively (Collins 2011 pg.2) Most common of the criticisms was that there was no real definitive conclusion in the book and in effect, “…readers will take away various perceptions on the author’s stance” (Collins 2012 pg.3). Furthermore, many of the criticisms featured claims that Harris’s logic was often times confusing “…even for readers who are familiar with value-added and the research” (Collins 2011 pg.2). Support for this claim was Harris’s belief that demographic information should be left unaccounted for when calculating value-added, however he maintains that “research evidence” indicates that students deemed as disadvantaged grow at slower rates (Harris pg. 75). Critics of Harris argues that this claim “counter[s] his logic that these factors should go away over time” (Collins 2011 pg.3). Additionally, Harris has been criticized for downplaying the importance of the various concerns and issues presented in the book that completely contradicts the very essence of value-added and its sensibleness—drawing support from Harris’s segment on the method’s inability to properly judge teacher effectiveness and the inadequate attention said issue received.

For some interesting reviews on Harris’s book Value-Added Measures in Education check out the following:

Collins, Clarin & Amrein-Beardsley, Audrey. (2011 November 23). Review of Value-added measures in education by Douglas N. Harris. Education Review, 14. Retrieved January 25, 2012 from

Collins, Clarin & Amrein-Beardsley, Audrey. (2012 January 27) Reply to Harris. Education Review, 15. Retrieved April 4, 2013 from

Scherrer, Jimmy. (2011). Measuring teaching using value-added modeling: The imperfect panacea. NASSP Bulletin, 95(2), 122-140.

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How do you find reviews and essays about video documentaries?

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Prompt: How do you find reviews and essays about video documentaries? Describe your search strategy and cite the 5 most thoughtful reviews or background essays on a designated video documentary. Your search results may include scholarly and/or popular press, but do your best not to include those featured on the film’s companion site. (Hint: the goal of this question is to help your classmates identify thoughtful sources that do not necessarily agree with the policy stance taken by the film.) Add a brief explanation for why you recommended each of the five sources you selected.

When starting my source detective question the first thing I did was go to the Google search bar and typed in what I was trying to find; in that case the film Waiting for Superman. Initially the first thing that popped up was the movie’s website. Before watching a movie I’d like to do some prior reading so the Wikipedia link is my first instinct to click on. The reason why Wikipedia is actually a useful source is because it can be edited, therefor is always relevant, and anyone can contribute whether biased or unbiased. The Wikipedia source helped me have a brief understanding of what the film is about. 

But then, I wanted to see some actual clips of the movie, maybe the trailer. YouTube gave a quick 2 minute trailer showing the emotion and almost the drama that a Wikipedia article cannot show. Although it is biased in the film’s favor, it gives the future viewers what to expect when watching. However the trailer only gives a single perspective. Rotten Tomatoes gives the perspective of nearly 17,000 raters and 114 critics. Seeing that the average rate was a 4/5 stars I figured that the audiences felt touch in what they were watching. The comments ranged from those who had similar experiences while in school to actual teachers totally agreeing with the message of the film.

However out of the 114 critics, there were 12 who considered the movie to be “rotten” and they expressed how some of these teaching strategies don’t work or how the director did a poor job not portraying the obstacles students faced outside of school that led to failing performances in school. Overall Rotten Tomatoes was a great source for me because it shows the good and the bad. Not to mention it being number 5 out of 3,540,000 search results on Google.

After unsuccessful attempts on JStor and the Trinity library data base searching for essays, I went back to Google. I spotted a Time Magazine link and knew Time likes to write up these “heroic” articles in order to give a normal person praise. In this example it was Geoffrey Canada and Michelle Rhee, two ordinary teachers who cared about the lives of children rather than their own salary. According to Time, these are the types of people that we need in the education system to “save our schools”. I feel that the purpose of a Time article is to help turn regular people into heroes, unlike the simple essay done by a college professor. In my opinion they do a good job because they depict these people as “tough sheriffs brought in to clean up a bad town”.

Scrolling down allowed me to find an article called NOT Waiting for Superman so I clicked on it in a heartbeat. This article is basically stating that the film is like a fairy tale, misleading everyone who is watching. I found it to be comical because it’s saying the steps that are being made to improve public schools: getting rid of “bad teachers”, firing principals, and bringing in new charter school teachers will not work and will end up hurting public schools. This alternative article attracts a bunch of commenters, most who are teachers who agree that the teachers cannot control a situation outside of school that is causing their students to fail and the “charter school solution” is not the way. This source helped me see the negative side of the film.

I was finished with Google and I wanted to check out what the Hartford Courant had to say. One of the first articles that popped up was one by Diane Ravitch. Since I had been reading her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System I was fascinated to see what she had to say. I liked this article because she gave a lot of statistics about state test scores which the other sources don’t give. Rather than being so much of a critic about the film, Ravitch gives out useful facts that can help an audience understand how students are actually performing in the schools that are failing and charter schools will help pan out the future of failing students.

Work Cited:

“Waiting for Superman (2010).” Waiting for Superman. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2013. 

Corliss, Richard. “Waiting for ‘Superman’: Are Teachers the Problem?” Time Magazine. N.p., 29 Sept. 2010. Web. 22 Feb.,8599,2021951,00.html

Karp, Stan. “We’re NOT “Waiting for Superman” .” famfamfam, 20 Sept. 2010. Web. 22 Feb.

Ravitch, Diane. “The Myth of Charter Schools.” New York Review of Books, 10 Nov. 2010. Web. 22 Feb.

Race to Nowhere or at Least Somewhere

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For my source detective posting, I was posed with the question of finding reviews of the educational documentary “Race to Nowhere”. Initially, I read the ones found on the official “Race to Nowhere” site and found that they were all in praise of the documentary. While personally I found the movie incredibly movie, this seemed too one-sided. Upon further research, I found that many of the other reviews found the movie overly dramatic and meant to incite panic about the national education problems.

Trip Gabriel’s review of the documentary focuses on the positive effects the documentary may have yet does so without attempting to “sell” the movie out to the public. Coming from The New York times, I initially felt it would be a very objective and credible review. With further reading, I found that the greatest element of credible research he comes away with is the fact that the documentary achieved national recognition without a major ad campaign or large-scale distribution. The fact that the movie didn’t need to self-sell itself and still was adopted as credible on a national scale demonstrates it’s incredible impact.

