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The Public School Insights Blog

Joplin, Missouri, is a town in transition. After it was ravaged by a tornado three years ago, leaders have worked to rebuild the core of the town and its school district. Many of the 10,000 students’ families are struggling with poverty and economic hardships, and Superintendent Dr. C.J. Huff has been charged with not only managing the district’s rebuilding but also the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

District officials saw the Common Core as an opportunity to bring relevant experiences for a global economy to Joplin schools, and they were concerned that student achievement had plateaued. With the town’s rebuilding, Dr. Huff worked hard to engage the community, including parents, social service agencies, and the business and faith communities, in conversations about its schools and improving student achievement.

Not surprisingly, residents of this conservative area were skeptical of the Common Core, seeing it as an unnecessary federal interference. Yet Joplin school officials have successfully implemented the standards without backlash and even persuaded some of their critics to embrace the standards. ...

Dr. Summer Stephens, superintendent of Weston County School District #7 in Upton, WY, shares her perspective on implementing the Common Core in a small rural district and the role of thoughtful assessments in deeper learning.

Download as MP3 ...

Educational technology is generally considered an asset for schools. But correctly integrating technology into a classroom curriculum and using digital devices to help students to learn in meaningful ways is a skill that continues to evolve--and challenge educators.

Megan Kinsey, Principal at Ridge Middle School in Mentor, Ohio, co-founded a research project at her school to help support both teachers and students as they use educational technology. The Catalyst project allows her and other educators to observe new technologies and instructional strategies as they are being used in a classroom. For this project and her commitment to lifelong learning, Ms. Kinsey recently was named a “20 to Watch” educator by the National School Boards Association. ...

By Jodie Pozo-Olano, Chief Communications Officer, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

Last week, the education stars aligned as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee (HELP) passed, with bi-partisan support, a bill that would reauthorize the nation’s education law of the land – the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Although the path to final passage will surely be filled with lots of twists and turns, the action by the committee last week was a huge positive step forward.

What’s significant about this proposed bill?

Well, for starters, it contains a dedicated digital learning program. Many schools across the country still struggle with adequate connectivity (which has been addressed through additional E-Rate funding), access to devices and digital resources. These same school communities also often lack adequate funding to provide ongoing and varied professional learning opportunities for educators.

I-TECH is a step toward closing this gap ...

By Stephanie Hirsh, Executive Director, Learning Forward

Many states have recertification or relicensure rules that require educators to earn 100 to 200 professional development hours over a specified period of time. In my view, educator relicensure and recertification processes are a missed opportunity when it comes to ensuring that educators have access to the professional learning they want and need to help students succeed. Why? Here are several reasons.

  • Educators see little connection between these requirements and the challenges they face on a daily basis.
  • Educators receive little guidance about the choices or resources to support them in meeting this requirement. As a result, convenience and price heavily influence the decisions educators make.
  • Attendance is often the only criteria for educators to earn credits toward relicensure.

Too few states and districts have systems in place for awarding credit for the professional development educators value most: job-embedded, team-based, and collaborative learning ...

The Learning First Alliance’s Get It Right: Common Sense on the Common Core campaign shares success stories and resources with educators, parents and community leaders across the country to help them better understand and implement the Common Core State Standards in their local schools. LFA Executive Director Cheryl Scott Williams recently spoke with Discovery Education about the purpose of the Get It Right campaign and how LFA took on Common Core as an initiative.

“Get It Right is our way of saying we believe a strong public education system works toward high standards for all children,” she told Discovery Education Senior Vice President Scott Kinney during the interview. “It’s a complicated business educating all children to high standards. ‘Get It Right’ says let’s step back, let’s give our professionals time to learn, to develop new approaches, collaborate, have the resources and support to get it right, and implement Common Core with fidelity.” ...

David Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, recently discussed his organization’s support of the Common Core State Standards and politics in the state with the Learning First Alliance. The conversation was part of LFA’s “Get It Right: Common Sense on the Common Core” campaign that for the past year has interviewed educators and researchers who are committed to the Common Core State Standards and are working to ensure the proper implementation of the standards. These interviews, which are now available as transcripts as well as podcasts, show how schools are making progress toward the new standards and improving students’ learning.

In his conversation, Adkisson discusses:

  • The drive to create higher standards for Kentucky students and why the state needs a better educated workforce;
  • Why the Common Core appeals to the business community even though it’s often seen as conservative
    ...

New research on student achievement under the Common Core State Standards shows that students exposed to the standards made faster progress than those who had not been exposed to CCSS—a promising sign that the standards will improve student learning.

The study was conducted by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Researchers analyzed three cohorts of students in Kentucky, which was the first state to adopt the standards in 2010 and began implementation the next year. Kentucky requires its 11th graders to take the ACT test, which provided data for three cohorts of students in both high-poverty and low-poverty schools. ...

One year ago, the Learning First Alliance began a series of interviewing educators and researchers who are committed to the Common Core State Standards and are working to ensure the proper implementation of the standards. These interviews are part of the “Get It Right—Common Sense on the Common Core” podcasts that highlight schools making progress toward the new standards and improving students’ learning. LFA is now offering transcripts of many of these sessions in its website, including a recent segment with Vicki Phillips, Director of Education, College Ready at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In the conversation, Phillips discussed a range of topics, including: ...

Written by Aaron Brengard, Principal, Katherine Smith Elementary School (San Jose, Calif.)

burnt toastHow Does Trust Create And Encourage 21st Century Leadership For Learning?

Calling all classroom teachers, building managers, or district level administrators, we need you. 21st century learning schools need 21st century learning leaders. While I'm a school site principal, I use the word leader to describe everyone throughout the system from the classroom teacher to the district superintendent.

There is one thing we all need...TRUST.

Across 21st Century classrooms, schools, and districts or networks, everyone needs trust. We need trust in others – teachers with students, principals or site leaders with the staff, and central office with the schools. We need a trust in the process to stay the course through mistakes and continually improve. Trust in ourselves to authentically use and live the beliefs we want. Finally, build trust across the system. The practices and expectations should resonate for everyone from students to leaders. ...

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