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How have the Common Core State Standards impacted higher education and teacher training? Dorie Combs, a professor in the School of Clinical Educator Preparation at Eastern Kentucky University, recently spoke to the Learning First Alliance about how higher education institutions in Kentucky are using the CCSS to prepare new teachers.

Combs described the process that brought together higher education and K-12 practitioners to analyze the standards and figure out how they could be successfully integrated into teacher training in her state. That collaboration, while sometimes messy, was key to ensuring everyone saw the benefit of the standards and could weave the standards into their specific curricula, she said.

Combs said the higher education community saw much potential in the standards, particularly to help connect higher education with the high school curriculum. ...

With more than 81 percent of students graduating within four years of entering high school, the Class of 2013 achieved the highest on-time graduation rate in U.S. history, according to the 2015 Building a Grad Nation report. After graduation rates languished in the low 70s for nearly four decades, rates have accelerated dramatically over the past decade.  According to the report, if this rate of improvement continues the national graduation rate will reach 90 percent by 2020, a goal of the authors of Grad Nation.

While attainment gaps remain, the gap is narrowing between traditionally disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers. This is particularly true for Hispanics, the fastest growing group of students in our nation’s schools, whose graduation rate increased from 71 percent to 75 percent between 2011 and 2013. Black students made significant gains during this period as well, improving their graduation rate from 67 percent to 71 percent. Despite these gains the graduation rates for black and Hispanic students are still significantly lower than those of white students (87 percent). ...

By Mel Riddile, Ed.D, Associate Director of High School Services, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

Author’s note: This is the second of a two-part post on the challenges faced by principals implementing online testing tied to the Common Core and new college- and career-ready standards. So much has happened in recent weeks that I divided the entry into two parts because one post would not do justice to the topic.

In part 1, I described that with the spring testing season now winding down, principals in a number of states feel as though they are under siege. For some schools, whatever could go wrong has gone wrong.

From my contact with principals in a number of states and my ongoing work with principals in schools in five states, I have learned that online assessments present principals with a number of new and old challenges.

I divided this post into two parts. Part 1 addressed non-technical challenges principals face in implementing the new assessments. This entry will address the technical issues.

Following are eight technical challenges school leaders face in implementing online testing related to the Common Core and new college- and career-ready standards:

The transition from paper-and-pencil to online assessments takes several years before it becomes normal.

We learned from previous experiences with online instruction that it usually took time to work out the technical problems. So, when we began high-stakes, online testing, we expected problems. We prepared for problems, and we learned from the problems ...

By Mel Riddile, Ed.D, Associate Director of High School Services, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

Author’s note: I initially intended that this blog entry would focus only on the technical side of online testing, but so much has happened in recent weeks that I would not do justice to the topic if I ignored the context in which the new, online testing occurs.

With the spring testing season now winding down, principals in a number of states feel as though they are under siege. For some schools, whatever could go wrong has gone wrong.

From my contact with principals in a number of states and my ongoing work with principals in schools in five states, I have learned that online assessments present principals with a number of new and old challenges.

I have divided this post into two parts. Part 1 will address non-technical challenges principals face in implementing the new assessments. Part 2 will address the technical issues.

Following are six non-technical challenges school leaders face in implementing online testing related to the Common Core and new college- and career-ready standards:

The new standards are a decade-long implementation initiative.

Whereas some reformers mistakenly believe that the Common Core and new college- and career-ready standards have already been implemented, I know differently ...

In a recent Get It Right: Common Sense on the Common Core podcast, sixth-grade teacher Tanya Golden spoke about how her district has used Teacher Leaders to develop Common Core-aligned units of study and help school staff the implement these new units.

Golden is a sixth grade teacher at Carver Academy in California’s ABC Unified School District. She feels that having teachers at the table to determine how the district should use Common Core is helpful in figuring out whether something that sounded good in theory could actually work in the classroom.

“That’s where the teacher’s voice is important, for us to let them know, ‘yes this sounds wonderful--but this is what I need as a teacher,’” she said.

In the classroom, Common Core has caused her to look at previously taught lessons in a totally different way. A recent lesson about a book provoked more critical thinking about the storyline and the characters as opposed to reading for comprehension, she said. ...

By Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

Every day, educators are making a difference in children's lives—and they do it despite staggering obstacles. Recently, the AFT collaborated with the Badass Teachers Association to survey educators on how their working conditions affect them, and the results show that the obstacles they face at work are taking more of a toll than ever.

Ninety-six percent of the educators who took our survey say they're physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day, and 87 percent say the demands of their job interfere with family life. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

After seeing the results of this survey, I am convinced that we need a scientific study on how work is affecting teachers and school employees' health and well-being. We're asking members to urge the Department of Education to take on this important research. ...

Most of you know us — we’ve been helping meet the health and safety needs of the school communities you work in for 28 years — but you’ve never seen us quite like this! The rumors are true; the National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN) has gotten a makeover!

Launched May 11, 2015 with a fresh look, a stronger focus, and a deeper commitment than ever, NEA Healthy Futures is your go to place for health, safety, and school employee wellness information, resources, and solutions.

You might be wondering why we decided to change — why we decided to say goodbye to the National Education Association Health Information Network? The short answer? After 28 years, it was time. ...

Let’s talk frankly.  Most relationships between the school systems and their communities are dysfunctional - like a bad marriage.  Each has suffered deeply crushed expectations.  If each party were to write a letter to each other trying to save the relationship, letters might read like this:

Dear School:

I am writing this letter to you because I care about you.  I believe every child has to be given access to a quality education--no matter what form--as long as its quality meets the needs of kids and prepares them to be productive citizens.  I’m deeply disappointed in our relationship.  Time and time again you have asked for support and whenever I could, I have provided it whether it was money, mentors, internships, volunteers, speakers and even helping out at school events.  You promised that this is what you needed to be healthy and that kids would benefit.  ...

Written by Anderson Williams, a Special Olympics Project UNIFY consultant

Years ago while backpacking through Europe with some friends, I visited the Palazzo Spada in Rome. It must have been something we read about in “Let’s Go Europe” because otherwise I’m not sure how we got there.
 
Anyway, Palazzo Spada is famous for its incredible forced perspective gallery created by Francesco Borromini. In the midst of the density and limited space in the heart of Rome, the gallery gives a momentary sense of depth and grandeur akin to what one might find in a much larger country estate. It has an 8-meter long corridor that appears to be a considerably more grand 37 meters. Its centerpiece and visual destination is a “life-sized” sculpture that is actually only 60 centimeters tall.
 
It sounded crazy, so we were definitely intrigued! ...

Donna Staten, an elementary art teacher in Round Rock, Texas, has earned the title "Pinterest Queen" because she has shared thousands of lessons and amassed nearly 100,000 followers on the social media site Pinterest. Staten, who also serves on an advisory committee for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, says Pinterest has recharged her 30-year teaching career. She recently spoke about her strategies for using Pinterest  and other social media in an e-mail interview.

LFA: How did you get started on Pinterest? How long have you been “pinning,” and how much time does it take you each day or each week to share projects and lesson plans?

I remember exactly when I started pinning. It was a rainy, dreary Saturday morning in January, 2012. I had heard of Pinterest, but mostly in reference to recipes, shoes, hair styles, etc. I had not heard of anyone using it for educational purposes ...

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