Another positive review I found was Cynthia Joyce’s review from NBC news. The reason I chose this one was because rather than focusing on the recognition the documentary gained in the country, she focused on the message. She does mention the enthusiasm students and others had for seeing and taking about the documentary. However while doing so, she created a clear picture of the goal of the documentary: to raise awareness about the race toward “over-credentialism” and the effects of the pressure it creates.

After finding two very positive review of the documentary, I searched for a contrasting view. Jay Mathews of The Washington Post provides a very overt critique of the inaccuracies of the documentary. The focus of his critique is on the fact that the documentary doesn’t focus enough on the actual facts of the issue and rather the places a focus on the emotional problems that take place. While this may be true, the view may be short sighted because the issue of schooling can’t be analyzed purely by facts. The product that is researched when concerned with education is a child so the emotional problems that are being caused are as much a “fact” as any other statistic.

As another negative review, John Merrow highlights the narrow scope of the documentary. His critique is mainly focused on the fact that the movie demonstrates many aspects of schooling that are detrimental to the child yet it waits until the very end of the movie to show any sort of alternative schooling which, as we know, is a major portion of the national education spectrum. This review is the only negative one that I feel has merit. While I found the movie compelling and incredibly moving, I did get the feeling that it was attempting to be a scare tactic. This review shows the method in which it did so. He does spend a large portion of the article comparing “Race to Nowhere” to “Waiting for Superman” which isn’t as helpful when looking solely at this documentary. However, his critique remains accurate and thoughtful.

One thing I found when looking for reviews that weren’t listed on the official “Race to Nowhere” site is that many people adopted overly positive reviews. While the basis for the source detective post is to only post reviews that are helpful in finding objective and accurate reviews of the source, I feel that the number of dramatized and “over-kill” style review were overwhelming. For this reason I included the last of these five reviews. Ella Taylor’s review of “Race to Nowhere” is an example of the tendency to get swept up in the emotional component of the documentary and not fully analyze it. This review merely summarizes and even at times embellished the message of the movie rather than effectively convey the message to the audience.




Gabriel, Trip. “Parents Embrace Documentary on Pressures of School.” The New York Times. N.p., 8 Dec. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.

Joyce, Cynthia. “‘Race to Nowhere’ Targets Academic Pressures.” NBC News. N.p., 3 Aug. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2013. <>.

Mathews, Jay. “Why ‘Race to Nowhere’ Documentary Is Wrong.” The Washington Post. N.p., 4 Mar. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.

Merrow, John. “‘Race to Nowhere:’ It’s No ‘Waiting for ‘Superman’, ‘ but It’s Honest.”The Huffington Post. N.p., 10 June 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.

Taylor, Ella. “Mom’s Mad as Hell and Not Gonna Take It Anymore in Education Doc Race to Nowhere.” The Village Voice. N.p., 8 Sept. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.


Not everyone thinks The Lottery hit the jackpot

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How do you find reviews and essays about video documentaries? Describe your search strategy and cite the 5 most thoughtful reviews or background essays on a designated video documentary. Your search results may include scholarly and/or popular press, but do your best not to include those featured on the film’s companion site. (Hint: the goal of this question is to help your classmates identify thoughtful sources that do not necessarily agree with the policy stance taken by the film.) Add a brief explanation for why you recommended each of the five sources you selected

I have been anxiously awaiting being assigned my Source Detective[1] question. The format of this assignment has had me imagining myself as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Harriet the Spy scouring various resources, following the clues and sharpening my “information literacy skills”.

I was assigned question #10 with my designated video documentary being, The Lottery (2010) by Madeleine Sackler. With that said I put on my best deerstalker hat[2] and began my search. I started at the International Movie Data Base website (IMDB)[3]. I started here because this is not the movie which I will be watching for class and I wanted to have an idea of the storyline, cast, previous work by the director, etc… IMDB is probably one of the main apps I rely on in life. I’m not quite sure what I did before it.

**At this juncture I would like to insert a little helpful tip borne out of personal experience. When undertaking any kind of search it is imperative to make sure your results are for the correct item! In my initial IMDB search I came across two other movies named The Lottery. One stars Keri Russell and debuted in 1996 and the other is a short horror film made in 1969.


This is a good general rule to follow, and while it seems like common sense it’s worth repeating. In all subsequent searches I made sure to include the director, Madeleine Sackler’s name when possible. Moment of truth, in the world we live in it’s easy to assume to the first result you get is the best result. Last semester when ordering books on-line at Amazon I only entered the titles of books- needless to say, there were two books called “Freedom Summer”; one of which I needed for my class, and the other was a children’s book. I ordered the children’s book.  Paying attention to the result is important! **

Now back to the task at hand. So at this stage of my search I know I need to be very specific when searching for reviews and thoughtful background on my film as there are other films with the same name. I also know an overview of what my film is about which can help me discern which reviews are touting this documentary and which are taking an oppositional stance. I also have the link to the website for the film, as this was posted on the assignment page.

I proceeded to check out the official website for the documentary,[4]. I did this so I could compile a quick list of the 23 sources cited on the film’s companion site as part of the assignment urged us to find something not featured there.

Armed with all this information I made my way over to LexisNexis and searched for The Lottery by Madeleine Sackler in all Major World Publications. This search retrieved 25 results. With two windows open, my results page on the left and the list from the companion site on the right I began to go through the results avoiding those on the companion site.

What I started to notice as I went through the articles on LexisNexis is that many of them were articles jointly reviewing my assigned documentary, The Cartel (2009) and Waiting for Superman (2010). These three films came out in a relatively short span of time, share a similar subject matter and therefore seem to be spoken of together often.  

Result 14 was the first article that was neither on the companion site and was exclusively dedicated to The Lottery. From the Washington Post on June 25, 2010 Jen Chaney’s Article, Competing for a chance to succeed, provides a succinct summary of what differentiates this film from the rest in its genre. Chaney criticizes Sackler’s limited inclusion of opposing viewpoints in her film stating this” would have made for a stronger movie”. Here is the link to this review which gives the film 2/4 stars:,1164454/critic-review.html [5]

Result 16 which is from the Daily Variety is a scathing review of the film accusing it of being “advocacy to the point of propaganda”. I found this review by John Anderson to be incredibly thoughtful: [6]

Result 24 is a New York Times review published on June 11, 2010 by Jeannette Catsoulis that concisely questions if the heart-wrenching tactic of this film is “ the best foundation on which to build successful education reform.” [7]

I then made my way over to Google Scholar and came up with these two reviews: [8]I chose this one because it gives a lot of background information on Madeleine Stackler. Apparently, she was a resident of Greenwich, CT!! This article is less about the movie itself, but rather Madeleine’s educational experiences and her process of coming to making this documentary. I found this an interesting way to understand Stackler’s motives, biases and as a former Greenwich resident myself, I felt this piece was relevant.

