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Abstract

Two broad approaches to contemporary education have evolved in recent decades: the traditional and the progressive. The purpose of this study was to survey public, Catholic, and independent elementary schools across the state of Ohio with the aim of finding out: (1) the extent to which various educational practices associated with those two approaches have reportedly been adopted in schools; and, (2) if the types of schools differ along a continuum of traditional to progressive educational practices. It was found that most schools report a balanced mix of practices, with Ohio’s elementary schools ranging along the traditional to progressive continuum in the following order: independent nonchartered, independent chartered, public, and Catholic. All schools tend to be more traditional in the approach they adopt to reading and to assessment. Assessment is influenced by state mandates regarding proficiency testing in selected grades. A better understanding of the practices reported to be in place in today’s schools will help inform the current debate on school reform and focus the discussion of choice by providing a framework with clear alternatives.

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