My final and in my humble opinion, best review is [9]. This piece, published by the National Education Policy Center, was written by William Tate from the Washington University in St. Louis. Tate is the Chair of the Department of Education. This article is a scholarly review and thus is able to provide the most thoughtful and thorough review of all the sources I found.

So there it is, and I saved the best for last. At points during this assignment I had more windows open than screen space available, but I appreciated the opportunity to be exhaustive and take you all through my process.

*Citation list added on Wednesday February 27,2013*

[1]   Dougherty, Jack. “Source Detective Questions | Educ 300: Education Reform, Past and Present.” Educ 300: Education Reform, Past and Present. Accessed February 27, 2013.

[2] “Deerstalker Hat – Google Search.” Accessed February 27, 2013.,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&cad=b.

[3] “IMDb – Movies, TV and Celebrities.” Accessed February 27, 2013.

[4] “The Lottery.” The Lottery Film, 2013.

[5]Chaney, Jen. “Critic Review for The Lottery on” The Washington Post, June 10, 2010.,1164454/critic-review.html.

[6] Anderson, John. “The Lottery | Variety.” Variety, June 8, 2010.

[7] Catsoulis, Jeannett. “Movie Review – ‘The Lottery’ – Documentary About the Harlem Success Academy –” The New York Times, June 11, 2010.

[8] Sawicki, Stephen. “School of Thought – Greenwich Magazine – March 2011 – Greenwich, Connecticut.” Greenwich by Moffly Media. Accessed February 27, 2013.

[9] William Tate, “Review of The Lottery”, National Education Policy Center (January 2011). Accessed February 27, 2013.



The American Teacher: Finding Reliable Reviews and Essays

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Question: How do you find reviews and essays about video documentaries? Describe your search strategy and cite the 5 most thoughtful reviews or background essays on a designated video documentary. Your search results may include scholarly and/or popular press, but do your best not to include those featured on the film’s companion site. (Hint: the goal of this question is to help your classmates identify thoughtful sources that do not necessarily agree with the policy stance taken by the film.) Add a brief explanation for why you recommended each of the five sources you selected.

When looking for reliable material, everyone’s initial response to figure out something they don’t know is to Google the material. So, that’s what I did. Using Google Scholar, I entered all the information needed to link The American Teacher and any reviews that would need to go with it.

When visiting the first visiting the website, it appears as if you’re googling a normally on the primary website. Click on the small arrow next to the search button, and an advanced option to search articles appears.

Originally, it took me a while to find many reviews pertaining specifically to the actual documentary because just typing in “American Teacher” into the search bar brings up any article using both words. Specific words like American Teacher, documentary, 2011, reviews, education, and the teacher salary project narrows down the search to find articles more specific to the movie. Being as specific as possible with the search is crucial to finding a specific review for the American Teacher documentary.

Many of the articles will vary from the topics they talk about; therefore, skim each preview of the article you wish before actually including the article because although the search made the scope a lot smaller, many of the results may very well still be talking about a different topic than reviewing the film.

When I read the previews, I would make sure that the title of the movie was somewhere present along with an overview of the film to make sure the film was being reviewed.


1. Yamada, Teri. “RESTRUCTURING Public Hi Ed.” RESTRUCTURING Public Hi Ed., 2 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.<>

In this blog post, Yamada takes an overview of American Teacher, and uses it as a positive aspect to support his claim over the growing amount of public relations campaigning.

2. Harris, K. “Amazon Official Comment.” K. Harris “Film Aficionado”‘s Review of American Teacher. Amazon, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>

The reviewer goes in depth and analyzes both the pitfalls and successes of the film and bases his review on both perspectives. Moreover, the reviewer goes in depth about what improvements can be made to the documentary.

3. Willmore, Alison. “American Teacher.” AV Club Live. The Onion, 9 Sept. 2011. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <,62512/>.

In this review, the author refers back to key scenes in the movie and describes in depth how American teacher is a positive impact and acknowledges the counter arguements within the film and also about the film.

4.Campbell, Christopher. “American Teacher” DISQUS, 14 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>.

The review is very down to earth and makes the reader associate better with the reviewer and how his review may be misconstrued. Also, the review provides some outside knowledge and takes a definite position on the problem proposed by the documentary.

5. Walker-Bickett, Jeri. “JeriWB: What Do I Know?” JeriWB What Do I Know. WordPress, 16 May 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>.

The review really puts into perspective all of the statistics presented by the movie and gives a great overall view of the movie as well as present the hopefulness of creating change for teachers.

Finding Reviews about Video Documentaries and Avoiding Bias

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Prompt: How do you find reviews and essays about video documentaries? Describe your search strategy and cite the 5 most thoughtful reviews or background essays on a designated video documentary. Your search results may include scholarly and/or popular press, but do your best not to include those featured on the film’s companion site. (Hint: the goal of this question is to help your classmates identify thoughtful sources that do not necessarily agree with the policy stance taken by the film.) Add a brief explanation for why you recommended each of the five sources you selected.

For this assignment I met with a Trinity librarian, Erin Valentine, who significantly helped me in answering how to find thoughtful reviews and essays about video documentaries, in particular “The Cartel” by Bob Bowdon.  We began the search on the Trinity College Library homepage, and since I was looking for reviews, Erin told me to search under “Articles”.  From there, we searched by database title and chose “Education Full Text” and then hit “Go”.

On the next page, I was told to select “Choose Database” and chose a few other relevant databases such as Social Sciences full text, Humanities full text, and Readers’ Guide full text.

I then searched under “The Cartel”, but the results pertained to mainly drug and oil cartels and had nothing to do with the video documentary.  I then went back to the previous page and added the writer/director’s name, Bowdon, to the search.

Since this only provided three reviews of the film, I added the database “Film and Television Literature Index” to my search.  This also only offered five reviews, which Erin suggested was probably the result of how recent the film was made.

A few of the reviews found from that particular search proved thoughtful and informative, but not all five.  After my next search in JSTOR was unhelpful, I then targeted Google as my next method of researching.  Google News and Google Scholar both left me empty-handed, and simply searching “The Cartel Bob Bowdon” under Google mainly produced biased positive reviews from companion sites.  However, this same search led me to the Wikipedia site for the film, whose “References” section surprisingly produced the two most thoughtful and insightful reviews I found.

Interestingly enough, many of the reviews I came across found that Bowdon had the right idea in mind and agreed with his general stance, but they do not write favorably about the film.  Most reviews were harsh critiques and portrayed the film in a negative light.  This is the advantage of using reviews from databases other than the companion site because they are not biased and give both negative and positive feedback.  Below I have listed and explained the five most relevant reviews of Bob Bowdon’s “The Cartel”.

“A Digestible Lesson in Public-School Failures” by Wesley Morris

Morris takes an unbiased stance on the film, praising the message that Bowdon is trying to get across that current public school systems are corrupt and dysfunctional, but he also critiques the quality of the film itself and the righteous and condescending way Bowdon portrays himself.

 “‘The Cartel’ Sees Teacher Unions’ Grip as Crippling” by Brian MacQuarrie

MacQuarrie gives less of an opinionated account of the film and more so sheds additional light on the problems and absurdities within the public school system in New Jersey.  He seems to reiterate and agree with many of the film’s points, showing Bowdon and his film in a positive light.

“Children Left Behind” by Jeannette Catsoulis

From the New York Times, Catsoulis provides a rather negative portrayal of the film, pointing out that Bowdon merely focuses on the single state of New Jersey even though the film is supposed to be targeting the public school system on a national level.  She calls the film “a bludgeoning rant against a single state” and finishes her review by stating that the film is “visually horrid and intellectually unsatisfying…demonstrates only that its maker has even more to learn about assembling a film than about constructing an argument”.

“The Cartel” by John Anderson

Taken from an entertainment magazine as opposed to a major newspaper, this review presents the film as ubiquitous oxymoron.  Anderson argues that its central message of the dire need to change dysfunctional public school systems is undeniably correct, but Bowdon makes several crucial mistakes such as ignoring the ramifications of the No Child Left Behind act, limiting the film to New Jersey public schools when the film is supposedly of national scope, and presenting a one-sided and voiced-over interview with Joyce Powell, the president of the New Jersey Educational Association.

“Editor’s Review” by Gretchen Brion-Meisels

Brion-Meisels, an editor from the Harvard Educational Review, shines light on the tone of the movie, which she suggests points towards the idea that the culture of charter schools is more valuable than the cultures from which underprivileged and low-income students come from.  She notes that the film seemed more like a negatively charged method of propaganda towards teacher unions by simply showing failing statistics and not detailing the stories behind them.

Works Cited

Anderson, John. “Film Reviews- The Cartel.” Variety. N.p., 5 Apr. 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>.

Brion-Meisels, Gretchen. “Editor’s Review.” Harvard Educational Review (2011): 751-61. Harvard Education Publishing Group, 16 Dec. 2011. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>.

Catsoulis, Jeannette. “Children Left Behind.” The New York Times. N.p., 15 Apr. 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>.

MacQuarrie, Brian. “‘The Cartel’ Sees Teacher Unions’ Grip as Crippling.” The Boston Globe., 25 Apr. 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>.

Morris, Wesley. “A Digestible Lesson in Public-School Failures.” The Boston Globe 30 Apr. 2010: n. pag. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>.

A special thanks to the librarian, Erin Valentine, for helping me through my research.

Gustav Feingold on Intelligence and Immigrants in 1920’s Hartford

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What did Gustave Feingold write on intelligence and immigrants in 1920s Hartford?

When approaching source detective question, my first course of action was to do a quick and dirty Google search.  I typed in all the important pieces in the hopes of yielding fast yet accurate results.  The top five of the 706,000 results looked accurate.

Unfortunately, none of them would allow me to read the full pdf without payment.  It was back to the drawing board.  I decided to look over the “Search strategies for sources” under “Resources & Tools” on Ed Reform commons site.

I started with the bold subtitle, If you know very little, because I knew little to nothing about the topic.  The site instructs us to use Wikipedia.  On the Wikipedia site, I searched for Gustave Feingold and yielded no results.  A couple of times, I misspelled his name and had to go back and check my question to make sure I had it right.  It’s impossible to find the information if there are mistakes in the search inquiry, so attention to detail is a must.   According to Wikipedia, my subject did not have a page.

 Yet, another dead-end.  I went back to the search strategies page and continued to work my way down the list.  The next recommended search engine was  I tried my luck.  In my first search I only filled in the author section.


I assumed that the topic of immigration would be easy to find among Feingold’s publications.  It wasn’t.  I did an advance search that included the word immigration and still nothing.

A conversation with Jack got me thinking about other places that Gustave’s immigration article could be.  We brainstormed about other relevant databases and decided to try Google Scholar.  I didn’t think that it would be a successful search, because Google was the first search engine I tried.  I did my quick and dirty search of “Gustave Feingold immigrant”.  The first result was a home run. It was exactly what I needed.


Jack explained that this branch of Google was geared toward scholarly work, so my results pool was more specific to my academic needs.  I clicked on the article title, and it lead me to American Psychological Association database.  With VPN, the educational psychology article can be downloaded for free.

In the article, “Intelligence of First Generation Immigrant Groups”, Gustave Feingold disproves and discredits the results of Army testing that portray the children of immigrants as intellectually inferior.  In fact, Gustave shows that their is very little difference in the intellectual ability of American-reared in comparison to their full blooded American counterparts.

Feingold, Gustave.  “Intelligence of the First Generation of Immigrant Groups (A Study and a Critique).”  Journal of Educational Psychology Feb. 1924: Print.


Lewis Terman’s Early Intelligence Tests

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How can you find Lewis Terman’s early intelligence tests? Lewis Terman was an educational psychologist at Stanford university who developed an intelligence test (later known as the Stanford-Binet IQ test), which he described in his 1916 book. Does Trinity library own this book or is the full-text version freely available online? Describe your search strategy, as well as a few sample questions from the original test, and cite your source.

Search Process:

As suggested on the web post for the source post activity, I decided to make an appointment with one of the librarians. During my appointment with the librarian, she showed me how to use the online catalog to see if the book is located in Trinity’s library. 

Click to visit Trinity College's Library Online Catalog


I decided to search the catalog by the author’s name (last name first) to see what results would display. I saw two results on the webpage that displayed his name. I decided to click on the second result that had 7 titles on record.  As I scrolled down the page, the last result titled “Measurement of Intelligence: An Explanation of and a Complete Guide for the Use of the Stanford Revision and Extension of the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale” that was published in 1916. This book is available for checkout in Trinity’s library, and it can be found in the main collection. 

Terman’s book is also available in full-text online for free through Google Books. To find this text, I used the advanced search feature and typed in his last name (Terman) and the publication year (1916) of the book. Terman’s book appeared as the second entry on the results page. When I clicked on the link I was directed to the page that has the full copy of the book. One nice thing about the online text is the ability for readers to use the search box feature to search within the text.

Click to view Google Book's advanced search feature


Below is an example of one of the tests in Terman’s book:

Excerpt from: "Measurement of Intelligence: An Explanation of and a Complete Guide for the Use of the Stanford Revision and Extension of the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale" Photo Source: Google Books

Final Reflections:

I would like to give a special thanks to Katy Hart the Arts and Humanities librarian for assisting me with this search. I was not aware of Google Books prior to this activity, and I feel that it can be very useful for me ind the future. This activity reminded how useful the library actually is, and I plan to use its resources more frequently.



Terman, Lewis Madison. 1916. The Measurement of Intelligence: An Explanation of and a Complete Guide for the Use of the Stanford Revision and Extension of the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Mental Tests: How to self-navigate the library

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Question: How can you find Robert Yerkes’ Army alpha and beta tests? For our next class we’ll analyze intelligence tests developed during World War I, which were published by Clarence Yoakum and Robert Yerkes in their book, Army Mental Tests (1920). Does Trinity Library own this book? If not, how can you request it from a nearby library, or even better, instantly view the full-text version for free? Describe your search strategy, and if possible, skim the contents and describe some that stand out.


To start my search for Robert Yerkes’ Amry alpha and beta tests, I scheduled an appointment with a librarian. However, Blizzard Nemo postponed that option. Instead, I started with the library website. I began looking for Clarence Yoakum and Robert Yerkes’s book, Army Mental Tests (1920). From the library site, I clicked the link to “CTW Consortium Catalog.”

Using an Advanced Search, I looked for “army mental tests” under Title and “yerkes” and “yoakum” under Author.

The search was successful, and a collection is available at Wesleyan University. Trinity students can request the book through the Action menu on the right side.

This is called an InterLibrary Loan and can also be done through

Alpha and Beta intelligence tests were used to be able to test large populations with untrained examiners in 1917. These tests were used to determine candidates fit (or unfit) to serve in the army and hold officer positions. [1] Using the library database (PsycINFO), I was able to find abstracts (summaries) for the contents of Army Mental Tests. Searching “yerkes” and “yoakum” under Author, I found the book as well as information on each chapter, though not the full text itself. 

The book includes the making of the tests, the methodology and results, a guide for examining people using the test, army tests, practical applications, and blank forms. Binet, a French psychologist, created intelligence tests for school children that were used in some schools. Revisions were made, and both group and individual tests were developed for use in the army after America joined WWI. The test pages, instructions for administering, and blank forms are all included in the book. This information was gleamed from the abstracts found on PsycINFO.

[1] “Revising the Test” (on Army Alpha and Beta intelligence tests), from “Race and Membership in American History: The Eugenics Movement, Chapter 5,” Facing History and Ourselves, January 3, 2012,



Oh Say, Can You See? (Yes, but thanks to Canada.)

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Who published the National School Service and why? For our next class we’ll read a short article by educational psychologist Robert Yerkes, “The Mental Rating of School Children,” National School Service 1, no. 12 (February 15, 1919): 6–7, Who created this publication and what was its purpose in 1919? What major themes stand out in the February issues? And who made it available for us to view on the Internet today?

       The National School Service was a monthly paper (magazine) produced and distributed by the Division of Educational Extension, in the Department of the Interior of the United States government. This publication was addressed namely to the teachers and educators who had the most impact on the minds of children, but was also available to the public, such as parents of children in the educational system.

         Though these monthly issues would seemingly focus on the latest academic developments and teachers who inspire change in the lives of students, the National School Service actually serves a very different purpose. These monthly papers serve as a form of propaganda, promoting nationalistic views of America and informing teachers of the most important aspects of the military…namely, the victories and sacrifices of American soldiers the government wants fed to the minds of youth. Conveniently enough, a very patriotic poem “My Country,” is plastered directly underneath Robert M. Yerkes’ article. That is to say, Major Robert M. Yerkes. Yerkes is not just a psychologist or a scholar, but also a member of the United States Armed Forces.

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Robert Yerke’s article within the February 1919 issue of The National School Service suggests a new way to evaluate the mental capabilities of students, thereby classifying them into three groups. By using “the application of mental measurement in the army,” Yerke suggests tracking students in 3 groups: A, B, and C; A completing 5th grade material in 3 years, B in 4, and C in 6. These groups would then separate students into “diverse courses,” funneling A students into a professional track, B into an Industrial track, and C into a manual labor track. Yerke argues that this would be beneficial to students’ intelligence (each student would be able to work at their own level without being pushed or held back), and would provide equal opportunities for children of families in all classes.

(Image from
This issue was published in February of 1919. Though World War I had just come to a close, the Red Scare was just beginning to take root in society. Furthermore, soldiers were returning from war and had extreme difficulty finding jobs. Interestingly enough, a front-page article of this issue is entitled, “Our Soldiers Become Serious Students,” and another article, “Special Message to Teachers” emphasizes how this month it is imperative that teachers stress the extreme importance of staying in school to their students. This push to both keep kids in school and send retuning soldiers back to school shows how desperate the government was to produce a highly intelligent youth after such a devastating war. Furthermore, it illustrates the lack of job opportunities that currently exist, or jobs that the government feels “may lead him nowhere.” These are most likely the manual labor jobs that Yerke’s “group C” kids would be tailored for.

(Images from
These National School Service issues were made available online by the Internet Archive, an incredible resource housing millions of primary sources online, and giving multiple means of locating past information on the internet. However, these issues were posted on this database by The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Toronto, Canada. I found this curious, seeing how The National School Service was an American produced paper. The information that I needed to answer my questions were located within the text of the February 1919 issue and I was able to reach conclusions through my own historical knowledge of WWI and the Red Scare. However, I wanted to further investigate why these magazines were made available by a Canadian library, and where, if anywhere, could I find the magazine in the archives of the United States government.

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I was surprised and alarmed upon realizing that the government has done a very keen job at making The National School Service papers disappear from American history. Not only was I not able to find the works through any of Trinity’s library resources, but I was also unable to find references to the issues on academic search engines such as JSTOR. 

Though the National School Service is not directly available through Trinity resources, Trinity does offer, through WorldCat, multiple resources to locate an issue.

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Blame it on my generation…but I was extremely narrow-minded in my thought process of: If I can’t find something online with ease, it must either not exist, or those controlling the internet must be hiding it! However, copies of the National School Service are conveniently located in many libraries (yes, with actual books….yikes!)  around the country.


It was only through a search for Yerkes (not the magazine itself) on JSTOR that I was able to find, “The Handbook of private schools” written by Porter Sargent. This book mentions Yerke’s study on the mental measurement of students as found in the National School Service, though this was the only place in which I could find any proof that such an issue even existed. 

Though the above statement is no longer accurate, I think that the passage within Porter Sargent’s “The Handbook of private schools” does a nice job of summing up Yerke’s article.


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Upon searching the National Archives at, no record of “The National School Service” was found. Clearly, America is ashamed of the propaganda this paper promoted.

It is true that through a search of the national archives online I was not able to locate any issue of the National School Service. However, that is why the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education is so important. This library has utilized their time, resources, and funds to prioritize the online availability of the National School Service, and as scholars, we must be grateful for such accessibility to a document that reveals so much about our country’s past education system.


How to investigate the history of intelligence testing, and not be fooled by key words

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Prompt: How do you find scholarly books on the history of intelligence testing? Imagine that you decide to write a research essay on the history of intelligence testing, particularly how it evolved in U.S. education during the twentieth century. Describe your search strategy for finding books on this topic at Trinity Library, and cite five of the most relevant titles. (Hint: the goal of this question is to distinguish between keyword and subject-term searches.)

This past week I was able to meet with Trinity librarian Erin Valentino. I have learned in my time here that it would be considered foolish not to meet with a librarian before beginning research in the library. Her assistance in navigating the vast collection of media within the library is something that was essential to me completing my source detective question.

To begin, she asked me what kind of media I was looking for. I replied “books” as the question states. She told me had I answered articles, we would look under scholarly sites such as JSTOR or simply the Trinity College Article Database. Because I did answer books however, she directed me to WorldCat, which searches amongst all types of media. She told me we will be utilizing the “advanced search” feature.

I began by entering “iq test history” in the keyword field.

I recieved 1,637 search results. I was told that because I had searched by keyword, any publication containing the texts: “iq”, “test”, and “history” will be generated. I searched through the first 15 until I was able to select a book that I thought would be essential in a report. It was titled “IQ: a smart history of a failed idea”.

On the bottom of the page was the call number, which is how one would find it on Level 3. But to the right is a field titled “More like this”. This is used to suggest books of similar topics to the inquirer. It also lists the subjects these books are categorized under within the system. One subject I found on the right side of the page jumped out at me: “Intelligence Tests–history.”

Subjects> Intelligence Tests -- history.

I brought my cursor over the text and clicked, refined the search for only books, and was brought to a more concise, only 214 items long. This is when I felt I had arrived at where I was supposed to be looking for information, for all the books shared the subject of “intelligence tests– history” rather than simply containing a word or three. Keywords can help you start, but once you have figured out which direction you want your research to head, subject searching is much more helpful.

*I was able to further specify the subject into “intelligence tests–history–20th Century United States”, in an attempt to address the initial question better, but I found that some books were left out of the search that would have been useful, such as The Big Test by Nicholas Lemann.

At the end of my research session, I organized my results in order of relevance and found that the 5 most relevant books on the subject of the history intelligence tests were:

The mismeasure of man
by Stephen Jay Gould
The intelligence men, makers of the IQ controversy
by Raymond E Fancher
The big test : the secret history of the American meritocracy
by Nicholas Lemann
IQ : a smart history of a failed idea
by Stephen Murdoch
Measuring minds : Henry Herbert Goddard and the origins of American intelligence testing
by Leila Zenderland
The 5 most relevant books on the subject of the history of intelligence testing.

A special thanks to Erin Valentino for her assistance during my research.

How did book reviewers assess Ravitch’s reversal?

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Question: How did book reviewers assess Ravitch’s reversal? Next week’s book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, became a best-seller in part because of the dramatic shift in thinking by its author, historian and policy advocate Diane Ravitch. How do you locate in-depth reviews of this book in both scholarly and popular media? Describe your search strategy, and quote some representative reviews, including both favorable and critical comments.


 In The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch, also known as one of America’s education experts, desperately claims that America’s educational system must be immediately reformed in order to protect and improve the quality of education. This book caused a major uproar within the Educational reform community, because of Ravitch’s change of heart. As a former assistant secretary of education, Ravitch worked closely with the Bush administration in order to implement the No Child Left Behind Act nationwide. Critics have flooded the Internet with extensive book reviews on The Death and Life of the Great American School System, favoring and objecting her views. It was fairly difficult to determine whether reviews on Ravitch’s works were considered scholarly reviews, or ones posted in popular media. Scholarly reviews are those written by scholars, whether they are published on blogs such as Word Press or whether they are published onto scholarly journals/databases.


Option One: Looking inside the book

This source detective work assignment asked me to locate in-depth reviews on Diane Ravitch’s The Death and Life of the Great American School System. The first thing I did was to look inside the actual book itself to locate some of the blurbs/excerpts regarding her book, since many authors tend to give a few lines. In this case, the book’s very first page read: Praise for The Death and Life of the Great American School System. I immediately realized that although I would be able to find entire book reviews through the lines provided, the chances of me reading a critical book review were slim to none, so my next action was to actually Google some of the lines provided by the author. This gave me a better insight to some of the book reviews, and whether the author had taken specific lines from a critical book review. Some of the praises that were selected to appear in her book that were published onto popular media websites such as, were actually written by scholars- in this case Alan Wolfe, a political scientist, and sociologist/Professor at Boston College.

Other favorable book reviews on her book, such as that written for the Denver Post were written by guest writers, which are not considered scholars. The most important thing to keep in mind while searching for scholarly book reviews is to acknowledge the fact that there is a distinction between scholarly and popular media. The easiest way to determine what is scholarly and what is not, requires you to Google the author and make the connection based on the information given regarding who wrote the article.


Option Two: Google is Indeed Your Friend!

My search to locate critical book reviews, led me once again to Google- only this time to locate the actual author’ website, where the author provides hyperlinks to her book reviews found throughout the Internet.

  1. Using your laptop or a desktop at the Trinity College Raether Library, use Google and search “Diane Ravitch Reviews.
  2. The very first link provided by Google should lead you directly to Diane Ravitch’s website- specifically the section where the reviews are found.
  3. You will note that there are two sections to the webpage- Book Reviews, and Commentary About the Book or Author, we must keep in mind that we are looking for book reviews and not commentaries regarding the book itself.
  4. Only some of the links provided under Book Reviews lead to in-depth reviews, always remember to Google the author if the link provided leads to a Word Press Blog, or an article published on a website. Also remember that although Amazon may list some lengthy and critical reviews- those may not necessary count as scholarly or even popular media because of the nature in which the comment is being made.


Option Three: Using Resources Provided by Trinity College (My Personal Favorite)

Ask a Research Librarian

Make great use of the Trinity College Librarians, they truly do know how to give you the answer to all questions that are research related.

 I was fortunate enough to be able to walk into the library and receive immediate help upon asking for it at the front desk. Usually the best way to go about meeting with a research librarian is to make an appointment through the Library Scheduler website.

I was able to meet with Outreach Library Kelly Dagan and explained to her that I needed assistance in locating scholarly databases such as where I could find Scholarly reviews on The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Kelly asked me what the book was about and explained to me that it was fairly easy to find databases that were geared toward my specific area of study.


  1. I was told to go to the Trinity College Library Website, and under Articles, to search up the Educational Studies database. This lead me to a webpage that lists databases specifically geared towards literature on Educational Studies.

    Screen Shot of the Trinity College Library Website
  2. Kelly pointed out to me that JStor, and the Education Full Text databases were the best ones suited for my search.

For the two databases, I realized that I would be able to refine my search to Reviews, specifically to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) entries on both of the websites.

Both the JStor search, and the Education Full Text databases produced dozens of findings (scholarly reviews) on The Death and Life of the Great American School System. (Click on the links above to see for yourself!)


I found it easier to locate book reviews that favored Ravitch’s radical work, than to locate those critiquing it. Some of the more favorable comments included:

“The first thing to say about Diane Ravitch’s new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System (Basic Books, 2010), is that it is the bravest book on education in years, perhaps ever. Why brave? Because it’s a book about being wrong, a book that rejects reforms Ravitch once espoused, and that, like most mea culpas, will probably lose her many old friends without gaining her nearly as many new ones.” – Richard Barbieri, Independent School

“Ravitch writes early in The Death and Life of the Great American School System, “When we are too certain of our opinions, we run the risk of ignoring any evidence that conflicts with our views.” Her ability to change her mind is what makes this book so valuable. In it, Ravitch explains clearly why she first believed in NCLB, why she changed her mind, and where she believes current school reform efforts are wrong. This is an important book. Ravitch has done us a great service. Policy makers ignore her at everyone’s peril.” – Dudley Barlow, Education Digest


Below are some of the comments I found critiquing Diane Ravitch’s works:

“While I applaud Ravitch- after all it takes a good deal of courage to do what she is doing- I am also tempted to ask a somewhat impolite question. Given the immense evidence against the positions she had originally so strenuously supported, what took her so long?” – Michael W. Apple, Educational Policy

 “While Ravitch covers the landscape of issues thoroughly, she offers few solutions to the problems she has posed, some are not only worth considering, but have been shouted from the rooftops in the field of education, other hearken back to Ravitch’s conservative roots with frightening results.” –Scott Cody, InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies



Works Cited

1. Apple, Michael W. “Challenging One’s Own Orthodoxy: Diane Ravitch and the Fate of American Schools.” Educational Policy 24.4 (2010): 687-98. JSTOR. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

2. Barlow, Dudley. “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” Education Digest 76.2 (2010): 69-72. Education Full Text. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

3. Barbieri, Richard. “The Death And Life of The Great American School System.” Independent School 71.1 (2011): 118-20. Education Full Text. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

4. Cody, Scott M. “Review: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch.” InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies 6 (2011): 1-4. EScholarship. Web. 1 Feb. 2013.


No Sect Can Rule This School: A Journey through Harper’s Weekly (May 8, 1875)

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What was the companion article to Thomas Nast’s political cartoon? In our next class we will examine a political cartoon by Thomas Nast, titled “The American River Ganges: The Priests and the Children,” which appeared in Harper’s Weekly, May 8, 1875, page 384. The cartoon is freely available online. In fine print at the bottom, it refers to a companion article, “The Common Schools and their Foes,” on page 385 of same issue. Describe your search strategy to locate the article and summarize its content. (Hint: Sometimes the past is only available in print.)

This week, I had the opportunity to do some real detective work to find my source. The first stop of my search was the Watkinson Library at Trinity College (Hartford, CT) and it happened to be my only stop. I was greeted at the door by an extremely well-dressed elderly gentleman, Mr. Peter Knapp, Special Collections Librarian and College Archivist who was eager to hear about my problem and see how he could be of assistance. When I showed him Thomas Nast’s political cartoon, “The American River Ganges,” I could tell by the smile on his face that he was quite sure what I needed. He asked, “Harper’s Weekly?” and with an astonished look on my face, I simply responded, “Yes, please.” I took the courtesy of leaving the main floor for a few minutes while he searched for the Harper’s Weekly 1875 Edition (It is standard procedure that guests of the Watkinson cannot be left unattended on the main floor.)

When Mr. Knapp returned, he brought with him an extremely dense book titled “Harper’s Weekly – 1875” and suggested that I could find what I was looking for on page 385 (in reference to American River Ganges). When I opened to page 385 I found the companion article titled “The Public Schools and its Foes.” Directly above the article was another political cartoon by Nast. This cartoon titled, “No Church need apply” depicts a Catholic bishop handing out Vatican decrees to young school-aged boys. The boys stood in the doorway of a school, and the sign beside the doorway read, “No Sect can rule this school,” the main theme of the companion article.

The companion article written by Eugene Lawrence highlighted the greatest enemy of the common schools as being the Roman Catholic Church and its leader Pope Pius IX as well as other religious/political institutions that did not promote American common schools. The article favored the condition of the common schools and emphasized what we consider today to be the separation of church and state:

“Their people have become conscious that the common school is the source of ease, comfort, wealth; that it doubles the value of their lands, build towns, factories, railroads; and hence all over the south there is a plain advance toward a new condition of society.” (p.386)

Furthermore, Lawrence cited the common schools as places for “repression of violence” and “cultivation of knowledge” and expresses the notion that the enemies of the common school, which included, “a foreign pope, democratic politicians and a foreign sect” as being responsible for “the decreed destruction of the common school…” (p.386)

Lawrence speaks to his readers as an advocate of reason and truth, he says that the “newspaper is the natural fruit of the common school” (p.386) which would allow readers to give credence to his published article on the evils of the Roman Catholic Church and other Religious institutions and their corruption of American schools:

“At Des Moines, when an episcopal clergyman assailed the common schools from his pulpit, members of the congregation rose and left the church, in protest of religious bigotry…” (p.386)

He goes on to say that schools under the jurisdiction of Pope Pius IX were “never needed” and questions why they were built in the first place – while alluding to the fact that they were built to contest the traditional common school system.

Lawrence mentions that the public (common) schools offer “ample room for all the children of the city” (p.386) in reference to the many parochial schools in New York City. He goes on to say that Papal priests were in association with Boss Tweed and Peter Sweeney and had a direct involvement as conspirators in the political ring. This piece of the article was towards the very end – almost as if to tell his readers: if you still aren’t convinced…here’s more proof.

Lawrence ends his piece with two very important quotes, which sum up his article on the separation of church from American schools, but even more importantly, the vilification of all who opposed the common schools. The first quote stood out to me because of the notion that those who did not support common schools must not support their country as loyal Americans:

“No patriotic American of any creed of race will suffer his own honest and necessary principle of un-sectarian education to be tainted by any dangerous compromise…” (p.386)

Finally, Lawrence urges his readers to understand that: “the only sure defense we have against it, is to vote it down…” (p.386) in reference to the church’s presence in American schools and the political authority that  common citizens yield through their right to vote.


A very special thank you to Mr. Peter Knapp and the Watkinson Library staff for allowing me to use their vast archives.




Women and Public Speaking in 19th Century

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Were 19th-century women permitted to be public speakers? 

To answer the presented question I used my prior knowledge and skills from being a history major to approach the question. I used the Trinity College Library online resources and databases to search for sources that would be able to answer the question. I personally prefer JSTOR, so I searched through JSTOR.

A struggle and very important aspect of searching in JSTOR is the keywords that you use to search. In my first search I used the keywords “19th century”, “women”, and “public speaking”. I further narrowed my results by only searching for results in English that are articles, books, or reviews, and narrowed the discipline to American Studies, Education, Feminist and Women’s Studies, and History. My results were very scattered, in order to narrow it down and to get better results I modified my search and added the keyword “American” in addition to my previous keywords. My search results yielded this. After that, I read the titles of the works and picked out a few that I thought would help answer my question. The following titles are the articles that I thought would help me to answer the question: “Schooling Women in Citizenship”, “woman’s High Calling: The Teaching Profession in America, 1830-1860”,  “On the American Dream: Equality, Ambiguity, and the Persistence of Rage”, and “Allowed Irregularities: Women Preaches in the Early 19th-Century Maritimes”.

In the article “Schooling Women in Citizenship” by Susan Douglas Franzosa, I found a quote that read “In the schools, girls and boys learned to revere and support the laws that provided for women’s disenfranchisement and prohibition from speaking in public, owning property, holding political office, and voting”.[1]  On the other hand, in the article “Allowed Irregularities: Women Preachers in the Early 19th-Century Maritimes” by D.G. Bell it reads “This study uncovers no tradition of female preaching in Maritime Protestantism, but the findings suggest tat female preaching was not uncommon”.[2] A female preacher suggests that women were allowed to be public speakers and in front of audiences of both men and women. However, it has a religious dimension attached to it. It does not answer the question of whether a woman would be able to give a public speech on something other than religion. In addition, in the article “woman’s high calling: the teaching profession in America, 1830-1860” it says, “When the movement to improve the public schools took hold in the 1820s and ‘30s, leading reformers could point to women teachers and pupils in the female seminaries as qualified instructors for common schools”.[3]

In order to further my search, I went out on a limb and googled the presented question. Most of the times nothing but Wikipedia or other unreliable sources come up.  However, this time it presented me with an interesting source “Social Conditions Inspired Women to Speak Up – In Speaking Up Women Changed History”, which said “Women could not speak in public without fear of being hit with rotten vegetables or worse”.[4] Eventually, “A few of the young women at Oberlin, led by abolitionist and feminist Lucy Stone, organized the first debating society ever formed among college girls. At first they held their meetings secretly in the woods, with sentinels on the watch to give warming of intruders and later at the home of an old black woman at the edge of the wood”. [5] Furthermore, Phillips the author of this article comments, “Stone, who graduated from Oberlin in 1847, refused to write a commencement speech since she would not be allowed to read it. Ten years later, in 1857, Oberlin College finally allowed a woman to read her part at the public ceremony”.[6] Phillips argues that after the middle of the century women were beginning to be allowed to speak in public.

With this knowledge I went back to JSTOR and used “lucy stone”, “19th century”, “America”, and “public speaking”. I did not find many different sources. In order to find more sources I decided to use a different database, Google Scholar. I just typed in “lucy stone 19th century public speaking” and discovered a book titled Lucy Stone: Pioneer of Woman’s Rights”. I then searched within the book for “public speaking”. With these results I was able to confirm the discoveries of the article by Lois Phillips, that Lucy Stone was able to public speak as a woman and was headlining this campaign. However, it was not until after half way through the 19th century that this was possible.

[1] Susan Douglas Franzosa, “Schooling Women in Citizenship”, Theory into Practice , Vol. 27, No. 4, Civic Learning (Autumn, 1988), 278.

[2] D.G. Bell “Allowed Irregularities: Women Preachers in the Early 19th-century Maritimes”, Acadiensis , Vol. 30, No. 2 (SPRING/PRINTEMPS 2001), 4.

[3] Keith e. Melder, “woman’s high calling: the teaching profession in America, 1830-1860”, American Studies , Vol. 13, No. 2 (fall 1972), 20.

[4] Lois Phillips, ‘Social Conditions Inspired Women to Speak Up – In Speaking Up Women Changed History”, 4.

[5] Phillips, 7.

[6] Phillips, 7.